At Liferay we have more than 600 employees spread in 18 different offices all over the world. Some of these people work with similar stuff but they may not interact with each other since they are working in different projects.

This is an interesting problem to solve.

Many companies think that just by using an instant messaging tool like Slack you're covered but the truth is, nothing replaces human interaction.

Personal Contact: the richest experience, not matched by any media or technology

Inspired by Spotify's engineering culture, we're adopting this concept of Guilds which are basically groups of people that share knowledge, tools, and practices among different teams.

Even though they’re not working in the same project, there’s a lot of opportunity for these people to learn from each other since they all share a similar workflow.

Guilds vs Teams

We started by identifying our Guilds and then organizing face-to-face meetups so they could work together for a week, starting with back-end developers in Spain and front-end developers in Brazil.

I ended up organizing the front-end one.

Logistics

After coming up with a list of 28 participants, we had to figure out accommodations, transportation, food, and all that.

Taking care of logistics is a painful process. You need to know what time each person is arriving and departing, book hotel reservations, find out if they have food restrictions or not, book restaurant reservations, arrange transportation from airport to hotel, hotel to office, office to restaurants, restaurants to hotel, hotel to airport. Did I mention touristic activities too?

Once you finish organizing all that, you'll need to make sure that everything is going to be there on time and suppliers will not let you down. This is especially difficult in a country like Brazil.

Fortunately, I had some incredible people next to me and everything went smoothly.

Agenda

So you flew twenty developers to Brazil for a week, now what?

Coming up with an interesting and productive agenda wasn't an easy too.

Several weeks before the event we sent a survey asking all participants what they would be interested in hearing or speaking about.

They shared some ideas and we started the schedule from there.

Obviously, hundred percent of them chose the "I would like to hear someone talk about this" option lol, which made us having to invite some people individually to speak.

These talks were designed to be a quick explanation of a topic that could be related to Liferay or not.

For more in-depth subjects, we had workshops that were meant to be a full hands-on demonstration.

For more philosophical debates, we held an unconference where participants propose topics and discussions are self-organized.

Besides that, we also had interviews where we would ask team leads what they have been struggling with and what are their next goals.

I must say, it was an extremely busy week. We were all exhausted in the end but from what I heard it was pretty rewarding too.

Thanks!

We went to beautiful beaches, we ate at some of the best restaurants in town, we had tons of caipirinhas, and most importantly we learned a lot from each other.

I believe we all came back with a better understanding of what’s going on in the company and stronger relationships that will help us accomplish great things at work.

Really, it couldn’t be better than that, so thanks for being a part of it!