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Netflix Culture

[I wrote this in August 2014 and posted it to Culture, Diversity, Strategy. It takes about 1 minute to read.]

One of the things on my mind a lot right now is ‘culture’. What kind of work environments do I thrive in? What’s important to me? What kind of values do people think are important to me, and do I live them? What values are important to those around me and the company I work for? Do I respect those values? Do I agree?

Lots of pondering, I’m sure you’ll see.

In my research I came across this great post on SlideShare, Culture from Reed Hastings. It’s all about culture and values at Netflix. It’s inspiring how simple they are, how much confidence is placed in people, and how these aren’t just buzzwords, but rather lived and meaningful values.

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‘Randomness’ and customer service

[I wrote this in August 2014 and posted it to Methodology, Shared Wisdom, Strategy, Tips. It takes about 4 minutes to read.]

The art of the random is the art of beleaguering business analysts, without a shadow of a doubt. I can analyse something to within an inch of its life, build the most exquisite operational process, and still fail. Why? Because the more randomness a system allows, the more difficult a process is to define (or, at least, control).

Candy Crush (along with a lot of the games we produce at King) introduces a lot of random behaviour to the process, because that’s the game’s secret sauce (or is that ‘secret candy’?). I want to share some of the challenges folk in a similar situation face because of this, and how we can [try to] overcome them.

So, what kind of randomness are we talking about?

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The idea of ‘reporting’ is disgusting and pervasive

[I wrote this in July 2014 and posted it to Agile, Bad Smells, Methodology, Metrics, Project Management, Rants, Software Development, Waterfall. It takes about 2 minutes to read.]

The idea of ‘reporting’ is disgusting and pervasive. I hate it.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for governance and oversight. I’m not about to argue against that. I’m talking about the idea of reporting driven development, the idea of a ‘status meeting’. I’m talking about the idea that you are being watched.

What made me want to write about this now? The GDS social media blog shared a link to Teamreporter, an application that basically aggregates ‘reporting’ and helps do away with the ‘status meeting’.

Grr.

Now, if you’re on a project where your development, targets, and daily work are driven by reporting your status something is, in my humble opinion, wrong. It’s an indicator to me that you are concentrating decision making authority for too much to too few. It’s an indicator that your team feels ‘watched’. It tells me that at a fundamental level the communication on that project is broken.

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Musings on ‘Continuous Improvement’ and process

[I wrote this in June 2014 and posted it to Agile, Kaizen, Methodology, Observations, Project Management, Strategy. It takes about 2 minutes to read.]

I hate the phrase ‘Continuous Improvement’. It conjures in my mind the image of innovation days, innovation champions, written feedback, suggestion boxes. It makes me think of all of the organisations I’ve worked with who see that they are stagnating but fail to grasp the basic concept behind their stagnation: the desire to adapt and change is a state of mind, not a question of process rigour.

Go read the wikipedia entry on Kaizen and come back if you don’t know the term. That’s what I’m talking about. Everyone feeling a sense of ownership, everyone empowered to speak up to suggest improvements (big or small). If you are relying on enforced ‘innovation days’ then I fear the boat has sailed for you. Stop doing that, and think about it a little differently. Here are my suggestions for how you could go about making a big change with a slow burn (nb. slow burn = high buy in).

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Why I don’t go to our user research sessions

[I wrote this in April 2014 and posted it to Agile, Methodology, Observations, Project Management, Software Development, Testing. It takes about 2 minutes to read.]

Our project is lucky enough to have the holy trinity of analysis, namely dedicated business analysis, user research, and graphic design specialists. It’s amazing! Every two weeks we run user research sessions to gather feedback and try out new ideas, either with the working version of the application we’re building or with decent mockups.

Our user researcher goes. Our graphic designer goes. Heck, most times the majority of the team goes. I do not.

Why?

It’s not something I’ve really talked about here with people on the project, or publicised, but it came up today because I’ll be leaving the project soon and the Product Owner realised I hadn’t been to any of the sessions. So, here’s my thinking.

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