The BAF method at OCTO

The BAF (“slap in the face” in French) is a self-improvement method widely used at OCTO Technology.

Whenever a consultant feels like he lacks perfection in any way, he may present his peers what he did, how he did it and why he did it this way. Then coworkers (associates, juniors, seniors and trainees) discuss the consultant’s work and evaluate it. Then they use the Perfection Game method to assess it on a scale from 1 to 10 (1=worthless, 10=perfect) while giving useful tips on how to improve his work quality. The exercise is not only about spotting errors, it can also be about how to formulate an idea, find a way to engage a crowd or how to better manage a team. The main goal is to share ideas and knowledge thus improving everyone through communication.

Like a code review, it can be harsh to be subjected to criticism or honest feedback. Everyone should understand that the main objective is to spread knowledge without hard feelings or frustration.

BAFs can be used for improving virtually everything (technology choices, interviewing methods, communication, programming dilemmas, roadmap planning, etc.) and OCTO people thrive on improving themselves. OCTO motto being  “There is a better way”, that could explain why it is so popular amongst us.

Two examples:

When writing a blog article:

-Hi fellow coworker, I just wrote a blog article about BAFs, do you mind BAFing it?   

-I give you a score of 8 out of 10. I found your written English somewhat OK, the subject is interesting, the recursion is kinda fun and you gave examples. You would have scored 10 if you:

  • double-checked typos, for example “felllow” line 17.
  • talked more about how companies can use these methods.

When doing a consulting mission:

As a consulting company, clients often come to us to evaluate their application architectures, methodologies or technical choices. We usually address this through a mission but recently one of our clients specifically asked for a BAF of their .Net application architecture

Three OCTO senior architects invited our client’s developers and architects for a day, so that they could present us their company, objectives and architectural choices. Then everyone:

  • discussed the reasoning behind the choices made until now (“You may or may not have made the right choice, but why did you do it?”)
  • talked about alternative solutions (“Did you even consider this framework? If yes why did you refuse to use it?”)
  • drawn several architectural diagrams and discussed their pros and cons
  • read examples of code, considered their maintainability

After a full day of work, the ROTI ¹ revealed an overall score of 5 without rounding! This great recognition was then confirmed by feedback received soon after by email: “We were impressed with your performance. The technical expertise, pedagogy and methodology were perfect.”

 

These are two examples of BAFs that you can use everyday in your company or project team and feel free to expand it to whatever fields you need to improve.

 

¹: ROTI, Return On Time Invested: every participants in the event evaluates on a scale from 1 to 5 the value of the event that brought them in regards to time spent. 1=the event was a total waste of time, 5=couldn’t have spent my time better