Stream of Ry

Tech and business. Sometimes personal. Mostly tech.

Bullied

I just came from a client meeting from about an hour ago, and I’m still feeling a knot in my chest. I have to write this down to be able to process what I am feeling.

Background #

We were contracted by a client to provide 4 developers for a project. Since we’re providing developers, we were expecting that product-level concerns are no longer our scope. We’re expecting that user stories and UI is already done, and our scope of work is going to be converting the user stories and UI into working code.

In parallel, there is a 5-week design sprint that will come up with wireframes and user flow to help their product team get some ideas from.

We started early August on onboarding so we were studying their codebase, and how they write code so once we start coding, we’ll have less onboarding time. We were just waiting for any kind of product sprint. We were being asked about authentication & authorization and what the architecture is going to be. So we made a proof-of-concept on what we think it will be, but in our minds, it just a POC and final details will be fleshed out by… someone.

I guess, that should have been the first red flag.

All this time, it looked like there was a misalignment in terms of expectations. We were expected to come up with the User Stories. This was only made clear last Wednesday Oct 20. Expected start of sprint is going to be Oct 27. OK, great. 4 days to come up with user stories.

But there was no product overview. So I wrote that first. I finished it last Friday. I asked for comments about it. Only 1 gave actual feedback.
But they were asking for 2 other documents, which to me, were too technical in detail to be included on a high-level list of user stories. I figured these are non-blockers so I opted to defer this.

Today #

So today went like this:

  • Woke up and worked on actual user stories. I used the “Create User Stories” ticket as a sort-of scratch area and I wrote it in one big description because I wanted to see everything before separating them into separate tickets. This is relevant later on.
  • A private conversation let me know that the 2 other documents were non-blockers, so good, less on my plate.
  • There is a 11:30 AM stand-up with 1 other person (the one who left feedback)
  • A different thread was telling me now that the 2 other documents looks like they are actually blockers. Now I’m confused.
  • Proceed to message the private conversation to share my confusion and let me know on what should be prioritized.
  • I sent a first-pass of the requested documents, stating that this is the best I can give given the apparent urgency.
  • I’ve been feeling a pit in my stomach since I saw the conflicting stance re: the 2 other documents. This is one of my tell that my body is undergoing stress.
  • Proceed to have lunch (at 12 noon), and took a nap after to help clear out the sinking feeling.
  • Attend The Meeting™ at 1:30pm

Post-Meeting #

It was supposed to be a user stories grooming but they’ve decided to change the agenda in the last minute. Their reason was that they saw the “Create User Stories” description and saw that it had a description that had all the user stories in them and they decided that I didn’t know how SCRUM work.

I do know SCRUM, but what I didn’t know is that I should also apply it on non-dev work and that my “create user stories” task also needed time estimates as well. It was my fault, I guess, that I used the task description as a scratch pad. I should have done it in Confluence (which they only told me about in the meeting).

I don’t think they even bothered reading the user stories that I wrote. It was all in one ticket, so it was no good. If they gave me 5 minutes, we would’ve had 28 user story tickets, but apparently, they felt the need to school me for 30 minutes non-stop about things that I’m supposed to know about their process but don’t.

There was this bit about daily stand ups. I can attend alone at 7am, but if they really insist on everyone attending, then 1130am it is. I’d rather attend alone because I don’t agree on forcing everyone to restructure their productive times just to attend to what amounts to a status update. This is non-negotiable for them. This part, I fully own up to being confusing during the meeting, because I’m already under so much pressure. I think this is also the largest friction area between us and them.

One other thing that I’m guilty of is that I was not finished with User Stories yet, and I did not provide advance notice on it. In my defense, I thought we could work on the user stories that have been done and schedule a different refinement for the rest of the stories since the meeting is only 30 minutes long. But yeah, I did not create separate user story tickets, so for all intents and purposes, I did nothing.

There was this bit about the documents. They weren’t happy with what I sent. Of course it’s not going to be up to par because:
1 - they did not let me know what they were expecting. They keep on saying the words but never bother to ask if we had the same thing in mind. They only showed me during the meeting what they were expecting after they let me know that what I sent was lacking; and
2 - I’m not there yet because I’m still working on the things that actually matter. WE. DO. NOT. HAVE. USER. STORIES. YET. They’re asking me to put on the finishing touches but the meat & bones aren’t there yet.

We only started Product-related work Wednesday last week. Aren’t we afforded at least some leeway on process?

I felt bullied to what amounts to presenting user stories in a format different from what they were expecting. It was a 5-minute change to break down the user stories into separate tickets. I’m sorry, I did not have the 5 minutes to do it prior to the meeting. I was busy writing down user stories and making sure that all of it aligns well with the product-vision.

There were no comments whatsoever on the actual stories nor on the product brief.

I was attacked purely based on the process and not on output.

Please, don’t discount my output just because it did not go through the process that you wanted or because it was presented in a form different than what you were expecting. Form should support function.


It’s been nearly 2.5 hours now, and I’m still feeling as bad after the meeting ended.