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Offsite

Last week I attended first offsite in my carrer. I had no idea what offsite meetings were so it was an interesting experience for me. Honestly I was skeptical that about entire offsite thing and thought it would be a waste of time. I work from home and I vist Bay area may be twice a year. I have a 4 year old and going for these one week trips are not fun for the family as wife has to manage the kid alone along with her hectic job. So I try to avoid a trip to Bay area as much as possible. Also these bay area trips are not at all productive for me, I somehow feel productive if at the end of the day I deliver some tangible code and in bay area trip as I am pulled into all sorts of meetings its not at all suitable to write any kind of code, there are too many distractions.  The max amount of code that I am able to write is on the 4 hour aeroplane ride back and forth.  Anyway coming back to offsite, we did it over 2 days in 4 sessions. In the first session marketing,sales,and management presented their goals for 2014.  Then we were divided into 2 groups and asked to discuss for 4 hours and come up with some tangible goals for each quarter based on the goals presented by management in first session. We were given 5 additional questions to debate upon and one of the question was to double the team size and revenue and how do we scale the engineering organization and add 50 more people, other question was how do we improve performance and quality of the product and many more.  We give each team member a pack of sticky notes and set a timer and asked him to write how he thinks we should solve this question and at end of timer we put sticky notes on the wall and prioritized the actions based on the common things. It was interesting to see most of the votes were given to Automation and new employee on-boarding and code reviews.  This again brings up my famous topic of human touch points and as the organization is growing the only way to scale is to come up with proper guidelines and self sustaining processes.

Anyway each team lead also came up with concrete projects they would start in order to meet company goals. On second day the two groups gave a presentation of their quarterly goals and then we merged the goals with other team to come up with action items per quarter.  Now I am still skeptical of how much we can really execute on these goals as Q1 and Q2 goals still seems more clear but it become fuzzy as we move on to Q3 and Q4.

But my biggest take from this offsite was that I am again charged up and motivated to take on the bigger tasks. As the team will grow I see many big and interesting projects to take on. As the organization doubled its size year over year in past 4 years, I have seen that the more challenging projects you do the better it is for you and for team members. You feel more confident and the fear of going into unexplored territory starts vanishing. You also push team members out from their cocoon and they feel more confident and grow more faster in the org hierarchy.  I feel a growing startup has too many things to work on and there is never shortage of interesting work to keep you on your toes. So you an finish one project and jump on to other. Its like you are addicted to the working culture as if you are on some kind of drug or caffeine. If you are given some boring work then you sloth on it and try to finish this and move on to the next interesting task. But once in a while you feel burnt out and for me this offsite was a nice way to get out of that daily routine and meet different team members, see what they are doing, and discuss interesting ideas. Also I met from friend from google and had dinner at the googleplex and it was interesting to see the amount of young people they have, the environment was full of energy. So I am charged and ready for the next big thing.

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