How we Implemented Guilds

I started reading about guilds, and considering how they might used the company for which I work. The idea was to spread information and interests across departments and squads (initially I wanted to start it as I wanted to get people enthused about quality). I struggled to find information on how other companies use them, so I came up with my own bastardised version (it may be exactly the same, or not, I’m not sure). It’s been running for a couple of weeks now, and seems to be a success. We such have guilds as the Quality guild (obviously the coolest), the Development Environment guild and the Training guild (which is to discuss the way staff are trained, rather than to train staff). I expect some will disappear, some will merge, some will be added, but at this early stage it seems like it’s going to be a success.

Anyway, our marketing department put together a version of the document I wrote, for external use, that people may find interesting and/or useful.

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As an advocate for Communities of Practice (regardless of what they’re called), this is pleasing t see.

How were guilds proposed? Did it come from the bottom and pushed upwards, or from on high and pushed downwards?

Do each of the guilds run in the same kind of way, or do you find variances between how they all run? Such as goal setting, frequency, sharing information, and so forth?

Does each guild have a plan they’re working towards, to see if it is possible, and for them to remind themselves what they’re doing and why?

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It was me that proposed it, as Head of QA. It was an idea I’d been playing with, so I mentioned it in my team retro, then scheduled an open meeting to discuss the idea.

My company is very open to trying new things if they think it’ll work. We have 13 guilds, and I think they largely work the same, but the idea is that they are an organic body, and if a way of working doesn’t work for them, great, change it until it does. There’s a spreadsheet with a list of guilds, meeting times, meeting rooms, single sentence mission statement, mission statement in brief, chair, proposing staff member, list of interested parties, and slack channel. As current chair of the quality guild (some guilds will be rotating these), I start the meeting with a few general topics, which then lead to wider discussions. After the meeting, I’ll send out an email detailing the conversations that took place.

To me, the most important thing is that they are organic.

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We have a Testing Guild where I work as well. It is one of the best attended guilds in the company. Topics include experience reports, bug bashes, conference reports, and an occasional presentation from our Process/Testing/Development practices group. Presenters receive a t-shirt. We logged our 400th session last October.

These are great opportunities to get in front of people with your topic of passion, talk about your testing on a project, or preview your conference presentation. I have also seen groups of people present topics.


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“Passion” is the watchword… One of the topics for today was “Evangelising Quality”.

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Dang! Sorry I missed that one!

One of the big things that came out of it, that I’m looking at with the UX chaps, is the quantification of user experience. The chaps working on calculations can ‘see’ when their results are correct, and how quickly they are achieved, so there’s a sort of gamification there (and that’s always a good motivator), but for those working in a more ‘front end’ sort of thing, it’s not so obvious when what you’ve done has ‘won’.