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[Reading time: 1 minute 44 seconds] I’ll let the cat out of the bag right away: the hard thing about building great things is that you need to get everything right. All the time. Many organisations can pull off something great every now and then. But that’s not enough. In order to actually build something great, you need to pull it off consistently. And that means getting a long list of things right. Read More →

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[Reading time: 1 minutes 29 seconds] I saw that on someone’s T-shirt recently, and it really struck a chord with me. This is one of those easily-overlooked truths. Sounds reasonable to everyone, but judging by actions, it isn’t taken to heart often enough. Why do you think that is? I have a theory: numbers are easy, people are hard. It’s enticingly simple to measure availability, and have a clear, objective, solid figure. Read More →

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[Reading time: 1 minutes 21 seconds] QA is the bane of an engineer’s existence. The pesky people with the clipboards and the checklists, considered nerdy even among nerds. Terrible, terrible, I tell you. Yet we all claim that quality is important to us, so we suffer the annoying checklists and clipbards. Right? Wrong! Quality isn’t about checklists at all, just like painting art isn’t about washing brushes. Even though washing brushes may be part of what a painter has to do. Read More →

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[Reading time: 1 minutes 45 seconds] If you’re working in an agile team, chances are you’re calculating your velocity somehow. Now, velocity is the amount of story points you get done in a sprint (we’ll blithely ignore all the handwaviness inherent in that sentence). That’s… a metric. Right? It totally is: it’s a number, even grounded in actual SI units. Even better, the number is extremely usable as a tool to compare teams: team A gets 70/sprint, team B gets 30/sprint. Read More →

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[Reading time: 52 seconds] Yesterday I wrote about Goodhart’s law: all metrics will be gamed. And I told you about ways to manage this on a human level. But that only gets you so far. But here’s another, even neater trick: never use a metric in isolation! Always find pairs, or even entire networks, of metrics that balance each other. Maybe you care about deployment frequency. But naively, deploying half-baked unfinished stuff would do wonders for your deployment frequency metric. Read More →

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Measuring is at the heart of good DevOps practice. I know, it may feel weird to actively collect and think about data, but it’s really indispensable. However, despite measurements feeling like a technical topic, I want to write about the human aspects at their core. The first is this: “What gets measured gets attention”. On the face of it, that’s a great thing. You care about some aspect of your development effort – find ways to measure it, and publicise your measurements. Read More →

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[Reading time: 58 seconds] Why is that? Well, because it feels nice to do something useful. In fact I read that vacuum cleaner manufacturers have a design criterion of “satisfying sound” for their vacuum hoses. It’s funny, but it makes sense to me. But it’s about ore than satisfaction: rattling hoses are a signal that you’re doing something useful. You’re actually removing dirt. Similar stuff applies to software development: If you’re doing code reviews, or testing before check-in, or signing off on releases, and can’t point to a time when the protocol said “nope, go back to the drawing board” you’re not actually making your development safer. Read More →

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[Reading time: 44 seconds] “The accumulated filth of all their technical debt and poor communication will foam up about their waists and all the developers and managers will look up and shout “Save us! ... and I’ll look down, and whisper “No.” Pretty dramatic. And kinda funny, in its pompous way. I read this a while ago in a DevOps Slack; and while it’s over the top (and callous for rejecting to help), I can’t help but think it rings true. Read More →

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