Studying Midcycle Sprints and Meetings

Hard to believe that we gathered in Paris just a month ago for the Design Summit. I’m still snacking on the chocolate and cheese from that fine place.

Since the Summit we’ve had questions and posts about midcycle meeting planning, so I started gathering information from the various teams and we discussed at a recent cross-project meeting. Here are the findings about patterns, guidelines, and pitfalls for midcycle meetings. I’ve posted these to the OpenStack wiki also so we can continue to evolve and refine as our teams self-organize.

Patterns we’re seeing for current midcycle meetings:

  • About 10-30 people attend.
  • Feedback by attendees is positive; midcycle meetings are generally considered productive events.
  • Only a handful of groups tend to hold them; for this cycle we’re seeing some teams choose not to. Often subteams form around a specific tasks to complete.
  • Meeting space is donated by companies, so often location is based on available free spaces and dates are then partial to the location availability.
  • Travel costs are the responsibility of the individual attending (their employer most likely).
  • Sometimes companies will host meals (not often).

Guidelines we want teams to stick to:

  • Highest return on investment is in early days of joining or forming the team, when social bonds and trust need to be established.
  • Best quality meetings tend to be sprint-oriented with real work getting done and a specific outcome in mind; hence the mid-cycle sprint name.
  • Organization responsibility lands on PTL or a designated delegate.
  • Multiple sprints can be co-hosted. However, productivity also lies in the small, quiet environment, and social bonding is easier in smaller groups.
  • Unless there are good cross-pollination opportunities between co-hosted teams, teams should favor separate sprints.
  • The Design Summit should be the first choice for gathering the whole team for decisions and roadmap alignment.

Known risks to be aware of:

  • Pitfall can be a feeling of “required” attendance (social or actual) causing hard feelings; also some types of contributors will be marginalized despite best efforts, such as those without a corporate sponsor, family caretakers, and people who need Visas to travel.
  • Often there’s a choice implied in choosing what an individual travels to; adding a midcycle sprint means a choice has to be made.
  • Virtual aspects of a midcycle require additional support such as open source tooling, or if using non-open source tooling, you must get agreement from participants.

From my own experience, the docs team had a boot camp over a year ago where we had a great time focusing on our team, but since then we haven’t needed to meet separately from the Design Summit. Here’s Michael Still giving his “I love you” sign at our docs team meetup.
Doc boot camp

If you have any questions about midcycle sprints, please ask Stefano Maffulli. To get a list of upcoming sprints, both in person and virtual, go to the Sprints wiki page.

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