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The cost of delay of technical debt

Last week I wrote about the value of stopping work to tackle tech debt, and more specifically when we might expect to recover from the temporary stoppage. In the ensuing discussion a question came up about one of my assumptions, which was that the team was delivering at a constant rate (albeit below its potential). … Continue reading

Should we stop to address technical debt…?

One of the questions that arises with many teams I work with is: Is it worth spending an iteration (or more) not delivering any features but just working on our technical debt? This is by no means the only way to deal with tech debt—most people (and I) favour addressing it a bit at a … Continue reading

The benefits of timeboxing a solution

A colleague pointed me to a nice article by Sue Davis about writing for the public, and among the suggestions was the idea of timeboxing feedback: “If you don’t, the polishing process can be never-ending and you risk delaying getting the content to your users.” Timeboxing is really valuable not just for getting feedback, but … Continue reading

The right time to define a solution

Some people are often advised to not solutionise—that is, don’t jump to conclusions about how to solve a problem. Instead they are urged to make sure they understand the problem properly; defining the solution comes later, possibly from or with other people. In one organisation where I worked various representatives from around the business would … Continue reading

Act on priorities, or expect to be late

If you can’t do the most important project work first, expect to overrun. Doing project work generally yields any of three results: either you complete the work in good time, you overrun, or more work comes out of it. They are not all mutually exclusive. The problem with projects is that work tends not to … Continue reading

The black market in common sense

Last week I caught up with the enlightening Morten Elvang, who introduced me to a powerful metaphor: the black market in common sense. Morten describes this as a “shadow organisation”, an organisation within an organisation, populated by people who are working round the system in order to get their work done. Perhaps you’ve seen organisations … Continue reading

An example of seeing through the rules

The other day I heard a memorable, if short, tale about Emmanuel Macron. It recounts that as a student he auditioned for the school play, but didn’t get the part he wanted. His response was start his own drama group. I don’t know if it’s true, but that’s not the point. It’s a neat example … Continue reading

From visualising data to seeing the work

Visualising data is good, but then looking behind the visualisation is even better. This became apparent to me recently reading a fun piece of research by Justin Matejka and George Fitzmaurice: An effective (and often used) tool used to demonstrate that visualizing your data is in fact important is Anscome’s Quartet. Developed by F.J. Anscombe … Continue reading

The multiple dimensions of “the best deal for Britain”

When assessing a goal or an uncertain situation it’s often useful to see if it has multiple dimensions. A very good example is from Theresa May’s disastrous election campaign when she asked the electorate to help her get “the best deal for Britain” in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. I’ve previously made a lot of the … Continue reading

When the leader doesn’t lead

Last week Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement. It’s a decision which was met with much horror, and condemned around the world. It’s likely to do lasting damage to our planet. I think it’s also likely to do economic damage to the US, as the market for renewable energy products … Continue reading