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Knowabunga day April

Posted 2014-04-01 By Anders Persson

A while back I wrote about our knowledge sharing day and how we would spend that time on contributing to OSS projects. We are just around the corner for the second edition of this day which is now, after an evening of beer tasting, simply known as Knowabunga day. Yes, it's a word play on cowabunga, popularized to us swedes by the fictional team of four teenage anthropomorphic turtles, and the word knowledge. It's perhaps a bit on the corny side but it seems to have stuck so let's roll with it.

This time we'll do something completely different - we'll have a knowledge hackahton. Before I explain what this entails I'll just give you some background on how we ended with this particular agenda.

Being a consultant company of a certain size you are bound to have different competencies, often these are represented as different business areas. In those areas you'll find different specializations and at the individual level you have even more diverse interests. One of the challenges we have at tretton37 is when we host these knowledge activities we want to cater to all those interest. Without a genuine interest in a topic there is nothing to drive the learning and that would pretty much render these days useless. So when we plan a knowabunga day agenda it has to work for everyone, from our agile mentors, to front-end devs, to our Sharepoint devs and so on. That, my friends, is easier said than done.

Regular tech talks wouldn't work for us as we would have to have something for each interest. Instead we try to be creative and find topics or themes that work for everyone. Last knowabunga day, the open source theme worked out well since open source frameworks exist in pretty much any language and application layer.

The knowledge hackathon this Friday is an attempt at solving the diversity problem. At the start of the day, anyone may make a 60sec pitch on a topic that they wish to learn. Once the pitch round is over, those not pitching may choose to join a group of their choice. Groups with two or more people may continue to draft a curriculum for the day. This would set up a few goals of the day that must completed as well as a plan on how to get there. The group will then commit to this curriculum and spend almost the entire of the remainder of the day to reach the established goals. A nice perk is that the curriculums are published on our intranet so that anyone may use them later. We will end the day with a round of short talks from each group where we share insights.

There is an ulterior motive for forcing groups. We don't meet often enough and it's good to get to know new colleagues. Study groups are awesome for discipline and there is an opportunity to have discussions you wouldn't have on your own. However, what we really would like to see is that people with similar interests find and meet each other. We have a tiny hope that some of the groups start to self organize after the day is over. Perhaps organizing meetups, start a channel on the company Jabbr or whatnot.

Just as last time, this is an experiment, it might turn out great and it may not. Either way, we'll try and let you know how it went down. Look out for #knowabunga day in your timeline.


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