It’s always around this time that the whole team gathers in our office at Pyrmont. I usually start the day with getting data viz inspiration from Tableau Public or the Twitter data community, as well as with catching up on the work from the previous day. This is also the time when we chat and bond with the team.
No matter if it is training week or project week, almost every day of The Data School starts with a training session. Maybe the only exception are the Mondays during a project week which start with client briefing.
Today we are learning predictive analytics. We have awesome trainers from MIP and today they showed us different models and tools that we can use to predict the outcomes of a specific event. It’s always a combination of a bit of a theory, some demos by the trainers and a lot of practical examples, either done in teams or on our own. Once we are done with the exercise, we connect to the big screen and share our approaches. With time we realized the power of diversity that results in various creative solutions to a single challenge.
Other days we cover topics such as: visualization best practices, analytical apps in Alteryx, sets and parameters in Tableau and we are even broadening that up with something like data warehousing and Tableau Server.
It’s lunch time for everyone. Sometimes as a team, sometimes alone – that’s how we usually spend this hour for refilling our batteries. We are very near to Pyrmont bay where there are plenty spots great for relaxation and inspiration. Other days, when the weather is not so nice, the cafeteria is awesome place to hang out, with some music in the background and nice vibe of enthusiastic people. If there’s time left, I go back to the office and continue the work, or at least prepare for what’s to come. Today that is an Alteryx workflow for a client project for cleaning up and joining data for University rankings.
Stand-ups are a practice we have during project weeks so that we are coordinated in our work and we identify potential blockers. We gather around our jenga (which on Fridays is used properly) and everyone gets their turn to briefly explain what they’ve done, what they are planning on doing and if there are any issues they encountered along the way. Each week there is different Project Lead that we choose from among ourselves who’s task among others is to coordinate this meeting. They have the complete freedom to organize the project week as they believe is the best.
It’s always great to see when the team is trying to improve on the challenges we’ve identified the previous time. Each Monday after the client week is finished we have a retrospective and a start-stop-continue ceremony. We reflect on what went well and what could be improved the next time.
Now that everyone knows what their focus is, we jump straight into work. We usually split into pairs, but often we have cross-pairs discussions. If I know there’s someone else in the team whose strength is my weakness – that’s when I call for assistance. What’s great is that we are all part of a team where everyone is willing to jump in and help. We’ve figured out that helping is one of the many ways to fortify our knowledge.
As soon as we have some data prepped in Alteryx, we throw it in Tableau to make sanity checks and to explore it. Today that’s exactly what I worked on. Going back and forth with Alteryx and Tableau helps me set the ground for a project I can confidently stand behind. After Alteryx is done for the most part, it’s time to unleash my creativity in Tableau and prepare some dashboards that will answer the client questions, or even more.
Before the day ends we usually share what we’ve done so far. This demo exercise is when we ask for and provide feedback to each-other. The idea isn’t always to have a finished product for this meeting, but to share the work-in-progress so that we can improve, go in the right direction and build up on the work of the others.
There’s some more time left to work on the project. The feedback gathered from the previous session is extremely helpful. We also have Craig – the Head Coach and one or more additional MIP coaches available onsite that help us if we feel stuck or if we want to impress the client with a new trick.
As the week goes by, the project gets finalized and we present it in-front of the client on a Friday afternoon. After each member of the team is done with their part of the presentation it’s time to socialize with the team, the coaches and the representatives from the client side, over some drinks and nibbles and sometimes even a round of jenga.