In 2020, what will your 100 minutes be?

If you could share one thing from the past year...what would it be?  What is the one thing that happened in 2019 that made the largest impact on you? I want to share with you my greatest failure.  And yet also my greatest learning. This year I failed to see that I had begun to view learning through the lens of control.  I had begun to see learning as a way to make people better.  Here at SportsEngine, when health checks were introduced, the intent was to grow teams, to shift a team’s focus from doing to learning.  Slowly, though, they became a means to generate analysis, a means to force my views; the intent was subverted from ‘help the team’ to ‘change the team’.   In reflecting on the health check journey, I realized that there were a number of themes that proportionally accompanied this subversion - friction in conversation, misunderstanding of purpose, personal stress, and frustration of progress. What was driving these themes? It was after reading the boo

Breaking hero behaviour with systems thinking

 What follows is my script for the brief Ignite talk I gave at DevOpsDays Toronto 2019, with relevant slides injected.  Here's the video: My goal today is to firmly convince you that hero behaviour is actually an anti-pattern. It should not be praised or rewarded, but rather be viewed as a warning flag signifying greater systemic problems. I’ll show you the result of my own hero efforts, and how until I was introduced to systems thinking, I never realized that I’d been missing the forest for the trees. Most importantly, I’ll show you how you have complete control to change this. A number of years ago I was working at a software company that was struggling with siloing, production fires, long deploy times - all the stereotypical issues you’ve seen before, or perhaps experience today. A colleague and I took it upon ourselves to guide the dev teams to freedom and very hastily built a prototype pipeline system to replace their

Health check learnings, this time with data!

For this quarter's health checks I wanted to get some actual data out of the process and act on the 'continuous improvement' stuff we all talk about but don't always do.  I asked myself some questions... What do people actually think about the process?  What would they change?  Is this really worth continuing? ( and more to the point, what am I doing about improving this process? ) How would people react to the idea of 'advance voting', where you essentially had the option to do 'Planning Poker' for your votes - would stir some controversy, if nothing else, give people opportunity to think in advance ( idea c/o Steve Rogalsky ) Instead of bumping through the pre-during-post process of this, maybe I could write it out this time?...a health check playbook? ( there are a surprising amount of moving parts ) What do people actually think about the process? I used a basic NPS survey formula through Google Forms and managed to get just over half t

2019 is full of opportunities to contribute

This was a 'lightning talk' I gave at our kickoff this year.  If it reads like a speech...that's because it kind of is one.    :)  2019 will be full of opportunities for you to contribute. Every hour, day, week, month. Every success, failure, achievement, frustration. Every meeting, call, conversation, chat. Every interaction you will have is an opportunity - a chance for you to choose what you will contribute. I ask you - what will you contribute today? Will it be shared purpose? Trust? Community? Understanding? In every interaction with those around you, I challenge you to test yourself, your intentions, by asking these questions… Am I willing to learn? Am I willing to be influenced? Cultivate a fierce humility within yourself by keeping these questions top of mind wherever you go, with whomever you talk to, in whatever emotional state. Remember these questions, that you would remain grounded and centered in the realization that together we are more than the sum

Talk notes: The only thing that matters is you

The following are my speaking notes from the talk I gave at the December 4th DevOpsTO meetup, titled 'The only thing that matters is you'. I elected to put them up as-is, with minimal editing, because I plan on refining the contents for a future talk - there was just too much content in this one. The abuse of bullet points is because I can't for the life of me figure out indentation in blogger.  The italics, etc are meant to help me emphasize words and phrases, remind me of points, and so forth.  The Q&A section is interactive, actually getting folks to participate, respond, and think about things. ================= The following presentation is a compilation of everything I’ve learned on my journey so far - for brevity I’ll be paraphrasing quotes, but the books in the intro slide are my primary source. Q&A starter Let’s start by setting the stage in your own minds... ( Point: people matter more than tools or process ) You’ve lost your credit card, maybe it wa

My notes from reading 'Better: A surgeon's notes on performance'

First off, this was a great read - a great window into the literal and figurative world of medicine.  Highly recommend it not just as a well-written book, but as it also has a lot of readily transposable ideas.  I read this at the recommendation of:   and under the contextual influence of "how do OKRs work, anyhow?". My own analysis & thoughts Big theme of the systems principle 'make information visible' - publish results, don't hide results anywhere! (e.g. org-public OKRs) Measuring "intangibles" can be a powerful innovation  (e.g.  How to measure anything, Hubbard ) Balanced KRs important everywhere (point/counterpoint) "What the best may have, above all, is a capacity to learn and change - and to do so faster than everyone else." Change is possible with just one person - be a positive deviant!  Note how a number of individuals were referenced below. Diligence rang out loud and clear to me - Personal mas

Team health checks - now with more teams!

I had the chance to help out with team ( squad ) health checks again, this time with eight dev teams ( last occasion was   just two ) - seven of which happened in a single week!  One of the teams had done a few health checks in the years prior, and it was really cool to see their responses and approaches mature over time. As before, a ton of learning and a great experience all around, with some really cool insight from the folks participating: On the topic of 'delivering value', one team member raised his hand after the team had said their piece and noted: "You [ the team ] have been describing delivering quality.  Delivering value is something else."  ( which of course spurred other discussions and thoughts ) Success metrics/OKRs have the power of crystallizing the organizational mission as results Legacy code/platforms constrain present/future options ( i.e. tech debt doesn't just require recoup work in future, it prevents you from doing some things in