October 9th, 2013


Once again, thank you to Colin for taking notes.

Topics that made the cut:

  1. Data nerds and the (un)natural world
    • Tracking data
    • Examples: Apartment prices in building, MAX Car #s, License plate photos from all 50 states
    • These are unnatural world
    • Like stargazing and philosophy
    • “boardgamegeek.com” games played database, bridge, chess, Magic the gathering, scrabble tend to be “solo” games
    • Given a data set how do you find a signal in there?
    • “Kids game”, I have a device that easy to capture, fun, wasn’t seeking data
    • Idle curiosity, liking to measure and capture
    • Similar to days before, shell collections etc, collecting comes first
    • Technology captures
    • Quantity of data
    • Journaling events in calendar, e.g. sleep in google calendar, morning routine etc, corrected as it happens and tweaks (why do we have empty spaces on calendars?)
    • becoming useful, e.g. density of out of state drivers
    • Act of collecting changing your view (vs only collecting for a reason or goal)
    • Collecting is noticing, becoming aware
    • Collecting and Mining, sometimes can’t tell you why the other is important, but doing the other gives you a new perspective
  2. How to learn more Git
    • Git is powerful
    • Easy to screw up a checkin
    • Live in fear of so many comitters
    • We should have git competency, aptitudes that everyone should have, and an advanced set of skills that someone in the group should have
    • One in the “group” vs one in the “building”?
    • Could have Git “moves” algorithm to do things safely, recipe of safe ‘moves’
    • Safety vs correctness
    • Problem is git safe stuff is right by unsafe stuff
    • Commits every 5 minutes
    • Source control complexity, much comes from the idea of “storing unfinished work” (git has stash, branch, other tools)
    • Software development is chaos, discovery, exploration – Is that inherently problematic? Not modeled properly in source control?
    • Short branch and frequent integration, a long branch is a bad branch
    • Could pick a core set of git practices that favor good behaviors (How to communicate this?)
  3. Probes for Complex Problems
    • How do we deal with problems? not sure of scope, don’t know the right way through etc.
    • How do you wrestle with them?
    • Being ok with failing
    • Mystery problems, not sure why it’s broken.. collect more data? Get a better view of what is going on?
    • Agile – Try a solution, iterate, ship frequently
    • “what do I NOT know how to do?” Tackle the unknowns first
    • Top to bottom solutions, a “spike” all the way through quickly
    • breaking problems down
    • Go for a model problem,what embodies the hard part of the problem, but is simple in other respects? (solve a smaller problem first)
    • Learn the parts, relationships
    • “I don’t think there are any problems that can’t be broken down”
    • How is a probe different than a solution? A probe is a test for a solution.
    • Your probe is based on assumptions that you make up front, you form a hypothesis and test it
    • Why are things the way they are? What would make that be wrong? Can we test that?
    • Gaming – solving real problems (e.g. the protein shape puzzle)
    • “Your problem is you don’t understand your problem” get used to it, play with it
    • “Mathematicians use “play” to mean very serious work” “and software engineers use “work” to mean very serious play”
    • Divide and conquer separates you from all the pieces, you get stuck in a reductionist mode)
  4. The Gervais principle
    • (e.g. Ricky gervais)
    • Pyramid: Losers on the bottom, clueless in the middle, sociopaths on the top
    • Blog post on this problem
    • This describes a dysfunctional organization well
    • People choosing to do what is dysfunctional because it’s comfortable
    • Feedback from middle based on politics and yes men
    • Non-delivering political environment
    • The labels are very judgmental (and humor based), but the problem is real
    • Clueless band are highly loyal much more than the other layers are
    • Tribal leadership, 5 stages of evolution, cultural evolution
    • L1: Like in prison world sucks, L2: My life sucks, L3: I’m great but everyone else sucks, L4: Were great, L5: The world is great
    • Has to do with the way leadership make tribes, or tribes of tribes
    • Instil a sense of empowerment
    • Pyramid with positive layers, building it up without falling into above is a great achievement
    • They may have a lot of problems going on, but they are forgiven for achieving great things
  5. What is the most significant change in software develop in the past 10 years?
    • Google
    • Stack overflow
    • Accessibility
    • Leveling sharing we’ve talked about forever is being delivered on (with the rise of the internet)
    • Huge repository of knowledge
    • You can almost always find someone else who has had a particular problem before, and what they tried or solved
    • Not just sharing and size of knowledge base but searching and filtering
    • We still really haven’t adjusted our model to realize
    • We don’t assess ability for new hires to rapidly acquire knowledge (habits in hiring that are hard to break)
    • Let developers decide who to hire, #1 question – Who do you follow online (e.g. where do you get info)
    • Another thing that we see, now you work in 3-6 languages at a time, because you can. (this wasn’t true before, couldn’t keep that much in your head)
    • Right sized lego blocks
    • “has this been done before, and can I find it?”
    • If I learned more I can contribute back and say how I found it, blog post on my outage, error, etc. Culture of contributing knowledge.
    • Google never confronts you with “that’s the wrong question”, searching is big skill, what terms? What question? How far back?
    • How far back do you have to go to figure out you’re doing the wrong thing?
  6. Can we run our government like wikipedia?
    • Wikipedia runs interestingly today, some problems
    • How does wikipedia run?
    • Every kind of misbehavior is understood, never destroying information, transparency and history
    • goal to inform could be solid
    • People can find the media that agree with their world view, (confirmation bias)
    • How strong is special interest influence, power seeking?
    • You don’t have a total budget for pages on wikipedia, unlike the national budget
    • Decisions made impact people directly, unlike wikipedia info, may no agree with you
    • Heart of the question: Can we have a governance system that allows transparency? Feels like not yet.
  7. How to get to ‘Done’ with an employee communication problem?
    • Recently had a long time employee leave due to reorganization of administration and shifting roles
    • Changed role of a person who had been around a long time, cause them to be unhappy
    • Mediation didn’t work
    • Most people are thinking about what they are going to say in response
    • Need to JUST LISTEN – True listening is a hard skill
    • There are things you can’t say, things that are inappropriate, business doesn’t allow the directness
    • Bringing up specific grievances instead is problematic, because they can be addressed.
    • Need to have other people who can take in the vague input and divine the direct problem
    • One of the problems – coming with focusing on “how do we get this done?” “how do we solve the problem?”
    • The thing needs to be allowed to NOT be done in order to get to done
    • When people do a job change this affects them negatively, you get a negative curve for a while, you need to help them settle out. You have to be checking in with them, face to face conversations
    • Working with introverts, have to elicit feedback (and respect it)
    • Change cycle is similar to grief cycle (“my job has just died”)

