My 28 seconds of fame has arrived. If you're not already a Java Posse podcast listener, let episode 233 be your introduction to this excellent resource, and your chance to hear my radio voice as the Java Posse Roundup 2009 attendees all take a chance with the mic.
I'm trying to recall the best ideas I learned at the roundup last week, for prompt use at my workplace, Marketing Technology Solutions. Some of the ideas about how to help get back developer time were interesting, especially the focus on automating more processes. I look forward to reviewing more of the audio sessions in future weeks and months to extract more ideas.
However, there are three ideas that made my eyes light up when I heard them, and they're relatively simple to get started at work almost immediately after selling them to the team.
1. Project Retrospectives
After each code release, allow a full regular day to fix any surprising production issues. Then on the next day, run through a 1 to 3 hour code review and functionality retrospective. During this meeting each team member who completed anything interesting can show the primary changes they made to the code base and the improved functionality they created. This can help other team members learn how areas of the code are evolving that they haven't seen recently, and it can help us learn from each other's challenges and the solutions we found.
2. Regular Discussions with Employees
Spend 30-60 minutes each week with each employee to find out privately if there are any ideas or problems that deserve some attention from the employee's perspective. This should preferably be done far away from the office building to encourage unchecked speech about office troubles. It's reasonable to use a full or partial lunch break for the meeting if the employee wants, or just go for a walk during work hours.
3. Lightning Talks
Once a month our team can have an hour-long lunch-and-learn session of 5 minute lightning talks on any technical or non-technical subjects. Keeping things educational and entertaining helps promote free thinking and creativity, so non-technical talks are just as valuable as technical ones, as long as they're interesting or funny. This is especially helpful for team members who are not yet comfortable speaking in front of a group, which is an increasingly important skill for a developer. To get things started I'll need to prepare a few short talks on technical and non-technical subjects, with and without slides. This can help others see the flexibility of the format so they feel free to present whatever and however they prefer.
The lightning talks at the Java Posse Roundup 2009 were very successful. They went as follows:
"Fair Allocation" Algorithm
How I Became 3/4 of the Man I Was
The Art of the Photo
High Gear Media and GWT
Loop Quantum Gravity
Animation Inside JavaFX
Awesome Productivity with GMail
ScalaCheck Automated Tests
Simple Twitter Client in Scala
Your Eyes Suck at Blue
Why Are There 12? or The Other Staircase
DB Migration in Java
Dynamic Web Skinning
Java User Groups: How to Start One?
Sophisticated Data Access with JPA and Spring
F1 KERS System (2009)
Scala + Wicket
Slide Rules for Fun and Profit
jFlubber, FlexFlubber, FXFlubber
The Smallest Plugin System
Helmet Cam Footage
Zombies: Are You Prepared?
Recovering a Stolen Laptop with Flex
Sexier Software with Flex
Solar Power for Your House
Scala and JavaRebel
Groovy SwingBuilder, Google Maps, YQL Mashup
The JPR09 lightning talks are gradually getting released by Carl Quinn on http://www.youtube.com/javaposse