My thoughts as an enterprise Java developer.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Titles are Toxic: Rands In Repose

Titles are Toxic: Rands In Repose: "never in my life have I ever stared at a fancy title and immediately understood the person’s value"

"The main problem with systems of titles is that people are erratic, chaotic messes who learn at different paces and in different ways. They can be good at or terrible at completely different things, even while doing more or less the same job. A title has no business attempting to capture the seemingly infinite ways by which individuals evolve. They are imprecise frameworks used to measure the masses. To allow leadership to bucket individuals into convenient chunks so they can award compensation and measure seniority while also serving as labels that are somehow expected to give us an idea about expected ability. This is an impossibly tall order and at the root of title toxicity."

"Titles, I believe, are an artifact of the same age that gave us business cards and resumes. They came from a time when information was scarce. When there was no other way to discover who you were other than what you shared via a resume. Where the title of Senior Software Engineer was intended to define your entire career to date."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


PurposeOfEstimation: "For me, estimation is valuable when it helps you make a significant decision." i.e. "allocation of resources" or "to help with coordination"

"So whenever you're thinking of asking for an estimate, you should always clarify what decision that estimate is informing. If you can't find one, or the decision isn't very significant, then that's a signal that an estimate is wasteful. When you do find a decision then knowing it focuses the estimate because the decision provides context. It should also clarify the desired precision and accuracy."

"I once remember a gnarly project manager say that plans and estmates were like a lettuce, good for a couple of days, rather wilty after a week, and unrecognizable after a couple of months."

Friday, March 08, 2013

An Appropriate Use of Metrics

An Appropriate Use of Metrics: "Project management reinforces this perception by asking the question, "How many stories did we finish coding this week?" instead of the better question, "How many stories are we happy to release to end users?" or better yet, "How many stories did we release to end users?" An even better question is, "How much value have our users found from our recent releases?" "

"Use the following guidelines to lead you to a more appropriate use of metrics:

Explicitly link metrics to goals

Favor tracking trends over absolute numbers

Use shorter tracking periods

Change metrics when they stop driving change"

"The lines between the measure chosen to monitor progress towards the goal and the actual goal itself blur. Over time, the reason behind the measure is lost and people focus on meeting the target even if that metric is no longer relevant. A more appropriate use of metrics is to ensure that the chosen measure for progress, the metric, is teased out, yet related to its purpose, the goal."

"It is easy to monitor activity (how much time they sit at their computer) yet it is hard to observe the value they produce (useful software that meets a real need). "

"There may be significant difference between code coverage of 5% and 95%, but is there really a significant difference between 94% and 95%? Choosing 95% as a target helps people understand when to stop, but if it requires an order of magnitude of effort getting that last 1%, is it really worth it? "

"Looking at trends provides more interesting information than whether or not a target is met. Working out if a goal is met is easy. The difficult work, and one that management must work with people with the skills to complete is looking at trends to see if they are moving in the desired direction and a fast enough rate. Trends provide leading indicators into the performance that emerges from organizational complexity. It is clearly pointless focusing on the gap in a number when a trend moves further and further away from a desired state."