September 25, 2013 Justin’s Table

Sorry for the brevity this time, but here are the topics:

Social score/Social Karma

What skills should a junior developer have?

But they are so messed up!

Developing with a team in different locations/Thoughts of working with folks in different timezones/countries

Google glass

Best tool/tech to teach young people programming

Reading culture/social cues based on appearance

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.

September 11, 2013 (Justin’s Table)

(Thanks to Colin Dabritz for taking notes)


Misogyny + Bigotry in tech

  • lots of incidents recently
  • maybe some of this crossover from video games?
  • lack of professionalism in general
  • Are parts of the culture perpetuating a lack of professionalism?
  • Casual culture, you feel less ‘accountable’ but you are representing a company, profession
  • profession is young, no liscensure to revoke (e.g. you can’t be disbarred for unethical behavior)
  • Youth culture contributes


How much prediction making do you do?

  • Agile, so many unknowns can’t predict, so don’t. Manage and move.
  • Sales need targets, sometimes hard deadlines.
  • lost of people forget, can adjust schedule or features
  • Mcconnel estimation (book)
  • This is an exploration, research, not mechanized process
  • Predictions are dangerous, can become constraints
  • Predictions can be important to coordinate, can cause issues, why not buffer?
  • Just make the development team as productive as possible
  • Making predictions is natural, making promises


What kind of interruptions do you allow? How do you manage them?

  • git stash – temporarily ‘stash’ work
  • Kanban – focusing on the thing  you are doing
  • Feel about – “oh great, I’m accumulating inventory in my warehouse that’s costing me money”
  • (who fights fires this week?)
  • allow? can’t choose interruptions, distractions
  • (context switching is expensive)
  • (understanding management vs maker schedule)
  • (true fires, understand the cost)
  • (have a good product manager, prioritize properly)


How do you manage your brain?

