KFika – the smallest start to learning with coffee & bun

Having time to learn is vital. Estimates show that some areas need the fifth working day just to keep up. Real tough. Let’s turn to the time honored practice of fika to get started. 15 minutes of coffee and something small.

As we discovered in my previous blog, some people in the know estimate that we half of our knowledge loses its value in less than five years. For people within software engineering, it is even less than that. That is of course if we remember the half that still holds some value.
How on earth can we find time to learn? We are trapped between the half-life of knowledge and a deadline. There is always something to ship. Answer: start small.

For my part, I love to sit down with a cortado and a cinnamon bun. I’m not alone in this respect. In Swedish, there is even a word for it, fika. You can find groups of people having good strong coffee in Swedish offices. They will gather a couple of hours both before and after lunch.

So you have a group of colleagues meeting every day. All you need to do is pick a day of the week and let people know that you’re going to share knowledge (K). At the same time, you let them know that you are bringing cinnamon buns. They can’t refuse that. The receipt you put on expenses1. It is dirt cheap knowledge sharing.

We shouldn’t let the fika be free form. That can be tough to maintain over time. Given the short event and the particular format, I recommend going for low ambition. Don’t use slides or anything similar that takes preparations. Use the sit-down around a table to your advantage. Good choices are subjects like project management, principles of good programming, or similar. Anything that benefits from bringing real world experience to the table will work fine.

Or you could read a book, one chapter per week, and discuss that. Another way can be a round-robin where each participant would share something they learned in the previous week. This approach will take some more effort from you but is well worth it. You will cover lots of more ground. Nuggets of premium knowledge and serendipitous insights are bound to happen. If you want to start even smaller share something that your team has accomplished lately. It doesn’t have to be grand. Just get going with fika.

Final thought, don’t choose Friday afternoons. Everyone’s mind is on the coming weekend.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fika_(Sweden)


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