Five for Friday – October 26, 2018

Five for Friday – October 19, 2018

I’m preparing for some meetings with some colleagues in Europe next week and I’m a little frazzled. But this is what my frazzled brain liked this week.

Five for Friday – October 12, 2018

Another Friday, another week with cool things to share.

Five for Friday – October 5, 2018

Here are a few (five, actually) things I saw this week and liked.

Five for Friday – Friday, September 28

Here are a few of the things I found interesting this week.

  • I thought this article about “hacking” British Airways was sort of interesting – but mainly that they glossed over the real hack – “It is likely that the hackers had access to the site, and modified the code to insert a backdoor.” 
    Read and make your own judgement.
  • Camille Fournier (author of the wonderful book, The Managers Path posted this article on engineering productivity.
  • Ben Kelly says, You probably need fewer testers than you think (and he’s probably right)
  • Saw this on twitter from Cassie Kozyrkov on Speaking at conferences. It’s really good (especially compared to the usual posts on this topic)
  • Finally, I tweeted about this, but it’s worth calling out here too.

Five for Friday – September 21, 2018

I had this weird empty feeling all afternoon, and it just hit me. I (almost) forgot to post my five interesting finds from the week.

Five for Friday – September 14, 2018

Here’s stuff I found interesting. Some of it published recently – some is not. 

  • I posted earlier this week about painful observations of “stand-ups” turning into horrible status sentences. Seth Eliot pointed me to this great post by Henrik Kniberg that covers my peeve better than I did.
  • I’ve been reading Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. I’ll avoid personal feelings and just say that it’s well-written, and I’m enjoying it.
  • I loved The Children’s Guide to Kubernetes. Heck – even I can understand it.
  • I frequently (consistently?) state that a retrospective is the single most important meeting your team can have. While this article (4 Reasons Why Your Scrum Sprint Review Isn’t Effective) focuses on the scrum sprint review ritual, the concepts apply to any retro.
  • Continuous Testing for Devops Professionals is out. I’ve read 90% of it (I was fortunate enough to be a reviewer), and think it’s pretty good.

Status and Progress

Status meetings are boring. More importantly, status meetings are unneeded. Meetings are for discussion, and updates on status rarely require that (until, of course, they do). Nothing – nothing is more painful than sitting through a meeting where people go around the table and say, “Today, I’m doing X”. 

Hopefully nothing alarming so far.

A lot of teams have adopted Scrum for project management. One of the rituals of Scrum is the daily stand-up where traditionally, 3 questions are asked:
1) What did you do yesterday?
2) What are you doing today?
3) What is blocking you?

And a lot of times during the stand-up meeting, most people say something like, “Yesterday, I worked on the fizz filter. Today, I’m working on the fizz filter. Nothing is blocking me.”

And then the next day at stand-up, they say, “Yesterday, I worked on the fizz filter. Today, I’m working on the fizz filter. Nothing is blocking me.”

Eventually, since the answers to questions 1 and 3 never change, standup information is “optimized” to something like this:

Today, I’m working on the fizz filter.”

…and this repeats until they’re (eventually) done with the fizz filter.

Something is wrong, right?

Somewhere in the rituals of scrum or agile, teams who operate like this lost the importance of communication and collaboration – they go through the motions of “agile”, but fail to get the immense value that’s easily within their grasp.

If you’re tied to the canonical three questions of scrum, then at the very least you owe it to your team to improve the way in which you communicate your status. Discuss details; include something you learned (maybe you were blocked, but figured it out); think about how other team members may be able to help you. You can also make a big dent in the scrum-as-status-reporting problem if you break your work items into things that can generally be done in a day or less.

Yesterday, I worked on the database connection for the fizz filter. I had a challenge getting the ODBC connection set up, but Janet gave me some tips and I got the problem solved. Today, I’m going to write a test suite for the fizz filter database connection. I may need some help learning the new test runner, but other than that, I should be good to go”

If you want to go further, Brent Jensen taught me a question that I now use to drive any project management meeting I’m in. This came up while discussion managing a team using kanban (which I believe, when used correctly, far exceeds scrum as a project management framework), have task owners answer one question:

What needs to be done to move this task to the next column?

The question is automatically contextualized by the kanban column containing the task. Answering the question reveals questions, dependencies…and even status. 

The question from Brent is wonderful, but the the main point here is that your status messages (barf) or status meetings (double-barf) aren’t helpful for you, your team, your software – and ultimately, your customers. The great news is that it’s easy to do better.

What needs to be done to move this task to the next column for your team?

Five for Friday – September 7, 2018

Friday snuck up on me, but the interesting links and thoughts kept coming. I hope you find something of interest here.

  • I’ve been re-reading (re-re-reading?) Radical Candor, and this line poked me enough to write down. If  you’re a people manager – or even if you just value relationships, it’s something to keep in mind.
    “Make sure that you are seeing each person on your team with fresh eyes every day. People evolve, and so your relationships must evolve with them. Care personally; don’t put people in boxes and leave them there.” 
  • There are some hints of Modern Testing in this article by JP Lambert on why there are so few agile testers.
  • I liked (mostly) this article from Jason Wong on followership.
  • I’ve been talking about technical debt with a lot folks on my teams at Unity, and then Trish Khoo posts this great article on a Technical Debt Playment Plan.
  • I just finished binge-watching Halt and Catch Fire. It’s a nice dramatization of the rise of the PC, online communities, and the internet, but the story and acting are really, really good. Chuck it in your queue on Netflix and give it a shot.

Five for Friday – August 31, 2018

  • I’ve referred to Pat Lencioni a lot here – but this quote from The Advantage has been high on my radar this week:
    “The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it.”
  • I enjoyed this article – A practical guide to becoming a terrible manager.
  • …and also this article (or collection of ideas) on how to define high quality code.
  • This is a really good article on strategy – including this painfully accurate opening line – “The root of most strategy challenges is simple–too many managers don’t know what strategy is”.
  • Finally – one of my heroes retired from professional soccer this week. Thanks for everything, Clint.