AL: Activity Lead


AL: Activity Lead

"Where to, captain?"

  • You are responsible for making sure that the job gets done. "Activity Lead" is essentially the DRI.

  • You are the main POC (point of contact) for the stakeholders. In customer projects the "stakeholder" is the customer. In internal projects it could be the CRO, HoF or anyone really.

  • Being named the Activity Lead gives you certain powers. You are now responsible for delivering the project. That means that you can requisition resources. You can pick the process (within limits, see ground rules). You must assign roles in the project. You must manage budget. Basically, you're in charge.

  • Anyone can be designated an Activity Lead for something. E.g. Leon was acting as Activity Lead during our 2019 Krk Summit for making sure that we got fed, and boy did we get fed well. Luke was the Activity Lead for the Vienna Office interior design project.

  • You have the power and obligation to ask people to do things in service of the goal that you've been entrusted with. Don't be shy with this, it's your job, and your colleagues rely on you to set direction.

  • You are entrusted with getting it done, it doesn't mean you have to do everything yourself. You can delegate, if you do so, then you are responsible for following up with your delegates to ensure that they've done what you've asked to a standard of quality that you are happy with.

  • You must set a schedule.

  • You are responsible for making sure that information is shared with the correct people. It's great if you know, but not if only you know. Share the knowledge.

  • Gather the goals of the project and communicate them during kickoff. Keep reminding the Squad of this.

  • Communicate the quality level of expectations for the project to the entire Squad openly at kickoff. Should this be a quick and dirty project, or are we making a masterpiece?

  • As the Activity Lead, it's fine to use a custom process that's suitable for your project. A lightweight process is also fine. But always make sure that the HoP is aware of your process and that you get their approval. While you are free to create your own process, it needs to fit into the overall information architecture of the company, and follow some basic rules; the HoP will help you make sure that this is the case.

  • If they will be needed, ensure that Jira, Confluence, etc. projects are set up and ready to go before kickoff.

  • Follow basic rules regarding Jira and Confluence, time tracking, deliverable tracking, budgeting etc. If it's your first time being a Activity Lead, get an intro from the HoP.

  • Plan.

  • Approve holiday request for members of your Squad.

  • Update your plans when reality hits them.

  • Ensure your Squad members aren't blocked, and that they always have clear requirements ahead of time.

  • Don't prepare requirements at the last second. Stay ahead of the curve with planning, so that Squad members can be flexible and have tasks to switch to in case they get blocked on one of them.

  • Allocate the tasks among the members of the Squad according to the abilities and aptitudes of each one.

  • Ensure that the Squad is made aware of project priorities. Also as they change.

  • Prevent getting the Squad into situations where heroics such as overtime are necessary to save the project.

  • You are responsible for the level of quality of the project. It's your responsibility to double check. It's your responsibility to remind the Squad when they are not meeting your expected level of diligence or quality in their work. See Feedback System

  • Squad members who are not meeting commitments need to be informed of this, and given an opportunity for discussion why this is happening. The requirements may be unreasonable, or they may be underperforming. Whatever it is, it needs addressing.

  • Make sure that all aspects of the project are completed with no loose ends remaining (e.g. returning customer equipment, relinquishing access to customer tools, etc.)

  • Ensure that your Squad is tracking time in accordance with Time Tracking.

  • You must keep an eye on how much time is spent on the Activity/project, and proactively report it to the stakeholders on a regular basis.

  • You need to set milestones, and call meetings and be the overall driver of progress.

  • You are responsible that the appropriate Slack channel, Google Team Drive, Confluence page, etc. are created. Talk to the HoP if it's your first time and you need help with this.

  • You are ultimately responsible that quality is maintained. This will include checking work. Don't just assume that it will be fine.

  • You should proactively tell your stakeholders when the job cannot be done (or cannot be done well), and seek a mutual solution. Don't delay this.

  • If you are the Activity Lead, and you have your Team or School leader on your Squad, then that does not absolve you of any responsibilities. Let's say there is a project to build a new continuous integration system, and an Engineer is the Activity Lead with the CTO as part of the Squad. In this case, the CTO reports to the Engineer, and the Engineer must instruct the CTO and hold them accountable. That's how our Role based system works, embrace it.

  • Organise a "lessons learnt session" at the end of every project. Ensure that Squad members come prepared with some lessons learnt that can be shared. Discuss what went well and also what didn't. Record the lessons learnt into our knowledge base. Ask the HoP for input where you should store these lessons learnt. See also: Feedback System.

  • PMs are Activity Leads for customer projects by default. But this isn't always the case.

  • Know the difference between Activity Lead vs PM.




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