The Handover

Yesterday I walked into the kitchen to see how lunch was going and my boyfriend handed me a knife, a part-chopped hard boiled egg and said "finish this, I need to have a shower". As you do. Apparently there were two things that needed doing - "this" needed finishing, and I needed to keep an eye on the fish.

Fine.

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Adjusting to Working Remotely

One of the most obvious differences I faced when I moved from LMAX to 10gen were the working conditions. I don't mean like being deep underground in some dangerous situation vs being pampered by beautiful slave boys and girls. What I mean is that the working practices at one company necessitated being in the office for core hours, and at the other flexible hours and remote-working are practically mandatory.

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Overheard: Agile truths

After attending a number of conferences and events, and performing numerous interviews, I'm starting to hear the same things again and again. Since Dan North challenged all my assumptions at QCon, I'm reluctant to outright ridicule them, but I will put forward my personal opinion.

Note: these are things I have heard from multiple sources, so with any luck I am not breaking the sanctity of the confessional interview.

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Why the customer isn’t always right

Last week I went to get my hair cut (yes, sorry, this is a story about hair). I had thought long and hard about what I wanted. I researched, checked styles online, and bought a magazine so I could show my hairdresser exactly what I was after and there would be no confusion. I was determined I would not be spending that ridiculous amount of money on something I was not going to be happy with. I was even bold enough to ask for some changes to it at the end, which I have never ever had the courage to do before.

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What my hangovers can teach you about Agile

As a survival trait for living and working in the cites1 of London, I have a set of rituals to avoid hangovers. If you are not a single person living in a city like London, you might not understand how vital this is. Most networking, particularly in the financial services industry, is done in the presence of alcohol.

So preventing the inevitable hangover is quite important to the other part of the job – the actual working bit. I'll let you into a secret and tell you my nightly ritual:

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FogBugs and Kiln World Tour

Last Thursday I was fortunate enough to get a place on the FogBugz and Kiln World Tour. I booked it before I moved jobs, and I'll be honest I had no real interest in the software. I've been reading Joel's books and blogs since my friend Brent bought me Joel on Software and made me read it (he had the foresight to know I'd want to hang on to his copy if he'd lent it to me!). I wanted to see the man in the flesh and hear what he had to say about his software. Because really, do we honestly need yet another bug-tracking / project-management tool?

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Scrum

I think the statement that struck me the most when I was on the Certified Scrum Master course was:

The start of the project is when you know the least about what you're doing

Which of course is absolutely true.

So why do we come up with extensive requirements, detailed design, and fixed plans at this point of time? We haven't put anything into place yet, we haven't played with the code, the customer hasn't seen anything of what we're promising to deliver.

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Tales from the Other Side: Confessions of an Offshore Resource

After the acquisition of a company with offices in New York, I pestered my company outrageously until they got fed up and finally relented – they agreed to send me to the US.

To ease the transition, I chose to move onto a project which would allow me to start working in London and continue on the same team after I had moved to New York.

In the extreme over-excitement that followed my relocation, it took me a little while to realise that effectively I was an offshore resource, no different really from any of our Indian test team, and the team needed to manage this appropriately.

I learnt a number of lessons whilst playing this game. Some of these points are also valid for teams with remote resources (e.g. people working from home).

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Metrics and Incentives.

This is a great example of what happens when you try to incentivise intelligent people on very simple metrics.

They cheat.

This was well described in Freakonomics, and something Mr On Software bangs on about regularly. It's clear that there isn't really a good answer to the problem - actually that's not true. The answer to the problem is to have everyone working in a job they are happy in and proud of, one where they are intrinsically motivated, and give them enough information to allow them to make the correct calls when it comes to prioritising work. But I'm guessing that a large portion of the working world does not fall into this category.