  • Problems in work and life don’t always give you a choice
  • Do what you want to be good at, e.g. if you switch to managing that’s a shift, you will lose some dev ability.
  • Learning, practicing
  • Taking breaks (pacing)
  • Managing stress
  • Learn your rhythms, 90 mis is a magic number for me, give yourself time, find others who can handle your rhythm
  • Be mindful of the things you put into your brain (e.g. sources of news, how they make you feel)
  • your environment, habbits
  • surround with smart[er] people, choose your work, environments
  • exercise, diet, socialization
  • Space – space where it’s easy to access healthy things, exercise, standing desks
  •      – Avoid stress, ability to move and adjust, eat good food
  • Competitive can be stressful, but can also be positive, pushing you.
  • Stress spectrum, can be different kinds
  • autonomy, mastery, purpose
  • too comfortable, not exploring new things
  • sharpen the saw, be attentive, prioritize yourself and your brain, get coaching


Forward thinking companies

  • Have you heard of OKCupid? Was it because of the service, or the blog posts with data?
  • How is this measured?
  • Being trusted experts. (Unbounce)
  • Who do you think of as forward thinking? Company providing fungus that acts like styrofoam
  • Cellular level mechanism, nanotechnology, nano power generation in clothing
  • SpaceX
  • Used to think of google as a forward thinking company
  • Challenging norms
  • Code schools
  • Connecting
  • trying new things
  • Try to solve a problem that doesn’t affect just the privilege of the bay area
  • Companies that measure
  • Watsi
  • Do VCs and the startup industry promote this?
  • Pharmacutical companies, make or break on FDA approval


What’s hard or challenging?

  • Simple – to make or do simple things, always harder than the compacted.
  • e.g. quitting smoking. Very simple, very challenging.
  • Changing habits
  • Software – making it simple, elegant is hard.
  • Understanding the problem
  • Quick feedback loop makes things easier, long or complex feedback loop is much harder
  • People issues are a long feedback loop
  • People are hard
  • Department has “solutions” in the name, but uninterested in the solutions, much more interested in the problems
  • The problem is you don’t understand the problem
  • Starting with the wrong question, finding the right question
  • Exploring the landscape
  • Follow up, follow through, ideals
  • Doing the RIGHT thing now, vs the fast easy thing
  • Working in teams
  • Others perspective, doing the right thing for everyone
  • Being ethical for all stakeholders
  • The unknown unknowns
  • Missing pieces, missing requirements
  • Communicating ideas, sharing vision
  • (Vulnerability, taking real personal risk)


Learning Center

  • making a space where learning happens
  • Where existing engineers can mentor, and improve their own skills
  • Book: The quick start guide to the five years of accelerated learning Willem + Diana Larsen
  • First thing you do is take care of peoples basic needs (comfortable, fed, relaxed, welcome)
  • Mix between – solid, things aren’t moving, not a good environment. gas – chaotic, moving too much. Liquid – move enough
  • Zone of proximal development
  • Whiteboards – Whiteboard paint (“winking”)
  • What makes a learning environment welcoming?
  • What motivates people to learn?
  • Parents sense of expectation was a big driving force in undergrad
  • Suddenly having to come up with intrinsic motivation was hard
  • Book: “Confessions of a buccaneer scholar”


Programers are to sysadmins as doctors are to surgeons

(missed notes here)


Vacation – do you check-in or not?

  • “what is a ‘Vacation'”? (sarcasm)
  • What types of responsibilities does your job have?
  • If you’re at a job/company
  • (lost notes)

September 11, 2013 (Dan’s Table)

When do you prefer to test?

  • TDD
  • Testing used to be an entry level position
  • Testing has become a senior level activity
  • Testing increases the understanding of the code
  • Every bug in the code will eventually be found.  You want a tester or a test to find it rather than a customer.
  • Tiny little testable steps
  • Focu work on a small unit
  • Always move forward
  • Deliver features vs Deliver Quality
  • You get what you measure.

