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Software is easy, humans are hard

Ben Stewart

Keyboard Aliens

I’m not quite sure who reads this blog but I can guess the rough mixture of job roles would be project managers, coaches, business analysts, managers of various flavours, developers and lastly anyone who happens to follow me on Twitter. My experiences lately have allowed me to learn a lot around how teams interact with each other in various stages of a project. Projects are evil; generally. For the most part in a project the idea seemed like a good one but similar to painting a room (for me anyway), halfway through you want to pack it all in and pay someone external to finish it off for you.

Shared Docs

At your desk on a rather boring Wednesday afternoon you receive an email from your boss, asking for a task to be completed for Friday morning. They need an “update” on the progress of the biggest project in the department. “OK”, you say to yourself, task in hand and blinkered to the fact that the email you just received was about to result in at least a day of wasted effort.

Introducing Scrum

During the last three to four months I have been digesting as many new topics on agile as I can, it just so happened that most of them were around Lean and Kanban as that was what happened to be the path I was going down at the time. Coaching and guiding teams can be done in various different ways; which is why having as many different tools in the box is in my opinion one of the strongest assets for any colleague at any level.

Spotify at City

At this moment in time the Spotify culture is a major influence in how I am trying to shape the Agile Culture at City. I won’t go too indepth on how Spotify do it; what I want to do with this series is document what we have done at City for one project and how it actually worked or didn’t work. SQUAD KICKOFF MEETING The very first thing we did was arrange a kick off meeting for the colleagues who were going to be part of the squad.

My Intro to T.O.C

As an Engineering Manager and senior member of an IT team within a large company, I’m constantly looking for ways to educate myself, my team and provide efficiency for my company. I’ve previously recommended The Phoenix Project as a book that anyone who visits my blog should go away and dive into; it has so much to offer in terms of opening doors to other interesting topics while being a very easy read.

Say No

Tell me if this seems scene is familiar; Your team is constantly cranking away on new features and undertaking brand new projects as well as doing copious amounts of support for current software which is in the company. Things come up in your business, as they do in every company, so the need to pivot quickly is seen as a positive and your team do it on a regular occurrence.

The Invisible Manager

For me to be successful as a development manager; nobody should know I exist. Although it may seem crazy to think about, it is exactly what anyone in a managerial position should be trying to achieve; anonymity. Having recently had the time to think about some long term goals this is the environment that I am looking to put into practise and safe to say it’s scary. The role of a manager is a funny one because basically it means you are nothing special.

Help! My Scrum isn't Working

Around two weeks ago, I proposed to my boss that sprints were no longer a worthwhile option for the biggest project in the history of the company; at that point we had been doing them for over a year. Here is how we got there. To start at the beginning means to set the scene a little. I had just been promoted from MI Team Leader to (Business As Usual) Development Manager; this basically meant I was in charge of everything BUT the biggest project in the company.

My Battle With Javascript

The other day I downloaded our teams greenfield project and began looking through the source code. After fixing my environmental issues when trying to build (I’m not just a pretty manager), I eventually got to the login screen and started to play about with our new AngularJS ERP system. It’s immense. However, when I began to look at the App folder and my excitement for the product suddenly went to the floor.

Treat Awful Candidates Like Rockstars

Recruitment, as I’ve said previously, is probably the most important job that managers at any level have on their teams. Bringing in high calibre team members not only improves the quality of your products but it will lift morale and no doubt help push your company forward to where ever you are planning for it to be. To get those high calibre team members you need to sniff them out from the ‘not so’ high calibre ones; but you need to treat everyone exactly the same until you finally decide on a colleague.