Reading List: 24th January 2016

Image: Fatima, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 2.0.

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last list, which leaves me with some catching-up to do! I’ve been sorting out my website hosting which has kept me busy as I move to a cloud server from shared hosting.

This week I’ve been reading about how Github move fast and fix things; an introduction to one-to-ones with employees; scaling the agile process; why tech companies continue to do the wrong things; an overview of the most common software architectures in place today; the El Chapo, Mexican druglord capture and why Sean Penn might have helped the authorities inadvertently; how company culture shapes employee motivation and finally some motivating words for the new year!

Move Fast and Fix Things

The Github engineering blog discusses using experiments to determine the suitability of code refactors in production. They managed to carry it out, while continuing to have Github functioning correctly for all users. While the details of the change may not be that interesting to everyone, the principle behind it is something for every engineering team to consider.

A 101 on 1:1s

One-to-ones is a word that often throws fear into both people taking part. I have personally spent the last year working on 1:1s with all my team to better understand what they should consist of and how this helps the team to progress (I manage managers so a lot of my work goes into helping others deliver better 1:1s with their staff). I like how this blog posts summarises the goals and purposes of 1:1s at Spotify and realise that each one points at topics I’ve already discussed with my team. Hopefully this can act as a good introduction for everyone.

The Right Way to Scale Agile: Scaling Value Delivery over Process

Each year our team grows, and each time we grow we look at how to scale to keep the benefits of being small but also allow this to scale. This article looks at the principles behind scaling agile teams including differentiating between teams using agility for effectiveness or responsiveness – including a model to address scaling in each case.

Normalizing deviance: why tech companies repeatedly do stupid, destructive things

This post summarises (and links to some more in-depth articles which are also very much worth reading) why mistakes come about due to procedures and practices becoming ‘normal’ when in fact they should not be happening. New people entering the workplace recognise that these are wrong, but soon become indoctrinated by existing team members. I can readily recognise this with my own team where in the past we’ve had issues with builds being red for long periods of time and this being classed as ‘normal’ – rather than someone actually saying this shouldn’t be the case. Identifying this is the case is the first step in moving towards fixing these issues.

Analysis of Software Architectures

A really useful blog post that summarises the differences, advantages and downsides of different architectures for software. This is recommended reading, in my opinion, for any person working in technology and acts as a great overview. Thanks to Simon for pointing this out on Facebook!

El Chapo Speaks

Not directly related to technology, but recently the re-capture of El Chapo, the Mexican drug lord, made the news. This post covers the original Rolling Stone article by Sean Penn, which in itself is a really interesting read into a very different life. This post takes a different look at the OpSec considerations around talking to a fugitive (much more interesting from a technology and security standpoint!). It looks like Sean Penn got much right, although in the end it didn’t really help.

How Company Culture Shapes Employee Motivation

The Harvard Business Review takes a look at the six types of motivation for the workplace (which I’ve covered in my reading lists before) and uses this to come up with a formula for employee motivation. What really interested me was the research into which company processes affect this the most. The article also provides some practical tips for what leaders can do to make things better – it’s always better for me when their are solutions as well as the problem!

New Year’s Wishes and Gifts

A little old this one, as we nearly finish the first month of 2016. Neil Gaiman, who I recognise from his books with Terry Pratchett, looks at some of the new years messages he’s sent over the years. The one that really hit home for me was:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.