I spent 2 hours uploading custom emojis to Slack. It was worth it.


“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said.” ‐ Peter Drucker

This can be difficult, whether communicating face to face, over the phone, or via text. This goes for any relationship, but the more people you add to a relationship dynamic, the trickier it gets. As team sizes grow, the lines of communication required for full transparency increase exponentially.

Lines of communication
Source: Leading Agile

Managing team size is important in software development work for several reasons, but today I’m only going to talk about transparency.

  • Transparency is key to getting things done.
  • Transparency requires open, honest communication in terms of progress made, outstanding work, and team health, etc.
  • One roadblock ‐ whether technical or adaptive ‐ can derail an entire project. If you’re lucky, one derailed project won’t kill your business. But let’s not take chances.

So back to Slack emojis.

Emojis can help streamline communication and reduce time getting caught up with the thread. I like to quickly scroll up the various project channels to assess what is still outstanding or what questions remain unanswered. This works best when you have a common symbology.

Slack example of reviewed and merged pull requests.

Oops, need to follow up on that last☝️one.

Tone can also be a casualty of text-only communication unless you have the time and space to fill paragraphs with meaning. Slack (or whatever instant messaging app you use) is not meant for prose so much as practicality.

So suddenly this:

That won't work

becomes this:

That'll do

(and maybe avoid a dumpster fire of hurt feelings).

Another example:

Missing scrum


Sad about missing scrum

Sometimes, you just need a little celebration, too.

It's working!

Although my backlog is long and I’m behind on reading (more than) a few books bad pokerface, I can’t skirt an opportunity to reinforce better communication and openness in our team culture powerup. This week, that looked like spending two hours uploading custom emojis to Slack. Worth it. aww yeah