In the first part of our blog article, we discussed the challenges of scaled agile frameworks: How do you get all teams together, discussing about the features they built for the product and gathering feedback? One option could be a product bazaar (or application bazaar).
We used that format and converted it into a project bazaar for Comsysto Reply. Our goal was to get our different project teams together, talking about their projects and discussing new opportunities.
We talked about Iteration 1-3 of our bazaar’s development. Now we would like to continue and tell you how we implemented the bazaar idea at Comsysto Reply and which additional challenges we faced. Again, we will talk about the so-called project bazaar and point out differences to a product/ application bazaar. However the basic idea remains the same.
Once the hypotheses are validated and the organizational categories are set, you can start a more detailed planning. Keep in mind to still work in short iterations if this is your first time of organizing a bazaar in your context. We had a 1-hour sync every week in order to talk about the status of the bazaar, difficulties and upcoming tasks. At these syncs, sometimes we changed our plans, re-ordered priorities of tasks and decided who we needed further alignment with.
Timeframe and bazaar format
We decided to go with a “real” bazaar-style. So we only specified an overall timeslot to define in which timeframe the bazaar should take place. During the bazaar itself, there were no defined timeslots or restrictions. However, we felt we would like a mutual opening and closing with all participants together. Therefore we used the intro for a small check-in game and a general explanation about the bazaar’s purpose, timeframes and how it would work. The closing was used for the general bazaar feedback.
Our project bazaar took place in our headquarter office. We used the entire area, created a preliminary location plan and estimated how many booth places we could offer.
A floor plan of our office was quickly created and we distributed the various booths throughout the rooms. For big rooms (with many market stands) we ordered a few whiteboards/ other walls that could serve as separators and also provide space to show posters etc. Our colleagues could choose if they wanted a flipchart, monitor or other technical equipment at their market stand. In addition, we created a so-called bazaar canvas with a few fields (like project name, customer, user, technologies used, purpose, product, …). We sent this canvas to each team and asked them to go wild with designing and filling their bazaar canvas. For a product bazaar (instead of a project bazaar) you could think about general topics you would like to have covered on your canvas (for example feature, customer value, timeframe, involved teams, …).
We started with different marketing activities at the same time:
- First Announcement: What is a project bazaar? What is our goal? Which needs or problems do we want to solve with this bazaar?
- Bazaar registration: Date and start of bazaar, requirements for exhibitors, information and material we provide, request and deadline for registration as a exhibitor
- Calendar invitation
- Communication regarding the bazaar canvas
- Reminders regarding location preparations
- Announcement for remote-participants: Creation of a remote communication
Since Comsysto Reply’s communication tool of choice is Slack (a widely used Chat-Tool: https://slack.com/intl/de-de/), we used Slack for mainly the entire marketing campaign. The only thing that happened via e-mail was the calendar invitation for all participants.
We found it important to engage our colleagues a bit in the project bazaar and therefore distributed 2 kinds of stickers:
Our colleagues were asked to mark their “favorite” project by putting heart stickers on the bazaar canvas. A beautiful thing happened: in the end a lot of our bazaar cards had many hearts on them and the teams used them as kind of recognition and kudos.
We also asked the participants to try to identify further potentials within the projects. Wherever they found that an additional skill or area of development could be helpful, they marked the project with a thumbs-up sticker and wrote next to it.
Of course, for a product bazaar, your choice for feedback would look differently. Think about what kind of feedback would be valuable for the product teams.
In addition to the project feedback, we were eager to gather some feedback regarding the format and organization of our project bazaar. Therefore, we created a quick survey using the tool Mentimeter in the end (a digital tool to interactively collect feedback: https://www.mentimeter.com/). It took approximately 5 minutes for the participants to put in their feedback and requests. This is a great help for us when organizing our next project bazaar.
This turned out to not be relevant for our Comsysto project bazaar, since we all went out for a big Christmas dinner afterwards.
Also not relevant for us for the same reason as above.
After a few syncs, we realized that there were still a few major challenges that we didn’t discuss or solve yet:
1. Remote participants: Sometimes, it is simply not possible to get all colleagues to the same office location. If this is the case, basically you have three options:
a) The bazaar is fully onsite, meaning that whoever isn’t there, can’t participate.
b) The bazaar is fully remote, meaning you need to find a virtual conference setup with different rooms, as well as great camera and microphone setup for everyone. You would need to create a virtual experience where people can still switch between different rooms, present their contents and talk to each other. The organizational effort and preparation for everyone will increase in comparison to the bazaar described in this blog post.
c) The bazaar is onsite at a location of your choice but you try to somehow incorporate your remote colleagues. It is definitely not ideal because the remotee’s experience will be a different one. Here is what we tried out:
- The opening and closing part was shared via videoconferencing.
- We created a remote_bazaar Slack channel. Here, we invited all remotees and provided them different information.
- Before the bazaar started, we sent the remote participants all bazaar canvases and asked them to print them out or somehow look at them.
- During the setup of the market stalls we shot a video of all teams and some introducing sentences and distributed the video via the Slack channel.
- During the bazaar, we encouraged our remote colleagues to post questions regarding teams or projects in the channel. One or two people constantly monitored the Slack channel and tried to get the answers to the posted questions.
- During the bazaar, a few of us constantly posted pictures with small descriptions in the Slack channel.
- After the bazaar, we took pictures of all final bazaar canvases (including the stickers) and provided them to all colleagues in case they wanted to look at them again.
- There was another idea (which we didn’t try out yet): During the bazaar you could schedule fixed interview times for each market stand. For example: 3pm booth A, 3:15pm booth B, etc. There could be a specified set of questions, an interviewer and a camera person to follow that interviewer. The interviewer would then walk from booth to booth and hold the little interviews which would be shared in a video conference.
- We are sure, there are many other ideas about how to incorporate remote colleagues. If you have suggestions or remarks, feel free to comment this blog post :)
2. New unknown format for our colleagues
If your colleagues have never experienced something like a bazaar or open space, it can be a bit scary. They don’t know what’s going to happen and furthermore it can be overwhelming to prepare a market stall. They might ask themselves what is expected from them and what should be shown or presented. At this point we recommend to talk to each team. Tell them what will happen and how they can prepare.
In addition, we would like to refer to the principles of an open space format. If you haven’t experienced an open space yet, we encourage you to visit an open space and to do some research about it (you will find more information online). In short, here are the 4 principles. Feel free to think about them:
Whoever comes is the right people.
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
When it starts is the right time.
When it’s over it’s over.
Are you intrigued to launch your own bazaar journey, but don’t really know where to start? Talk to us - we are passionate about this topic and would love to help out.