Learning to talk while programming

  • How do you learn to communicate
  • Pair programming is experiental.  People get frustrated if it doesn’t pay off immediately.  (much like riding a bike)
  • Can you pair with somebody you don’t like?
  • “Code buddy”
  • Must self-select your code buddy
  • Conflicts can cause big trouble
  • Mature developers have habits and skills which they have learned over time
  • Stereotype of programmers: late nights/pizza
  • working alone lets you conceal your weakness
  • Egoless programming
  • when you pair, problems that confuse both people are immediately visible as serious problems
  • One participant can tune out

What makes a graph feel “live”?

  • What does “live” mean in context?
  • Drill in (nagios)
  • Google street view
  • Responsive UI vs live data
  • Travel sites which take a while to search
  • Convention in TV and movies: displays always have text which is updating (2001 screens, Terminator)
  • As things get slower they get harder to think about
  • Attention span
  • latency
  • Graphs that update
  • Weather maps
  • Interface vs data

Executable instructions

  • Instead of documentation about how to do something, how about a script which is executable and readable?
  • Need a language that is executable and robust for human to human communication
  • Chef
  • Avoid a “Wizard” – leads to no understanding of how things are done
  • Smalltalk let you have “Run” as part of editing

New iPhone

  • New UI
  • Buttons were not present but came back in in later betas of iOS7
  • Flat UI: Windows 8 phone
  • Skeumorphism
  • Change for change’s sake vs improvement

Presentation of one’s self (Facebook vs LinkedIn)

  • Different venues, different expectations
  • work/life balance
  • How does Twitter fit in?
  • Credibility/trust must be earned
  • Context
  • Not everybody has a FB acct

Resources for learning about agile software dev

  • XP pocket guide
  • Thin books aren’t intimidating
  • Find books that you like, look for “people who bought this also bought” on Amazon
  • Books leave out failures, sound like every project is successful
  • c2.com wiki
  • “less wrong” web site

What makes programming problems fun?

  • like solving a puzzle
  • Sudoku solvers can be more fun problems than sudoku puzzles
  • Fun to not work within an existing codebase
  • “That’s what I do for work”
  • Demonstrate mastery
  • setting own goals
  • refactoring?

Best invite to LC

  • Bring a great idea for people to explore
  • Friendly people, coffee
  • exercise for my brain
  • light switch (or lens) for your thought process
  • thinking about metacognition

August 14, 2013

Who is worth following, and how do you know?

– Who is saying original things?
– Curators are still valuable as navigators
– People who rephrase and clarify can be valuable too
– similar problem to cites in academia

What non-tech skills make a team work well?  How can you encourage them?

– Some people seem to “smooth out” the team
– Can you self-disclose?
– Know when to trust
– Responsiveness

Having a concrete job offer vs deciding to wait for better?

– Are you finding your next job, or are you finding the last job you will ever have?
– Define “good enough”
– Know where you want to improve
– Will this job help you achieve a goal?
– Geography?
– Hiring bonus?
– research on glassdoor, etc

Organizational Antibodies

– Sometimes people resist change as a defensive measure
– Sometimes people are upset because their cheese is being moved
– Some antibodies are appropriate
– Governance is a common antibody to resist agile

Hiring senior vs jr developers

– Fresh blood
– fresh perspective
– can help in succession planning
– Give people responsibility then live with them.  Struggles and failure are great teaching and learning opportunities
– “Junior” is not “cheap”.

AgilePDX community building

– How do we build a community?
– Why do we build a community?
– networking
– meet outsiders
– movers & shakers vs watchers
– The “in” group is it’s own worst enemy.

Balancing Creators & Elaborators

– Code that shows an idea vs code that we can depend on
– Deleting code can be a great embellishment
– Pair a creator with an Elaborator, can enrich both
– TDD can help to creators to work together

Architecture and Culture

– Conway’s Law
– Can you use architecture to drive cultural change
– sometimes you need to hire a contractor who is expert in where you want to be

Working with allies outside of IT (HR, Facilities, etc)

– Go to them early, establish communication
– People don’t know everything that others do, don’t know how their needs impact other departments
(Facilities will have time & budgets, HR doesn’t realize how long it takes to do pert reviews, etc)
– See what other’s objectives are, see you your needs can help them achieve their objectives

How many reverts is too many?

– Be bold
– Knowledge emerges
– What moves you forward?
– What gets in your way?
– Tolerance of mistakes
– Maybe too many things are in flight
– responsiveness
– service recovery vs service consistency

July 3rd, 2013

Thanks again for Dan for writing up notes.

