Many I’m sure have heard the “Warteam” meetings at Microsoft and probably about as many stories to go along with them. Here in the Developer Division (DevDiv from here on out…shorter to type) we have a meeting called “Shiproom”, which holds a similar purpose to “Warteam” without the suggested lore behind the “Warteam” name.
The purpose of Shiproom is to have a forum where each team from the division is represented. Shiproom is designed to track project/s status, go over blocking issues, and keep the division informed. During the endgame this includes making decisions on bugs and driving teams towards release. It’s regularly held twice weekly, until the end-game where Shiproom is held daily.
A typical agenda includes information about the builds and VBL integrations (let me know if you want to know what a VBL is), priorities and/or recap for the week, as well as PSAs (Public Service Announcements). The build and VBL information is delivered by Scott Pigeon; it’s a run down of the successes and issues currently in play, along with priorities for the week as it relates to physically building the product and moving the bits thru the VBL system. Priorities are communicated by Chris and often set the tone for the week. Many of the PSAs are geared toward communicating efforts that directly relate to the priorities, such as a roll-out of the Community Tech Previews plan & schedule that in turn supports the goal of delivering these bits to the community on continued regular basis.
Shiproom provides us with a forum to communicate this information in real-time to people who can then ask questions and get answers immediately.
I also think that sharing some of the guidelines we have for Shiproom is a good way to gain insight into what the meeting is about. So, here they are:
1. The meeting will take as long as is necessary. If its 5min we will break after 5min. If it takes us 1 ½ hrs we will take the full time to execute business as necessary.
2. “I’ll look into it” is not a valid answer for a known agenda item. We publish the agenda ahead of time. You need to come prepared with real status and information.
3. If you are the person in your group who goes to the Shiproom, you need to stay until the end of the meeting. You never know when a related issue will come up.
4. If you are the person in your group who goes to the Shiproom, know that you are not playing the role of the messenger. You should have the details and have done the additional work necessary to field questions regarding what is being discussed and specifically any questions pertaining to your team.
5. If you are assigned something, make sure you follow it up ASAP.
6. If you have a suggestion, please bring enough information with you so it can be properly discussed/assigned. Make sure it is “actionable”.
7. No speaking on cell phones – go outside.
8. No email.
Please let us know what other areas you are interested in hearing about, especially if you have similar meetings or processes that are geared toward facilitating communication with large groups.