patkua@work

The intersection of technology and leadership

Category: Agile (page 1 of 22)

Learning about More with LeSS

Background

I took part in a three day course before Christmas to better understand Large Scale Scrum (LeSS). LeSS’ tagline is “More with LeSS”. I’m pessimistic about most “Scaling Agile Frameworks.” Many give organisations an excuse to relabel their existing practices as “agile.” Not to fundamentally change them. Bas Vodde (one of the founders of LeSS’) invited me to take part in a course just before Christmas. I took him up on the offer to hear it “From the horse’s mouth.”

This article summarises my notes, learnings and reflections from the three day course. There may be errors and would encourage you to read about it yourself on their LeSS website, or post a comment at the end of this article.

About the Trainer

I met Bas Vodde about a decade ago. We met at one of the Retrospective Facilitator’s gathering. He is someone who, I believe, lives the agile values and principles and has been in the community for a long time. He still writes code, pair programming with teams he works with. He has had a long and successful coaching history with many companies. He worked with huge organisations where many people build a single product together. Think of a telecommunications product, for example. Through his shared experiences with his co-founder, Craig Larman, they distilled these ideas into what is now called LeSS.

What I understood about LeSS?

LeSS evolved from using basic Scrum in a context with many many teams. I took away there are three common uses of the term LeSS.

  • LeSS (The Complete Picture) – The overview of LeSS including the experimental mindset, guides, rules/framework, and principles. See the the main website, Less.
  • LeSS (The Rules/Framework) – The specifics of how you operate LeSS. See LeSS Rules (April 2018).
  • LeSS (for 2-8 teams) – Basic LeSS is abbreviated to LeSS and is optimised for 2-8 teams. They have LeSS Huge for 8+ teams, and modifications to the rules. See LeSS Huge.

Practices & Rituals in LeSS

LeSS has a number of practices and rituals as part of its starting set of rules. Some of these include:

  • A single prioritised Backlog – All teams share a single backlog with a priority managed by the Product Owner.
  • Sprint Planning 1 – At the end of this, teams have picked which Backlog Items they work on during a sprint.
  • Sprint Planning 2 – All teams do this separately. Like in Scrum, Sprint Planning 2 focuses on the design and creation of tasks for their Sprint.
  • Daily Scrum – Each team runs their own Daily scrum as per standard Scrum.
  • Backlog Refinement – Teams clarify what customers/stakeholders need. Good outcomes include Backlog Items refined into sizes where teams can take 4/5 into a Sprint. LeSS encourages groups, made up of different team members, to refine Backlog Items. This maximises knowledge sharing, learning and opportunities to collaborate.
  • Sprint Review – Teams showcase their work to customers/stakeholders for feedback. The Product Owner works to gather feedback and reflect this in the overall Backlog. Sprint Reviews should not be treated as an approval gate. It’s about getting more input or ideas.
  • Sprint Retrospective – Each team runs their own retrospective. As per standard Scrum.
  • Overall Retrospective – Members from every team plus management hold a retrospective. This retrospective focuses on the system and improving the overall system.
  • Shared Definition of Done – All teams share an overall Definition of Done, which they can also update. Teams can build on the basis of the shared Definition of Done.
  • Sprint – There is only one sprint in LeSS, so by definition all teams synchronise on the same sprint cadence.

Roles in LeSS

  • Scrum Master – Like in Scrum, LeSS has the Scrum Master whose goal is to coach, enable and help LeSS run effectively. The Scrum Master is a full time role up of up to 3 teams.
  • Product Owner – The Product Owner is the role responsibility for the overall Backlog prioritisation
  • Area Product Owner – In LeSS (Huge), Area Product Owners manage the priority of a subsection of the Backlog. They also align with the Product Owner on overall priorities.
  • Team – There are no explicit specialist roles in LeSS, other than the team (and its members).

