8th February 2017

Delivering great work is easier when the client is having fun

Ashley Warner
Development Manager
Collaboration is a key ingredient to any successful project

I know putting the words “fun” and “work” together is a strange concept for some people, but I think it can be achieved. Teams that have fun collaborate better and strong collaboration is a key ingredient to any successful project.

Fun could mean different things to different people, so for the benefit of this article let's just say that ‘fun’ means the team get along and enjoy what they are doing.

Here are a couple of ideas on how to inject some fun into your projects.

Kick off with some games

Deeson believe it's worth investing in the human foundations of our relationship and play a game on the kick off day. Not just any game, but a game which can have a meaningful pay-off further down the line or help foster a good relationship, for example one which might help the client get used to working in an agile manner. The tennis ball game is a good example of this.

Create a sense of shared identity

Coming up with a name and a ‘brand’ for a project, something short and snappy ideally, is a fun way to create a shared sense of identity and ownership between the project team. Once the project name has been decided, the designer could create a logo for the project which can then go on all presentations and documentation.

You could even go one step further and have some merchandise made; mugs are great, but things like t-shirts and stuffed toys work too. The items should only be available to the project team. This will get the whole team engaged with the project.

Add some bounce to the process

When working in Scrum, the team has a stand-up every morning to say what they did yesterday, what they are doing today and if they have any blockers. Now although the guidelines say that you shouldn’t invite the product owner to a standup, in an agency to client situation, this could mean the product owner could feel left out. So invite the product owner along to standups and encourage them to take part. The ideal standup would be everyone in the same room giving their update, but if this is not possible then have a video call, this makes it feel more personal.

Within a sprint there will be a few meetings, but try and make one of them in person. Sprint planning is a good meeting to have in person, as its easier to discuss things with everyone in the same room than having everyone on a video call.

When having meetings use a timer and the pomodoro method, so have a set goal for the next 25 minutes and then have a 5 minute break to get a drink or talk to the team and client about non work related things.

When in sprint planning, you can add a gaming element by using planning poker cards. These cards have the double benefit of being quite a laid back way of estimating tasks, but it also eliminates unhelpful bias and allows the team to make individual and impartial decisions on the length of time needed to complete a story.

Clear communication enables strong relationships

Having a team retrospective really helps a team to bond. In this meeting it's always worth considering the prime directive. "Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand."

The outcomes of the retrospective should be discussed and if any changes are needed, then they should be made and tried out on the next sprint. We won’t want anyone on the team being unhappy or annoyed as this could damage the relationships that have been built.

It can be useful to try some different approaches to retrospectives to keep them fresh. For example, you could get use the sailboat retrospective.

Most importantly - celebrate together!

If a team is doing all of the above then I would say that they are on the right track. But after all the hard work and effort you’ve put in, it’s a good idea to let your hair down and celebrate a major release or significant project milestone. Get the project team together to either have a meal or a drink and take time to reflect on what’s been achieved by the collective.

Breaking down the ‘client vs agency’ dynamic, and helping everyone become part of one team, is a key step towards having fun and delivering great, innovative work.