Craftswap with Zenika

Sandro Mancuso · 17 Dec 2018

In August we had our first Craftswap with Zenika. It was a great experience for us as a company and we certainly recommend other companies to do the same.

What is a Craftswap?

Craftswap is when two companies exchange craftspeople for a period of time.

How long should the swap last?

We chose to do it for one week and we found it to be just right. It was enough time for the craftspeople invoved to work on more than one project, meet different people, and experience a bit of the hosting company's culture.

What’s the goal?

The goal is to exchange technical, cultural and organisational ideas and practices between companies.

What is expected from the craftspeople involved?

Exchange knowledge while working with craftspeople from the other company.

On the technical side, the travelling craftspeople will pair/mob with the hosting craftspeople in different projects and attend meetings like stand up, retrospectives, planning, as if they were a normal member of the team. Besides sharing and learning technical skills (coding, design and architecture), they are also expected to share and learn about process and anything related to running a project.

From the organisational and cultural sides, the travelling craftspeople are expected to share with the hosting craftspeople things about their company, their culture, structure, business model, and anything else they find relevant, except any confidential information. They are also expected to learn similar things from the hosting company.

Once the travelling craftspeople are back, they are expected to share what they’ve learned during their visit with their colleagues, and blog about their experience. Blogs should not contain any confidential information.

What is the cost?

Each company pays the expenses (travel and accommodation) of their own craftspeople. No money is exchanged between the companies.

Zenika’s visiting craftsman

We had the pleasure to receive Abdellah Zeroual from Zenika’s Paris office. Abdel did a very good job representing Zenika and we learned a lot from him.

On his first day, we had a great conversation for a couple of hours where we both shared details of how Codurance and Zenika are run, their challenges, history, culture, and many other things. I certainly learned a lot from that conversation and got many ideas on how to improve our company. He was then introduced to some of our craftspeople and spent his first two days working with one of our in-house teams in a project for Mango. On his third day he joined another in-house project for Amazon AWS. His fourth day was spent with our apprentices, so he could learn more about our apprenticeship program. We had a chat later in the day in order to provide more details about the program. On his fifth and last day, we had our bi-monthly Open Space day — a full day where the everyone comes to the office for an internal open space conference. The Open Space Day is a special day for us, where we spend the whole day learning, sharing and socialising with each other. Abdel not only had the opportunity to experience an important side of our culture but also to meet everyone. He took the opportunity to run a great session where he spoke about Zenika — history, services, culture, challenges, and what it looks like to work there. Our people were very interested and asked many questions.

You can read more about Abdel's experience on his blog post.

Codurance’s travelling craftsman

From our side, we had Christian Panadero visiting Zenika Paris. Christian had a great time there and shared a lot of information with us when he was back.

You can read more about Christian's experience on his blog post.

What happened afterwards?

A few weeks after the swap, Abdel, Christian, Xavier Detant (Zenika’s CTO who proposed the swap) and I had a retrospective where we all shared our experiences, both at the individual and company level.

Overall we all felt that both companies benefited from the swap and learned a few practices that can make both companies better. It was certainly a great experience for us.

Would you recommend other companies to do the same?

Certainly. The same way professionals learn from each other in conferences and community events, companies should also learn from each other. A craftswap is a great way to achieve that.

What kind of company should we do the swaps with?

I could not say what is right for other companies. I can only say what is right for us. During the swap, a lot of information is shared and for that to happen, a lot of trust must already exist. We look for companies that share our values not only technically but also in how the company is run and people are treated. Although we see a lot of value in learning from a more diverse group of organisations, a shared set of values are needed in order for it to work.

We already knew a few people from Zenika (including Xavier and Abdel) and also knew a bit of its culture. This made the decision to take part in the swap a no-brainer for us.

Final words

I would like to thank Xavier Detant for proposing the swap and for being so open, for Adel for spending his time with us and sharing his knowledge, Christian for representing Codurance, and Zenika for being a great host and supporting this initiative.

Have look at Christian's and Abdel's perspective on the swap

Christian’s blog
Abdel’s blog (French)

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Sandro Mancuso

Software craftsman, author, and founder of the London Software Craftsmanship Community (LSCC). Sandro has been coding since a very young age but only started his professional career in 1996. He has worked for startups, software houses, product companies, international consultancy companies, and investment banks.

During his career Sandro had the opportunity to work in a good variety of projects, with different languages, technologies, and across many different industries. Sandro has a lot of experience in bringing the Software Craftsmanship ideology and Extreme Programming practices to organisations of all sizes. Sandro is internationally renowned by his work on evolving and spreading Software Craftsmanship and is frequently invited to speak in many conferences around the world. His professional aspiration is to raise the bar of the software industry by helping developers become better at and care more about their craft.

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