Workweek 03×06: Things are basically fine?

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Last in the current series, yippee-kay-ay. my last chance to have a direct impact on my main aims set out in episode 1.

End of season uncliffhanger

Aim 1 was about coordinating a sense of company direction. I feel mostly good on this. We (across the team) have had various product planning chats with partners, which is a step up from last year. There are always more strategies you could put in place, but it feels like it’s on people’s radars a lot more, even if everyone has a different way of approaching it. We’ve had board-level discussions on what the company is here for, and nothing out-of-the-ordinary has come up. My own processes have been refined and got more structure, and are bearing fruit already.

There’s still some detail to do, and the hard part is coming up next – coordinate, and communicate everything out to people in a way that hits that fine line between too vague and too detailed.

The question has become: how much do I need to do “directly”, vs just keep “pushing the agenda”? Maybe it’s the same challenge as delegation, but less direct. For any particular change, there are a number of ways of effecting it:

  1. Do it myself
  2. Ask someone else to do it
  3. Encourage a culture in which someone else takes it up anyway
  4. Realise that it would happen anyway and don’t worry about it

it’s fine to set goals. But not healthy to confuse personal goals (aka Control Phreaking) with team (or wider) goals.

Hmm, also relevant:

Aim 2 was about feeling like a head of tech again. I feel like I’m letting the dev team side of things slip, although we have some work underway, aims in place, and are expecting a new member in the coming months, so I’m just probably being too harsh on myself. I just need to write up some details mainly, which takes more time than I think it should, and I’ve got a lot better at recently. The question here is: how does it balance against other hats, in terms of time, effort, independence of hats?

Aim 3 was about bringing a sense of being Calm and Crafted to my work/job/life: I’m noticing something here, but not sure what. I think the pocket watch of calm had a real, larger-than-expected effect. Actually, I think this has become a background brain process that is trying to work out what “craft” is. Zen and the art of running a company doesn’t make much sense though. Zen is mystical and unfathomable. Expect this to return in series 4.


Oh damn this is the opposite of what I just wrote.

Collaborations Wanted

OK, this was a weeknotes section idea that came out of a quick Twitter chatter with @stamanfar, like basically a) it’s OK to ask for help on an idea and b) the #weeknotes bunch are awesome. So I’m giving it a go.

This week? I’m interested in “early” estimates vs “late estimates” for stories in Jira. How early do you estimate a piece of work? How do you measure the “fuzziness” factor, or the uncertainty that comes with time? How and when do you translate from one to another, to refine the estimation? is it even useful?


We gonna need more story points

The Week that Was

Monday

No real look at the week ahead today, but got some main themes penciled into my calendar as a keepsake. Super efficient week organising 100%. Got Lawrence, a developer, leaving this week, and a job ad out. And lots of tech investigation jobs piling up.

Weather: fresh, colder. Caught somewhere between summer and not summer. Autumn, but Christmas is in the shops.

Monday morning team catch-up. Feeling relaxed.

Caught up with Stefan a bit from his product chats last week, sounds positive, hooray.

Chatted with James at HACT, productive and feel like we’re starting to get a good balance between long term and short term thinking.

Trello tidy up, which was refreshing.

Bought a new notebook, Moleskine, plain pages, smooth. One of the more important sigils.

Code review and changes on the user-feedback framework that Lawrence has been working on.

Sprint pre planning with new user support agent Joel on board, felt structured and “flowy”, whatever that means.

Code review and changes on the improvements to error logging that Alex has been doing.

Tuesday

Was off, but realised stuff goes on at work when I’m not there which I’m still involved in, so maybe I should start thinking about it for series 4?

Wednesday

Feel pretty subdued today, a mix of interrupted sleep and binge-watching series 3 of twin peaks.

Declan Cassidy of Brighton Makerspace came in, to chat about what they do and possible sponsorship.

Chatted with Obi and Gregor on migrating our internal databases, which are pretty hefty, but we now have a good plan in place.

Emails.

There was much discussion in the office about Baby names, because they’re the cool stats.


Looked over Luke’s budget stuff.

