Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Starting a Tech Team Transformation

A horrifying revelation that shocks many companies is the realisation of how ineffective their development teams are. Excessive time spent fixing bugs, inability to support business growth, and being out-iterated by more agile competitors are often the distressing trigger symptoms.

One common reaction is to follow the “we must be agile” hype and bring in an agile consultant expecting a quick fix. As good as a select few consultants may be, for 99% of companies there is no quick fix. Culture, practices and personnel often require radical change.

I’ve had this conversation about improving lagging tech teams what feels like a millions times over the past year. The latest one triggered me to put my thoughts in writing and clarify my thinking - this post is as much for me as it is for you.

In summary, my general recommendation is to create a shared vision of change based on the mission and purpose of the organisation, and then gradually implement it. Without doubt, though, individual circumstances will play a huge factor in any change initiative. In this post I will outline my thinking along with some key details and an example implementation roadmap.

Be prepared for a long journey

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Win a Copy of Patterns, Principles, and Practices of Domain-Driven Design

To celebrate the launch of our book, Scott Millet and I will be donating a few free copies. Just email your name or twitter handle to by Friday 17th April.

If you are selected as a winner, a hard copy of the book will be posted to an address of your choice. The book comes completely unconditionally - I would love to hear your feedback though.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Proposing the Emotional Intelligence Retrospective

Every decision we make is guided by our emotions - often even dominated by them. The more we are aware of our emotions, though, the more we can control them and make more logical decisions. This is the challenging skill of emotional intelligence.

As software developers, we do not dedicate enough of our focus to being more emotionally intelligent. For personal, team, and organisational benefits we absolutely should, in my opinion.

My suggestion for increasing emotional awareness is to conduct emotional intelligence retrospectives. In this post, I will outline one potential format for such a retrospective. But I encourage you to apply your own ideas as well.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Empathetic Software Development Guided by the Business Model Canvas

Empathy is what makes software development teams effective. Applying their technical expertise, passion and collaborative skills to understand the needs of the business and maximise value creation. Developers are problem solvers - not just programmers.

A development team’s effectiveness is inhibited by a lack of business awareness. Most developers are too technology focused, and most management teams drip-feed their developers partially-solutionized problems based on their poor technical knowledge and gut feelings.

We need both sides to come together and realise the value in aligning everyone with a shared organisational vision. We can do this using the Business Model Canvas to create empathy between business and technical colleagues; in the process creating efficient organisations that innovate from the ground-up.

Whether you are a leader by job title or by nature, I encourage you to bring the benefits of the Business Model Canvas to your company.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

My Favourite Startup Tools for Devs

As I've moved from failed startup idea to failed startup idea, and convinced my girlfriend that "this is the one, just give me some space to finish it and we'll finally spend lots of time together", I have actually picked up a few tools that are immensely useful.

Here are a few tools I seriously recommend that you consider if you ever decide to put your relationship on the line and get one of your own ideas up and running.

Feel free to leave a suggestion or two of your own in the comments.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Finding Common User Journeys with Apache Spark

Understanding the behaviour of your users as they navigate and interact with your websites and applications is one of the key sources of insight for improving your products and your business model. One particular metric that can be especially useful is understanding common journeys - helping you to understand user intent.

Google analytics provides the “Behavior flow” report, shown below, which provides detailed information about common user journeys. But if you don’t want to use google analytics - perhaps you want to create more advanced or customised behaviour flow tools (or you want to keep all your data private in your own datastores) then you can easily recreate this functionality using Apache Spark regardless of how big your dataset is.

Google Analytics' behavior flow tab
This blog post should be accessible to any developer, though the examples are in Scala. By the end you will see how to create your own behaviour flow functionality, and you’ll also see why Apache Spark is becoming massively-popular - because it is powerful, easy to use, and fast.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Do You Know Your Employer's Business Model?

If you are a passionate software developer who is motivated by more than just writing code, then you should consider learning about your employer’s business model and business models in general, so that you can play a significant role in making technical and business decisions.

I am just realising how lacking an understanding of business models has prevented me from making better day-to-day decisions and held back my workplace innovations.

But as I’m learning from the Business Model Generation book, I’m seeing so many ways I can increase my contribution on the products and projects I find myself involved in. This feels like a breakthrough in my career that will empower me to become a more effective problem solver, developer, and leader.

In this post I will explain why, after I first share the definition of a business model.