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Product

Sharing work at Farfetch

By Kuldeep Salhan
Kuldeep Salhan Author
Kuldeep Salhan
Product nerd that loves complex problems and amplifying practice and ways of working within product teams. 
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Sharing work at Farfetch
The Practice team at Farfetch was set up at the start of 2019 to amplify and share practice across the consumer product teams. The focus being on how teams work. We look for leading indicators from the teams, signalling a need and then understanding if/how to support what’s not being served.

The indicator

There are many product teams at Farfetch with many rituals, where work is shared at a local level but nothing that cuts across the whole organisation and is global.
There was a growing need from our Executive Team, Heads of Product through to adjacent Product teams, all wanting greater visibility on work in progress as well as what’s being shipped.
This lead us to set up Show and tell six months ago, as a platform for anyone (company wide) to share work in progress. Not a critique but a quick fire show of the work.
This is the journey we took and the learnings along the way…

How it works

The format


Farfetch Porto office
  • Fortnightly meeting;
  • 1-hour duration;
  • 10 slots;
  • 5 minutes per presenter;
  • This is not a critique, so no questions from the room;
  • This is not a demo, it's about sharing work in progress;
  • It’s open for all — designers, PMs, engineers, marketing, data…
Set up

Map the future for your rituals



Map the existing rituals you have, the purpose, the value they drive and the audience. This will spotlight where there are overlaps and alignment with what already exists. You are adding a meeting — can you remove or combine existing ones?
Think about the future rituals which support the sharing, feedback and learning culture you want to create. Create a roadmap and prioritise where to start. Start small — test & learn.



Run a Pilot


Start with a one-off show and tell, with a smaller group. This is where you can get a sense of the right duration for the meeting and the number of slots you need — is the format working?
Run a survey to get feedback. Adapt based on the main emerging themes.
Template: Survey template

Choose a physical space

Depending on the size of your team, pick an area in your office or room catered for large groups (shielded from office noise). Having it more visible to the general office helps promote the meeting to others. If not, try to find a meeting room large enough to comfortably sit your audience size (as a recurring booking)

2 Weeks before

Setting up the Slots for the meeting


Template: Running order 
  1. Set up a spreadsheet that teams can populate at the beginning of the 2 weeks.
  2. Adding a tweet-length description field helps to provide more context and a more meaningful running order for your audience to view
  3. Device (PC laptop/Mac/Mobile) helps you understand what adaptors you will need on the day — you can always get caught out by that when setting up
  4. Think about the running order. You may have presenters in different locations/time zones, so it will be easier to group them, to make handoff between locations less disruptive
  5. Avoid having presenters from the same teams back to back
  6. Have a closing date for the running order — 1 day before the day.
Presenter slides



Get the presenters to complete the presenters slides prior to the day. This…
  1. Helps frame the subject they are presenting
  2. Their name, role, team and the feature they are sharing helps the audience know more about the person presenting — remember they may not be in your team or area. This makes it easier when they need to reach out to them (after the meeting).
  3. ‘Mission this feature contributes towards’ helps the audience to understand what the work (being shared) connects to
Slack channel

For the team running the meeting, set up a slack channel, so you can discuss any technical gremlins on the day — ie audio, tv or screen sharing problems.

Day before

Send out invite

  1. Distribution List invites don’t automatically get added to your calendar, so you need to make that clear in your email.
  2. Send this out, the day before the meeting. There can be last minute changes of people changing order or pulling out, and keeping the email to the day allows you to catch this before pressing the send button.
On the day

Test setup 15mins before start

  • Get all offices to test the connections for audio and picture.
  • Depending on the conference tool you use, automatically set up muting of audio and disable joining notifications for people dialling in.
  • Get presenters to arrive 10–15mins before the meeting.
Introduction deck

1. At the start of the meeting, share an introduction deck which includes the running order, introducing the presenters and areas being presented on the day.
Template: Show and tell introduction
2. Repeat the message of what the meeting is intended for — purpose.

Record the session and create a page for accessing it


Record the session

Create a (confluence) page to be a single index of all show and tells. This is useful in directing anyone that wants to know more, to one place.
Add the running order here. This will help anyone wanting to contact the presenters after the event.
 
Time keeping

Have a big timer, so the presenter knows how much time they have and you can give a nudge if things are going to overrun. It’s important not to have big overruns and you need to be strict on this.


Celebrate

Ensure you are celebrating each presenter. We created button sized patches that you give out to each presenter and the more they do, they can add to their collection. This helps create wider visibility.

My takeaways from show and tells (6 months in)

Taking ownership

  • Ownership needs to be driven down to the teams. Having someone to set up, own and run this meeting outside the product teams is all well and good but it becomes another ritual that teams just need to turn up too. If the teams own this, then it’s up to them to drive and see value.
  • Rotate the chair on the meeting.
  • Get sponsorship from senior leadership (Heads of, engineering managers, PMs and design leads) and advocates within other teams. They can help reinforce the sharing message, as well as feedback on what could be better.
Too many rituals

  • Teams can get fatigued by all the rituals/meetings. By mapping what rituals are currently supporting your teams work, you can decide what to keep, combine or kill. If you add another meeting, you should also look to remove one. Categorising the types of meeting (team, WIP) can also help. John Cutler has a good example of this here
  • You will need to sense if there is repetition of multiple shares of the same content across other meetings — are there too many meetings covering the same purpose?
  • There can be clashes in timing — negotiate what is possible with the teams cadence

Building the culture & purpose

Presenting work in progress can feel vulnerable for a number of reasons…
  • You are opening yourself up to feedback — either crossovers or dependencies with other teams. It’s much easier to keep work shielded in your teams
  • Designers tend to present slick decks so it can feel intimidating for an engineer to talk about the work they have just started. Promote sharing of design/engineering at the most appropriate moments in the development cycle
  • A perception of lack of value in presenting WIP rather than completed work.
  • An invisible ‘quality bar’ of what is acceptable to share on a wider company platform. This needs unpacking by getting the teams to define the parameters of what they feel comfortable sharing and what they don’t.
Repeatedly communicating what the meeting is intended for, as well as not, will establish purpose and value — Sharing stories/process and work in progress
  • Teams work to different velocities. A two week period may not show much progress. Again get the teams to outline the parameters they will use to determine what they will be sharing. This may also be an indicator of the size of stories the teams are picking up and something to reflect on. Should they be broken down?
  • Creating a safe and trusting environment for each other. This is hard but it’s better to show rather than tell (find those advocates) and continue to reinforce the message. The value the teams feel from the meeting will drive the show and tells success.

Test & Learn

  • Start small and test appetite with a few teams and slowly invite other areas of the business — marketing, data, analytics, creative and platform. This starts to give a much richer 360 of work in flight for the overall product
  • You may not always fill your allocated presenting slots and that’s ok. It just reflects what’s happening
You may need to monitor the following:
  • Too many shipped/demo presentations
  • The same person/discipline/teams presenting all the time
In these scenarios, it’s a signal to work harder on the communication. What is it for, why you are doing it and what’s in it for them
  • Keep iterating and adapt as the work and teams do
  • Be open to the fact this may not work — the teams need to see value in doing this. The attendance and participation will be key signals for you. Continue to get feedback and be prepared to adapt.
I would love to hear your feedback.
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