Due to a a lot of new business and team reorganisations the past two years have have been focused on achieving excellence in all things. It has forced our squads to be more focused on agility, flexibility and innovation. Everyone is more responsible for their own results and the work is done in close proximity to the client. Valtech, my place of work, is taking a leading role in big global projects and we are showing off our skills like never before.
As the director of web development it is my job to help shape the quest for quality within the front-end context. First of all the goal is to make Valtech a hub for front-end development in Paris. By speaking at conferences and organising meet-ups we stimulate our current talent pool to be more visible and it will attract new people who want to innovate for global clients like L’Oréal and others I can’t name here.
We provide a structure in which people can focus on the mastery, autonomy and the purpose in their jobs. Happy teams produce better work. We call this the “team first” approach. Team first means that we make sure everybody in the team feels autonomous and takes responsibility for everything they do. Quality is everything.
To make all this happen we have a certain way of working. First of all we operate with a bottom-up approach. The boss is not always coding so why would he or she decide what kind of innovation developers come up with? If a junior developer designs a great solution, they will own it, present it, document it and provide support when other people use their code. If the code is client facing, they will present it directly to the client.
We have provided infrastructure for developers on which they can make a pull request. This will create a mini-site for them so they can provide code samples and documentation. There is also room for presentation decks and best practise descriptions.
If we combine the above with a flat hierarchy, people try cool things first and ask for forgiveness later if things break. In the last two years I have not had anyone ask me for forgiveness and we have less front-end issues than ever. The teams are enthusiastic and do research in their own time even though our clients are challenging at times.
We have created a buddy system in which seniors help juniors. Development is more than just coding. A well rounded developer communicates properly, understands client politics and teaches peers. Everybody gets to present at events and most people receive multicultural training.
I have not spoken a lot about specific technologies in this piece and that is on purpose. Your place of work is just as important as the technology you use. Your peers and the freedom of creativity shape you as a developer.
This was just a short outline of the way I like to work with teams. I’m currently writing a longer piece about how international teams of developers can be succesful in a commercial setting. I will also do a talk about this on tech conferences.