Principles of LeSS

A key part of LeSS is the principles that guide decisions and behaviours in the organisation. People can make better decisions when taking these principles into account. You can read more about LeSS’ principles here. Like many other agile ways of working, Transparency is a key principle. Unlike other agile methods, LeSS calls upon both System Thinking and Queuing Theory as principles. Both are useful bodies of knowledge that create more effective organisations.

Another explicit difference is the principle of the Whole Product Focus. This reminds me very much of Lean Software Development’s Optimise the Whole principle. I also like very much the description of More with LeSS principle. This principle challenges adding more roles, rules and artefacts. So think carefully about these!

Overall observations

  • In LeSS, having LeSS specialisations is a good thing. This encourages more distributed knowledge sharing.
  • LeSS explicitly priorities feature teams over component teams to maximise the delivery of end to end value. Both have trade-offs.
  • LeSS doesn’t explicitly include technical practices in it’s rules. It assumes organisations adopt modern engineering practices. To quote their website, “Organizational Agility is constrained by Technical Agility.”
  • A lot of LeSS has big implications about organisational design. Agile teams showed how cross-functional teams reduce waste by removing hand-off. LeSS will be even more demanding on organisations and their structure.

LeSS Huge

The creators of LeSS made LeSS Huge because they found a Product Owner was often a constraint. Since Product Owner’s focus on prioritisation, it’s hard to keep an overview and manage the priority of 100+ Backlog Items. (Note that teams still do the clarification, not the Product Owner). With 8+ teams, they found even good Product Owners could not keep on top of the ~100+ refined Backlog Items (which normally covers the next 3+ sprints).

LeSS Huge addresses this by introducing Categories (aka an Area). Each Backlog Item has its own category, and each category then has an Area Product Owner to manage the overview and prioritisation of Backlog Items in that category.

Guidelines for creating an area:

  • This should be purely customer centric
  • Often grouped by stakeholder, or certain processes
  • Could be organised by a certain market or product variant
  • No area in LeSS Huge should have less than 4 teams

Conclusions

After taking the course, I have a much stronger understanding of LeSS’ origins and how it works. After the course, it feels much LeSS complex than when I first read about it on their website. It includes many principles which I run software teams by. I can also see many parallels to what I have done with larger organisations and LeSS. I can also see how LeSS is a challenging framework for many organisations. I would definitely recommend larger product organisations draw inspiration from LeSS. I know I will after this course.

2018 in Review

Reflections on 2018

In 2017, I stopped working as a consultant and started playing the role of CTO in Berlin. I learned a lot moving away from consulting into a full-time management role. I am happy with the direction the technology team and platform is moving, given where it was when I started. You can read more about what we achieved in 2018, and I’m proud to have been a significant part of that.

I expected to travel less as a consultant. Yet that didn’t seem to really work out. Places I visited for both work and leisure included: Barcelona, Munich London, Brussels, Austin, Capetown, Budapest, Vienna, Heiligendamm, Sitges, Zurich, Siegen, New York, Krakow, Oslo, Cadzand, Malmo and Amsterdam.

I still spoke at many conferences and meet ups including: NDC London, OOP Conference, Microservices Munich Meetup, keynoted the inaugural LeadDev Austin, Landing Festival (Berlin), Craft Conference, We Are Developers, CTO Roundtable Berlin meetup, FrontEnd conference, JDD Conf, GoTo Berlin, the inaugural LeadDev Berlin meetup, Øredev and a number of evening meetups for my company across Berlin, New York and Barcelona.

I was still able to post a number of blog entries across the year. I also focused on sharing a lot of research material on twitter. It seems to be very well received or appreciated so far. I also was able to get back into a lot of reading. I’m a big fan of Pocket, perfect for reading when I’m flying or traveling. According to them, I was in the top 1% of readers, getting through the equivalent of about 49 books. I also got into the habit of reading whilst commuting with my Kindle. Between a handful of real books and ebooks, I got through about 40 books.

What did your 2018 look like?