Alex was looking at UK property shapefiles.

Values meeting with Kim. Forgotten how hard this stuff is, but interesting. Storytelling as creating the world we live in – crafting. Going to pick this up.

Writing up notes from the migration meeting.

Day note: Need to reorient myself again. Lots on. Some stuff finished, but some stuff I feel like I should do but don’t need to. Tension between defined responsibilities and responsiveness – between the two parts of my job title? And how do my weeknotes series goals fit into this? I have this urge to map everything out again.

Thursday

Sprint meeting – tiny tiny Hive Pixie stories makes me feel like a ninja, slipping in and getting a tiny thing done each time… Can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned to something slightly meatier in a few months.

Carry on writing up Jira tasks for server migration stuff. Getting a route set up is great. Getting it into Jira makes my life so much easier – grab the next thing, tick off the epic. The work basically runs itself. I need a way to get some basic estimates in, just to gauge progress. Will ask Obi and Gregor what they think. There are different *kinds* of estimates – rough ones are really useful early in the process, more detailed ones are useful as you get closer.

Pub lunch! Great to get a chance to chat to Joel about code and twin peaks, and to eat battered halloumi which is probably the thing which will Finally Get Me.

Exit interview with Lawrence, which I will keep private obviously but it was good. I know some people say you shouldn’t do them, but we do (optionally) for a few reasons. Firstly it’s nice to get a sense of “handing over” as part of them. Secondly we try to keep a close, supportive relationship with employees at all times, so it’s nice to have an “end” on an ongoing conversation. And thirdly, it’s a stage of career interaction that each employee will (probably) only ever get a single chance to go through with us, so it’s an opportunity to gain valuable insights which wouldn’t have come up in other daily contexts.

Friday

Coding day as we make a push on a few dev-heavy tasks. There’s a quick check to bring some code across from one product to another, to carry on fixing up our logs. Then I review a chunk of code that Lawrence has been working on as his last task – it’s his last day today.

This takes up most of the day, but is done and we begin proper coding. In between, I finish up Jira tasks for our server migration, and fix my dev environment VM after breaking it a few weeks ago.

Also get to buy lunch with Bitcoins.

After work, a quick pint as not is Lawrence leaving, but Flo is also going part-time as she heads to Uni. Changes. Exciting. And feels like an appropriate place to end this series. Not a cliffhanger, but a certain sense of things being wrapped up.

Next week: I’m not expecting myself to do an official weeknotes entry. But I will probably think about what’s just happened and what’s to come. I’m not sure what form that will take publicly, but I guess something has a good chance of appearing.

Workweek 03×05: A Pocket watch of Calm

[Note: I’ve noticed I play a lot with my writing style. I tend to use weeknotes as my own personal playground, maybe because I don’t have to think so much about content? I don’t know if a slightly obscure approach puts readers off. Or if I should even care? Let me know what you reckon.]

[Note: Contactable via blog comments, or via Twitter at @6loss.]

Week plan. Assemble sigils: a stopped pocket watch to plot my stress level (of which more here). Lego men representing craft. A pen that creates beauty for me. Tools of the trade, indistinguishable from symbols.

Week aims: Relax / Tech team Roadmap / Australian route ahead.

Lots on and a three-day week to do it. Monday morning is a street market of ideas and avenues to tidy up. Hungover ghosts left from last week. The pocket watch has gone from 6 to 9 this morning. A spot of rain and a cancelled train, mixture of forced relaxation and a hasty arrival.

Check in on Australia, all good. Run the aggregating later. Feels good to be on the home run, job done.

Tidy up on the work for Hive Pixie I was looking at on Friday, and get to introduce Luke to GROUP_CONCAT. Experience gives you a wealth of tools to draw on. Every function call has a function, just like the sigils in my pocket. I do some git branches, commits, Jira buttons. Move on.

Talk to Lawrence, who is back from holiday and leaving in 2 weeks. My pen flows around the page, mapping my thoughts as we go. My pen hates me for writing its loving curls into the strait-jacket of a digital screen.

