Food Shopping During Covid – A Lesson in Batch Size Optimisation

I use Don Reinertsen’s ideas around batch size optimisation to help development teams shorten their lead times & increase throughput.

Sometimes the examples of transaction costs & holding costs I use are not relevant to the teams I’m working with. This has a detrimental impact on the effectiveness of my teaching!

This post is about an analogy I’ve been using recently which seems to be helping the concepts land more succinctly, so I thought I’d share it here.

Don Reinertsen's optimum batch size chart

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Remaining iterative when your 3rd party isn’t

We can chose which 3rd parties we work with, however we can’t often choose how they work.

This can lead to friction between our ways of working & theirs. We need alignment between all parties to facilitate a smooth delivery of value for our customers.

This situation occured at a previous customer of mine. We were striving for agility with iterative delivery, whilst our 3rd party was opting for a more traditional, staged delivery.

This post shares some concepts we used to tackle the differential of traditional delivery flowing into iterative cycles.

How a car’s differential works
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Forming a non-software team around a value stream

I’ve spoken in previous posts about how at my previous customer I was working with non-software development teams, helping them interface with the development teams in order to increase collaboration.

A fantastic side effect of this coaching was that the non-software teams recognised the importance of having cross-discipline teams being aligned around value delivery, rather than in their specialist silos.

This post outlines an experiment where we created a cross-discipline team, focused on delivering an FS marketing strategy without changing the organisational structure.

Joy Sheng, CK-12 Foundation
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Fanning the flames on Work in Process limits

I’ve been thinking about different analogies to help teams understand the importance of limiting work in process (WiP) – the value is in the stuff we finish, not the stuff we start.

Having too much WiP ultimately reduces throughput, but this is counter-intuitive so I need a simplier way of communicating the idea.

I was struggling to light the bbq over the weekend & the thought came to me – can lighting & maintaining a fire be like managing WiP?

Lets find out….

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Agile Coaching Financial Services Teams in an eCommerce website

In my previous post, I spoke about how I was embedded as an Agile Tester in a team delivering Financial Services (FS) improvements to an ecommerce website.

This post builds on that experience by talking about my time there as an Agile Coach working with several FS teams helping them not only to interface with Agile development teams, but also increase agility in their own working practices.

Now, this is an Agile Coach!
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Agile Testing a Financial Services project in an eCommerce site

I’ve just finished up a role as an Agile Coach in an eCommerce enterprise helping their Financial Services teams adopt a more iterative approach to value delivery.

Before that, I was embedded in one of their development teams as an Agile Tester.

This post is a summary of our adventures as developers building relationships with our colleagues in Financial Services….

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Wonderful Women Top Trumps goes Digital!

Back in October 2018, I shared a post about my attempts to create a Top Trumps deck of cards celebrating influential women throughout our history.

The development of the physical cards has come to a halt and I thought that was it, that was until I was put onto no/low code development platforms. These have blown my world wide open!

This post is about how I’ve taken my Wonderful Women Top Trumps digital with Glide – a no-code platform for building apps consuming data from Google Sheets.

Example card from the Wonderful Women Top Trump deck
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Customers Don’t Want To Use Your Software

I often use a pithy phrase I picked up from Michael Bolton many moons ago (which he himself picked up from David Platt author of Why Software Sucks) to help people understand the relationship between software quality & it’s users / customers

I’ve been using it a lot recently, so thought I’d share it here

Banksy artwork shredded during auction
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Thinking Critically about a General Election

Here in the UK we’re in the middle of campaign fever as we have a General Election on the 12th of December.

Its pretty important election, with some big topics being used as political weapons so I’m currently trying to gather as much knowledge as I can in order to make an informed decision on who to vote for.

This post is about how i’m applying the critical thinking skills & tactics I use in my day job to test claims made by politcal parties.

Heads up, I won’t be sharing my political views in this post.