Thanks Jerry Weinberg

If you have worked in IT for some time, you will have come across the name Jerry Weinberg (Gerald M Weinberg). I first came across Jerry when I first read his book, “The Secrets of Consulting.” Jerry impacts great wisdom through his use of stories. He shared his knowledge generously with our industry and set a great example.

He was a prolific writer and I was lucky to inherit many of his books when a contact moved house. I devoured them rapidly, learning much in the process. As a proud Systems Thinker, I enjoyed “An Introduction to General Systems Thinking.” As someone passionate Technical Leadership, I inhaled, “Becoming a Technical Leader.” I refer and recommend many of his books time and time again.

I never had the opportunity to meet Jerry but I met many people who he had personally influenced. I heard amazing things about the “Amplify Your Effective (AYE)” conference. I felt people who frequented the AYE conference came away with more drive to have a greater impact. I regret not taking the one opportunity I had to take part, given the wrong timing and place in my life.

As someone who believes in agile values, I was lucky to meet Norm Kerth. I forgot he co-authored the “Project Retrospectives” book with Jerry Weinberg. Continuous improvement is the basis for better organisations, teams and processes. Call it retrospectives, kaizen or some other name. I count myself lucky for reading this early on in my career.

We stand on the shoulders of giants. Jerry was definitely a giant among giants. In the world of software we often have a negative association with the word, “legacy.” We forget that sometimes that legacy can be a good thing. I am particularly grateful for the legacy Jerry left behind. 

Flavours of Agile

I started programming around the time people published the Agile Manifesto. My manager at the time handed me the first edition of Extreme Programming Explained. I was also lucky to work in an environment where I could see the first hand problems agile set out to solve.

Fast forward many years later and agile is “mainstream.” Others defined new agile methods. I want to use this article to capture my understanding and share my opinion about these methods. This means you may not like what you read. Consider this your warning. 🙂

The original agile methodologies

Scrum

Scrum is today, sadly, synonymous with Agile. Founded by Ken Schwaber (now with Scrum.org) and Jeff Sutherland (now with Scrum Inc). I see this agile methodology as an improved project management process. It brings rhythm and synchronises people all working towards the same goal. I like how Scrum provides a simple starting framework that builds trust through incremental delivery. Plan a bit, deliver a bit, inspect and adapt.

What I don’t like about Scrum is the cult-like behaviour driven by commercialisation. Subscription “certification” for sitting in a class for 2 days anyone? Like all typical corporates, the Scrum Alliance has expanded to offer ~10 certifications. NOTE: Scrum certifications do not (for me) equate to competence or experience

My usefulness rating: 7 out of 10

Extreme Programming (XP)

I’m definitely biased because I started off with this methodology. Invented by Kent Beck, XP builds on Scrum practices and adds in technical practices. Even these technical practices bring value without necessarily following XP. Examples include Continuous Integration, Pair Programming, Refactoring, and Automated Testing including TDD.

I like how XP highlights technical practices that make agile software development work.

My usefulness rating: 9 out of 10

Feature Driven Development (FDD)

In my experience, FDD is not heavily used in the industry. It’s iterative, focuses on domain modelling and used dynamic teams to create features. I like how there is an explicit design phase for features and a focus on unit testing.

In opposition to XP, FDD encourages individual class/feature ownership. I feel this trades-off consistency within a feature against consistency in the application. I used FDD as an inspiration for delegating to Feature Leads.

My usefulness rating: 6 out of 10

Adaptive Software Development (ASD)

ASD stems out of the Rapid Application Development (RAD) methodology. It grew from the work of Jim Highsmith and Sam Bayer. This methodology is super simple. Small cycles of Speculate, Colloborate and Learn.

ASD is not prescriptive with its practices, instead providing guidelines. I like how it highlights Mission, Vision, Leadership and People. This will specifically appeal for those in management roles. It was one of the first books to recognise software as complex adaptive systems.

