A Fast Boot is an event that gathers the members of a team or group in one physical location to work together and bond in order to accelerate the formation of the team or group so that they reach maximum productivity as early as possible.
History of the Fast Boot
The first Fast Boot took place in December 2018. The 13 members of Monitor Group gathered for 3 days to work and bond in Berlin. You can learn more by reading the original planning issue.
The second Fast Boot took place in April 2019. The 5 members of Delivery team gathered in Utrecht to bond but also work on finalising auto-deployment process. Planning issue contains the proposal for Fast boot, and the Delivery Fast boot epic contains issues and links to recordings created during the Fast Boot.
Why should you have a Fast Boot?
Right now, the fast boot is intended for new teams or for teams with a majority of new members who need to build their culture of shipping work. If your team fits this description, you can propose holding a Fast Boot to reduce ramp up time and establish and strengthen relationships between team members.
How should you get approval?
First raise the idea with your manager to determine if there’s a good case for a Fast Boot. Ultimately, the executive team will approve these on a case by case basis.
Development approval process and timelines
Because fast boots ultimately require a budget and approval, fast boots will be limited by both factors. As of June 12, 2019 Engineering is limited to one fast boot for FY20. As such, requests for fast boots need to be submitted by July 31, 2019 and will be prioritized. Approval will occur in by August 15, 2019. If successful, more fast boots can be planned for the FY21 budget.
How should you measure success?
When building the case for your Fast Boot, you should determine what metrics you will use to measure success. For example, after the Fast Boot you may expect your engineering team's throughput to increase or you may expect your support teams mean time to ticket resolution to decrease. You may also want to measure the sentiment of the team members after the Fast Boot with followup surveys.
What artifacts should you produce?
During the Fast Boot the priority is building a culture of shipping work. Ideally the group can work together to ship one large, high-impact item to production. Failing that it could be a backlog of smaller items. Secondarily you should record and livestream videos that give people insight into what your team is working on. Kickoff meetings, working sessions, and demos are all great candidates for being livestreamed.
Pros & Cons
Team members really enjoyed meeting each-other in person and got to spend a lot more time together than at the Summit/Contribute.
Team members now feel more comfortable asking for help, especially across teams (FE, BE, UX).
Team members understood each other's workflows better, allowing them to organise better and work more efficiently in future.
It takes time to create a proposal and and get the approval.
It takes a fair amount of planning: hotels, flights, meals, content, follow-up.
It can be expensive.
It is antithetical to the way we usually work at GitLab.
It can be mentally and physically exhausting spending a lot of time with team member outside of personal comforts.
Tips & Tricks
Hold the Fast Boot in a location where at least one of your team members resides. In addition to reducing the cost of flights and hotels, your team member can act as a guide to the city and help choose and book locations.
Set clear expectations about how your time will be spent. Will there be down time? Will the team eat dinner together every night?
If at all possible, select one day for non-work related activities on the tail end of the Fast Boot. Doing a fun activity will allow team members to get to know different aspects of ones personality.
Agree and plan in advance what events should be recorded and stick to the plan for the rest of the event.
Prepare any equipment for recording (or streaming) the events while getting approvals for Fast boot. Basic cameras might not be sufficient and additional equipment might need to be rented.
When booking accommodation, ensure that everyone gets enough personal space. Consider that everyone will spend most of the day working together, so personal downtime might be needed.