How we run a software company: Learning from each other
3 April 2013, by Anna Mulholland
One of Softwire’s core values is aspiration: employees are encouraged to strive for continuous improvement, both for Softwire in general and for their individual contribution to its success. One of the best ways for this to happen is for employees to learn from each other. There are a number of different ways in which we spread knowledge around Softwire, which include (but are not limited to!):
Lunch and Learns
Every Friday lunchtime an employee holds a Lunch and Learn – these are an informal talk which can be on any topic that the speaker thinks would benefit Softwire; in the past, these have included talks such as ‘The rapid pace of web development isn’t rapid enough’, ‘Basic F#’, ‘Presentation Training’ and even ‘How to Manage Your To-Do List’. Employees get together each Friday lunchtime to listen to the talks, plus anyone attending gets a free lunch so they are usually pretty popular! The aims of Lunch and Learns are to:
- Let others know what else is going on in the company and how they are doing it
- Be more sociable between teams
- Improve confidence within the company with respect to public speaking and presenting
- Share technical knowledge and expertise within the company.
Lunch and Learns are a great informal setting for people to learn about something new. We’ll continue to post videos of recent talks on here, so you can see for yourself!
Matthew has recently started Wednesday Whiteboard, a session in which he explains a subject that he is knowledgeable on to a small group of people who think they don’t but want to. So far these have been very successful, with both Matthew and his audience learning from the process! The first Wednesday Whiteboard was so popular in fact, that Matthew ended up doing a Friday Whiteboard in the same week, so that everyone who wanted to could attend.
A couple of months ago, we held our first ever in-house conference, SoftCon! It was a very popular event and people learnt a lot from it. We’ll no doubt be holding more SoftCon events in the future.
On top of all this, we also have the following:
- Training tracks: experts in a particular field compile a course of recommended books, activities and online resources for their colleagues to work through
- Lightning talks: A couple of months ago we held our first ever Lightning Talks competition
- Quarterly company meetings where the directors provide updates on and plans for the company, and discussion is encouraged
- Dinner forums – a group of employees get together once every couple of months with a director and discuss anything they want in regards to the business over a nice (paid for!) dinner. Minutes of the discussions are sent around the company afterwards so that everyone knows what was discussed and people are free to raise any other queries they have as a result.
- Morale events, such as Speed Coding, Battleships and Project Euler evenings.