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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

Minimising “must have”s

I was speaking to friend the other day who had worked on a procurement project for a piece of machinery for his organisation. His role was to lead the requirements specification. The machinery needed was large and complex, and had to operate in fairly diverse environments. It was also very expensive. That meant it was … Continue reading

Leadership is a balancing act

I was speaking to a company CTO one time, when he commented that he had introduced OKRs (a way of focuing an organisation’s activity), but it hadn’t been easy. In fact, he said, he thought they had made every possible mistake along the way. This got me thinking about what this must have meant in … Continue reading

Putting things on walls aids collaboration

I once worked on a project where the key sponsor was particularly keen to get our work in progress up on the office walls. He had more significant wishes, too (such as the outcome of our project), but putting our work on display was a clear wish. His reasons were perhaps best categorised as “cultural”. … Continue reading