My usefulness rating: 6 out of 10

Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)

I have never experienced this methodology in the wild. I see DSDM as another project management framework fitting with the spirit of agile. I like the emphasis on modelling and the invention of MoSCow (Must Have, Should Have, Could Have).

I like less that it’s “owned” by a consortium, which limited its adoption to mostly the UK.

My usefulness rating: 3 out of 10

Crystal

Crystal is a meta-methodology. Alistair Cockburn, who thinks deeply about the process of building software, invented Crystal. Crystal is the methodology to help define a specific methodology. Cockburn describes a process to “tune” a methodology to fit its context. Cockburn created specific methods (e.g. Crystal Clear) for different contexts. Some cater to larger groups. Others consider the domain characteristics (e.g. safety or life critical)

Like other agile methodologies, Crystal focuses on collaboration and communication. In his book, I liked how Cockburn described osmotic communication. It was also one of the first methodologies I read that focused on personal safety. Google’s research demonstrated how important psychological safety is for high performing teams.

My usefulness rating: 6 out of 10 (It would rate higher but I scored it less because it’s a meta-methodology)

Second-wave agile methodologies

I refer to the following as second-wave methodologies. They emerged as more people connected with the agile values and community.

Lean Software Development (LSD)

The Poppendiecks created LSD by importing lean manufacturing ideas into software development. LSD focuses more on principles and, to me, feels less concrete compared to other agile methods. I really liked the ideas of value stream mapping and trying to follow and reduce waste.

I was never able to reconcile one mental model. Product discovery is naturally exploratory in nature. Except if you are digitising a manual process. As a result, there is some natural waste in the system that you can’t get away from.

My usefulness rating: 7 out of 10

Kanban

David Anderson created the official “Kanban Method”. He took the Theory of Constraints and applied it to the flow of software development. This method is simple and is a super useful Getting-Things-Done (GTD) technique. I’ve heard of weddings and house moves planned with Kanban boards. I’ve even used one myself for Christmas meal planning.

The method is easy to get started and immediately practical

My usefulness rating: 8 out of 10

Scrumban

Loosely attributed to the evolution of teams as they move from rigid Scrum to Kanban.

My usefulness rating: 7 out of 10

Scaled agile methods

As agile went mainstream, large organisations wanted to “adopt agile at scale.” The result is a plethora of methods that cater for the “enterprise.” I have yet to experience any of these successfully work at creating a truly agile organisation. Many of these feel like rebranding existing dysfunctions as “acceptable agile.”

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

Many leading agilists have written enough about SAFe for you to make up your own mind. I have witnessed a poor enterprise choose to go down the SAFe path. They found it didn’t help them solve many issues. I feel SAFe allows mediocrity. I find it doesn’t put enough emphasis on the continuous improvement. Nor does it emphasise a shift of values (e.g. “People over process”).

I do like that it touches upon topics such as Portfolio Management and Architecture. I don’t think that makes SAFe agile.

My usefulness rating: 2 out of 10

Large Scale Scrum (LeSS)

I know Bas Vodde personally from the retrospective community and I have a lot of respect for him. Bas Vodee and Craig Larman (creators of LeSS) also wrote a book about Scaling Lean & Agile Development. The book acts as a case study from their experiences.

I haven’t personally experienced LeSS. I feel that LeSS is more in the spirit of agile than SAFe. It is a starting framework (the authors say it themselves) about how you might apply Scrum to very large groups. LeSS focuses on 1-8 teams and LeSS Huge focuses on 8+ teams. This is a simple starting framework that organisations might use as a starting point.

I find the LeSS website rather confusing to navigate.

My usefulness rating: 7 out of 10

Scrum@Scale

One of the founders of Scrum (Jeff Sutherland) first published the guide for Scrum@Scale. The guide is free, simple and very Scrum focused. Scrum@Scale doesn’t simply target agile software development, so is very process focused. It doesn’t mention any technical practices that are also needed at scale.

