Dev Lunches: What, Why, How

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If you’re not up-to-date, you fall behind. You fall behind in your work, which leads you to fall behind at home. If continued, it’s a never ending circle that can seem like climbing Everest in order to overcome. I propose that we, as developers, start doing is utilizing our free time to help not only ourselves but our co-workers too. We can do this via dev lunches.

So what is a dev lunch?

A dev lunch, or developers lunch, is based upon the idea of sacrificing an hours lunch on a specific topic or topics, much like a mini-conference for you and your co-workers. Topics can range for technical deep dives to non-technical, team-wide talks such as “What does it mean to be Agile?”. The format is typically manifests as one of two styles:

Single talks

With a single talk, a developer will take the topic in hand, research the subject and present it to the attendees. The talk will typically last about 30-40 minutes leaving time for Q&A etc.

Lightning talks

Lightning talks take the form of a series of individuals from the team presenting for x time on a range of subjects. X is usually around 5-10 minutes. The subjects can be related, or completely unrelated. Essentially, they are multiple, compressed single talks.

It is important to remember that the topics are chosen by the presenter themselves. The presenter may ask for ideas/feedback from the team.

Why invest in dev lunches?

In my opinion, the benefits from the developer and business perspectives are pretty much the same:

  • Knowledge is shared throughout the team
  • Can be used as a sort of team bonding
  • Encourages the use of soft skills

How do I get started?

For starters, you’ve read up until here so the idea is already in your mind. In terms of setting up the event, pick a date/time about 34 weeks in the future to give you time to prepare and allow people to keep that hour free. Then you can have a think of an idea like those listed at the bottom of the page. Once you have that sorted, simply send out a meeting request (or similar) letting people know what you are doing, when and where.

The presentations don’t have to be anything too fancy, just something on Slid.es or Powerpoint will be fine. Just make sure that it is easily readable.

Don’t forget to talk to your boss and let them know what you are doing. On the off chance see if there is a chance of free food, you never know right?

I’ve already started this movement at two places I have worked and received exceptional feedback. So I encourage you to try and sort this at your workplace and see if it can help you become better. Here are a couple of tips from my experience:

  • You don’t need to be an expert, so don’t try and become one overnight,
  • It doesn’t matter if things go wrong, the attendees are your friends and can help,
  • Don’t pick a topic that is a) no interest to you, it will come off in your presentation; and b) too big, you will end up speed talking.
  • Do remember to have fun!

Resources

List of starter ideas

With these topics, explore the title trying to think of what/why/how….

  • Principals of SOLID
  • Dependency Injection
  • Grunt Tasks
  • What does it mean to be Agile?

Speaker Resources