Talk to Stefan on meetings and strategies. I have my thoughts, but notice he has his, and try to step back a bit. Everyone has their own journey, their own weeknotes that they’re inscribing into their head as they go, even if they’re not writing them down on the net. Got to respect that.

Make sure I take lunch today, I’m owed some from last week. Plus I’m too knackered not to take it. Pressure will kill you. I adjust my pocket watch, set it back an hour.

Get back in to sit down and talk about market strategies and the crossover between a couple of products. This is an old path, trodden but neglected by a common need. I’m in Transmission mode for this – what needs doing is sometimes less important than who knows what and who should be doing what. We have a tentacled conversation between ten people, in my estimation, and most of the conversation is about who’s being conversing. I’m not convinced I’m in the best place to take the conversation forwards. Sometimes it’s helpful to jump in, help out, and all that. Sometimes it’s not. If you’re talking long term strategy, then go with long term roles. Use inaction to (re-)establish patterns. Feels like meta-bullshit on one level, but seriously – it’s not good to get in the way of patterns. Patterns will kill you.

Writing this down helps me realise we have conflicting patterns, layers of responsibility cascading against each other for attention. Responsibility buried in legacy – power inferred by titles, experience, history, personality. It’s amazing anything happens if this is how the world works.

I embark on a new quest. We’ll be looking for a new web developer soon, and I pull together old job adverts to construct a new Frankenstein’s monster. It’s funny how the skills I value have changed over time. [Spoiler: Here’s the job ad, please do pass it on to anyone who might be interested!]

Does anyone else find that general skills take more precedence over specific expertise as you get older? What would your advice to fresh graduates be? Learn how to communicate. Be humble and willing. Be ready to experiment. Is it right to advertise for such skills “ahead” of specific skills?

Talking of new hires, I finally get the chance to chat with Joel, our new User Support person (what is that, “user supporter”?) about the history of OCSI, its future, and how we work. It’s a fun chat – I love seeing what we do through totally fresh eyes, even if it’s scary and daunting and you feel vulnerable and proud all at the same time. It’s – surprisingly – a chance to check in on The Big Journey, a half-hour chat which touches 15 years of my life. I’m careful not to judge ourselves too harshly.

Time to go. Two days off, but plenty of cogs turning.

I return on Thursday, filled with calm. It feels like a strange Britishness that seems to un-equate calm with productivity. “Stress = doing stuff” we tell ourselves. At this level, in a knowledge-worker environment, the opposite is true. Lucidity and insight are everything.

How can we establish calmness as a factor of productivity? Should we establish a “checklist” of “how to think well” or something? Let me know if you fancy discussing this one further…

The morning is mostly a management meetup with Stefan and Luke where we take a whistle-stop tour of many, many things. The setup isn’t great – we’re surrounded by deadlines and other meetings and haven’t caught up in far too long – and I (as chair) let it run over, but it’s good to do and we survive, etc.

This leaves less time to chat about next stages of our Australian project, but we have a catch up and come to some quick decisions. Starting to lining up a bunch of stuff to look into next week…

Finish up the advert for the new web developer in the afternoon, and investigate which job titles may or may not come across as more gender-biased than others. After some quick messages and a lot of Googling, I settle on “Web Developer” as fine. (Did you know searching for “female coder” on a desktop shows a list of historical figures? Are these… People that other people relate to?)

Also sneak in a meeting to think through some area-conversion work.

Friday feels like end of the week. I spend a few hours reviewing a chunk of code, which is fun (thinking back, this is probably the kind of stuff I should be doing more of as head of tech/tech architect – maybe something to bring up with the dev team as we move forward into new worlds).

We launched the new Web Developer job advert! Here it is again.

Closed our Australian delivery epic! This is symbolic because we’re trying to use Epics better in Jira, and by “better” I mean a) clearer and b) more focused. Realistic strands of with. Real, practical indications of progress, and where we’re letting things drop.

Basically otherwise tidied up the hundred emails in my inbox and restarted VMs and something about cardboard dinosaurs.

