Brainstorm: Better Planning, Collaboration, & Reporting for Core Contributor Work

What’s this? :thinking:

This topic is for brainstorming ways to improve the planning, collaboration, and reporting of Core Contributor work.

Background :open_book:

As Core Contributors, we’re all working towards the same goal: to further the development and adoption of the Open edX platform. However our processes don’t always foster a feeling of teamwork, nor do they provide us with an easy way to collaborate on projects; just because our processes are asynchronous, doesn’t mean we need to work in isolation. Additionally, our sprint retros are not easy to read and don’t do enough to celebrate our wins.

By tweaking the way we do things, we can not only improve how Core Contributor work is planned, collaborated upon, and reported, but we can also cultivate a stronger sense of community within our group.

Goals :soccer:

  • Promote intentional planning
  • Facilitate communication between Core Contributors
  • Allow for easier coordination of efforts
  • Improve sprint retrospectives
  • Increase engagement from Core Contributors
  • Cultivate a better sense of community

Join the brainstorm :brain: :zap:

If you’re a Core Contributor, a member of a Working Group, or just someone with good ideas, this topic is for YOU! Please join the brainstorm by commenting on this thread and help us improve the Core Contributor workflow.

To get your brain ticking, here’s a summary of what the Core Contributor process looks like currently (at the time of writing):

  1. Core Contributor sprints run for 2 weeks
  2. An email is sent out 3 days before the sprint ends asking Core Contributors to complete the Sprint Retrospective and Planning questionnaire
  3. Another email is sent the day after the sprint has ended reminding everyone to fill in the questionnaire
  4. The Core Contributor Sprint Retro is posted on the forum a few days after the sprint has ended. It displays the results of the questionnaire
  5. An Async Update is posted on the forum every 2 weeks giving us a sneak peek of what’s going on across the community

Please let me (@ali_hugo) know if there are any steps missing, or if there’s anything else you feel is important to mention.

See you - and your ideas - in the comments below!


Screenshot of the Sprint Retrospective and Planning questionnaire:

I thought I’d kick this off with some of my initial thoughts. Interested to hear what you think…

Enable Discourse Chat? :speech_balloon:

  • Would there be any advantage to using Discourse Chat in addition to (or instead of) the “core-contributors” channel in Slack?
  • Whereas the forum is great for discussions that develop over time, a more immediate (although still async) communication tool might be useful for coordinating efforts
  • The temporary nature of chats might also encourage more communication between Core Contributors

Make Core Contributor sprints longer? :hourglass_flowing_sand:

  • (:warning:Warning: Big assumption to follow) I assume that most Core Contributors plan their contributions on a monthly basis. If I’m correct, would it perhaps make sense for our sprints to last a month rather than 2 weeks?
  • Core Contributors are busy people. Longer sprints might help reduce overhead (we’d only need to complete the ‘Sprint Retrospective and Planning’ questionnaire once a month, and @Dean would only need to post a sprint retro monthly, as opposed to every 2 weeks)

Improve ‘Sprint Retrospective and Planning’ reminders and questionnaire :memo:

  • Reminder emails

    • Today, the “Sprint Retrospective and Planning: Please add your update” email is sent 2 days before the sprint ends (4 days before the submission deadline). Would it be more useful to receive the email on the last day of the sprint? I find that I want to fill out the questionnaire right after receiving the email but, with the current schedule, I can’t because I still have more CC work to do before the sprint ends
    • The “Reminder: Today is the last day to complete Sprint Retrospective and Planning” email is sent the day after the sprint ends i.e. the day of the submission deadline. I think this timing works well), but I noticed something strange: the deadline mentioned in the first email (“Please add your update before the end of day this Monday (Jan 9)”), does not match the date of the reminder email. @Fox_Piacenti Have you noticed this? Also, please will you confirm whether the reminder is only sent to CC’s who have not yet completed the questionnaire?
  • Sprint Retrospective and Planning questionnaire

    • A few tweaks to the questionnaire could go a long way to making it more user-friendly, namely: simplifying the question text, and changing the order of the questions so that they follow a more logical path. It might also be nice to add a field where Core Contributors are encouraged to give kudos to fellow CC’s
    • Long-term goal: Improve the user experience of the questionnaire in Listaflow

Give ‘Core Contributor Sprint Retros’ a makeover :barber:

  • Improve the formatting of Core Contributor Sprint Retros so that they are easier to read. Consider creating some kind of template in Discourse. Alternatively, would there be any benefit to moving sprint retros to the Open edX wiki?
  • Long-term goal: improve Listaflow reports so that questionnaire feedback is represented more meaningfully

Maintain a list of Core Contributor projects :nerd_face:

  • Is there a list somewhere of Core Contributor projects/efforts? It might be helpful (especially for new CC’s) to get a snapshot of what’s being worked on (perhaps in the wiki?)
  • And what about a place to list ideas for future CC projects? This could give new CC’s an idea of where to begin

Make collaboration easier :construction_worker_man:t5: :man_office_worker: :woman_office_worker:t2:

  • Is there a better way for Core Contributors to ask other CC’s for help? Or let others know when they are available to help out on a certain project? With the flood of notifications we all get on a daily basis, it’s very easy to miss a forum notification or a Slack message

So there you have it, my – very long – two cents! I’m interested to hear what you all think; do you have answers to my questions, agree/disagree with my suggestions, or better yet, have some suggestions of your own? Please share! We’re all ears.

@ali_hugo this is great. I endeavour to review and possibly add comments asap.

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It looks like the template for the final reminder only mentions the sprint end date and not the due date. So that’s something we could definitely improve.

And yes, team members should only receive a notification if they haven’t completed their checklist.

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