Photo by S Migaj on Unsplash

Making stuff with software is at the heart of so much change and opportunity in all walks of life. It is a complex process, and doing it well is part art, part science.

Around twenty years ago some very smart folk gathered and created the Agile Manifesto for Software Development, with the opening line: we are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.

Around twenty plus something years ago, I started making stuff with software, defining, analysing, coding, testing and supporting stuff.

I’ve read a lot about making stuff with software. I’ve been…

Software product development is a seemingly simple process with loads of inherent complexity.

It’s a process you can probably describe in 3 or 4 steps: identify a problem, build some software to address the problem, give it to the people who have the problem.

But you people aren’t satisfied with a simple process, are you? You have to go and complicate it with all sorts of real world problems. Things get clunky, slow down, frustration builds, and you find yourself nowhere near that magical flow state where things just happen smoothly.

One of the most successful practices we can learn…

We’ve got a lot to get done and we’ve got to hit the date. We’ve really got to nail down the scope as a lot of people are expecting their stuff to get delivered first. What are you doing about that?

If the answer to that is more requirements analysis, more workshops, more planning, then look forward to the same conversation with the same people in a month. Then again a month later. Etc.

There is nothing wrong with planning. In fact, there is a lot right with planning. Everyone should do it. Everyone should do it more. Do it…

Woman removing a block during a stacking block game
Woman removing a block during a stacking block game
Photo by John Moeses Bauan on Unsplash

Jokes… you can’t.

“I just want certainty,” said the sponsor. Everyone shuffled their papers and avoided eye contact.

The project manager finally spoke up. “Sure, we’ll review the plan again and firm it up.”

End of meeting.

I’m sure this scene has been repeated in variations throughout the world for as many years as there have been projects.

Certainty is an interesting concept when it comes to humans doing work. To extend a truism, when it comes to humans doing work, the only certainty is uncertainty.

So what to do about it? A valuable project management technique is risk management…

I’ve seen a few posts recently saying “Agile is dead”… they’re generally clickbait but irritate me. I’m far too pragmatic to be a dogmatic Agilist, but felt compelled to respond.

I do feel like there’s a risk of sounding like one of those aging Marxists… The problem with Agile is that it wasn’t implemented right…

If only the right people had done it everything would have been alright…

But I feel like a lot of dissatisfaction with agile comes from abuse and/or misunderstanding of agile.

So let’s go back and read the agile manifesto… the whole thing…

We are uncovering…

I’ll admit it — I spent the first 3 months of this year in a bit of a haze. A couple of reasons — firstly, the arrival of my twin boys (amazing) and secondly I was in a pretty challenging place at work.

We had a vision of what we wanted to achieve, and boy was it ambitious. We were pushing the boundaries of what is possible within our organisation, surfing the edge of what’s technically possible (federated clusters across multiple cloud providers — come on Ubernetes).

Six months into the year and we were out of the haze. Partly…

Recently I’ve been working with a team who were under a lot ​of pressure to deliver, and one of the options they identified was to drop the documentation they were being asked to write. Why? Because it was an overhead.

After all, good code is sufficient documentation, isn’t it?

Well, that depends… if you’re an early start up and a small team is responsible for everything, then maybe… for a short time… until you hire someone else.

So, why document what you do? So many reasons, for example:

  • Identify and reduce/eliminate ambiguity
  • Increase efficiency
  • Enhance communication
  • Capture tacit knowledge and…

Integrity has no need of rules

Albert Camus

Dan Ariely does some really interesting looking at integrity, honesty and attempting to understand why people lie. Dan’s is definitely a blog worth following.

One of his pieces recently explored the factors that influence people’s propensity to act honestly or dishonestly, I’m unashamedly going to post a spoiler with a simple list of factors that Dan’s research identified.

Factors that increase dishonesty:

  • Ability to rationlise
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Creativity
  • Previous immoral acts
  • Being depleted
  • Others benefitting from our dishonesty
  • Watching others behave dishonestly
  • Culture that gives examples of dishonesty

Factors that decrease…

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant” — Robert McCloskey

Pretty apt that this quote comes from a children’s author, I think. You see so many parents pleading with their children to listen, but it’s a skill that we should plead with people of all ages to improve.

I’ve just come out of yet another meeting where there was an opportunity nearly missed because people weren’t listening to each other. They heard what was said, and then replied based on…

Michael Spragg

Interested in stuff… fintech, media, science, technology, education, sport, politics, fun, food, you know…

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