Onboarding to a Software Team: In Three Parts

Photo by Duncan Meyer on Unsplash

I usually work in software development, or “tech”. Specifically, I work in web services type of software development. This is an important highlight, because it is a different environment from, for example, designing software to specification to go on a space probe to another planet. Mistakes in web services type of software are not desirable, but they’re also not catastrophic.

This onboarding series is a summary of the things I found effective for me and (maybe?) the teams I participate in. The format is the way I usually present these things, which is, onboarding a new team member onto the team. It consists of three sections: Principles and Values, Team Processes, and How To Deliver Work.

Principles and Values

My friend and colleague Leora Pearson and I had the opportunity to create a team from scratch. This gave us the chance to sit down and think through our principles and values. It was a hugely valuable exercise to think from first principles as to why we were going to build a team and engage in the work. This is a lot of mental models, abstractions, framing, and techniques that help to align the team: complexity, Cynefin, how systems fail, black swans, metaphors, finite and infinite games, Wardley Mapping and doctrine, and Universal Scalability Law.  I’ll share these Principles and Values in future posts.

Team Processes

As part of creating the team, we agreed on Team Processes. There are two processes that I find fundamental: the Advice Process, and the Conflict Resolution Process. I’ll share more on these in future posts as well.

How To Deliver Work

Lastly, having Principles and Values and Team Processes in place, I’ll share the ideas around how we organize to deliver work. These will include minimizing cycle time, setting commitment expectations, defining work items, defining failures, tracking ideas, system to human communication patterns, feedback loops, and learning documents.

Next Up

More posts on Principles and Values, coming soon.

3 comments

  1. Pingback: Cynefin Complexity | No Motherships
  2. Pingback: Economy of Thought | No Motherships
  3. Pingback: How Complex Systems Fail | No Motherships

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