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My 2017 in review

After the whirlwind of 2016, 2017 looked like a quieter year. Fewer talks, some interesting and rewarding challenges bringing a new product to market, and a chance to build and reflect on what it means to be a technical leader, to move jobs, and to be productively lazy. Although I notice there’s still a lot of interest in obscure bugs thanks to Chrome’s URL limit, and the User Experience when 2 factor authentication needs to be reset.

I’ve not had quite as many blog views as last year, but I’ve accepted I’m not here to be a blogging superstar. This is my scratchpad for the talks I want to give, and a place to share useful reminders and signposts for future me, and others. Thanks to all of you who have helped shape and refine these thoughts here, on twitter and via other channels.

I wasn’t planning a new job in 2017, but more on that next week (and many, many thanks to my twitter and LinkedIn connections on that front – I’ve been humbled), which means I have some more thoughts on the product life vs the consultancy life that I hope to share this year.

I got a few opportunities to think about applying Conway’s Law to build teams that make the right software, most notably in the Architecting Teams guided conversation I led for CodeCraft.

Looking to 2018

I’d love to keep up 2 blogs a week, playing with styles and topics, as I’ve started to do last year. I’ve got enough topics on my Trello board for a few years at that pace (including one describing the Trello board). I’ve got a new adventure, and some experiments in productivity that I’ll hopefully get more time to explore, as well as reflecting on design and the next generation.

I don’t do New Year resolutions. It’s always a bad day to start something. Always reflect, always refine. And if you leave it to New Year, you’re only giving yourself 70-odd chances to change. Why limit yourself?

Sláinte

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Blogroll

My 2016 in review

2016 was a big year for me. A new job, a new house and the first full year following the John Sonmez blogging course. I got back into public speaking, with my talk about APIs, and the follow-up usable APIs guided conversation at CodeCraftConf, although I missed out on the return of DDD Scotland.

I learned a lot. About leading and mentoring teams, about recruitment, about software design, about code quality, and a lot more things that I never had to consider in previous jobs. Things I was aware of, but now I have to make decisions about.

2016 has been my best year ever on my blog in terms of views, comments and visitors, so many thanks to all of you for your time and contributions here and on social media. My most popular post this year was “Don’t take your laptop home” – I don’t know if that struck a particular chord with people about work-life balance, but I know it’s something I’ve reflected on. I also see that my 5 year old post on the “Professional Development” and “Agile Is Dead” open discussions at DDD Scotland 2011 remains popular. I don’t know which, but either of them are great topics for reflective developers to consider : What does Professional Development mean? and What is Agile?

Looking to 2017

I’m not planning anything quite as dramatic for 2017 as a new job, but I still have some thoughts to share thanks to moving from consultancy development to product development and how things which once seems essential now no longer apply.

I’m also having more of a think about Conway’s Law as friends move into new companies and I reflect on the companies I have worked with. As a technical leader who wants a flexible, resilient software architecture and a passionate, always-learning team, how much can I influence one to affect the other. I’ve got a few thoughts on this, but I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s exploring this, as I’ve got a few bigger ideas here.

And I’d love to keep up 2 blogs a week, playing with styles and topics. Exploring old and new ideas. I’ve got enough topics on my Trello board for 18 months at that pace (including one describing the Trello board). If I manage to carve out the time to do that alongside my other commitments, you’ll see it here.

I don’t do New Year resolutions. It’s always a bad day to start something. Always reflect, always refine. And if you leave it to New Year, you’re only giving yourself 70-odd chances to change. Why limit yourself?

Sláinte

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development leadership lifehacks

Did you have a useful week? 

Did you learn something? Did you stretch yourself? Did you challenge your assumptions, or your practices? 

Do you feel like you achieved something last week? Did the frustrations inspire you to make it easier next week? Did you share them with others, in the pub, or on your blog, so others can learn from your frustration? 

Did you set new goals? Are you going to be a faster typist? Are you going to learn functional programming? This time, are you going to lose weight? 

Did you make new connections? Did you make an effort to understand the people you work with? Did you do something to strengthen your work and personal relationships? 

You don’t have to do all of that. But did you think of it? Did you write it down? Did you, in some small and agile way, improve yourself? 

Can you say to yourself, today, that you had a useful week? 

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development leadership lifehacks

Agile : The importance of heartbeat

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Scrum is built on the weekly/bi-weekly cycle. It provides a structure, a routine. It minimises surprises. You know that the planning session is on a Friday, for the work that starts on Monday, so you can get things on order on Wednesday.

It lets you see what’s coming.

It’s not about process, it’s about expectation. The more you can plan, the less you have to think about. You know when it’s coming and you can line things up in advance.

Have a heartbeat. Know what happens on a Monday, even if you don’t know yet what you’ll achieve.

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Scheduling Posts

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Note : Family is important, so after this schedule, I’ll be taking a break until the new year.

I had a few problems with this bug in the WordPress Android client, but I’ve really come to find the ability to schedule posts for the future valuable. Although I always try to post at lunchtimes, I find my commute by train is a perfect opportunity to write. It gets my head in the right place in the morning and allows me to dump and forget in the evening.

Whether you blog or not, I’d recommend writing an agenda or a synopsis of your day. Nothing as formal as a task list, unless you want to, but something to reset your thoughts in the right direction. A train without WiFi is perfect as there’s fewer distractions.

Even if you do blog, don’t always expect to publish each dump you write, some prose is just between you and the trash. And some will take months, or years, to form into a coherent post.

If you don’t know what to write about, scan other blogs or news sites, write up a list of 20 topics to work through as recommended by Simple Programmer.

Most importantly, if you want to write, write. Write notes, write ideas, and mix them up. Write lots, and review it. And find a time that works for you, and schedule for the future, so it has a chance to surprise you and inspire you again.

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.