Monday, October 16, 2006

patterns & practices team lives the life

At the end of day four of Microsoft's patterns & practices Summit in Redmond Thursday we got to go on one of the best tours I have ever been on.  Tom Hollander was our tour guide and he guided us through a place he knows well:  the patterns & practices development team's workspace.  All I can say is WOW! It must have been embarrassing for my co-workers to have to walk around with me as I drooled all over the floor throughout the entire tour. 

We first started outside of the p&p building where Tom started with the story of Microsoft's building 7.  It seems that Microsoft, with all their expansions and construction, just by-passed building number 7. Tom didn't offer any explanation as to why, but he did say that someone has discovered the mistake and they are doing something about it. They are finally constructing building number 7. Now Tom and the other's @ Microsoft can't send their newbies and co-ops to building 7 to get some paperwork for them and watch as the newbies roam around campus looking for building 7 only to return hours later exhausted.

But, I digress. We entered the building and Tom talked about how the p&p team would borrow conference rooms for as long as they could to facilitate their development style.  Their cubes just didn't work.  Sometimes they would get lucky and stay in a conference room for up to a week without being told they needed to vacate. This went on for a while until some exec got wind of it and decided to do something about it. And something about it, they did! One by one each member of the team was interviewed about what their ideal working environment would look like. An architect was hired and designed a space based off that input.

As I walked through the halls of the building headed toward the p&p space I looked in at the offices of one of the other groups that share the building with the p&p team. I thought, cool they really get to make themselves at home I their offices. One women even had a red throw rug on her office floor with all sorts of little things all over the office that made her feel like she was at home.  each office I passed had little personal things that made each person's office their own.  We stop at the end of the hall in the back part of the building at the entrance to the p&p space.  The wall was adorned with the p&p logo in shining letters.  There were all the p&p books displayed nicely on the right.  But what was this on the left?

A team room.  Not just a team room, but a room where a team could work and be effective.  All of the walls were made of glass.  Some of the glass was white, some of it was clear.  But all of the walls had writing all over them. There were tables in the middle with double monitor stands on them and some of what looked like they could be the most comfortable office chairs you could imagine.  There were three of these types of team rooms.  One even had sliding walls that could slide open to make a bigger team room.  Sorrounding these rooms were the personal offices of the team.  But most of these were shared offices where up to three people shared one office space.  And the lounge.  The plasma TV must have been 60 inches!

It goes to show how much affect your working environment can have on the quality of the work you produce.  Maybe not directly, but definatly indirectly.  When you have the room to communicate and work together, whether you are pair... oops... realtime code reviewing or having standup meetings or design meetings and writing on the walls, you will be more successful.

I leave you with one last thought on this rather long post:

It was a great ending to a week that was full of ways to make me more productive.