Embracing Teamwork

This article is written for Individual Review PPL CS University of Indonesia ‘21

Humans are social beings who cannot live alone. When building a software project, like in the PPL course, we need to work together with our teammates. Logically, the various insights that each of the members has will enrich the product and make it something better than if only one person is building it.

Being A Great Team Member

Don’t procrastinate: The two-minute rule

In PPL, some stuff can be done in less than two minutes, such as providing links to references or debugging our friends’ code. In that case, we should try to do it right away to remove the team’s blocker. For things that take more than two minutes, we should do it as soon as possible.

Be straightforward

Relating to the point above, if our request is not straightforward, people cannot estimate whether they can help us in two minutes. We should try to make our question straightforward (if possible, make it so that people can understand by only looking at the chat preview) so they can respond fast.

Be responsible

We should be responsible for our backlogs. Don’t just create the features for the sake of creating the features, but invest our thoughts and heart on it as much as possible to make a great, smooth, bug-free, and working feature.

Giving and receiving feedback

Giving and receiving feedback will always be valuable skills. It is the basis of building an open and transparent team. Every feedback consists of the content of the feedback and the way of saying it. Always try to provide constructive feedback and say it in a well-mannered way to our teammates.

Four Key Positions

In a healthy team, four key positions hold an important role in the team’s success. In PPL, we don’t explicitly divide ourselves into these roles but instead, each of us has to have all of these important roles inside us. We have to constantly practice this mindset during sprints to make a great team.

  1. Creator
    A creator is someone full of ideas to create new things. In PPL, there are a lot of instances where we have to create something. From presentation decks, design guidelines, React components for the frontend, backend APIs, and algorithms. After all, we are creating it together. This is why all of the team members need to have a great creator mentality.
  2. Advancer
    An advancer is someone who advances the idea that was created in the creator’s phase. “An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea” — Edward de Bono
    In PPL, of course, we have to constantly advance ideas. We have to break down the previously abstract idea to be more concrete and implementable.
  3. Refiner
    A refiner is someone who can think of the corner cases of an idea. They have to make sure that nothing will go wrong. They will probably say “but” a lot, such as “but, is it going to work?”. In PPL, we have to refine our own features to make sure that it will land smoothly as expected.
  4. Executor
    An executor is someone who actually executes an idea until it lands on production. They craft the code according to the workflow, such as creating tests and implementing, until the product features become something real. Great executors will execute the idea flawlessly.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

On our own, maybe each of us can create some of the features. But by working as a team we can learn a lot from each other. It is common knowledge that every person has their own strengths and weaknesses. By working as a team we can achieve more. This is because we can learn how other teammates learn, we can learn how they make their codes clean, we can learn how they think to make the features. We can learn these things by directly looking at the codes or asking them. This improves our skills as a team and individually. The product becomes better than if we are to work on the product separately.

Servant Leadership

For the PPL course, in a sense, our leader is the scrum master. He leads the meetings such as daily standup, sprint retrospective, and sprint planning. However, he doesn’t just order us around. He also shares his experience as he has gone through PPL as well, so we can gain insights on the best practices. We also have two other teaching assistants: the product owner and the class teaching assistant. I’m very happy because all of them are always listening and always understanding and very helpful to our team, thank you very much!

If you want to walk far, walk together with the team

“If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together” — African Proverb

If we are talking about “real” walking, people have different walking speeds. Sometimes we have to slow down or speed up depending on who we are walking with. Maybe, we can walk faster by walking alone. But, walking together is more fun because we can chat with our friends so the journey becomes more exciting. This parable also applies in PPL. Occasionally sitting back and ask how our teammates are doing will be worth it. We can then motivate each other and help with what we can do. Our burden becomes less heavy because it is shared, and we can happily accomplish things together.

As a team, I feel that in this last sprint we have grown a lot compared to the first sprint. We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles together and do our best for this project. I personally cherish our moments together with every team member and the teaching assistants as well. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I do.

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Computer Science Student at University of Indonesia

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Kezia Sulami

Kezia Sulami

Computer Science Student at University of Indonesia