Craft team culture by celebrating deployments

June 8, 2020

When I worked with the US Navy, every few weeks they would have ceremonies celebrating awards and achievements by their sailors. I thought it was silly at the time, but looking back, I see that was a key tool used by the Navy to reinforce their values, tradition, and encourage the right kind of behavior they wanted out of their sailors. Software team can take a similar approach to building and maintaining a healthy engineering culture by celebrating deployments.

Step one, defining engineering team values. Now, if you're a large company, you probably already have engineering values defined. If you're a small one, this is a probably good exercise to go through. What you're doing is trying to capture what your team feels are important. These might be values such as "be the change you seek," or maybe, "put customers first," or finally, "leave the code better than you found it."

Step two, explore how to realize those values in your code practices, and particularly in deployments. So for example, if your value was "be the change you seek," perhaps you would want to celebrate deployments where a developer had an idea and built it themselves without asking for permission or complaining about it. If your value was to leave the code better than you found it, perhaps you'd be wanting to celebrate deployments that did some refactoring or did some low level rewrite, or maybe introduced a new library to dramatically improve how your code was working.

Third, celebrate and reinforce those values through your code deployments. Now, how, you ask? Well, that's where Sleuth comes in. Sleuth is a deployment tracker that monitors and communicate your deployments and the impact of those deployments. So if you're wanting to celebrate deployments, step one, track those deployments, visualize those deployments, communicate those deployments. Sleuth provides a dashboard that shows you your deployments over time. And so, if a team is wanting to celebrate things through deployments, it follows you want to increase the frequency of those deployments.

Sleuth also communicates deployments via a Slack. So if you're in a Slack channel, you can have deployment information sent to that Slack channel via a message. And then, the celebrate part comes because you can then react to that message by reacting to that Slack message, which will then store back in Sleuth.

So for example, if there was a deployment that fixed the bug that everyone was really excited about, team members can then go to Slack and thumbs up or give it a reaction of "awesome" or some sort of celebratory emoji, and that information will be stored back in Sleuth so that can be tracked over time. So, it's a fun way to encourage your team to live its values through deployments.

Now, of course, points don't matter, and this should never be used to actually measure teams effectiveness. This allows your team to celebrate certain behaviors and reinforce with the developers that these are the things we're looking for, these are the things that this team finds important, and these are the things that this team wants to encourage you to do more of.

So, how do you get started? Well, if your team's not using Sleuth already, you can sign up today for a 30 day trial and connect Sleuth to your GitHub or Bitbucket repository. Now you can start seeing deployment information over time on that dashboard. That second step is to connect Sleuth to Slack. Sleuth can not only send deployment messages to a channel, but can also message individual developers when their code has been deployed, or any impact to their code. And third, have your team members connect their Sleuth account to their GitHub and Slack accounts. And finally, start celebrating your deployments. Messages will come into Slack, you'll be able to react to them with different emoji, and see the effect in Slack on the leaderboard and on the dashboard.

What are some of the team values that your team as that you want to start celebrating with deployments? Start a discussion!