  1. Naming is hard (how to)
    • “2 hard problems in CSc: naming & cache invalidation”
    • very important
    • names that are wrong are like an itch you can’t scratch
    • naming conventions
    • language conventions
    • help you things if names are good
    • happy collisions
    • project glossaries
  2. organizing iterations when team has multiple responsibilities
    • operations
    • support
    • dev
    • multiple projects
    • individual may not have anough info to prioritize
    • protocols to deal with unexpected incidents (prod)
    • different colors on the task board
    • fudge factor in estimating
    • being able to deal with this is a sign of maturity
  3. Ageism
    • larger companies tend to have a bigger spread
    • some people devalue older coders who don’t know the lates/greatest
    • maybe pair younger coders with older experienced ones
    • “don’t type as much, but get stuff done”
    • some older people can be set in their ways
    • broader toolkit
    • younger consultants, don’t say no for themselves
    • “how important is that work?”
    • sometimes it’s good to step back
    • is capacity for work changing with age?
  4. Where innovation happens?
    • tech, edu
    • startups, small companies, garages
    • education is socially very conservative
    • lots of regulation around schools
    • charter schools – not very different from a conventional school
    • tweaking the classic formula
    • technology in schools isn’t disruptive by itself
    • khan academy
    • still doing the same basic formula: tests, homework, course materials
    • locus of control is far away from the classroom, has different goals
  5. Retrospectives
    • what makes a retrospective good?
    • post-mortem is different, after a large project ends
    • “teachrospective”
    • recognition, prime decision making
    • why do things go wrong?
    • ask the right questions
    • retrospective is a steering activity
    • followup on past issues
    • not just a bitch session
  6. Dealing with a dominant team member
    • might be very good
    • might just be pushy
    • needs to be a team solution
    • peer pressure
    • they may think that they are doing what is best for the team
    • need to have that “a ha” moment when they realize that they are hurting the team
    • PM with good facilitation skills can help
    • behavior profiles, analagous to Meyers-Briggs
    • strengths-finder
  7. Dealing with a weak team member
    • not getting work done, passive
    • what motivates them?
    • they do have strengths, find them!
    • how does the team approach it?
    • give them a mentor
    • career level may not be the same as their skill level
    • autonomy, mastery, purpose
    • let them pick first
  8. Group size
    • past 12 or so you can’t make a decision
    • 5-6 can get a lot done, larger needs more coordination
    • how fungible are the tasks
    • “moving a house” works well with big groups
    • making a decision
    • spread ownership
    • optimum team sizes from the group?
    • 5 ish for software
    • larger teams work well if they know each other well and collaborate well
  9. Burnout
    • it can grow
    • can’t sustain work at a high level
    • getting tired a few times a year can be good. More than that can wear you out.
    • Not enough “no”
    • beating your head against the wall
    • get fresh ideas, read more
    • “the progress principle” book
    • “frustration is the opposite of progress”

June 19th, 2013


Special Thanks to Dan for creating these notes.

– Meetings need to have a purpose/agenda
– some cultures punish tardiness, could be shaming, could be financial
– Some cultures treat being overbooked as a sign of status

Use of automation/macros
– machine setup
– machine activities (shutdown at a certain time, etc)
– tech support (standard text responses)
– how much do you customize your environment?

What is Agile?
Definition proposed was about helping teams work faster, we disagreed with that but couldn’t stabilize on what it is

Human Systems Dynamics
– Method of managing interaction between people
– know what you know, what you can potentially know, what you can’t know
– US Navy submarine control room anecdote: Discussions happen in public, everybody participates, Captain makes a decision
– All information is visible to everybody in the discussion
– No holding back
– Helps bring new people up to speed
– Helps spread institutional knowledge

– Is it useful? Can be if the people dogfooding the product are the ones who build it
– Can show confidence in your product

Finding Tech talent in PDX
– Not enough talent
– Paying relocation costs to bring in talent can be a sticking point
– People outside of the PDX area don’t necessarily know what the job market is like in PDX
– People churning around locally costs everybody time and money

