Tragedy of Return to Hostile Offices

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Don’t suffer and merely survive, aided by your noise cancelling headphones.

Optimising for individual happiness can result in less of the joy that people find in teams that achieve great things together.

Engineering Team Lessons from Cycling

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Cycling provides interesting example for software development. Like software development it’s possible to race individually or in teams. A group that’s an effective team will outperform the same group acting as individuals every time.

Supporting Sustainability

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Many software teams struggle with ever growing cost of change, and technical debt that risks overwhelming them.  It’s always interesting to talk with folks and understand, how the system and incentives created this state.  Often I hear from software engineers that management doesn’t give them permission for (or doesn’t prioritise) work such as tidying, refactoring,… Read more »

Pondering Agile Principles

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I’ve worked in and with teams who would identify as agile for many years. I’ve written about how I think the most interesting part of the agile manifesto is the “uncovering better ways” mindset.  With this in mind, I’ve been pondering how the principles in the agile manifesto have aged. Where do (and don’t) I… Read more »

Cost of Attrition

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What if we could visualise the cost of attrition? Here’s a team. Someone leaves. We hire a replacement.We get lucky and manage to find someone more skilled. Looks like we’re better off? Really when someone leaves we lose all the relationships they had with the rest of the team as well. The team is a… Read more »

Uncovering Better Ways

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How many better ways of working have you uncovered lately? This past year a lot of people have been forced into an unplanned and unwanted experiment. Many teams have had to figure out how to work in a remote-first way for the first time.  I was privileged to be working in a team that was… Read more »

Don’t hire top talent; hire for weaknesses.

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Instead of starting from “how do we hire top talent?”, start from “what are our weaknesses?” Why are you hiring? Are you hiring to do more, or are you hiring to achieve more? Design your hiring process to find the right people to strengthen your teams’ weaknesses, rather than trying to find the best people. … Read more »

Escape the Permission Trap with Healthy Habits

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If you’re struggling with how to get to tidy code, fast feedback loops, joyful work. How to get permission, or buy-in. Try team habits. Create working agreements of the form “When we see <observable trigger>, instead of <what we currently do> we will <virtuous action>”. This is a mechanism to pre-approve the desired action. In… Read more »

Leadership Language Lessons from Star Trek

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Growing up, an influential television character for me was Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek the Next Generation. Picard was a portrayal of a different sort of leader to most. Picard didn’t order people about. He didn’t assume he knew best.  He wasn’t seeking glory. In his words: “we work to better ourselves, and the… Read more »