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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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Chocolate Experiment 6: Caramel

[I wrote this in March 2014 and posted it to Food, Project Management, Testing. It takes about 1 minute to read.]

Leena is ill/skiving this week, so it is my duty to blog the project chocolate experiment for this week. The theme was caramel, and the competition was fierce.

A few notes before I share the winners and photos, folks

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My Wall vs Your Wall

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

All hail the story wall!

On agile project teams the use of a story wall is ubiquitous. It’s an asset that shows all of the stories (requirements, pieces of work) in play, and their status. It’s a physical wall (often with a virtual counterpart) designed to be an information radiator.

Nobody owns the wall, everybody can contribute to it. That’s the theory, at least.

On many projects the PM and BA are the main consumers of the wall. Their day to day life revolves around it. This leads to the impression that they, in fact, own the wall and an odd culture of taking permission to make changes emerges. I don’t really like it.

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