DevOps Questions from Unicom DevOps Summit Feb 2014

At the Unicom DevOps Summit event in London on February 28th 2014 we experimented with some extra audience/attendee participation by asking for questions on record cards and encouraged people to ‘dot-vote‘ on the questions most interesting to them. There were some good questions, but unfortunately we did not get chance to discuss many of them, so here are all the questions from the card board, along with some very brief attempts at answers.

  • Should security be a part of DevOps?
  • To what extent and how do you insist on standardisation for multiple Scrum + ‘DevOps’ teams with no separate Operations team?
  • What’s the likely process flow of / disruptions to / duration of DevOps adoption?
  • Where does ‘Operations’ sit in the ITIL model? All over the place? e.g. Service Transition?
  • How about some example scenarios? Tangible comparison points would be useful.
  • Where does DevOps start and finish (from a process perspective)?
  • Is DevOps just a job title?
  • Is co-location of resource necessary for successful DevOps?
  • How essential is cloud technology to DevOps?
  • How will the announcement that ThoughtWorks are ‘open sourcing’ their Go DevOps product affect other vendor products? Why pay for other products?
  • There are a lot of open source DevOps/release/orchestration tools – is anyone using (or know about) the Windows equivalent?
  • How do you overcome developer resistance to writing Run Book docs? Are the processes to drive adoption? Is it a sackable offence?

Continue reading DevOps Questions from Unicom DevOps Summit Feb 2014

Continuous Delivery Workshop with Neal Ford (@neal4d) – a Retrospective

I attended a workshop at DevWeek 2012 led by Neal Ford (@neal4d) on Continuous Delivery (CD). The day was excellent – Neal is a really engaging presenter – and I took copious notes, even though I’d already read most of the CD book. Fifteen months later, I thought it would be interesting to see how my notes from Neal’s workshop compared with my experience of Continuous Delivery, both within my job at thetrainline.com, and also in conversations with other people, particularly the good folks in the London Continuous Delivery meetup group.

The tl;dr version: go attend one of Neal’s excellent CD workshops, but be prepared for the challenges with Continuous Delivery to be much more social/organisational than technical.

Continue reading Continuous Delivery Workshop with Neal Ford (@neal4d) – a Retrospective

Questions to ask when applying for DevOps jobs

Here are some criteria which should be useful when trying to cut through the tangled mess of “DevOps”  job titles in order to work out if a prospective role will actually lead to working within a DevOps culture, or whether you’ll be stuck in an old-school IT silo with a fancy “DevOps” name tag and the same crappy us-and-them mentality.

Continue reading Questions to ask when applying for DevOps jobs

Tutorial – How to build your own website using HTML and WordPress

I have published a set of workshop notes on Github called Build Your Own Website – A Beginner’s Guide, covering the basics of HTML and WordPress-driven websites. I gave the workshop at a recent Engineering Day event at thetrainline.com, where the audience was largely non-engineers from marketing/finance/HR etc., and it was interesting and useful to return to the first principles of HTML in ways accessible to novices.

Continue reading Tutorial – How to build your own website using HTML and WordPress

Icebreaker for Agile Retrospectives – Empathy Snap

I was invited by one of our London dev teams to facilitate their retrospective yesterday. I’m far from an expert in facilitating retros, although I enjoy it, and I find that I learn a huge amount from doing so.

Anyhow, I decided to try out my retro ice-breaker exercise which I call Empathy Snap, the aim of which is not only to discover the important features (‘big hitters’) of the last iteration for each team member, but also to see how well team members are aware of the big hitters of their fellow team members. In this way, aspects of the team dynamic can be explored, and dialogue is opened up in a way which immediately requires consideration of others – a useful starting point for a retrospective.

Empathy Snap works like this:

  1. Each team member gets two index cards and a marker pen.
  2. On the first card they write their name at the top and place this card on the table or hand it to the facilitator.
  3. On the second card, hidden from the others, they write the ‘big hitter’ (good or bad) for them from the last iteration, and keep this hidden from view for the time being.
  4. Once all team members have written their ‘big hitter’, each team member takes a name card from the pile, ensuring they do not have their own name card.
  5. On this card, they write what they think is the ‘big hitter’ for the person whose name is on the card, and keep the card. Essentially, they try to guess what that person has written on their hidden card.
  6. Once all the ‘name cards’ have been completed with a ‘big hitter’, a team member reads out the name of the team member written on the card and their guess at the ‘big hitter’ for that person.
  7. The named person then reads out what their big hitter actually was.
  8. If there is a match, then SNAP!
  9. The exercise continues until all team members have read out their guess and have responded with their actual big hitter

We had one SNAP out of the team of 8 (the red asterisks), but the mismatches also provide very useful insights into the team dynamic:

Empathy-Snap-SNAP  Empathy-Snap-mismatch

The team found it useful, so I think we’ll try it next time too. A variation of the exercise can use separate cards for ‘good’ and ‘bad’ big hitters, so doubling the number of cards, and requiring each team member to decide on a good and a bad thing for the person they are considering.

Update: a version of Empathy Snap is featured in the book Fun Retrospectives by @paulocaroli and @caetano_tchttps://leanpub.com/funretrospectives

Update 2: Steve Carter used Empathy Snap while expanding a team:

https://twitter.com/sweavo/status/524224399420174336

Update 3: Guillaume Charmetant evolved the ‘SNAP’ with a ‘high five’:

Update 4: 2017-05-17 – edited the order of the cards to be Name then Big Hitter following feedback at an agile coaching weekend. This made the exercise clearer for people taking part.

Update 5: the Empathy Snap exercise is included in an academic paper from 2015 (!). See Jovanovic, Milos, Antoni-Lluís Mesquida, and Antònia Mas. 2015. ‘Process Improvement with Retrospective Gaming in Agile Software Development’. In Systems, Software and Services Process Improvement, 287–94. Springer, Cham. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-24647-5_23.

Update 6: in the UK, ‘Snap’ is a children’s card game where you try to match pairs of cards. When you get a match, you shout “SNAP!”.