Personal retrospectives

| categories: organization, tldr, remote, culture

As an expansion of my snippets habit, for the last 7 years I've written up a "yearly snippets" doc each year - a personal retrospective for the year.

I've used various formats - from "incident review" style through "4Ls" - but always with the intention of sharing more broadly than just to me and my manager. My colleagues have generally appreciated the perspective, and some have taken up the practice.

One of my favourite things about doing this is that it's for me. Yes, it's useful to my manager (and a useful way of "managing up"). I use it as input to the local performance and review system. But I'm the main audience and it's my practice. I hate the kinds of performance mangement systems we see in tech companies. Having something that "works around" them to my benefit is very freeing.

Anyhow, Stig and I wrote up some notes and guidance about the idea at $current:


| categories: organization, tldr, remote, culture

A good habit I picked up at the last place was keeping "snippets" - short notes about what I worked on in a particular week. Something like this:

Weekly snippets: $project cleanup; meetings & troubleshooting.

"Short" week, in that I carried 2 days' work into it. All caught up (down?) now.

  • Removed daemonization code from $project- we expect to run it under supervisor everywhere. $link

  • Updated $otherproject to depend on that, plus Puppet changes to run under supervisor, deployed to $cluster.

  • Ran and wrote up a $topic meeting. $link

  • A frustrating day investigating $protocol issues in $cluster, much excluded but nothing pinpointed. Also some troubleshooting support during an incident on Thursday night - opened $task and updated $doc for followup.

  • Wrote up a plan for $new_project.

  • Discussed $speculative_project ideas with Eman & Charlie.

  • Copious Free Time: started working on Simple ESP Security Association Manager.

I write about this here because snippets are brilliant. I love having them to look back over - to find PRs I worked on, or docs I wrote, or when what happened, what I was thinking at a particular time. Without them, I'd be at a loss to explain what I did in any particular month, or would need to reconstruct that from old notes or emails. Writing a retrospective of my first year at the new place - do I get to call it new after a year? - pulled this into focus.

Some of my colleagues keep daily snippets. I find that weekly is about the right granularity for me: real nitty-gritty detail is in a notebook I maintain day to day. We've taken to just submitting them to a Github repo, and made a robot to notify us when something's committed so we can follow along. As a remote worker, I need to make it easy for the team to stay in touch with my work, and snippets certainly help.