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Created Mar 12, 2017

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#At IBM, Slack is tricking software engineers into socializing

Todd TK has been at IBM as a software engineer for more than 15 years. In that time, he's been a part of radical re-imagining of the business. First, he helped sheppard the mainframe pioneer into the cloud.

Now, Todd is using Slack to transform the way his team works together. He's leveraging the communication tool to bring together teams of disparate software engineers.

IBM, the 15th largest employer in the world is using Slack to make work more collaborative and transparent. Todd explained to us that his team "is in different locations and time zones, using Slack gives [them] an opportunity to be more inclusive in [their] communications"

They use Slack to stay connected.

#Making a big office feel small

Todd installed the Donut bot to foster community within his lab. Every week, Donut automatically pairs two team members that don't know each other for a coffee date.

TK explained that at a global corporation like IBM, teams can be spread across locations and time zones. And even when two people are in the same location, they don't necessarily have opportunities to interact.

He admitted that, "Software engineers aren't necessarily the most social people." Donut pulls them out of their bubbles and encourages engineers to meet new people.

Todd explained that after five weeks, "every single one [he's] done so far was with someone [he] didn't really know. So [he] got to learn a lot in a thirty minute period."

TK get example of what they spoke about.

#Democratizing devops

DevOps, the practice of managing of servers in the cloud, isn't traditionally a collaborative process. Engineers spend all day in solitary terminal windows talking to computers. Todd and his team have turned the entire field on its head with a Slack bot that lets them manage servers from within Slack channels.

When something goes wrong with a server, the key staff are immediately notified within Slack. At most companies, the engineers would coordinate a plan of attack in Slack and then separate to deal with the issue. At IBM, they issue commands to the servers together within Slack.

TODO take quotes from his blog post here

Todd and his team communicate .

#Standing up sitting down

Most agile teams stay on the same page with a "stand-up meeting". They get together for a few minutes every morning to discuss their progress.

Todd has flipped the script. His team does their stand-ups in Slack. This lets them work across the globe without worrying about time-zones or cell phone connections.

It also creates a written record of the work. When Todd needs to report up to the executives about progress he told us that, "[he] can go back and look at Slack."

"Anytime [I] can give our broader team visibility into what other people are doing, especially in a written format, there's tremendous value."


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