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High Five You Rock #h5yr !

It’s good practice to appreciate your successes and learn from mistakes. Reviewing lessons learned and acknowledging co-workers is encouraged by such process gurus as the Project Management Institute. We were taken by a recent discovery: how Umbraco CMS is creating and embracing an asynchronous non-geolocated team of open source developers through shared “high fives” over Twitter.

Our History – You Rock Awards

PV You Rock Awards

You Rock Awards at Pure Visibility

We are a driven bunch, much more prone to notice and stew about the 5-10% that went wrong instead of the 90-95% that went right about a project. We started a practice to give each other public compliments and called them “pineapples” (for reasons you can read about on the Pure Visibility History page). Sometimes we even presented actual tasty pineapples to each other.

Can't touch this

Toy porcupine, shared by eperales on Flickr

Over time, we decided to expand our practice to include “porcupines”, the inverse of a pineapple, something that was a learning event. We elected to share these to prevent teammates from going down a known dead-end path.

We like nuance rather than black and white, so we elaborated the taxonomy to include “pork-apples” (half porcupine, half pineapples) and “pine-u-pines” (half pineapple, half porcupine).

Or the more complicated and multi-faceted “yay-boo-yay,” a good thing with a bad surprise inside that has an OK resolution, or “boo-yay-boo”, a bad thing that seems to resolve but then reveals another problem underneath. These silly names got us talking about these things, and sharing solutions.

We have experimented a little with Twitter-like chat and messaging systems, where we can make these kinds of announcements to include remote team members in the celebrations and the lessons, but usage of these has faded after a short while. Institutionalizing this practice (everyone had to share a pineapple and a porcupine each week…) kind of deadened it and we got out of the habit.

Umbraco’s Approach

So, we were heartened to see this practice echoed and expanded immensely to Twitter (something many of our team members already use) by Umbraco CMS, an open source Content Management System. We haven’t actually seen an Umbraco CMS deployment, so we cannot comment on their product, but their process is fun and lighthearted.

They’re using Twitter, and the hashtag #h5yr (high five, you rock) to call out colleagues for successes. They’re also using Twitter and the hashtag #h5is (high five, I suck) to share lessons learned. What’s interesting is that instead of by reciting your errors by rote and educating the team about how to avoid your misdeed, there’s something light and positive about announcing that you rock for finding your own error.

Maybe it’s snarky  and self-deprecating when used by some, but I’m taking it at face value. I believe there is a victory in finding and correcting mistakes. I’ve always been an advocate of “making mistakes faster” – sharing work early and producing work iteratively to ensure that mistakes in understanding are corrected way before the end of the production process.

Anyway, see for yourself to interpret how it is being used by the Umbraco community by reading some recent posts on these sites:

What I like is that it is shared, public, using a system that exists and is already in use, and lighthearted.

Hat tip to the Chief Happiness Officer blog.

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