It feels like it tries to keep the agile spirit, by being lightweight, simple and iterative. Scrum@Scale introduces more complex terminology (e.g. Executive Action Team, Executive MetaScrum). I can see how this might help large projects involving lots of people.

My usefulness rating: 5 out of 10

Nexus

Nexus is Scrum.org’s answer to scaling Scrum. Ken Schwaber (the other Scrum founder) defined Nexus. Nexus attempts to create more alignment via its Nexus Integration Team. Nexus also applies many Scrum practices to this central group. Examples include the Nexus Daily Scrum, Nexus Sprint Planning & Review and the Nexus Retrospective.

I like how Nexus reuses many of the Scrum concepts to try to provide consistency with its scaling method. It feels lightweight enough. Nexus aligns with core agile ideas. It focuses on  transparency, iterating and the constant flow of value.

I don’t like how Nexus (like Scrum) fails to include any technical practices.

My usefulness rating: 6 out of 10

Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD)

The people behind the, IMHO complicated, Rational Unified Process did it again. They invented Disciplined Agile Delivery. DAD appears to define a solution for the entire organisation. This choice adds a lot of complexity to try to address everything.

DAD feels less prescriptive than other scaled methods. It still feels to me overly complex. DAD prescribes no single lifecycle for synchronisation. They even map how other practices map to different lifecycles in their view.

Trying to do too much without being prescriptive? A good starting point but its complexity makes it less accessible.

My usefulness rating: 5 out of 10

Back to basics

Agile started with a simple set of values and principles. Second-wave methodologies connected ideas from other fields to name new practices. When agile crossed the chasm, people tried to “scale” agile and it got excessively complex. Many of these, IMHO, feel like snake-oil. Many focused on selling consulting or training instead of delivering value early. It’s only natural that early agile practitioners tried to bring agile’s core back.

Modern Agile

Joshua Kerievsky invented Modern Agile. The ideas refocus people’s attention away from complex methods. Instead of practices, Modern Agile focuses on four simple principles. It encourages people to be agile instead of simply doing agile. I have a lot of respect for Kerievsky. He is an ideal role model in the agile community. He applies agile values and principles to his company, Industrial Logic. He is also super generous in sharing his knowledge and lessons learned with everyone.

I like how Modern Agile is so simple. I like how accessible they make it and how they’ve built up a strong community that shares generously. The Modern Agile community shows where to start and how to continuously improve.

My usefulness rating: 7 out of 10

Heart of Agile

Alistair Cockburn started the Heart of Agile to, once again, focus on principles. I feel this emerged as a result of of “scaling agile” and including “all the practices.”

I like how the Heart of Agile is a simple set of principles that guides people to think with an agile mindset. It reminds me of the Deming Plan, Do, Check, Act/Adjust (PDCA) cycle of continuous improvement.

My usefulness rating: 7 out of 10

Conclusion

I am amazed at the emergence of new “agile methodologies.” From a positive note, it demonstrates how wide agile has reached. It also demonstrates how the Agile Manifesto did such an effective job. A simple set of statements brought a worldwide community together. It provided an umbrella for people to share ideas, knowledge and practices. Agile catalysed improvements in the state of software development.

This list is my attempt to better understand some of the newer methods. I admit this list will never be complete. It also reflects my own, limited and biased views of the methods above. YMMV.

I wanted to provide a simple overview of what’s out there (as of this writing). I challenge you, the reader, to start small and iterate. In the true agile spirit, pick something that adds immediate value. Improve your situation and continually inspect and adapt. It will never be perfect but you can continuously improve.

Book Review: Accelerate

I first heard about this book when I saw Jez Humble (@jezhumble) keynote at OOP earlier this year. You will get significant value from this book. Jez has already made many contributions to our industry. He introduced Continuous Delivery (CD) and the Lean Enterprise. He also helped shape the field of DevOps, as we know it today.

