September 25, 2013 Colin’s table

photo (1)
Topics that made the cut:

Mentoring Others

  • Transitioning to manager, mentoring others is part of that
  • Can’t screw it up, if you have a willing partner who needs advice. Just requires transparency and honesty, and commitment to time
  • You know you’ve done well if they stop talking to you.
  • mentoring vs coaching?
  • Explaining the why is important when you coach
  • coaching as managing learning, mentoring as transferring expertise, habits
  • On transparency, what do I have to offer? What would you like to get stronger in?
  • Also amazing what you learn

Hybrid Planning

(Planning across organization, multi-company)
  • Complicated, looked for books and resources
  • When you have a scrum team, you want low overhead, collaborating quickly
  • have to have a plan to get there, the parts come together
  • Within an effort, a project.
  • changing from throwing documents over the fence
  • plan the path you can see to, all the boulders on the way, put them out there to think about them
  • Have to convey what you don’t know, focusing change
  • timbox thing, deliver as much as you can get done
  • you can’t know everything
  • keep the communication flowing
  • understanding problems is hard
  • people move into agile because they are sick of project plans, more about changing the mindset
  • key person is product owner, reframing how you deliver value
  • (why is the team huge and spread?)

Expressing opinions about how we work vs actively influences others to work differently

  • ok with “here is how I see things” vs “you should change”
  • Ask them to try it for one task, one story, one sprint (then lets talk about it)
  • Retrospectives are an opportunity to change (e.g. quality is a problem, lets try pair programming to up the quality)
  • Try in small pieces
  • [change is hard, needs an advocate]


  • Want to get things done
  • Select and area of the code and turning refactoring into a project (infrastructure projects)
  • We didn’t refactor as we go, e.g. this area of functionality as you go (“just get it done fast”)
  • Refactoring as skunkworks
  • Refactor as you go (vs as a project)
  • features are shiny
  • communicating value in effectiveness
  • Shared aesthetic of what good code is
  • Unacceptable to leave them in a bad state
  • Takes just one person making a mess (broken window theory)

Setting yourself targets

  • How to set yourself targets
  • appropriate sized targets, actionable
  • targets, estimates, commitments
  • stretch goals
  • Don’t know what an effective way to get better
  • Talk to an expert, mentoring, club
  • concrete goals, e.g. X games of Go, attending club regularly etc.

Communication to executive management

who only think in scope, schedule, budget
  • executives have different needs, haven’t found an effective way to communicate to them
  • How communicate to each need and style?
  • can talk in terms of value provided
  • How do we keep value in front to get buy-in and communicate effectively

Favorite way to relax?

  • Sinking into to something away from people (books, movies, games, puzzles)
  • Sports
  • Scheduled relaxing – have to hit the minimum relaxing time or ‘cracks appear’
  • Something creative that has nothing to do with work
  • Need to “fill the well”

Still tired with 7+ hours sleep as a parent

  • managing your energy
  • going to bed ritual
  • Spend time on passion
  • Doing too many things at once
  • (light quality, winding down)
  • (allergies)
  • (diet, stress)
  • (rythms + interuption, lights)
  • (learning)

Infrastructure projects

how to explain business value to executives
  • optimization, neutralization, and differentiation (to executives)
  • once you build it its debt, support
  • How do you make projects
  • Talk about costs
  • Talk about options
  • slack, momentum, efficiency
  • TDD, build cleanly to minimize the need for later
  • focused on minimum product instead of minimum viable product
  • end at monolithic huge debt platform that ties you down
  • need to not talk at the level of features and implementation to execs and customers
  • (issues and risk)
  • (wall of requirements – decision makers should have to hang each printed requirement (or story) on their wall)

Silos in development

  • DB group, Ops group, Product group, Dev group, App development, etc each with managers.
  • Can’t work in agile teams with separate managers
  • Specific skillsets are problematic

Product owners

  • How do discuss true value
  • Seems like product owners don’t really talk to owners to decide priority
  • often wonder “how did they prioritize the work?”
  • Can we get past “I own the backlog, trust me”?
  • Could be trust problems, why do you need to know?
  • How do we talk about brush-strokes across an entire area vs going deep
  • The reverse problem can be moving on without polish and finishing everything
  • Product owners aren’t well connected to clients (in this case, product owners are developers)
  • (Does this work end to end with the customer?)
Special thanks to Colin for taking notes.