Working practices

This category contains 94 posts

Culture is based on tangible things

Organisational culture is seemingly nebulous, hard to pin down. But in fact it’s based on very concrete, tangible things. It follows that by changing those tangible things we can change the culture of an organisation. Over many years I’ve read about the new breed of digital companies, and how they often value nurturing and developing … Continue reading

How much time should we put aside for tech debt?

I’ve talked previously about technical debt. Should we stop other work to address it? What is the cost of delay? And that we should watch out for technical bankruptcy. But these are “stop the world” questions. What proportion of our time should we be spending on it on a regular basis? Is 5% too little? … Continue reading

Trust from delivery

Trust might seem like a nebulous thing, but it’s based on very concrete things. Some time ago I was lucky enough to be part of a workshop run by Laurence Wood, discussing this issue of trust with some senior executives. I’ve always been struck by Laurence’s thoughtfulness and his deep concern for people’s needs, and … Continue reading

Balancing ownership and quality

Having worked as both a team manager and a consultant, I find there is a common balancing act when introducing people to a new approach or idea, such as setting up a particular process. On the one hand I tend to have a good idea about what I want to achieve and what it should … Continue reading

Are we seeking to evaluate or improve?

In a discussion the other day about measuring the effectiveness of developers I looked for a document I’d written a while back for exactly that purpose. But when I opened it up I found that it wasn’t the document I thought it was. I expected something that would help the reader, as a manager, assess … Continue reading

Be aware of the organisational brakes

I often hear about organisations that have tried to implement change and it’s not gone well. Sometimes those are organisations in which I’m working. Here, “not gone well” means the change has had to be halted or scaled back significantly, because of some kind of push-back. Maybe key senior stakeholders have prevented certain things happening. … Continue reading

Good technical people need good non-technical skills

Very technical roles require very technical skills. Information security experts, software developers, architects and others all need specialist skills as a baseline. But in general those people (like so many others) don’t work alone, and it’s important that their work meshes with others. If we treat our staff like cogs in a machine then that … 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

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

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

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