The Science of DevOps: Accelerate Book

Think about this book as a very readable academic paper, based on the long-running State of DevOps report.

Rigour in its research method

The book describes how the authors gathered vast data and their research methods. They discuss their observations and lead you to their conclusions, with concrete examples. The author shared how some of their assumptions turned out false. An example is the study showing how there is a positive correlation with Trunk-Based Development (TBD) and quality. This technical book is a rare gem based on rigorous research methods. Nicole Forsgren obviously had a large impact on the book

I’m amazed at how rich their raw dataset is. The authors draw on four years of data from many responses around the world. Their sample size towers over many academic studies. Many academics rely on student control groups instead of real industry data. Rarely academics also get to study a few companies or teams within a single company. The wealth of the raw data gives more weight to the report’s authenticity and credibility.

Martin Fowler highlights one point in the Foreword which I agree with. Even though the survey raw data comes from many sources, it is still self-assessed. Self-assessments are naturally biased by Dunning-Kruger effects.

Strong guidance and good advice

Our industry struggles with useful performance measures in IT. Metrics are either irrelevant or drive poor behaviours. This book debunks false prophets like Gartner’s Bi-Modal IT. Spoiler: You can got fast AND have quality, unlike normal assumptions. The book, Accelerate, gives strong suggestions for useful KPI measures. The authors present convincing conclusions that any modern technology firm should take on. This book gives many ideas to improve software and organisational architectures, and processes.

Many studies such as this focus only on the technical practices (such as CD or TBD). Many experience people realise a focus on technical practices is not enough. They realise organisational processes or structures constrain the value technical practices bring. To make the most of technical practices, management must look at their processes and structures. (Disclaimer: We address this topic in our book about Building Evolutionary Architectures). Maybe it’s confirmation bias, but the chapter on Transformational Leadership is super important.

Here’s an simple example why. Imagine you have an organisation with a Head of Development and Head of Operations. Each have hundreds of people with different reporting structures and processes. If the Heads do not support new initiative like DevOps, collaboration won’t move very far.

Conclusion

I found this book extremely easy to digest. I wanted to read more about their research methods. The authors convinced me of their conclusions and made them come to life with concrete examples. I highly recommend this book for any technology executive in the modern world. Accelerate sets the standards for measuring the performance of technology firms in 2018.

Why we wrote Building Evolutionary Architectures

When I first started working as a developer, agile was a taboo-word, seen as a fad driven by developers. Scrum was, at least in Australia, unheard of and I luckily fell into a team experimenting with XP (Extreme Programming) combining CruiseControl with CVS and the first version of JUnit.

In those days, most projects ran using some sort of waterfall process with a lengthy requirements-gathering phase, a long architectural design phase followed by problematic development and often a stressful testing phase. You were lucky to get access to a new development because there were long delays in obtaining new infrastructure, waiting for some operations person to set up the machine, configure the services and grant you access.

Fast forward to today where we have a completely different world of technology. We have rich, open source libraries that give us fundamental building blocks to focus on solving our problems. We have powerful computers with vast disk space, processing capacity and memory that enable us to build complex features without waiting for a lengthy compile or build phase. We have access to cloud services that give us even more compute power, disk space and broadband that allow us to rapidly interact with remote services, almost as if they were on a local network.

Today’s world of building software looks very different from what it looked ten or fifteen years ago. The way that we need to design and architect our systems also needs to change. This is one of the reasons why my co-authors and I decided to write the book, “Building Evolutionary Architectures

Long phases of designing an architecture will likely result in an architecture that will be cumbersome to build. Zero architectural design will fail to meet what we deem as a software’s “fitness function.” Instead, developers need to consider how their systems will adapt to change and we’ve looked at modern software development practices, methodologies and processes to understand what supports change and, more importantly, what typically hinders change.

If you’re interested more in this topic, then check out this page on how you can learn more about building evolutionary architectures.

