Designing organisations for responsiveness

Key points:

  1. Set up the organisation to ‘sense’ its environment
  2. Treat internal teams (almost) as external providers
  3. Conway’s Law should shape our organisation design
  4. Promise Theory is a useful approach to organisational agility

IMG_20171002_125459

I have been doing quite a bit of work recently with various organisations to help them develop new capabilities for building and evolving software-rich services. Part of this work involves thinking about the responsibilities of different teams and how these evolve. This blog post captures some thoughts and links on how the more successful organisations arrange themselves for agility and responsiveness.

Continue reading Designing organisations for responsiveness

Things I (Don’t) Like About Continuous Delivery – LondonCD meetup June 2017

This is part 4 of a 4-part series of articles based on discussions at the LondonCD meetup group on 12 June 2017. The other posts are linked at the end of this article.

Our 4th Open Space discussion challenged people to identify the things that they don’t like about the Continuous Delivery book: things that don’t work in practice, things that are plain wrong, etc. – a slightly cheeky session!

tl;dr: Jez Humble and Dave Farley – authors of Continuous Delivery – did not get anything wrong in their book but they “did not say enough” about the culture/people aspect of Continuous Delivery. People and culture are tricky – who knew?! 🙂

Continue reading Things I (Don’t) Like About Continuous Delivery – LondonCD meetup June 2017

The transformational power of Continuous Delivery

I was recently asked to answer some questions about Continuous Delivery for someone’s undergraduate university research. The questions were interesting, so here are my answers 🙂

  1. What do you feel are the benefits of adopting Continuous Delivery?
  2. How do you feel adopting Continuous Delivery has affected your development cycle?
  3. Do you think Continuous Delivery is an important approach for a company to pick up, If so Why?
  4. How do you think Agile compares to more traditional models like Waterfall?
  5. What is the biggest change you’ve noticed since adopting Agile?
  6. What do you foresee in the future for these models in the industry?

1. What do you feel are the benefits of adopting Continuous Delivery?

The benefits of Continuous Delivery are huge:

  • Greater focus on finishing and shipping.
  • Increased awareness of need for setting up the work to enable feedback and learning.
  • Sense of ‘flow’ within teams.
  • Decisions made using actual data rather than opinions alone.
  • Higher quality software.
  • More joy in work.

(Can I stop yet?)

2. How do you feel adopting Continuous Delivery has affected your development cycle?

(Answering on behalf of our clients) Continuous Delivery has helped us to increase the ownership over software and focus on the value-add things that our organisation produces, rather than ceremonies around testing and releasing.

3. Do you think Continuous Delivery is an important approach for a company to pick up, If so Why?

Yes: adopting CD properly can be truly transformative for the organisation as a whole. IT becomes a means to receive rapid feedback on product/marketing/service offerings, allowing the business to invest more wisely and do more with less risk and lower costs.

4. How do you think Agile compares to more traditional models like Waterfall?

Agile is woefully misunderstood (as was Waterfall) so in that regard, they are similar (!). Truly agile organisations are rare because agility challenges entrenched, comfortable positions within an organisation. Agile done well really makes the nature of an organisation transparent.

5. What is the biggest change you’ve noticed since adopting Agile?

(Answering for our clients) We’re able to improve the software delivery part of the process, but this has highlighted the lack of clarity and vision in the Business.

6. What do you foresee in the future for these models in the industry?

We’re starting to see a backlash against Agile and DevOps already, because people misunderstand or misrepresent what’s going on. Things like SAFe seem to be rebranded PRINCE2 which is a shame. Essentially, many organisations are going to fail because their management does not see the need to change.


At Skelton Thatcher Consulting we have put together a handy Continuous Delivery checklist template (on Trello) to help you assess the things you need to address within your organisation:

2017-03-20--cdchecklist.info

See cdchecklist.info 

 

Slides from my talk at DevOpsCon Munich on How and why to design your teams for software

I gave a talk at DevOpsCon Munich on How and why to design your teams for modern software systems – here are the slides:

In the talk, I covered various angles including:

  • Conway’s Law
  • Cognitive Load for teams
  • Team Topologies
  • Guidelines for team design

I will be giving a full-day workshop on Organisation Design for Modern Software Systems at Jax DevOps London 2017 (3-6 April) and DevOpsCon Berlin 2017 (June 12-15). Booking is open now for both events.

Slides from Team and Monoliths talk at Velocity Conf EU, Amsterdam, 7 Nov

I gave a talk at Velocity Conference Europe 2016 called How to break apart a monolithic system safely without destroying your team based on work we have done at Skelton Thatcher Consulting over the past few years with various organisations.

Slides:

The slides are on Slideshare at http://www.slideshare.net/SkeltonThatcher/teams-and-monoliths-matthew-skelton-velocity-eu-2016 and the video of the talk will be online soon.

The main take-aways from the talk are:

  • Recognise that by starting with the needs of the team, we can avoid cognitive overload, thereby making future development more sustainable
  • Understand the type of monolith you are dealing with (there are many kinds of monolith)
  • Consider using Code Forensics (see Your Code as a Crime Scene)
  • Find the natural ‘fracture planes’ in your code and work with these
  • Instrument the monolith before splitting it up
  • Understand data flows and fault responses
  • Split off one segment of code at a time, considering the cognitive load for the team

There is quite a bit more in the talk itself, including the effect of Conway’s Law, the benefits of monoliths, and real-world examples from client engagements.

teams-and-monoliths-summary

A big thanks from me to the organisers of VelocityConf for their hard work, to the audience in my talk for some excellent questions, and to the speaker selection panel for choosing my talk (!).