Design team rituals

January 2018

These are the rituals we have on the Jira Software design team. Our rituals help us strike the right balance between spending time with each other versus having free time to spend on work that needs to get done. These rituals help drive our work and craft forward.

💡 Focus day


Designers should use this time to get as much focus as possible. This is a company wide initiative for all research and development teams.

It’s best to block your calendar and set your status to do not disturb.

☕️ Coffee

Tuesday 9:00-9:30

Shamelessly copied from Alastair’s blogpost:

At the start of each week, we have an informal coffee session as a team. There is no agenda, everyone goes around telling us what they did this weekend, as well as what they were working on last week and problems they faced. The informal nature of the session encourages people to share openly, as well as learn more about one another.

🥋 Sparring

Wednesday 15:00-17:00

Shamelessly copied from Atlassian’s playbook:

A structured way to get feedback from your teammates. A fruitful sparring session can also help you reach specific decisions that will take the project forward. Just as boxers, fencers, and kung fu masters can’t train all by themselves, the best way to keep your projects in tip-top shape is to show your work to your teammates and have them tear it to shreds. (Kidding! Sort of…)

Sparring is an organized way to bounce ideas off your teammates. Your team can help figure out which aspects need some polish so the whole thing really shines. List what you’re bringing, what kind of feedback you are looking for and relevant links to your work. If you don’t have anything to spar then be prepared to share any work on your laptop to the team - this can be anything (meeting agenda, stuck on a decision, help with understanding anything…literally anything).

🤝 Team meeting

Thursday 13:00-14:00

The first 20 minutes: Standup. We go around the table discussing the work on the board; what we’ve been doing the previous week, what we’re doing this week, and any help needed from your teammates.

The last 40 minutes: The meeting leader creates an 'on-the-fly' agenda from the potential items below, .

  • The situation room. We use this for anything urgent that doesn't fit our agenda, or for general updates to the team. Skip it if not needed and luxuriate in ten extra minutes.
  • Ten slides, no text. One member of the team is tasked to tell us about themselves, their family, something they love doing, someone they admire etc. The task is to pull ten images into keynote and talk to each one, and no text is allowed on the slides. We will also use this as a way to get to know new team members. After each presentation, we tag the next presenter in the room.
  • Last ten shots. One member of the team (at random) is tasked to pull up their photo library and show us the last ten photos they took, and the general story of what's been going on.
  • Home screen. One member of the team (at random) is tasked to pull up their phone's home screen and explain what apps they keep there/why.
  • The inspiration bit. We miss things in our Stride room. If you've seen something great, or even just watched or read a link that someone posted and want to talk it through, this is the time to do it.
  • Foundation leave and Kudos. Discuss any Foundation time you have taken or have coming up and if you've given a kudos to a teammate and the reason why.

🙇 Detention

Thursday 14:00-17:00

Shamelessly copied from Alastair’s blogpost:

Design detention help to create bonds between team members. Teams become more comfortable sharing work in early phases when an idea may be fragile. They encourage easy, unforced collaboration and help to break down barriers between team members. As the team is all together in a space, unplanned coffee outings or lunches happen, which further helps in bonding between team members.

🍳 Breakfast with the enemy

Friday 9:00-10:00

The team (open to anyone, not just designers) get together and take a deep dive into our competitors offering. Designers take turns in evaluating the things that work and the things that don’t and present back to the audience.

This helps us understand how other teams are solving similar problems in different ways and increases our horizon of perspective.

🦄 Inspiration + lunch

Monthly 12:00-17:00

A team who eats together, stays together. It’s important to spend time hanging out and bonding as a team. There are few better ways than over a meal and an afternoon of inspiration. Once a month we get together for lunch and an afternoon session out on the town.

We elect a driver to create the agenda for the day and plan the activities. We’ve done museums, art galleries, virtual reality labs, escape rooms, etc… The entire purpose is to get to know your team better and build more meaningful connections.

🖥 Virtual wall


Asynchronous collaboration is really hard when you’re working across multiple locations. A virtual wall lets us get a quick snapshot of what our peers are working on to spark ideas and get inspired. The goal is to make it easy to post our work to get early feedback.

🌱 1:1’s


Our team has regular 1:1’s to stay on top of what matters to them. Each team member owns the agenda and structure of this meeting, and it’s their time. Each team member tracks notes and discussion items on a page that we then go through together. My responsibility in these meetings is to listen, monitor progress towards their goals, help with career development, and unblock them when necessary.

The format that I use for my personal 1:1s with my manager is to review my top win/frustration from this week and three goals for the upcoming week.