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Rethinking risk appetite

In previous blog posts I’ve expressed my reservation about the idea of “risk appetite”. This personal concern is rooted in the idea that it seems a somewhat esoteric concept, especially considering that managing uncertainty is such an important part of our working lives. But my specific concerns have been around the dangers of “risk appetite … Continue reading

When an organisation’s software is open source

I was having a discussion with someone recently about using open source software and making an organisation’s own software open source. The most significant example of this that I’ve had experience of is in the UK public sector. I listed a few advantages that I found from this experience, and afterwards thought to look at … Continue reading

Exposing and exploiting variables in quiz games

I’ve frequently said managing uncertainty can be done by exposing and exploiting variables. We over-simplify when we express risk as a single point (“There’s a 40% change this will happen”) and we can get a more useful understanding of things when we look at the variables. In this sense, managing uncertainty sits in the world … Continue reading

An example of the errors of “best practice”

Some time ago I wrote about the error of slavishly following “best practice” without asking why. And I was reminded of this again the other day when a friend forwarded me a blog post by Eyal Guthmann in the Dropbox tech team. The post explains that the team used to try to share as much … Continue reading

Requirements are entangled with design

The other day I was having a conversation with someone about requirements and software design. We had a description for a small system, and I was saying “this is the design; this is how we should implement it.” He had a different point of view, and was saying “These are requirements; we are free to … Continue reading

Seemingly impossible goals can change reality

It’s a constant bugbear of software teams that deadlines are often just wishes. “You need to deliver it by this date” can be largely the same as a manager donning a pair of ruby slippers, clicking their heals, screwing up their eyes, and saying “I wish, I wish, I wish for you to deliver by … Continue reading

Context has different perspectives

A short time ago I attended a talk by PaweĊ‚ Nowak on the subject of context. I was a bit perplexed before he started, after all context is an idea we tend to use frequently, and I’d never considered it much of puzzle. If you need to help me understand a situation you will explain … Continue reading

Are things outside your control? Think again

Some time ago I was involved in a practical example of shifting a team’s approach from a fatalistic “what’s going to happen is going to happen” to something more practical. Many people do believe we cannot influence many situations or plan for the unexpected, but I think that’s mistaken. One way to manage difficult situations … Continue reading

Running like clockwork allows improvement

Last week I was speaking to someone who asked what I considered the most important aspects of agile that I would seek in a team. One of the items on my list was ensuring the process ran like clockwork. From experience, this helps wider involvement from people outside the delivery team: senior product people and … Continue reading

Zero defects as an attitude

A few years ago I had a conversation with Niels Malotaux, who spends a lot of time promoting the idea of “zero defects”. I was asking how he achieved this, and he said something like, “I just tell my teams they mustn’t produce any defects.” I was utterly baffled by this, and I couldn’t think … Continue reading