June 5th, 2013

I’d like to extend a giant “thank you” to Colin for writing up notes this time!
Topics that Made the cut:
  1. Elitism
    • Hiring great people, focuses on ‘top performers’ creates a community of elitism
    • Creates a “Don’t embarrass us” culture
    • Seems unhealthy
    • Concerns
      • Long term not a good strategy
      • Not a healthy culture
    • if you have a culture of learning in addition to having really bright people
    • what keeps people aligned? pulling in the same direction? vs ego competition
    • keeping the focus on having to produce something. It’s not how smart you are, it’s what you produce
  2. Building good communication between dev (product) people and sales people
    • Challenges we face between biz dev and product people
    • In an agency you are courting many clients. Sales team had different goals and focuses and desired outcomes. because of that sales and biz dev had to address different clients based on those wants. if they don’t communicate the promises made are much larger than the product people can produce
    • its easy to make promises for other people
    • product company vs agency
      • product management main problem is how to communicate effectively with sales
    • Has to come from a strong vision, pushing hard on exec team to hone vision and buy-in, if not, every request will pull you in a different direction
    • Taking sales managers out to lunch all the time
    • We’re all people! let them know you’re a person too.
    • Engage early and often. Constant communication (not ‘cliche’ communicating)
    • Sometimes issues with sales incentives. The incentives don’t align with the vision, product. Sales compensation is sometimes kept way too secret.
  3. Play
    • Structured play – e.g. lean coffee feels like play
    • Live in a culture to teach them “play time, and that’s not serious time” – Never stop playing!
    • Play is engaging
    • Language does matter, (corporate culture) meetings and rules, here is a process – “I hate the word process”
    • Time spent playing with kids is amazing for me too, ideas, flow
    • Certain amount of play that you encourage. Culture of environment, casual environment, room to play
    • Play is learning
    • Anyone been in an environment where play is explicitly part of the culture
      • Youtube example, playground in mid building (slide etc), Google office similar (slide)
      • One of the things we did, shuffleboard table, just decided to do a tournament. When I participated it was easy, relaxing, didn’t think about relationship building, it just happened
    • Work play into structure of what you do, but also just take a break. Be careful, don’t make this an obligation, a ‘play program’ doesn’t work. It’s not play if you are forced.
    • I really like intertwining the two, happier when they flow together. The work is play, the play is work.
    • Really important method of non formal communication. Finding where people are, supporting what they do, and communicating.’breaking break’ I tried playing cards and pingpong, it was the best way to discuss challenges, connecting with people
    • Play in a corporate culture is important, focused group activities, but also individual play, creating a culture that makes it ok to take an hour break to be more productive, or coming in late etc.
  4. “My team overcommits!”
    • My dept is on a new program, trying to learn scrum. I’m a team member, watching every iteration committing to about 150% too much, repeated every iteration. Other teams working overtime to ‘fix it’. Why aren’t we communicating clearly about what we can do?
    • As a PM I would rather have you under commit, and hit that so I know what you can do.
    • For us we went through the same thing, most important thing was driving home commitment isn’t “lets try to do a whole bunch” it’s about committing to what you can do. It’s ok to building extra QA, or unknowns, add buffer.
    • I started at a new company about 8 months ago. Trying to get people to commit to less. Trying to let go a bit. If you have the same velocity for a while maybe you aren’t pushing yourself enough.
    • Estimating is an important part of the process, comes with failure early on. You use the history to figure out what you can do. Actually rewarding committing correctly.
    • Business being able to plan for sure.
    • A place I worked at in the past. Struggled with this, velocity, key meeting “We don’t care that you do a lot, we care that you do what you say will do.” team eval on making commitments. After a few months it became a cultural team.
    • The way I was taught was to learn to estimate better. Track metrics.
    • Story points are set by the product owner. (Key scrum violation). Product owner likes to set stretch goals, gets in the way.
  5. Safe space
    • What makes a space safe? how do you do that?
    • All I look at is people. Other people care about space explicitly.
    • Is it a place where people can voice concerns? e.g. gender balance in tech. Lots of interesting men I could invite, I just didn’t.
    • If this is the culture you want, go after it. Commit.
    • Safe space, on the onus of the leadership to establish communication. How transparent can you get?
    • If you don’t feel like the environment has the tools to make meaningful change. How far can I go as a leader if I can’t even voice my opinion? How democratic can we get?
    • Both interpersonal or being able to raise your hand.
    • How do leaders respond to things they don’t like?
      • At sprint reviews, CTO gets really upset when things weren’t done, pushing on metrics, really focused people on finding a way to say they were done when they weren’t actually done, affected clarity.
      • Are you encouraging people to say it’s ok when it isn’t.
    • A culture to fail quickly. Failure is ok. You get what you measure.
    • Never seen a place where “all” truths are ok. But maybe “enough” truths are ok.
  6. Shared calendaring
    • How do people deal with? Family, across devices?
    • Google calendar, when my wife is on the computer and using google calendar it was great. Commitments, babysitting, etc. Calendar putting paper on the fridge.
    • Big issue – physical location, vs ‘one true representation’
    • Issues with syncing, work calendar vs personal
    • Getting everyone to agree on how this works.
    • Equality of access, everyone needs similar tools (laptop, smartphones..)
  7. Onboarding new group members
    • New members aren’t productive, they don’t understand the process, they are afraid.
    • Seems like on boarding starts with institutional knowledge.
    • new hire checklist, happens on first day. go to this wiki page, read it
    • In lean startup e.g. culture of teaching people that’s it’s ok to fail early. e.g. first day you are coding something. If it’s bad enough where you can break it, that’s on us, we need a better process.
      • Your first day you do something productive, e.g. check in production code. (usually small, e.g. fix a typo. Scary, exciting)
    • You are hired for a year no matter what you do! (they don’t do that any more, Toyota)
    • Gave you the keys to work with the whole system on the first day. (e.g. could ruin everything)
    • Non software onboardings:
      • coffee shop in bend. Onboarding is 2 week training. Tasting, making, art, etc. Indoctrination.
      • New seasons article, read told for first two weeks, wander around the store and help out. After that they go through disorientation. “explain how this works” teach them how they were wrong. VP level, doing every job to appreciate.
      • Manager at perl REI – does every job in the store frequently.
    • Curious about – What is the real problem? Is it too long to integrate?  – People are afraid when they start, they don’t know, they are afraid to do something wrong, look foolish
    • Connect with culture, BoK (knowledge base)
    • Different schools, school context, different ways of bringing people in. QA, buddies.
    • Buddy system is good, but being buddy has to be important (not just a distraction), software: Pair programming in an XP shop, important. First job is to remind buddy to give back when they are the buddy.
  8. Competition vs Cooperation (and excellence)
    • What does management incentivize? rewarding teams encourages cooperation.
    • Friendly competition – different than ‘have to make the other person lose’
    • Layoffs – hugely competitive
    • beyond cooperation – collaboration – one goal everyone is moving toward
    • Incentives in place drive how people operate
    • Edward Debono – Surpetition (book)
    • Alfie Kohn – In Control (book – education context)
    • “software is a team sport” but my team is competing, the company is competing
    • food cart example, ‘pods’ draw more customers
    • bias at this table? seeking balance, competition is the default

