Fueling innovative software
July 15-18, 2019
Portland, OR

RDD: Retention-driven development

11:50am12:30pm Thursday, July 18, 2019
Secondary topics:  Customer Centered
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 4 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Technical managers, leads, and people who look after others in teams




Most of us are familiar with test-driven development but may be less familiar with the concept applied to new-hire onboarding. Enter retention-driven development, where you design your new-hire onboarding using the same principles as TDD.

It’s typical for company onboarding to gloss over the team-specific and technical information you need to truly get started in a new role. It’s challenging to divert time and resources away from the backlog and feature requests to build a technical onboarding program. More often than not, a new hire is given a list of people to talk to and not much else. This kind of onboarding isn’t incredibly effective; it’s more trial-and-error than not and often leads to imposter syndrome, slow time to productivity, and duplication of work. On top of all these frustrations, bad onboarding is a waste of time and money when you can’t retain your new hires.

Kristen Gallagher explores retention-driven development. You’ll discover that a retention-focused perspective is both light on effort and perfect for onboarding in a busy, rapidly changing environment as you rethink how to approach the new hire experience, the manager lift, and the documentation needed to effectively onboard someone.

Prerequisite knowledge

  • Experience managing a new hire or future plans to onboard a new hire

What you'll learn

  • Understand the process for writing unit-test-sized onboarding programs, getting new hires to update the onboarding program, and refactoring your documentation for onboarding without investing heavily in rewriting documentation
Photo of Kristen Gallagher

Kristen Gallagher


Kristen Gallagher is an organizational strategies and learning designer with over a decade of learning and development and business partnership. She’s the founder and CEO of Edify, a consultancy that builds technical onboarding programs for high-growth teams. She has architected and delivered onboarding programs for companies adding from one person a quarter to over 100 people a quarter and from one office to more than 13 global offices. Her range of expertise in the science of adult learning, business strategy, knowledge management, and organizational development means that Kristen architects programs that are designed to evolve and scale with rapid changes. She’s on the board of Business for a Better Portland and serves as a curriculum developer and instructor for XXcelerate Fund.