Leeds Digital Festival
Benedict Steele - @benedictsteele
Nurturing your software
Some of the organisations that we work with
Every organisation is different
Every team is different
Most teams suffer from...
● Waiting around
● Single points of failure
● Handoffs between teams
● Unnecessary features
● Unnecessary processes
● Manual work
● Poor communication
How many of these problems seem familiar?
● Knowledge drain
● Task switching
● Partially completed work
● Overly complicated solutions
● Siloed work
● Unsupported legacy software
How do you expose a watermelon?
Suppression - Harming or stopping the person bringing the anomaly to light; “shooting the messenger”
Encapsulation - Isolating the messenger, so that the message is not heard
Public relations - Putting the message “in context” to minimise its impact
Local fix - Responding to the presenting case, but ignoring the possibility of others elsewhere
Global fix - An attempt to respond to the problem wherever it exists. Common in aviation
Inquiry - Attempting to get to the “root causes” of the problem
Westrum, Ron. (2005). A Typology of Organisational Cultures. Quality & safety in health care. 13 Suppl 2. ii22-7. 10.1136/qhc.13.suppl_2.ii22.
Suppression Public Relations
A prediction of crisis response
Absence of trust
Five common behavioural oversights of teams
Your team needs to place greater value
on the collective achievement of
outcomes, rather than individual or
departmental recognition and ego.
Your team hesitates to confront one
another about performance and
Your team may struggle at times to buy-
in to clear decisions. This could be
creating ambiguity within the
Your team may need to learn to engage
in more unfiltered discussion around
Your team may need to get more
comfortable being vulnerable and open
with one another about individual
strengths, weaknesses, mistakes and
needs for help.
Focus on delivering measurable
objectives. Collective and individual
accountability, and feedback
To take accountability takes prior
Commitment follows healthy
Healthy conflict implies candid
debate and a willingness to be open
Building trust requires vulnerability
We often find that teams focus their energy on delivery, or on new technologies, and neglect to work on how they
interact as people. As part of our assessment, we asked you some probing questions about your teammates.
Assessment based on Patrick Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team
Employee Net Promoter Score
Promoters - 28.57%
On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you
to recommend your organisation as a
place to work?
What is the primary reason for your score?
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Four Key Metrics
How often does your
organisation deploy code to
production or release it to end
Lead time for changes
How long does it take to go from
code committed to code
successfully running in
Mean time to restore
How long does it generally take
to restore service when a service
incident or a defect that impacts
Change failure rate
What percentage of changes to
production or releases to users
result in degraded service and
Other techniques we employee
Stakeholder Mapping Service Blueprint
Value Stream Mapping
Identify blockers to flow, and communication problems
Lean Value Tree
Team Health Check
“Deployment is all automatic”
“We security test git on push”
“Commit to VCS and the customers have
it in seconds”
“Anyone can do a deploy!”
Continuous Delivery Continuous Delivery
“Deployment Joe is the only one who
can do that”
“That’s the security team’s job”
“The customers get it a quarter later”
“Only some people can deploy”
“We find out direct from our users by...
“Our kanban board shows all the work,
and where it is”
“Our stories usually last no than half a
"We weren’t sure so we ran an
Product & Process
Product & Process
“I don’t really know what our users
“Sometimes work comes from the
“Sometimes stories last multiple sprints”
“That’s the way we’ve always done it”
“Another good statement”
“Good thing number three”
“Fourth good thing”
“Number five in the list of things that are
“This thing is bad too”
“Terrible, terrible, bad thing”
“Bad thing which is the norm, everyone does
it but really shouldn’t”
“Bad thing that we didn’t even know was
“Rather than a sign off process we pair
“The app gathers metrics and decide
“Our checks spotted the problem before
our customers DID”
“We only take on one thing at a time”
Lean Management & Monitoring Lean Management & Monitoring
“Oh we need to wait for CAB before we
“No idea how the business decides what to
“The customer reported it”
“We’re constantly doing 7 or 8 things”
“It was a week before we even noticed”
“Absolutely everything is in source
“We automatically test on every
“There’s only really the master branch”
“I can add as many or as few examples
as I need”
“It’s in source control except...”
“We manually have a look”
“Our branches are around forever and
there are loads of them”
“...but the data wasn’t like that on prod”
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1EO-Dbsayn8Nz9Ii3MKcwRbt-EIJ2MjQdpoyhh0tBdZk/edit#gid=1441368371, https://snowflake.medium.com/#1,2,3,2,4,1,1,4,3,2,0,4,2,2,3,0,Cersei%20Lannister,Staff%20Engineer, https://engineering.atspotify.com/2014/09/16/squad-health-check-model/, https://docs.goo
How we’ve delivered the MSDA ● Face to face in the real world
● As an online survey
● Virtually over Team/Zooms/Hangouts
● Currently working on a Kahoot-esque delivery method
● Not had a chance to use the Agile Stationery cards in anger
yet, but looking for opportunities if anyone is open to that?
For the team...
Track their progress over time
For the organisation*
Identify hot spots and themes/patterns
Team Health Continuous Delivery
*IMPORTANT!: Don’t use MSDA to compare two teams.
It’s like comparing an apple with a penguin. Both tasty,
but in their own different way.
We’ve already tried this
The Four States of Competence
The Four States of Competence by Noel Burch, of Gordon Training International.
Beyond the assessment
Will result in
We will know we have succeeded when
Please say ‘Hi!’