WW 03×04: It is happening again

Nuclear war and project admin. That’s how my week started. The swirls of power and closure wafting round my head. Term time and dictators. Strategy and strategy.

Sorted myself out on the train. Interesting to tie everything back to goals – series goals, week goals. Busy week ahead. Free coffee.

So I thought I’d sprinkle in a few links this week (or “splinkle”?), for gits and shiggles.

Link one is a selfish one. But one that introduces a thread this week. Last Sunday I wrote a piece on How Weeknotes can Save Your Life. I’m not really sure if it was an ironic title or not, TBH. But it did seem to go down well within the weeknotes community. And more importantly/ironically, got me actually writing more about my week than ever before. So much so that I don’t even know how to present it. Am I escaping the confines of my existing weeknotes structure and questioning my own routine?

We’ll see what happens as I write up and tidy up.

It was Monday. We all sat down, I warbled on a bit. I figure I should probably be better at the big company stuff – team cohesion, inspiration and all that. Monday’s a weird time – I’m recovering from the weekend, getting thoughts together for the week ahead, thinking about sprint, and all that. I’m probably just expecting too much from myself, but maybe it fits in with that “craft” thing I’ve started on about for this series. or maybe it’s the hardest thing to empathise about – what do team members want from their management? At that point in time? After all, everyone’s probably in the same, confused headspace I am, right?

Then I pulled the old giant sprint board into a precious position, and held our AUS update chat in this new “meeting space” plastered with marker-drawn arrows and fading progress demarcations. Boundaries surrounding boundaries. Never be afraid to re-factor physical space.

Then I touched in on my journey on bid-writing, which I still have a love-hate relationship with, but seem to be OK at. Took the company blurb that Kim had written and tidied it up to send. Nice to get in touch with Giuseppe with some business talking. Felt all professional, like.

Then I ended up wading into emails, lots of emails. Everything felt a bit wild and out of control. I haven’t even updated my email backlog stats in ages. Maybe I should. Maybe it’s the first step to knowing what state you’re in. (Friday Note: I didn’t.)

Luke was putting together a summary of the year behind us for a Board meeting on Wednesday, so dug through my old monthly round-ups. We done lots. It’s been probably one of the madder years of my life, and doesn’t feel like it’s over yet.

Then (FN: wow I was busy this day.) caught up with the devs on what we can do about our error logging, and then straight into our pre-sprint chat ahead of Thursday. Stefan was away, and I’m out Tuesday, so needed to set some initial priorities for others to discuss in my absence.

Link two: Warren Ellis on journals. Montaigne, via Brian Dillon, via Ellis:

What I write here is not my teaching, but my study; it is not a lesson for others, but for me. And yet it should not be held against me if I publish what I write.

It was Wednesday. We had a Board Meeting lined up, but a special one – sort of a review of where the company is at 6 months on from Tom leaving as CEO, except it got delayed so it was more of a 8 month review. Time inflation is cool like that. I have this written down in my notes from the train journey in:

“How much should one stare out of the window?”

Which is to ask: how much should one just sit and think? If I was clever I’d tie together the reflection in the window with the reflection on one’s own life. But that would be weird, so I won’t. But I do find thinking things through and reflecting-without-doing a very useful practice. Wu wei? But can you do “nothing” too much? Or is the problem a qualitative challenge of knowing when to do it and when to act?

Then we had a really good meeting and we got to have a think about the vision and direction of the company as a whole. I wanted to have that discussion at Board level because it acts as the yardstick by which I measure my own actions – and help others with theirs. Knowing we have buy in from the Board makes every day life just that so much easier. Maybe I should think about how we take it to the team.

Back at the office, my big focus for the week was to kick the Australian work we’ve been doing for the last few weeks out of the door. It’s not simple, and the deployment involves a lot of converting old data to new, so I’m trying to get into full on “completer/finisher” mode.

Long story short, we rolled it out and tried to get on with our lives. Booyah.

Link three: an awesome visual guide to being a Product Owner which I might try redrawing into my own separate notepad for reference if I can be bothered.

It was Thursday and Life was being interrupted with tales of bombs and having to dodge Twin Peaks spoilers.