Quotes on metrics and numbers

I published an article a few years ago, called “An Appropriate Use of Metrics.Martin Fowler, who hosts the article, tells me that it receives good regular readership. As someone who has been working as a consultant, I’m aware of how an inappropriate use of metrics can really incentivise the wrong behaviour, destroy company and team cultures and drive incongruent behaviours between teams and people.


Source: From Flickr under the Creative Commons licence.

In this post, I thought it’d be worth sharing a few quotes around numbers and metrics. I’ll leave you to decide where they may or may not be useful for you.

Tell me how you measure me, and I will tell you how I will behave.

Source: Eliyahu M. Goldratt (Father of the Theory of Constraints) from “The Haystack Syndrome” (1980).

What can be counted doesn’t always count, and not everything that counts can be counted.

Source: Often attributed to Einstein but the Quote Investigator suggests crediting William Bruce Cameron (1963).

Not all that matters can be measured.

Commentary: An alternative form to that above often attributed to Einstein.

What gets measured gets done, or What gets measured gets managed.

Source: According to this blog, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive source.

It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth.

Source: W. Edwards Deming from “The New Economics.”

(One of the Seven Deadly Diseases of Western Management) Management by use only of visible figures, with little or no consideration of figures that are unknown or unknowable.

Source: From W. Edwards Deming’s Seven Deadly Diseases of Western Management.

Data (measuring a system) can be improved by 1) distorting the system 2) distorting the data or 3) improving the system (which tends to be more difficult though likely what is desired).

Source: Brian Joiner via the article, “Dangers of Forgetting the Proxy Nature of Data.

The most important figures that one needs for management are unknown or unknowable.

Source: Lloyd Nelson (Director of statistical methods for the Nashua corporation) via Deming’s book, “Out of the Crisis.”

When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

Source: Also known as Goodhart’s Law phrased by Marilyn Strathern.

If you can’t measure it, you’d better manage it.

Source: Management consultant, Henry Mintzberg

People with targets and jobs dependent upon meeting them will probably meet the targets – even if they have to destroy the enterprise to do it.

Source: W. Edwards Deming. No concrete source found except for Brainyquote.

Just Published: Building Evolutionary Architectures

I’m very proud to announce the release of a new book that I co-authored with Neal Ford and Rebecca Parsons whilst I was at ThoughtWorks. Martin Fowler writes the Foreword (snippet below):

While I’m sure we have much to learn about doing software architecture in an evolutionary style, this book marks an essential road map on the current state of understanding

Building Evolutionary Architectures

It marks the end of a very long project that I hope will have a positive impact on the way that developers and architects consider building and designing software. We will also post related news to our accompanying website evolutionaryarchitecture.com

You can find the book available on:

Enjoy!

Starting as CTO at N26

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be taking on the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) role for N26 (formerly Number26), Europe’s first mobile bank with a full European banking license, and who is setting new standards in banking.

I’m joining an exciting and talented team based in Berlin, Germany – one of the favourite start-up cities in Europe. In my new role, I’ll draw upon more than a decade of my consulting experiences with the well-respected and industry-changing technology firm, ThoughtWorks – best known for leading the adoption of agile ways of working (particularly its technical practices), publishing open-source software like CruiseControl (the first widely used Continuous Integration servers) and Selenium (well-known automated web-testing tools), and sharing ideas through books like Continuous Delivery and the Lean Enterprise. I’m really looking forward to applying my experiences guiding organisational design, building evolutionary architectures, developing technical leaders all while sustainably delivering value for our customers.

What will be different?

After many years as a consultant, I realise that working with a product organisation is a different beast. I look forward to having some responsibility to instigate and guide changes throughout the organisation and living out the long-term consequences (both good and bad!) of my actions. I know that this is often a missing feedback loop for consulting. In my role, I’ll be able to invest more in challenging and growing people and building out new technical and organisational capabilities.

