Keeping up to date with the latest technologies, libraries, and discoveries in the IT field is part of the job of each developer. We are always looking to improve our infrastructure, tools, and applications; and to do so we cannot simply rely on refactoring the code or improving the logic, we also need to make sure that we're using the tool that best suits the job. Nowadays, there are more and more projects appearing in code repositories, whose aim is to either create a new innovative tool or improve already existing ones, making them more performant and easier to use. Other times possible improvements come from adopting a new practice or methodology, and we have to be aware of their existence and know how they work.
In this world of continuous innovation, there is the urge to be always informed of such changes. To address this need, in SpazioDati we introduced various initiatives in order to not only ease the process and make it more enjoyable, but also to tackle it together with our colleagues and share the discoveries with the whole company.
One such initiative is what we call YouLunch.
YouLunch is a recurring event (as of now happening every other week) where all participants meet to watch a tech talk on a variety of different themes. It started back in 2019, when we would meet in the office to watch talks while having lunch (that’s where the name comes from). Then smart working took over, but luckily this type of event can be easily adapted to the remote scenario: we are simply watching the talk remotely, but the structure remains the same.
In order to better organize the event, we created a Trello board where anybody can add a card with a talk, without any restriction on the topic, as long as the topic is somewhat related to what we do or what we could/will do. The people attending the event use dot-voting: the card which gets the most votes is the talk that we will watch.
At the end of the talk, we have a chat about what we learned and our thoughts about it. We finally give a vote to express how interesting we found the talk and how much we learned from it: we use the ROTI (Return on Time Invested) ranking system, which is a simple rate going from 1 (useless, didn't gain anything) to 5 (excellent, a really worthy talk). An important note: a lower vote does not necessarily mean that the talk was bad, but maybe that the viewer already knew a lot about the topic and so did not gain much from the talk.
We find YouLunch interesting for several reasons. First of all, you can participate on a voluntary basis, nobody is forced to partake in it, but hopefully you are willing to since it is an easy and enjoyable way to learn something new. Moreover, since anybody can propose a new talk to watch, you might find yourself learning stuff that you would not have discovered otherwise.
Furthermore, since we kept track of every talk that we watched from the beginning, together with the corresponding ROTI evaluations, another colleague can easily search for a topic worth watching by just ordering them by ROTI. The higher the ROTI value, the better the chance that it will be interesting and entertaining.
Last but not least, in the present period where smart working is predominant, having a chance to meet and talk with colleagues outside of your own team is definitely a benefit of this initiative.
We believe that learning is very important. And if we can make it a fun group experience as in YouLunch, that’s even better!