Just another blog…

Steve

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When I first became a tech manager it was an exciting time, I knew it would be a challenge and was ready to go! I quickly realized management is not something a two-day training course can really prepare you for but I had one thing going for me, I knew I wanted to be a manager. I made mistakes and was certainly naive in situations but I was learning and gaining experience at every opportunity. Looking back over the years certain areas stand out that I believe are needed to be a successful tech manager.

We’re not short on articles listing the attributes of a good manager/leader, each has similar themes including communication, honesty, transparency, humility, etc. Nothing wrong with these and I believe they are essential to the success of any manager. I want to look at a few others, some are personal traits while others are more practical… Continue reading

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Recruitment is rarely seen as an exciting process but it should be because this is a chance strengthen your team. The new role could be to replace someone or grow the team, either way, there’s an opportunity to bring in some new skills or experience that will benefit the team as a whole. The technical side adds more challenges to the process, but again, it’s a chance to find the right person while, at the same time, giving them a glimpse into the type of company you are. Recruitment is time-consuming so you want to make that time count and get value out of each stage otherwise it’s a waste of everyone’s time and potentially a damaged reputation.

The process needs to fail fast, don’t waste time on different stages if the candidate is not suitable. What is most important for you in the person? This could be a… Continue reading

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Imagine being in a team when the manager gets you all together to present a plan for a new project starting in a few weeks. It doesn’t have to be a software project, it could be anything. The plan includes the vision for the project, timescales, and people’s names against areas of work. After a run through of the plan, the manager closes the meeting without an opportunity for input from the team. Maybe it’s not too difficult to imagine! It’s a shame, one, because this is typical of many teams and two, there is a manager who is clearly not part of the team. The effects may not be visible until it’s too late.

This approach has many negative effects on the team that could become serious issues. It creates an atmosphere in the team that does little to promote openness. This can be put down to the attitude… Continue reading

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Shifting your organization or teams towards Continuous Delivery is a challenge, there is a lot to discuss, plan, and implement. There are not only technical hurdles to get over but the mindset of the teams has to evolve with the new practices. With Continuous Delivery covering many different functions we can easily get lost on our path to improvement and lose sight of the next item to target. We need a way to track our CD progress!

I’m not aware many tools available to track maturity of the CD practices. There are maturity models available to help assess your progress and identify areas to work on. However, these are not easy to visualize, in the past, I’ve put printouts of a model around the office highlighting our level for each category, like the one I’ve mentioned before. This works but I would not say it’s ideal.

Some have enlarged… Continue reading

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All organizations strive for high-performing IT departments, it can be said the health of an organization could be gauged by looking at their IT department alone. We see constant change programs devised and rolled out to tackle inefficiency with results that are often disappointing which need more changes! Unless changes are made based on relevant hard data this cycle will be difficult to break. Nicole Forsgren is a Chief Scientist who analyses data to prove certain hypothesis – it’s this type of research that should get our attention.

Nicole explains this research in her What I Learned from Four Years of Science-ing the Crap out of DevOps talk. The survey questions were created based on Westrum typology which looks at organisational cultures and has a close mapping technology. The survey data reveals things about Continuous Delivery, Management, and Culture, but it’s CD I’m interested in here.

A lot is at… Continue reading

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Leading Lean Software Development is a great read and would recommend for any tech leader. There is a lot to draw from and learn but for this blog it was a quote on the last page that caught my attention:

to lead the organization as if I had no power

What an excellent mindset to have! Following the reference to the quote leads to an article Role of Management in a Lean Manufacturing Environment by Gary Convis, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, that includes this paragraph:

I’ll never forget the wise advice given me by a man I grew to respect and admire very deeply, Mr. Kan Higashi, who was our second president at NUMMI. When he promoted me to vice president, he said my greatest challenge would be “to lead the organization as if I had no power.” In other words, shape the organization not through the power of will… Continue reading
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I enjoy photography and learning how to capture better photos. I’ve been the photographer at a few low-key events, snapping away trying to catch those special photos. It’s not until later that someone asks did you get a picture of this or can I see a particular photo that you realise you didn’t capture it in the right way or didn’t get it at all. I didn’t know it was important so didn’t spend time being in the right place or thinking how to best capture the moment. I learnt a lesson, know what is important to the hosts of the event. By asking them you find out areas to concentrate on e.g. the food, certain people, a certain activity during the event. If you don’t ask, you don’t know which could lead to disappointment! There is a similarity here with tech teams – do you know what is important… Continue reading