Continuous Learning: How Softjourn’s Guilds Spread Ideas, Build Teamwork
Softjourn

Continuous Learning: How Softjourn’s Guilds Spread Ideas, Build Teamwork

An old concept brings new life to software companies struggling to keep autonomous teams connected

September 24, 2019 by Softjourn


At Softjourn, we like to say that even though we are divided by barriers, we are united by culture. We have employees the world over; from our research and development centers in Ukraine and Poland or our colleagues in the United States, our company is spread across vast distances.

And this is one part of what makes working at Softjourn so exciting! Softjourn employees get to come to work every day and play with innovation, building solutions for our customers’ toughest problems. We create globalized products that respond to changes and trends in the market. When our customers succeed, we succeed. 

Because of this, culture and community are deeply important to us. We strive to develop a culture that nurtures and encourages learning. One that is not afraid of failure, but instead embraces the new path to success that failure can show us. 

You might be asking yourself, how do you make sure a culture is consistent when you have employees spread across not just large and varied departments, but different countries? How do we make sure that ideas, information, and help is shared across the board?

The Spotify Method

Spotify is a much larger company than Softjourn, by at least several thousand. But we face many of the same problems: keeping people connected, making them feel heard, and ensuring that help is on hand when needed. If two teams are experiencing the same problem, and one finds the solution, we need to make sure that information gets shared!

So what did Spotify do to help cope with the challenges of managing a large workforce? They implemented an Agile scaling concept called "guilds." 

These guilds work much in the same way as guilds from the Middle Ages did. Derived from the Anglo-Saxon word geld, which means “to pay, contribute,” guilds are a collective group of people with common interests. Those interests can be business related, hobby related, or pretty much anything else—but the guilds at Spotify typically center around software-related subjects, like architecture or Java. 

We decided to take a page out of Spotify's book and create our own guilds that would help connect Softjourners from Ukraine to Poland to the United States. 

Everyone at Softjourn is encouraged to engage in any number of the technology- and domain-focused guilds that we have organized. Our current guilds include: 

  • Financial 
  • Ticketing 
  • .NET 
  • IT Security
  • Software Architecture
  • DevOps
  • JavaScript    

How We Stay Connected

A guild is only as good as its communication. As a technology company, we of course like to try out a lot of different toys. 

We have Facebook Workplaces for different areas of the company, like marketing and R&D, so it only makes sense that we carved out spaces for our guilds. We have one for each of our seven current guilds, with new ideas for more collaboration always fermenting in the background.

We also have a wiki where we store information for new and current guild members -- this information can take the form of informative articles, tutorials, courses, or even past projects. This way we can see what's been done and use that knowledge to connect it to future ideas. 

But of course the best way to stay connected is to talk in person. Our guilds meet on either a monthly or bimonthly basis depending on schedules. We have very hard-working guild masters who pick topics and drive engagement in not only our in-person meetings, but also in our various online spaces. 

Our in-person meetings include virtual rooms so that if the meeting is being held in our IF Office, those in Poland or the U.S. can also call or camera-in to see and listen to the discussion. Our meetings have presentations, Q&As, and general networking opportunities so that everyone has a chance to finally say hello to that new person who sits across the room. 

There's nothing better to cement one's own learning by presenting and teaching a topic to their guild members!

Can You Make a Guild?

Of course! Making a guild isn't difficult; getting an idea and finding people are the two basic ingredients. What can be tough is working around people's schedules and continuing to drive interest in the guild. 

Having dedicated leaders like Softjourn's guild masters are a huge help to ensuring the continuation of such interest groups. The company itself can also support and nurture a guild's growth by providing information, support, and tools for communication. 

Creating a central, online database that is accessible for everyone who would like to take part in the guild is also a must. Collecting the information you talk about, and providing a forum for online as well as off-line discussion, can really help your guild grow.

Softjourn's guilds are one part of its success. With this collaboration, we are able to make sure knowledge is spread across the company. This allows us to keep learning, be introduced to new ideas, and make sure we are bringing our best to our clients everyday. 

Knowing more and collaborating with each other helps us bring our clients' ideas to life!
 


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Softjourn is a global technology services provider that finds custom solutions for our clients’ toughest challenges. We leverage our domain expertise in Cards & Payments, and Media & Entertainment, with a special emphasis on ticketing, to apply new technology that brings our clients growing needs to life. Contact us to discuss how we can make your idea a reality!