Some teams have “rockstar” developers who only work on “spikes.” A spike is a story where a developer is assigned the task of figuring out how to accomplish something. The outcome of a spike is a prototype, or roadmap for reaching a prototype. Included in the task might be to evaluate different methods of accomplishing something, do you use one database or another? Or a spike might simply be to try out something that was discussed with the greater group, seeing that a simple end-to-end implementation can be accomplished.
I started with my career as a professional developer through WordPress. Over a decade ago my better half and a friend got together and founded an environmental news blog. I’ve been obsessed with the environment since I was a kid. When I was six I wrote a letter to my city council representative asking him to clean up Boston Harbor. (My parents were a little surprised when he came to visit.
This is the piece of the puzzle I couldn’t figure out by myself. I needed to see it in action, implemented well, to understand what I was missing. I’ve seen a lot of stories sliced wrong, and some sliced well. Slicing stories properly can be the difference between a high performance team, and one floundering. A story – a task or ticket – is a slice of work that is defined by a product owner.
The first big “Agile” change I implemented was standup. Without it you can’t even begin to know what’s going on in your team, let alone help accomplish all it needs. But all standup is, is a daily window into what everyone is doing. That helps you know what’s going on, on a day-to-day bases. But that doesn’t help you take control over what’s getting done. The second most impacting element of Agile I implemented was limiting Work In Progress (WIP).
Early on as a manager, I came across Agile methodologies, but wasn’t able to get training in it, so I had to figure out how to implement it myself. After reading countless books and immersing myself in whatever I could find online, I was able to implement several key elements. But I still was missing a few crucial pieces. It was only after working in a self-described “academic” Agile – with a capital ‘A’ – environment that I know now what I was missing.
Originally published on forbes.com. “If you want to keep your job, you have to make yourself indispensable.” I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Here’s the truth – you will never get great work done if you are indispensable. If your tech company relies upon you so much that if you were hit by a bus the company would grind to a halt, you are doing something wrong. Your value to your company should not be in the fact that you are the crucial piece that keeps everything running; rather, your value to your company should be that without you the company might run fine, but it wouldn’t excel.
Originally published on forbes.com. I’m lazy, and most great developers I know are lazy too. I would much rather spend a day developing an import script to import 2,000-3,000 pieces of content than spend that day manually importing that content. Sure, I could put on a podcast or book in the background while I manually copy each piece of content from one place to the other. But that would be a colossal waste of money.
Update, March 16, 2018 Currently the bitcoin energy consumption is ridiculous, and so much more so the entire cryptocurrency space. This is a know issue, that is being dealt with. But here’s the thing. I won’t buy a gas guzzling car, I won’t invest in oil stocks, I turn my lights out when I’m not using them. Until this is solved, either by all cryptos going carbon neutral and/or a _much _more efficient blockchain is adopted, there are many other investment vehicles I can speculate though.
It has not been an easy year. I think November 2016 hit a lot of us like a ton of bricks. I personally had been listening to every political podcast I could get my hands on leading up to the election – like it might make some difference. This year I had to step away. Sure, I still listen to my daily news podcasts (shout out to the good Rachel Maddow, Marketplace, and NPR Hourly for my morning fix) but the rest of my time has been a full immersion into books.
I’m the Director of Web Development at ISDA, a trade organization whose goal is to make the global derivatives markets safer and more efficient. I started there a little over 6 years ago, just after they had launched a new site. The design was contemporary for its time. The codebase was built on top of a custom CMS developed by three separate development firms in the Ukraine. There were some interesting design decisions in the codebase, and a lot of hacks that had been implemented to “just make it work.