Posts Tagged ‘training’


Retrospective, Firestarter Event – Day Two

by Jon Sharratt

So as day one closed we were ready to get our heads down into hacking some code and try to produce something we could release.  We broke up the responsibilities for UX, creative and technical tasks to the relevant roles.  As I mentioned in day one we had chosen a technical set that was mostly familiar.

A problem did arise in the fact we had decided to go with Backbone.js and Marionette, not a problem with the framework itself but the fact we were not so familiar with its inner workings.  I have to say that it wasn’t the best choice to go down with for the event i.e. a single page application route using a technology we had little experience with at the time.  

It was challenging but we did make some great progress in the morning.  Authentication was up and running with Facebook along with the ability to post content.  Haro did some sterling work in getting MapBox integrated into the application to display hotel details in around the Las Vegas area.  The hotel data itself was to be added manually (I had collated the hotel details the night before in a Google Spreadsheet) but obviously this wasn’t the most ideal solution but for now it would suffice.


As lunchtime came about we decided to get the team together and go to the local pub for some well deserved fish and chips.  After a few pints and a bit of banter with team we got back to it and continued hammering out as much as we could.  Sari got her magic wand out and managed to come up with some branding in no time at all, working with Samera the UX was also really taking shape.


All in all were coming to the end of the afternoon and it was apparent as much as we tried we were not going to get a completed application out of the door this time.  This was mainly due to trying to create a one page application with new technologies as previously mentioned.  I would safely predict that if we had gone down a standard web application with the technologies we have used many many times before in projects we may have got it out of the door.  Having said that we now have good knowledge of Backbone.js and Marionette to allow us to judge when or when not to use it in future projects.

The event itself to me was a success and I have mostly gotten what I wanted to really jump start the application to get something delivered.  The biggest downside I had after the event was losing the vision of delivering a true Minimum Viable Product.  This is something I need to work on for future events and any ideas I want to deliver in the future, “it’s all about delivery” and at the moment the phrase “close but no cigar” comes to mind.  

It really rams home what / why people say single member teams rarely succeed due to not ever ending up shipping their products.  An example of integrating yelp! really steered me off track and I have ended up adding more features that I could of left out to deliver grazr earlier.


 What I need to do right now is literally get the last bits of functionality delivered and delivered fast, I am in what I would call a “lingering phase” and if left to linger too long grazr will rot away.  It needs to be out there for the world to see, it is the worst position to be in as I can’t even say “I tried and failed” as no users have even tried the product at the moment it is just that “I tried”.

I intend to follow this up next week with the launch of grazr, and hopefully some statistics on what happens with users I send it out too.

If you are interested in one page applications the guys over at airbnb are doing some very interesting things with Backbone.js to allow client and server side rendering of templates for single page applications (see blog post here).

The full technology stack we ended up using was as follows:

  • Node.js
  • Backbone.js
  • Marionette
  • MongoDB
  • Heroku
  • Jade Templates
  • Grunt
  • LESS
  • Bootstrap

Watch this space (no really I mean it)…. 


Rapid Prototyping Incubator – Training Shaken Up

by Jon Sharratt


So as the year is closing out and we head towards 2013 I started to think about what I might be able to do in regards to the £2,000 training budget that we get here at Red Badger.  

At Red Badger we are a growing company and to start schemes such as Google’s one day a week (20% time) to innovate is not particularly viable (not yet anyway …).  The other point about having one day a week to work on your own products is that you may not have an idea or products that you feel you can really work on.  I feel it turns the time into being a little be wasteful and really only focuses on things you can do in your discipline.

So rather than forcing the issue and trying to find a training course that ‘could’ be a good fit and not getting much value.  I have formulated an idea around the ethos of how we have run some of our previous rapid prototyping projects such as BBC Now!.  

Additional to this I recently discovered show on Bloomberg called TechStars where start ups spend three months in an incubator scheme to raise investment and get their company off the ground (Episode 1).

The new Red Badger scheme is formed from mixing rapid prototyping with an incubator type event…..


I put forward the idea to the guys here at Red Badger to allow any employees to embrace and innovate internally by allowing investment in our own ideas when we have them.  The application process being that we can book any internal resources to develop our ideas using the training budget as a catalyst investment over the two days (in a rapid prototype format) and end up with a (M)inimum (V)iable (P)roduct.

The event itself is to be a very informal affair and a great laugh with a specific focus on delivering the MVP.  Beer, food, crank on the tunes and start developing!

This is great for many reasons as it allows any person of any discipline within Red Badger to get their ideas off the ground and test the market.  Red Badger can then see if these ideas are worth investing more time after the MVP is in the wild and being tested by users, they also then have ownership for any successful ideas that get off the ground and prove value.  

We are a consultancy here at Red Badger and my opinion is that this scheme lends itself very much to bringing our team together, company culture and aspirations as a business.

It is important to note that the ideas can be absolutely anything, not limited to that of internal or improving Red Badger processes.


I want this to be a very transparent process to show successes and more importantly failures of running this type of event.  This scheme in its own right is an ever evolving process and has never been done before so there will be plenty to learn.

The first project that has got approval is scheduled to go ahead at the beginning of the New Year.  I will post up the planned agenda for the event in the coming weeks.  I would be interested in any thoughts and ideas people might have with a scheme such as this (good or bad).



Devising a Training Budget

by David Wynne

We go to quite a lot of effort at Red Badger to find the right people to employ, people who will invest themselves in our company and what we’re trying to achieve; all very noble.  But as with all good relationships, it’s not just about the take but also the give – you get back what you put in.

Part of that giving back often comes in the form of training, be it a book, a conference or even a traditional course.  The question is; how much do you spend on each employee and who get’s to say when it get’s spent?

One of the great things you get to do when you start your own company is to put in place the policies you always wanted when you were an employee working for someone else.  I’m sure many people ultimately decide to start their own company because they think they can make a better fist of it than their current or past employers.  Whilst that all sounds fantastic in practice, one of the other things you have to do when you start your own company, or indeed just run any company responsibly, is to make decisions that are in the interest of company long term security.

We strongly believe in ensuring that we hire the best people and then help them stay the best.  We also believe in hiring managers of one so figured we’d delegate the training budget management to each employee; with some ground rules of course!

Here’s the email we sent to our team:

We’d like to set out and agree an open and fair approach to training, such that each employee can self-manage any training courses or conferences they are interested in attending.  To enable this we have decided to set a nominal budget allocation for each employee so that they can judge when and what they would like to attend in regards to training.

We propose to set this at around £2,000 per calendar year, per permanent employee.  Our thinking is that this could fund attendance at a lot of smaller events and courses or the ability to attend one large conference per year.

Some things to note:

  • In the case of attending a conference, the price of your ticket and travel will count towards your training spend.
  • This amount is not a hard fixed amount and can be increased to cover more expensive conferences if circumstances allow.
  • This is not a prompt to figure out how to spend £2,000, but intended to illustrate what you can expect Red Badger to contribute to your training each year so everyone knows where they stand and all are treated fairly.
  • You still need to discuss conference/training attendance with us before booking.
  • The ability to attend events will depend on project resourcing.
  • If you attend a conference/course we would expect you to share your experience and learning with the Red Badger team (e.g. lunchtime brown bag sessions) and with the wider community via the Red Badger blog.

As with all things, this is an iterative process which we will tweak and improve over time with experience.  I’d love to hear what other companies do and any feedback on whether this deal sounds great/ok/crap.