The Principles of Product Development Flow

•November 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I had the pleasure of meeting Donald Reinertsen  (author of The Principles of Product Development Flow) whilst at the Construx Executive Summit.  It was therefore only right that I read his latest book.

  • Page 4 – Twelve critical problems with the current product development orthodoxy
  • Page 5 – Design-in-process (DIP) – this is so true even today.
  • Page 31 – Quantify Cost of Delay – Very few projects do this in my view.
  • Page 33 – Watch the work product, not the worker – How many times do you here management want to know who the weakest engineer is, and can they be replaced!  Clearly watching the wrong thing.
  • Page 51 – To influence financial decisions, speak the language of money
  • Page 56 – Queues are the root cause of the majority of economic waste in product development
  • Page 80 – Great list of the usual suspects that causes queueing issues in product development.
  • Page 96 – Forecasting becomes exponentially easier at short time-horizons – any project manager who has run a multi year project so know this in my view.
  • Page 120 – Validation of daily test cycles due to small batches.
  • Page 130 – Good infrastructure enables small batches
  • Page 155 – Develop people who a deep in one area and broad in many – couldn’t agree more.
  • Page 230 – Colocation improves almost all aspects of communication
  • Page 253 – Establish clear roles and boundaries – seen this fail on many projects :(

Great book.  All project managers and executives should read it

Impact Mapping

•November 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Impact Mapping: Making a Big Impact with Software Products and Projects is probably worth a scan, since its a short and concise book.  I don’t think its as good as the User Story book of the same series.  Further, the free poster referenced in the book (page XI) isn’t available anymore :( – but obviously you can now buy it.

Thinking in Systems

•November 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I got recommended Thinking in Systems whilst at the Construx Executive Summit recently.  Much discussion about feedback loops (think agile), information flow and self-organization.  Chapter 5 offers a view on system traps, and opportunities to get out of the traps e.g. policy resistance.

Stay Humble – Stay a Learner

One particular line stood out in the book for some reason – possibly because most people forget the game has rules, and thus they don’t look to understand the rules.

Look Beyond the Players to the Rules of the Game


Business Value Story Template

•November 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

For any readers who might have missed an enhanced story template to drive business value, here the refresher:

In order to <achieve some value>, as a <type of user>, I want <some functionality>.

Why I and others have found with the traditional story template is that the “so that” is often missed, which essentially causes the business value to be completely mis-understood by everyone on the team :(

Agile IT Organization Design – Part 2

•November 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment

The Construx Executive Summit and the last book, Agile IT Organization Design, leads nicely onto another book, “Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead”.  If you do nothing more than read the inside cover of this book, your get a good number of the lessons:

  1. Take away managers’ power over employees
  2. Learn from your best employees  – and the worst
  3. Hire only people who are smarter than you are, no matter how long it takes to find them
  4. Don’t trust your gut: Use data to predict and shape the future
  5. Default to open – be transparent and welcome feedback

The full list is already in note form in the book.  Just jump to page 367 :) – and the topic of Chapter 14, page 336

Of further noteworthy:

  • Page 154 – Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) – Performance management.  How many times have you seen meaningless performance goals?
  • Page 174 – Calibration  process for finalize ratings
  • Page 195 – 8 Project Oxygen Attributes.  Interesting, number 1 on the list is be a good coach (think agile coach).  Maybe a few more managers should follow the 8 attributes
  • Page 295 – Noogler checklist

Agile IT Organization Design

•November 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been carrying around Agile IT Organization Design for some time, but never managed to quick complete the book due to time.  Interestingly, at the Construx Executive Summit last week, one of the discussion group was centred around Organizational Structures – quite timely.  Of particular interest:

  • Page 58 – Cross functional teams, with reference to Apple and Spotify
  • Page 69 – Matrix structures are not suitable of continuous delivery
  • Page 97 – Organization chart debt :(
  • Page 107 – Both IT and business need to align together.  Both need each other.
  • Page 109 – Issues with Plan Driven projects.
  • Page 117 – Value-drive projects
  • Page 132 – Agile budgeting – should be an interesting read for most.
  • Page 141 – Better staffing – cross-functional (poly-skilled) people rather than a cross-functional team of specialists.
  • Page 145 – Developer skill profile.
  • Page 145 – Avoid part-time assignments – couldn’t agree more.
  • Page 159 – Metrics.  The higher up the food chain, the more management want metrics.  Unfortunately software engineering is a social activity, and doesn’t lend itself very well to measurements.  This subject again ties nicely back to Steve McConnell’s Construx summit keynote.

Adopting Microservices – Part 2

•November 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been meaning to get around to reading Building Microservices for sometime.  After carrying the book on too many flights, and not having the time to actually open the cover, I can finally provide my notes:

  • Page 2 – “Small, and Focused on Doing One Thing Well” – great description of what is important.  However, I fear that “small” will be over played :(
  • Page 17 – Coding Architect – could not agree more
  • Page 22 – DropWizard and Karyon – Netflix rules these days :)
  • Page 31 – Nice to see Eric Evan’s Domain-Drive Design referenced.  Not enough people are aware of this pattern in my view.
  • Page 33 – Be conscious of splitting out microservices too quickly!
  • Page 45 – Choreographed and events
  • Page 51 – HATEOAS
  • Page 57 – “Back to 2006”  ;) Long time.  Think we were both there at that very bank
  • Page 59 – Client Library – Netflix likes the ideas, others may not.
  • Page 62 – Versioning.  A topic that will always generate a lot of discussion, and can lead to a lot of pain if the strategy is wrong
  • Page 79 – “Splitting the Monolith”.   I suspect there are a large number of software engineers/architects today looking for direction on splitting their monolith applications into microservices.  Always a hot topic :)
  • Page 111 – Deployment, and the usual suspects – Chef, Puppet and Ansible.
  • Page 126 – Docker – almost mandated in any book these days.
  • Page 131 – Testing.  Did I miss a BDD reference in this chapter?
  • Page 151 – Non-functional.  Agreed, Cross-functional requirements (CFR) is sharper.
  • Page 162 – Correlation IDS – all to often forgotten until the functionality hits production, and support.
  • Page 240 – Eureka

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