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Keep the Waterfall process on the wall*

Waterfall process visualised on a Scrum / Kanban board in Jira

*Until you understand the challenges preventing you from collapsing the process into To Do | Doing | Done

I’m a big advocate of collapsing columns on your Scrum / Kanban / Story board from the classic In Analysis / Analysis Done, In Dev / Dev done & In Test/ Test Done (yes, this is a waterfall process on a wall) to To Do | Doing | Done.

There are many reasons why To Do | Doing | Done is more suited to iterative & incremental development – Jit Gosai does a great job of calling out some of the benefits in his “In Test Column” post.

This post is focused on the When & How of collapsing the number of columns on your board.

Waterfall process visualised on a Scrum / Kanban board in Jira
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I am Tester, I am Developer

One of the biggest challenges I typically face when joining a development team is understanding the silo between programmers & testers (& other team members).

I approach this challenge by referring to both roles with the generic term of “Developer”, whilst using “Programmer” & “Tester” to differentiate between the roles when required.

I use the term “Developer” as we are both helping to develop software. I believe I got the analogy of eating from Michael Bolton – you can’t keep stuffing food in your mouth (programming) without swallowing (testing). 

This post builds on that idea to share how I use the fire triangle as a metaphor for activities & roles that play a part in software development.

Image showing the 3 elements of the fire triangle - oxygen, heat & Fuel
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When do I follow? When do I lead?

In my previous post on followership, I talked through how it came onto my radar & ideas for being a good follower.

I also discussed how the term is more nuanced than I first gave it credit for. As I dug deeper into the topic, I started honing in on those areas of my life where I was a follower or actually some form of leader & how I felt about each of those relationships.

This post outlines how I used various models to help me understand where on the scale between followership & leadership I was for various aspects of my life.

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Followership – flipside of the leadership coin

The working title of this post was “Followership – because sometimes leadership can go f*ck itself”.

This sentiment seemed to sum up where my head was at after a challenging role which left me taking stock of what I wanted from a career & my life / work balance. I retreated back to my comfort zone to let someone else do the leading.

You may be able to tell, in my funk I was seeing the term “followership” in  a negative light. After studying the topic further I started uncovering the importance of  followers & the related skills of following.

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Systems Thinking: Software Development Programmes as Bathtubs

I’m currently learning about the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) so that I can comment on it from a position of knowledge.

This path of learning came about after I spent 12 months as a Test Manager on a SAFe implementation.

I was new to the organisation & I was new to SAFe. It was a steep & treacherous learning curve which I was (thankfully) eventually removed from.

I’m now on the more sedate learning path, where identifying gaps in knowledge & filling them is actively promoted.

This post continues to consolidate my learning by making me think critically about what I’ve studied (trying to inform others is a great way finding out what you don’t know!)

Bath filling with water as a metaphor for a software development programme
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30 days of API Testing

The Ministry of Testing is running a 30 days of API Testing challenge. I’m going to give it a go…

I always believed that if you shared your goals, you’re more likely to achieve them, but whilst trying to find science to back up my thoughts I found several articles stating the opposite – sharing you’re goals makes you less likely to achieve them.


Well, time to test my hypothesis then!

Ministry of Testing 30 days of testing image
MoT 30 days of testing image
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Lessons Learned Running a Successful Software Testing Meetup

After nearly 3 years & 16 Liverpool Tester Gatherings, the 3 of us have learned several very valuable lessons in running free meetups to provide a platform for new & experienced speakers, with both local & international testing status.

This post aims to share some of our learning

Liverpool Tester Gathering Logo
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Wonderful Women – A Top Trumps Pack WIP

As well as being a software developer, I am also a husband & father of 3 children – twin girls (8 years old) & a boy (4 years old).

Part of my parenting responsibility is ensuring that my children respect themselves & others. This post focuses on respect for women.

For my daughters, this means that they are confident & know their place in the world. For my son, it means he knows what respecting women entails & (eventually) build empathy with them.

This post outlines a project of mine to help demonstrate to my children the awesomeness of some women who can influence them & help build respect for women.

"Wonderful Women" Top Trump pack created by Duncan Nisbet
Wonderful Women Top Trumps
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