I also look forward to spending a bit more time “at home”. I still expect to travel for my new role, still speak at some conferences but I hope I will have a bit more say as to when and where I’ll travel to, based on our business needs rather than where clients happen to be based. Did I mention that I’ll also be based in Berlin, and it’s a great city with a very good balanced lifestyle? I might even get a chance to further develop my German again.

Why FinTech and N26?

As a consultant, I was always skeptical about having significant long-term impact on established financial companies. With teams, or parts or the organisations, yes. With a 10,000+ person company, less so. The exciting part about working with N26 is that I will work with a strong management team to prevent unnecessary bureaucracy and to let people focus on adding value to the product and organisation. We benefit from not supporting certain types of legacy, and building software with Continuous Delivery and modern technologies first. I’ll be helping guide us away from the traps and pitfalls I have seen many customers suffer from in the last decade.

The N26 Black Card

I also like the fact that N26 is growing fast, and has already proven to meet customer needs, where all growth has been organic so far with very little advertising. Did you know that we recently hit 500,000 customers (PDF)? It’s also one of the first mobile-first startup banks with a European banking licence, which opens up a world of opportunity that a lot of other FinTech banking products do not yet have.

Here’s what TechCrunch wrote two years ago:

N26 (Number26) could be the best banking experience in europe – Tech Crunch

Bank of the future

In case you can’t tell, I’m really delighted to be leading the technology organisation behind the bank of the future. The team has already accomplished a lot so far, and I look forward to working with the team to do even more. We’re going to build an exciting place to work in the FinTech sector and have a huge impact on our ever-growing customer base across Europe. If you’d like to be a part of the N26 team and join me on this journey, did I mention that we are hiring?

Drop me a line on twitter @patkua (DM’s open), or on my email address if you’re even curious. Berlin’s a great city to live and N26 is a great place to work while you’re there.

The Technology Landscape in Singapore

Earlier this year, I held my Tech Lead Skills for Developers workshop in Singapore and Thailand. It was a short and busy week including some customer visits and a talk on Building Evolutionary Architectures for the local community.

As a consultant, I’m lucky to travel to different parts of the world where I have been able to compare technology industries and cultures around the world. Please note that the following observations are simply my observations and not necessarily backed by research.

Extreme Shortage of Developers

Talking to a number of managers, it’s apparently very difficult to find experienced and very good developers. There seem to be a number of reasons for this including how Singapore Universities aren’t producing enough software developers, a country limit that ensures a consistent ratio of foreign and local talent and a culture that values higher status over getting things done.

Dense and active community

Singapore reminds me a lot like London. The financial sector has a big impact on the technology market. London is much more diverse from that perspective. Singapore, like London, is a small dense population with a very good public transportation network. The public infrastructure enables many community meetups as people don’t have to worry about driving, traffic or how long the commute might take and thus enables a lot of learning to be done.

One of people I met during my time at Singapore, Michael Cheng (or @coderkungfu), organises the Engineers.SG website, where they go around to meet ups, film the talks and put them online.

Above is a picture of Michael and I during the course I was running. What he organises is no small time-commitment, and is a huge service to the community and makes the content available to a much wider group.

High Power Distance Index (PDI) matters

Accroding to Hofsted, a researcher on the cultural dimensions of countries, Singapore has one of the highest PDI ratings. This means that ranking, titles and the relationship between titles matter more to people in Singapore than in countries with a lower PDI (such as the US or the UK).

Translated into the local market – almost everyone wants to be a manager.

One person was telling me about one team where they had two developers building software and eight managers managing! It wasn’t of any surprise to me that this team worked in a finance industry. It also didn’t surprise me that not a lot of work got done!

Singapore is following, not yet leading in technology

Singapore is known for its passion and drive to make a big difference for its size. I see many great things changing on the island state, however I see many other challenges in their market that simply investing in programmes as a nation won’t necessarily change.

If you want any other perspectives on this market, I’d recommend reading a couple of this articles:

« Older posts

© 2019 patkua@work

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