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Behind the Scenes @Aztek: Helpful meetings and ceremonies At Aztek, we spend most of our days building awesome, super-fast websites for our clients.

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Posted by dave on - Read

At Aztek, we spend most of our days building awesome, super-fast websites for our clients. But to stay at the top of our game, we have various ceremonies that enhance our skills and knowledge.

For those of you who think your web design agency simply hammers out code all day, here are few other things that your team does to bring you the best websites in C-town.

Daily Standup

Image of aztek stand up meeting a holistic web development company in Cleveland Ohio

What it is:

A short meeting (less than 10-15 minutes) to begin the day. Everyone stands in a circle let's the team know:

  • What they did yesterday
  • What they plan to accomplish today
  • What's in their way (blockers)

Standing keeps the meeting short, and we toss a ball to indicate who is speaking (if you have the ball, everyone else should be listening to you).

How it helps:

In a short amount of time, everyone knows where projects stand, and if there are any issues they may be able to help solve. It keeps everyone informed, gets problems that interrupt production solved faster, and keeps the lines of communication open. Plus, we're getting much better at hand-eye coordination.

Design Critique

What it is:

A weekly gathering for team members to show off work in progress and get feedback. An individual team member presents the work and explains what problem they are trying to solve. The rest of the team asks questions and shares ideas for how it could be accomplished. What started as reviewing mostly design now includes development projects and even content.

How it helps:

Because more than just designers attend and participate, the project benefits from a much broader perspective. Developers tend to ask questions about how aspects of the design are actually going to work on the back end, which helps avoid technical difficulties later, while digital marketing team members help uncover SEO pitfalls or ways to strengthen the content.

Code Review

What it is:

A formal review of the code you have written conducted by your peers. Team members discuss the problem you were trying to solve and examine the techniques you used to solve it.

How it helps:

Knowing your work is going to be evaluated by your peers really helps to enforce quality. Team members make sure we are enforcing our own standards and conventions. And if there is a better way to do something, this is an opportunity to bring up different approaches to how the code was written.

Knowledge Share

What it is:

A regular spot check to make sure that everyone is aware of new techniques and technologies. The group shares updates they've learned on how to work with certain technologies, which trouble areas to watch out for, and how to complete tasks faster or with greater impact.

How it helps:

It spreads the knowledge and experience of an individual team member to the entire group, saving others from having to struggle through the same challenges.

Lunch-n-Learn

What it is:

Once a week during lunch, a team member gives an internal presentation about a topic from their area of expertise.

How it helps:

Team members from other disciplines become more t-shaped and grow their understanding of other disciplines within the company. For example: A member of the Digital Marketing team will give a presentation about Search Engine Optimization. If a designer attends, he/she will walk away with new knowledge about how incorporate SEO into their responsibilities and how they can better work with the digital marketing team.

Hack Day

Image of people at Hack Day

What it is:

A break from project work where team members are given a chance to work on a passion project or explore an idea that is too risky to try on an actual client. Everyone breaks off for a few hours to create something new and interesting (as it pertains to their discipline) and everyone demos what they did at the end.

How it helps:

Creative people need a chance to create, especially if they have a personal interest in what they're creating. Hack days are a nice change of pace for team members to use their skills on something fun or intriguing to them. It sharpens their skills and gives them a chance to see if a wild idea or technology can pan out. Often, things created on hack days have application in client projects or improve other processes.

Retrospective

What it is:

Once a month, the entire production team gets together to ask three questions.

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn't go well?
  3. What will we commit to change?

How it helps:

Self-analysis is the key to improvement and nothing has helped Aztek improve more than this ceremony. Retrospectives give team members a chance to openly discuss things that frustrate them and impede their jobs, while also recognizing and celebrating the things that are working well. "Committing to change" items ensure action gets taken and real improvements get put into practice.

What do you do at your organization?

We are always looking for other tips and practices to improve. If you have any formats or techniques that you use, we'd love to hear from you.

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