How We Work

In the introductory post, Maria shared some interesting things about Mozaic Works. We’d like to let you in more and show you how we work. Here it is…

 

The Team, Rules and Values

From the very beginning, Maria wanted Mozaic Works to have high standards of collaboration. We don’t try to sell services to our customers, we help them solve their problems. We treat our suppliers with respect and build partnerships with them. Each team member works towards the company’s goals, pairing or grouping with colleagues as necessary.

The focus of the team is having the best results by respecting and honouring the collaborators that helped them reach the goal. The schedule is not fixed, and nobody counts how many hours we work. It doesn’t matter where we work from; it can be from home, from the country side or from the office. The tools we use allow us to communicate progress very easily and collaborate even from thousands of kilometers apart. We have much more freedom than a traditional company; we also have much more responsibility, which in turn creates a very motivating and fun work environment.

This is, in a few words, the core of the company: excellence, collaboration, results orientation.

The Seasons

We split the year in two seasons of learning: January – July and September – December. We are very busy during the seasons, and we know we will be less busy in the break; that’s when we can think how to dramatically improve our work. That’s when we do…

The Company Retreat

Every end of season, the whole team moves to the mountains for an event we call “The Mozaic Works Retreat”. The purpose of this event is to learn from the past, to plan for the future and to have fun together, as a team.

The retreat has very few rules, but they are very important:

  • It’s facilitated: I (Alexandru Bolboaca) was the facilitator of the last two retreats. My job is to make sure that everything works smoothly and that the discussions are as productive as possible.
  • The whole team plans it: Before the retreat, each of my colleagues comes up with a list of topics to discuss. We never could discuss all of them, but we always discussed the most important.
  • Focus: We’re all there because we want to advance faster on our projects (more about this later), so everyone is focused on the work at hand.
  • Have fun: Since we’re there, it means we had a good season. We never forget the important agile principle: Celebrate!

The past retreats have had a few phases:

  • Review achievements of last season or year
  • Team retrospective
  • Present targets for next season or year
  • Work on projects

It’s worth noting that we adapt to the needs and change the retreat’s structure accordingly.

An important result of the retreat is the dramatic change of at least one thing from the way we work. It was during a retreat when we decided to use two weeks iterations with planning and retrospective. During another retreat, we completely changed the way we organize our internal projects.

The Projects

We organize our work in projects. We use a notion of project that’s closer to GTD than to project management. In addition, a project must be important for the team and the company in order to be selected. A few examples of projects are: “In-house assignment: Adopt Kanban at Y C0”, “Organize TDD course in Frankfurt” or “Improve registration form”. Each project has a responsible, a deadline and clear deliverables. The responsible is not a project manager, he/she is more like a facilitator who ensures everyone involved works to advance the project as quickly as possible given the other work they have. All work is peer reviewed in the team to ensure a very good quality of deliverables. Deliverables are often created through pair work.

We use Basecamp to manage our projects. It helped us a lot until now because it allows each of us to work from anywhere.

The Iteration

Every two weeks, we meet for a demo, planning and retrospective (usually split in two meetings). The demo is the meeting where each of us shows the advance on the deliverables to the rest of the team. The planning is when we set the objectives of the next iteration. The retrospective is when we discuss what we can improve in how we work, based on the past few iterations.

The improvement projects resulted from the retrospective are part of our project portfolio. They are either planned in the iteration or we advance on them when we have slack.

Every Day…

We work based on our values:

  • We ensure excellence through reviews, pair work and group work
  • We collaborate with our customers, suppliers and in the team to offer high quality services
  • We focus on results by working during the iterations only on the projects we planned, knowing that we’ll have to demo our results at the end

 

This is a very short description of how we work. If you’re curious about anything else, leave us a comment!

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