Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Training Games

At the height of our growth in the Battlefy engineering team, we started practicing different ways to positively reinforce open communication (core value). Open communication meant being frequent at high quality communication. In the military, communication is absolutely critical; however, it is not just any communication -- it's really about distilling down the most critical piece of information to relay to your team so decisions can be made to stay on course or adapt.

In daily engineering standups, we practiced the following

  • stating what the blockers are and what they need from the team
  • what they will commit to by end of day
  • why they're working on it 

At the end of the round table, we would randomly choose a person on the team and ask them to repeat what another person's status update was. Not only was it a forcing function to pay attention and ensure that your team actually understood what your status update was (so a teammate could maneuver on your behalf), but we always get a laugh out of it when someone wasn't able to answer the question.

But why? Well, we wanted to positively reinforce one of our core values (open communications) and make standups more engaging.

At Y Combinator (W16), we did this exercise in group office hours. The reason why we did this exercise was to prepare founders for demo day. Ultimately, there will be hundreds of teams doing demo day and you have to get used to trying to make your company more memorable (this include investors!). Incidentally, it was always super intimidating to be in group office hours because you would have amazing founders who really go above and beyond in their updates (eg/ "this week we closed a customer for a 200k contract") and then I'd look back at my co-founders with a surprised facial expression (and of course, they'd look back in shock). My imposter syndrome felt like rising waters.

Creating a sense of urgency to perform by creating a group environment is both exciting and scary but super effective. After the first group office hours, the following week everyone's' status updates were super memorable.  

For remote teams wanting to make standups more engaging, try it out! You'll be surprised and you can even keep score! 

Be great,
Jaime Bueza