Supporting Sustainability

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

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

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

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.

Read more »
More posts »