28 March 2015

Learning From Others - Spotify Engineering Culture Part 2

Last week I shared part 1 of the Spotify engineering culture and I hope it inspired you to think about your own company culture and how you might modify your own engineering practies, whether that's adopting agile development practices for the first time, or inspecting and adapting the practices you have in place today. I hope it at least fired you up to think about things differently.

This week I'm presenting you with part two and as always I'm interested in hearing your comments about how you've melded new development practices similar to this or how the experiences shared here have inspired you so hit me up in the comments and share with the group ;0)


Spotify Engineering Culture - part 2 from Spotify Training & Development on Vimeo.

27 March 2015

Leadership Quotes - Potential

It is never too late to become what you might have been.
- George Eliot on Potential

Don't stop believing in yourself. Keep driving hard to be the best you can be, put in the work and you'll be rewarded with success. Also never give up an opportunity to learn, those lessons will equip you with the tools you need to unlock your potential on a daily basis.

22 March 2015

Product Review - Todoist

Staying on top of things is crucial for me as a busy Agile Coach. I have responsibilities for several teams covering lots of different products and can have 5 or 6 threads active at any time. On top of that I still have a desire to maintain a life outside work.

Over the years I've tried various tools and methods to try and stay in tune and avoid dropping the ball, sometimes successfully and others not so much. Over the years there have been lots of different tools and services come and go and there appears to be a trend in monetising the to-do list which is frustrating when the app has nothing but listing and sorting options on offer.

I was a major fan of Any.do until late last year when they started to charge for some of the features I used and with what seemed like a pretty high price for me. After that I resumed my hunt and landed on Todoist.

Todoist is pretty much a to-do list manager like any other but differentiated by a very rich feature set backed up by a robust cloud infrastructure and a suite of apps to cover every platform you might possibly want (except Pebble). As with all organisers these days there is a free and paid option available with the paid option giving you reminders with alarms, location reminders, automatic back-ups, more colours for tasks, calendar sync, project templates and a handy productivity tracker they call Karma which awards points for completing tasks and using features within the app and deducts them if you miss your deadlines. If stats are your thing you'll find it interesting, it is definitely an interesting motivator.

Simple and clean interface

Karma for stats junkies

The thing that sold this to me was that buying the Premium option is only £18 ($29) for the year which is a bit more affordable than any.do for example which is $45 per year (currently $26.99 as a launch offer). If you don't need the premium features then stick to the free version which is pretty good by itself, though you will see items in the app marked as Premium only which can frustrate, and you'll be without reminders which can be a big loss if you need to stay on top of things.

The other thing that tipped me over the edge in favour of  Todoist beyond the affordability was the sheer amount of coverage they have. This app is available everywhere, I swear there's a washing machine out there with this on it... OK maybe not that but they have an app for every platform so you'll never have a problem staying on top of things. I particularly like the Outlook plugin which allows me to set a task from an email, as you can by default in Outlook but then I can get to that task anywhere and not just through Outlook. The drawback with this feature though is that while the email is used to create the task you will need to be in Outlook to view the email, making it more of a link to the email rather than an attachment but it still works out for me in practice. There are also a huge number of integrations with common tools and apps like the popular IFTTT which can set up triggers to add tasks automatically when you add stuff to Pocket or YouTube watch later for example. There are way more options than I have space or time to describe so you'll be wanting to hop over to their site to check out if there's a combination that will work for you

There are plenty of options in the app for sorting, tagging and filtering, you can set up your own projects and manage them quickly and easily and if you have things you'll work on with others you can share projects too. Sharing does not require everyone to be on the paid tier either which is nice. Adding tasks is also relatively fuss free allowing you to type things like 'call Bob on Tuesday at 5' and you'll get a call Bob task with a reminder set to Tuesday at 5 (if you have unlocked reminders).

Using Todoist over the past 5 months as my daily task manager has really been great, I have definitely found it to be the premier option for me and find myself tracking a lot more stuff than I used to simply because it is so much easier to add items. My productivity may have increased slightly because I don't forget or delay as many items as I have in the past but I also have a clearer picture of what I am doing through a day because I am capturing more. I even sit down with a coffee and add several quick items I may have done since last getting in front of the screen like 'chat with Bob and Mary about thing x' just because I can and the picture I build up about my day is quite interesting.

So, if you are on the market for a decent task list manager with options I would recommend you pop on over to todoist.com and give them a whirl.

21 March 2015

Learning From Others - The Spotify Engineering Culture Part 1

I always like hearing from other companies and individuals regarding their experiences applying Agile Development methodologies or best practices but I also like to hear how they diversified, made those practises their own and melded them into their company creating a new culture.

Spotify have been pretty open about sharing their experiences and here's the first of two videos covering their engineering culture.

Stay tuned for part two next week, and I'd be interested in hearing your comments about how you've melded new development practices similar to this or how the experiences shared here have inspired you so hit me up in the comments and share with the group ;0)

Spotify Engineering Culture - part 1 from Spotify Training & Development on Vimeo.

20 March 2015

Leadership Quotes - Leadership

The ultimate leader is one who is willing to develop people to the point that they eventually surpass him or her in knowledge and ability.
- Fred A. Manske, Jr, on Leadership

As an Agile Coach I find no greater satisfaction than watching developers or leaders that I have worked with do something really amazing. The servant leader enables the success of others.

14 March 2015

Leadership Quotes - Charcter

People become like their leader. I teach what I know, but I reproduce what I am.
-John C. Maxwell on Character

As leaders we are charged with a responsibility to be the best we can possibly be and to ensure that our character is one worthy of reproduction. I learned again recently that how you react in any given situation reflects directly on your leadership. Learning to handle every situation with wisdom and patience will help develop a rich character that will in turn inspire others.