I was pleased about releasing the new Australian code, so bought some muffins for the sprint meeting.

Then I did some checking and tidying on the Australian site. There are some aspects here that really only come to light when we’re dealing with that blue-moon release that needs to revise all of history, and it tends to get ignored or brushed over. I wonder how we could capture this for future similar work.

Then sprint planning, which was tense in places, but I think we navigated it well. Sprint meeting is an anxious time sometimes – nobody really likes the heavy mix of priorities and details. But it does force the conversation, and in a relatively short, intense time. Should probably write up an “it’s ok to…” article for the occasion.

Then AUS AUS AUS Complete Complete Finish. Sort of.

I got to read through the draft text for the bid I’d submitted draft text for, which felt like being an academic again. Mixed feelings.

Thursday evening I was a bit all over the place. I had some conflict bubbling around my brain, which usually means I lie awake for hours repeating what to say in my head so I don’t forget it. My post from earlier led me to want to use writing as a way to dig into my thoughts, and so a “Stream of reflection” happened. It was useful, and calmed me down a bit. Then I wanted to reflect a bit more, so I started going through my Season Aims and noting down some positive progress. I’ll admit that I have no idea what to do with this, or the effect it had. I’ll probably publish it separately in a few days, rather than overload this week’s (already lengthy) notes.

Link four: James’s month of blogging:

“Blogging is also a good way of processing the massive amount of information I take in. A few months back, I quoted Warren Ellis: “If we’re not doing something with the information we’re taking in, then we’re just pigs at the media trough.” These posts put this information into a larger structure. It also acts as a brake on the amount of information I take in, giving a way to see how relevant it is.”

It was Friday. We weary travelers dripped graciously into the end of the week. Raindrops hammered their song into the slats outside hard like the echo of hurricanes and earthquakes. At home, taps broke, sending us stumbling for the stopcock. The weather and the news weighed on the office, manifesting as a certain desire to escape.

Looking back, my plans were many, and fragmented. Lots of cruft which I’d hoped to not necessarily tidy up, but cleared from my head. As it was, it took me a while to tidy up some more bits of the Australian work from the day before. I really tried to stick to my “completer finisher” role to stop things lingering, but it’s a lot harder on some tasks than others, and bloody knackering after doing it for 3 days. (FN: There’s a lesson there.)

Still, my general plan of 1) INVESTIGATE 2) WEIGH UP OPTIONS 3) WRITE UP 4) DISCUSS worked well. Found a way forwards with Flo that meant I could park the work until the end of the day and get on with other stuff.

Alongside that, we had a slightly irritating conversation happening (or not happening) and it took a fair bit of energy to decide a route forwards. Not helped by everyone seeming to be absent, and also being in code mode. I wish there was a way to balance two tasks which are both urgent, but require completely different mindsets. If “craft” is about committing to a polished job, then multitasking is the opposite of it.

The grey rain crashed down into lunch. I returned to thinking through my strategy, objective and epic organisation for [Hive Pixie], wrote it up in Confluence to get some thoughts straight, and went through it with Alex which helped a lot. Made me realise that understanding (or defining) what you mean by an “Epic” is actually really important – too big, and it becomes just a category, a box without any attempt to sense “progress”. Too small and it becomes ignorable. I now have 1 short term strategy, with 3 objectives, each with 2 epics. It feels good.

(I also showed Alex the Epic reports I’d found in Jira. His response went “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”, which is either very encouraging or a bit spooky.)

The Friday feeling evolved into talk of chicken houses and from there Baba Yaga and the Witcher.

Going through the [Hive Pixie] work had brought up a few questions, but the structure and Trello board meant it was really easy to talk through with the co-PO at HACT in the afternoon, so I think a big TICK for improving general cross-organisation coordination and understanding. Yesss. She also had some great ideas to take it further, including review dates and ways to start capturing user feedback in a useful way. I’m enjoying working with her and her new team.

