Most recently I have found my role almost being one of a mini-project manager. I’m helping out with an uplift of some assets into Docker containers at work, pretty standard stuff until you realise you have many dependencies on other people. I need to:

  • Guide development teams attempting to uplift their code using my own experience.
  • Get help with gateways, reverse proxies and certificates from operations teams.
  • Get help with using the proposed pipelines from a different operations teams

Sometimes all three of those teams have areas that cross over. And how do teams in this working from home world frequently communicate? You guessed it, the ubiquitous “Slack”.

Open slack, open the floodgates

Except as I’ve heard used by ThinkProductive consultant Matt Cowdroy, “emails and messages are other people’s priorities”. The second I open Slack, I get the noise. There are notifications of direct mentions, @here mentions that will drag me in etc etc.

I want to get my ‘deep work’ done. But I need help from my colleagues. But I have a low grade, low tech, super effective solution.

Plan your conversation

Just because Slack is instant, doesn’t mean replies need to be. Get in, get the job done, get out again. Make the transaction planned, and brief.

The humble text file comes to my rescue here. I batched up all my questions for the teams I need. And I then did the team I’m talking to the courtesy of dividing into threads for Slack. By slowing down to type the message upfront, I don’t just shoot from the hip.

I lay out what I need, what I’ve already tried and pre-empt a lot of back and forth conversation.

Hi gang, a few threads here so bear with me.
Just had few things to catch up on so will put in order of importance. We can catch up on each as and when fits your schedules, but the first one would be great if can be done this morning as we can then keep moving.

[Thread] Sub module failure in bamboo against branched build

John (Not real name) is trying to run a bamboo build against a branch to carry out a migration, and I have seen this problem myself when running a build.

[Thread ] Docker Deploy lets you deploy to any stack??

It would be really cool if we could use this to deploy across stacks rather than just ones we own, assuming we can do this securely.
Can this already be done? is there a backlog item for it? I can lay out my precise requirements there.

[Thread] Correct Tribe Name??

This may not even be a question for you guys, but I’ve seen both (name 1) and (name 2) used in ECR and configuration files as a way of ‘classifying’ images. Is name 1 an old name? Who would know the right answer?

My sample test file is screenshotted here. All my clarification is done offline. I don’t go into slack for any longer than I need. I slow down to explain what I need.

Later I go back into Slack and check how we are going with answers. Since I’ve laid most of criteria out, there aren’t any responses along the lines of ‘What do you mean?’

Simple but effective. Hope it helps you too.

By James