Our goal was to improve our CodeLive solution to further facilitate real-life, engaging coding interview sessions. We hit many bumps during the project because our focus was split amongst other initiatives and we didn’t consider some crucial elements. I wanted to sit down and write out my thoughts on how this project went, and how we can improve for the future.
The CodeLive Video addition started as a Hackday project and was later pulled into product work. Initially, it started as a ‘cross-team’ initiative—a handful of people across several engineering sub teams collaborated on this solution outside of normal product work.
The project was estimated to be very short, but when it started to grow, communication and focus problems appeared. It became difficult for participating engineerings and product owners to know when each other was available to work on the project and sync up. There also wasn’t a clear driver for the initiative. In summary, it’s challenging to be on two teams at the same time.
At the retro meeting, we came up with several steps we could work towards to achieve success in the future for similar projects:
Another big takeaway from the project is to validate things as soon as possible. We had great success in the first few days—the video itself was working, but we didn’t validate it through a beta with customers. Instead, we decided to drive it until we were production-ready, and then verify the whole idea. We should’ve been driven by data and feedback throughout the project, not driven by assumptions and gut feelings.
On the other hand, there were a lot of signals from the marketing and sales teams that this solution would be hugely beneficial—there was a solid business case for driving the project. We still should have validated earlier though, probably after a week of development instead of spending three months polishing without validation.
Lessons learned about our big-picture process:
Things that we learned and appreciated:
This innovative, small project showed us that prototyping could be done quickly and in a lightweight manner. I’m proud to say that we used our Hackday resources in a really smart way. The project was never left hanging—we ‘recycled’ it and pulled it into product work, and improved it along the way. There are a lot of things we could’ve done better, and will do better in the future. This was not just a fun internal change to some code, but a bigger project considering and impacting the needs of marketing and sales. Retrospectives are a great way to review how a team collaborated and accomplished (or didn’t) an objective, and I look forward to more Hackday projects and retros in the future!
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