I went back to the code at the end of the day, to hammer out some SQL to dig through our slightly gnarly data model. Ran it past Hon Mond and it seems legit, so hoping we can run it on Monday and deploy a move new feature on [Hive Pixie] – it’s been knocked about by holidays, other work, and complications for so long that it’ll be good to get it out before end of the sprint. Completer-finisher go-go-go.

Had a small beer, used the late money to buy crisps, played table football, washed up, went home. Can’t wait to try out our new tap.

Link: The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals:

Professionals think in probabilities.

WEEKNOTES FIN.

Open original in Evernote

How Weeknotes can Save Your Life

How Weeknotes can Save Your Life

Sam posted a nice little round up on the Why of Weeknotes which sums up a lot of my own experience, and is worth a read if you’re curious about starting up a diary*. In true 90s blogosphere style, I wanted to use my own weeknotes blog to add something to the discourse.

After weeknoting 16 weeks of my hectic, kid- and client-fuelled life, there are some basic guidelines I’ve set myself in order to be able to keep going:

  1. Quickly remembering what you did is essential – take notes, use a calendar, keep a done list. When you come to publishing, you don’t want to stumble at the first block.
  2. Don’t just find the time to write up weeknotes – find the right times. For me, that’s lunch, the commute home, and scraps of time at the weekend if needed. I find it too difficult to justify time at work, and have too much on outside work to spend huge blocks on my writing.
  3. Allow yourself time to experiment – part of the process is to decide what’s “useful” to you in the process, and simultaneously what you’re happy with publishing out to other, real life people (or “readers”). The first is the important one, but you’ll never shake yourself free of the others. Use each week’s notes as a chance to try out focuses, formats, styles, etc.

All of which is to say, weeknotes takes up valuable time, but shouldn’t take up more time than you find useful, and that gives you value back. If you’re methodically writing down what you did and hitting “Publish” and not really enjoying it, then you’re wasting your time. Do it differently, or stop.

Which is all to say one, extra big thing, which I think was missed in the original list. Weeknotes can play a big part in breaking down the border between work and life.

By thinking about work in non-work time, I find I take it more seriously from a personal, almost external perspective. It’s my own life reflecting on my professional life. For most people, the former is more important – why work if it’s not making you happy in general? Weeknotes are that 1:1 with yourself, and the braver you are in writing down what you feel, the more you’ll want to change what you do.

I suppose this is why it wouldn’t work (ho-ho) to write weeknotes at work – it would be a process filled with professional thoughts, and all the organisational structure and aims that pervade the (physical or virtual) workplace. To reflect properly, we have to be free of all that.

Freeing ourselves from the work-in-work-hours mentality is a big step. Questioning our work selves is scary, strange, and potentially very disruptive, both to ourselves and to the organisations we work for. It can also be therapeutic, positive, clarifying and insightful. Like my relationship with DIY, when it goes well it’s great, but when things are tough, it feels like the end of everything.

But then, if it wasn’t so emotional, then writing weeknotes wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun.

* I’ve never kept a diary. Do diary writers get similar benefits?

Workweek 03×03: Chase the Bubbles

Comings and Goings

This week has been a weird, short one. I skirted round the bank holiday and took Thursday off instead of Tuesday, but Tuesday afternoon was spent at the park on a company picnic. It’s been a while since we did something like this, so props to Emma for getting it organised and to everyone else for chipping in, and being so much fun. We even had some bubbles you could crawl inside (in theory) thanks to Luke.


insert bubble sort joke here haha

We’ve also got a bit of chop and change happening this week. New starter Joel joined us Tuesday morning to support on user support things, and in the afternoon I told everyone that Lawrence, one of our developers, will be moving on to new pastures at the end of the month. So a little revolution going on.

Overall, personal relationships aside, I think it’s something that’s beneficial to any company, and especially a company our size which is small enough to be insular, but big enough to be complicated. A good mix of general enthusiasm from fresh minds is always invigorating, and a new person is always a really good test of how all the processes and documentation you’ve brought in over the last year stand up against someone with no idea of the background.

