4

I'm working in a software project with about 25 students (divided in 4 groups). As right now we use Slack for chatting and sharing important decisions we make. Slack is an communication tool similar to WhatsApp with easy use of groups.

As I've noticed, everyday there are about 1-10 decisions shared each day, in a special "decisions-group". These decisions are quite important, mostly for the exact same day but not for everyone. These are not all related to code, an possible decision is the change of code coverage lines. Not everyone is aware of all decisions that are made every day. I have done multiple samples and noticed that there were always people not aware of some decisions. In this problem, I'm not sure if it's a problem with a lack of discipline to actually read the decisions, or if sharing those in a chat is just ineffective. Our intentions of using a chat, is to prevent disturbing everyone constantly.

How can I ensure knowledge of decisions is shared in a small project (25 people), in which everyone is aware of the decisions being made, without disturbing everyone constantly?

3

Knowledge Socialisation Sessions.

Each project uses a different name for this, but the bottomline is that projects with more than a a handful of people requires a process where people can have a summary of the latest changes or decisions.

In our case, I set a bi-weekly meeting where all latest decisions that could impact project performance in the mid to long term were presented. Tracking each and every item (up to 10 decisions a day, you mentioned) could be doable but overkill.

Besides, on the invitation itself there was a list of items discussed, so attendees don't strictly need to remember the specific decision taken an year ago but remember that it was discussed on this forum... and a quick search on the cumulative meeting invitation would lead to the answer (in our case, Jira IDs with a very brief summary of the discussion).

This way, you're offering an opportunity for the people to be aware of the latest changes. If someone is not interested on get to know on the latest updates fine... just don't attend the meeting. If someone left for a couple weeks and would like to know what happened, fine as well - just scan the meeting invitation for the latest news.

It's important to offer without forcing people to "acknowledge" they're aware of the information (that's why I don't like the idea of sign-offs or read receipts). People should naturally be interested to know this information, and if you have an engaged team it might work (or the team itself might provide other ideas). OTOH, if the team is not engaged, then there's an underlying problem to be dealt with.

Alternatives:

  • Have a Confluence / Wiki for the decisions taken
  • Have a turning role on the team to take notes and mail on a timely basis
  • Have knowledge Radiators
2

If this is a single channel where only the final decisions are posted (without the discussions) then that should be fine. There is not much more you can do.

As you say it's a software project, you could have a readme file as part of your source where all decisions are put. That way, anybody pulling the latest source would notice it changed.

But even then, I know people that don't pull the latest source before they work or don't care for changes. So in the end, it's a question of discipline and professionalism. And students might not have either (yet). I think it's a good setup, there is nothing you could change on the technical level. The only change that will affect the situation is a boss that holds people accountable for what they do or don't do.

By the way, 25 people involved is not a small project. In the real world, 25 people are multiple teams with at least one person per team assigned with just making sure the communication is working (whether you call that job a Project Manager or Scrum Master).

  • I've added more detail about the underlying groups of the 25 students. Also, the decisions that are made mostly aren't code-based. I've add an example in my text to make that more clear. If one student sees the other student makes less tests (in the code by pulling frequently), it won't be obvious that e.g. the rule of numbers of code coverage lowered. – Jelle Jan 16 at 10:42
2

This seems to be a long-awaited for missing feature in Slack: Read Receipts.

In WhatsApp, you would be able to tell who read the messages and who hasn't seen them yet. that would solve your problem at some level.

You have various choices, short of using WhatsApp:

  • Keep a list of the non-readers and send them personal reminders
  • Have a shared sheet that readers have to sign off once they read the decisions
  • Have a periodic attendance compulsory meeting where you review the decisions
  • Get to the root of the problem. Specifically:

It seems that you - as a group - are sending a lot of messages. If 1-10 messages are Very Important Decisions one can only guess how many messages came before the decision.

You need to come up with a way to send the important messages in a way they will be noticed and not ignored.

Having a separate "decisions-group" was a good idea.

Maybe sending the decisions to the "decisions-group" at a specific time daily would help.

I would suggest you talk to some of the non-readers and ask them why they ignore the "decisions-group" and what could be done that they take the "decisions-group" seriously.

2

Welcome, Jelle!

In my experience, expecting that decisions are read in slack is just ineffective, because they get lost/confusing eventually, especially if it is an update from a previous decision.

I think that you could put them in a structured place where everyone can see it when they need to. This place can be either a document, a wiki page, a trello board, whatever you consider more useful for solving your problem.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.