Death By Customer
October 13, 2018
On paper, at least, the world of software development has come a long way in the last 15 years. It’s gotten so that I can’t actually remember the sleepless nights worrying about quality of output, release deadlines or scope creep. Now that everything is a series of continuously flowing tiny adjustments, the only issues big enough to fret about are the commute to the office, where to go for lunch, and wave after wave of half-baked delivery concepts that misappropriate a good idea and turn it into ...
Scaling With Agility
December 01, 2016
It’s fifteen years since the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was published. Since then it seems most large companies have made some attempt to make themselves more agile. Either by adding ‘agile’ as another methodology alongside waterfall in their process framework, or embarking on a Transformation Programme, involving plenty of highly-paid consultants who come with a certificate that says they can recite an agile process framework word for word. Of the companies that have had a go at ...
Is Agile Killing the Architect?
July 01, 2016
The formally recognised discipline of software architecture is 20 years old but it’s also a bit of a conundrum: opinions about the questionable value architects add to projects are strongly held and yet job vacancies for architects are as abundant as ever. So which is it? Is architecture in the enterprise misunderstood? or is it living on borrowed time? On 19th May, La Fosse Associates hosted an event at Runway East in London centred on a contentious question: Is the adoption of agile meth ...
The Freemarket Freelancer
June 08, 2015
Movie making, like software development, is a strangely ephemeral business. We debate a series of abstract ideas and then, suddenly, one of them gets the green light and many people are swiftly mobilised, shifting the entire focus of their daily existence to realising the idea. And then it’s done. And all that remains is a kind of multi-media memorial to all that effort. This transience is the reason why both the film and software industries rely heavily on freelance staff. It would be simply im ...
April 26, 2015
Here’s a common scenario: you are out with some former co-workers and one of them asks if you know someone you could recommend for a project they are starting. Beyond the obvious technology or skill matching, what’s the main basis on which you would recommend someone? For most of us it will be something about their attitude, specifically having a positive one, making them good to work with. People who are positive and enthusiastic make dealing with the inevitable vicissitudes of project life bear ...
The Competence Debt
May 03, 2014
I just finished reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. As technology management books go it’s by far the most refreshing, honest and illuminating thing I have read in years. I strongly recommend buying the book. The profits go to a good cause too. I didn’t know much about Ben Horowitz, other than an awareness that he’s half of the VC power duo Andreessen-Horowitz, but he clearly deserves all the plaudits he gets. Plus, he likes rap music and, in addition to my love of jangly in ...
December 03, 2013
Software projects cost a lot of money. Some of them stretch to sums that would have made Howard Hughes cry like a two-year-old being babysat by Marilyn Manson. It’s lucky that so many are funded by big companies and government institutions with deep, continuously-filled, pockets because otherwise nothing would ever get finished. Yet a lot of very good software is also cheap, even free. Part of the reason projects are expensive is because businesses view software in all the wrong ways and part of ...
No More Rock Stars
October 29, 2013
When I was seventeen I bought a stack of Lou Reed records. I didn’t really know that much about Lou Reed but there was this girl. And she really liked him. And I really liked her. So I needed to get into Lou Reed quickly. I started where everyone starts with Lou reed - the 1972 classic Transformer - by any standards an impeccable piece of work with its heady mix of brash sexual metaphors and delicate vocals. Then I explored forwards through his catalogue and backwards into Velvet Underground terr ...
The Lean Architect
March 18, 2013
Anyone who’s soaked their head in agile techniques for a while can’t help but become a little obsessed by the concept of “lean”. Behind all the fine words they’re essentially the same thing - a quest to discover ways of delivering with the minimum amount of waste: stand-ups instead of meetings, cards instead of documentation, conversations instead of process, value instead of activities. Any man mentions he's a Certified ScrumMaster spends a night in the box We’ve come a long way in the years s ...
The Big Data Deception
February 10, 2013
You can’t go to a conference, read a blog (ahem) or open a tech mag without someone talking about Big Data these days. Now I’m as excited the next person whenever new techniques, approaches, tools, frameworks, whatever come along, but equally, given our industry’s penchant for hype, it’s important to keep one eye out for denuded emperors keen to show off their new wardrobe or vendors with sales targets to hit. About three seconds after it was announced that Barack Obama had won the US election ...