So the theme this week has mostly been “team”, and it feels like about time too. The atmosphere has been good, with photos and videos being shared, pub trips planned, and some good work getting done (as a result?) It’s been such a short, stubby week that it’s hard to draw much else out really, but here’s a quick run down of what else I’ve done (writing it up may throw something out there), and how I’m doing against my goals for this series so far, which were:

  1. Get shared direction for the company
  2. Feel like head of the dev team
  3. Something about “craft” for my job/life?

Small goals, then…


someone get this dog out of the metaphorical way

I had a few things on my list to tidy or get on with generally, which bubbled through the week, and met on Tuesday with Stefan and Luke to work things out from a management perspective, which was useful now that we’re all back from holiday. Tuesday and Wednesday (embarrassingly, I forget what/when) I was clamping down and tidying up what’s left on our update to our Australian site.

A smallish but annoying and fairly fundamental thing has hit us in the side, and we’ve had to chase a different route. In retrospect, and after an email, this was probably the route we should have taken in the first place, but I’m not beating myself up – I’m not sure if it was my decision in the first place, and there’s certainly an opportunity to re-establish the route while getting some better structure in place around it, so all good. Just annoying that it came up right at the end of the work – I feel like I could have predicted it better, but was probably blinded by “Busy Optimism”.

Busy Optimism is responsible for a lot of IT problems in the world, and I do so hate to blight myself with it. Hoping things will turn out OK because you don’t have time to do it properly is … just a Really Bad Idea. Reallllly.

Anyway, the team are under a bit of pressure as a result, and with various holidays flying about still, there’s not much room to manoeuvre – my role at this point on it is more project admin than head of tech, and so I’ve been on communications and Jira issue closing to try to maintain clarity between everyone on what’s left.

Also helped out a bit with clearing up some sticky points in our report generation system. Managed to get a few minutes to investigate more thoroughly, confirming what other people have conjectured, and suggested a few routes forwards. Hopefully that gives us enough info to line the work up in future sprints fairly promptly and we can put this particular niggle to bed.


someone ain’t in bed, but that’s cool

Thursday I was totally off.

On Friday I had a decent day. Trello and Wunderlist made way for good old-fashioned post-its to get myself focused, and I spent the morning getting some text together for a bid. I’m not a big fan of bid-writing, but actually found I can knock some decent sentences together quickly, jot down some rough work streams and stick some arbitrary numbers on them pretty well. Maybe I should re-considermy relationship with bids and tenders? But then, this was an easy one and someone else is submitting it.

The afternoon was spent in Product Owner land for [Hive Pixie], and I had a nice time taking the actions from previous discussions, and deciding what our three IMMEDIATE strands of work for the product are. In my mind now, I have this structure that breaks thoughts down but connects them together:

  1. High level strategy: We want to do “THIS”. This is pretty vague but important.
  2. Three areas of focus, each with one Aim. This is slightly less vague, but forces some decisions.
  3. Each focus area can have one or two Objectives. I see these as realistic goals that you can set a timeline on, and work towards. In Jira-speak, each Objective could be an Epic. Personally, I set the timeline first (e.g. “in the next 6 months…”) for all objectives.
  4. Each Objective then has any number of actual tasks within it, in a priority order – these become tasks or stories which can be defined, prototyped, tried out, released, etc.

My structure didn’t quite work out this time though – the Objectives and the Focus Areas sort of merged into one. I only realised at the end of the day, after setting them up in Jira, and naming them after scotch whiskies. I might re-factor them next week – they’re probably fine for getting on with stuff, but a bit of me wants to find out of my extra structure can bring extra value or not.

I also got to tidy up our Trello board for the project to make it all pretty colours, and go through some of the older tasks in Jira to close them off. Alex has been doing the same on other projects, and it feels like there’s some good momentum to get ourselves a bit leaner here.

(For reference, the whiskies were Linkwood, Octomore, and Dufftown.)


5pm on Friday

So +1 for company direction, which this feels like a major piece of. Sadly I didn’t get round to doing the same with the dev team focuses, despite Writing It On A Post-It. I’ll carry the shame of that into next week…

Right, got a bunch of other stuff to write, so I’m going to publish this and get it into the new @webofweeknotes feed. Peace.

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