May 22, 2013 (Scott’s table)

What’s the best way to immerse dev teams in customer experience

      – Common difficulty
      – Watch usability testing
      – Voice of the Customer Project at Yahoo with VCs
      – Answer support calls
How to handle content localization when it takes longer than dev cycles
      – Paid crowdsourcing: Mechanical Turk, Task Rabbit
      – Placeholder content
      – Include content readiness in release discussions
      – Cascade translation releases
      – Use metrics to decide highest priority translations
Servant Leadership/Becoming a manager
      – Find ways to learn with the family
      – 2 1/2 years to get good at it
      – Mentorship opportunities
      – Goal oriented learning
      – Empathy, trust and monitor output
Is Agile advocacy more effective top down or bottom up?
      – Seems easier top down
      – Without team buy in, doomed to fail
      – Cultural factors crucial
      – Both are necessary for success
Incorporating testing earlier in dev cycle
      – Who owns the problem, QA or Dev?
      – Behavioral Driven Development
Effective learning in your personal time
      – Figure out what type of learner you are
      – Achieving goals leads to momentum
      – Integration with family rhythms
Reassuring management when velocity drops
      – Highlight other metrics
      – Anticipate velocity drops and broadcast them
      – Show impact of decisions on velocity
Wrap up: More equal group split, more topics, 6 minute initial discussion period