Uncovering Better Ways

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.

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

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

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 »

We got lucky

“We got lucky”—it’s one of those phrases I listen out for during post incident or near-miss reviews. It’s an invitation to dig deeper; to understand what led to our luck. Was it pure happenstance? …or have we been doing things that increased or decreased our luck?    There’s a saying of apparently disputed origin: “Luck is... Read more »

Meetings, ugh! Let’s change our language

“How was your day?” “Ugh, I spent all day in meetings, didn’t get any work done!”  How often have you heard this exchange? It makes me sad because someone’s day has not been joyful; work can be fun.  I love a whinge as much as the next Brit; maybe if we said what we mean... Read more »

Latency Numbers Every Team Should KnowMeandering path towards value

Here's some important feedback loops for a team, with feasible delays. I'd consider these delays tolerable by a team doing their best work (in contexts I've worked in). Some teams can do better, lots do worse.

Humility

Extreme Programming describes five values: communication, feedback, simplicity, courage, and respect. I think that humility might be more important than all of these.  Humility enables compassion. Compassion both provides motivation for and maximises the return on technical practices. Humility pairs well with courage, helps us keep things simple, and makes feedback valuable. Humility enables Compassion ... Read more »

A little rant about talent

It’s become less common to hear people referred to as “resources” in recent times. There’s more trendy “official vocab guidelines”, but what’s really changed? There’s still phrases in common use that sound good but betray the same mindset. I often hear people striving to “hire and retain the best talent“ as if that is a... Read more »

The benefits of making code worse

A recent twitter discussion reminded me of an interesting XTC discussion last year. The discussion topic was refactoring code to make it worse. We discussed why this happens, and what we can do about it. I found the most interesting discussion arose from the question “when might this be a good thing?”—when is it beneficial... Read more »

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