Working practices

This category contains 102 posts

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

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

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

Don’t be a slave to the model

I was recently involved in a conversation with some colleagues, in which one of them was seeking to introduce to their own organisation “the Spotify model” [pdf] of organising teams. This a model that tackles the twin problems of teams needing to be cross-functional and to scale up the number of people. I’m always wary … Continue reading

Prioritising hypothesis tests

A little while ago I was working with a team that had a lot of user research to do. Naturally, we only had limited time, so we needed to decide how to prioritise our work. This is how we did it. First of all we wrote out all the ideas we wanted to examine. Some … Continue reading

Avoid hostage situations when refactoring

Last week I talked about refactoring and the need—throughout that process—to still be able to deploy frequently. What I did not explain was why it was important to still be able to deploy frequently, and that was a bit of an omission, because we shouldn’t take these kinds of mantras lightly. The reason is to … Continue reading

Make good work visible

The other day I was at an Underground station where there were a number of charity collectors with buckets. I put a coin in a collector’s bucket and he gave me a bright yellow sticker in return. At first I was unsure about wanting it; it’s the kind of thing I’d have loved when I … Continue reading

Achieving excellence is hard work

Some time ago I was working with a team that made a mistake in generating its release notes. I took on the task of improving the process to avoid us making that mistake again. It shouldn’t have been difficult, because someone else told me how they thought it should it be done—I just needed to … Continue reading

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