Gamifying Agility at Trainline

As the Agile Coach across the Trainline Group, where we have enjoyed a rapidly expanding tech contingent, I have had to put my mind to devising ways in which I can quickly assess the agility of individual teams.

It is also important to ensure a common culture and common understanding. If you have been in tech for any length of time at all, you will be well aware of the fact that “Agile” means different things to different people. To some extent, this is OK. My own natural inclination is not to be too prescriptive, and this is part of the strength of Agile principles. However, experience has shown me that this can often lead to a kind of entropy – an “anything goes” approach which, once adopted at an individual level, leads to the disintegration of a team in all but name. Continue reading

The year at Trainline in numbers

trainline-in-numbers

2016 has been a very busy year at Trainline as we have been growing at a rapid pace.  This means our tech team has had to work hard to scale effectively and cope with the sheer demand.

New product teams have been springing up all through the year, while older teams have grown and been split into sub-teams to maintain the essential agility of small teams. With such growth, we have needed to ensure our processes were in good shape to manage the increased complexity that this brings.

Here are a few fascinating stats which tell a short story of the year at Trainline … Continue reading

Agile and Employee Engagement

i-love-my-job

In our newly formed Agile Community of Excellence, we discussed the topics of Empowerment, Motivation and Engagement.

This is a fascinating area for me and, if borne in mind, is a subject which I think really helps to make any Agile effort a really effective one. Employee engagement matters and a worldwide Gallup poll in 2013 was an indication that no company should be complacent on this.

Empowerment and motivation – more specifically – intrinsic motivation – are key to employee engagement. At Trainline, we have already embraced Agile for lots of good reasons and I believe that employee engagement is one of those good reasons.

So how can we make a positive impact on employee engagement? Below I will share with you three perspectives and consider how Agile principles support these. Continue reading

Better collaboration: Agile and Improv

IMPROVISATION

whose-line-is-it-anyway

Collaboration and creativity are vital for effective Agile Teams. If you’ve ever watched “Whose Line is it Anyway?” on the TV, you will have seen improvisation (“improv”) in action. It is all about people working together in a mutually trusting atmosphere to co-create something new and surprising: the sum of the collective imaginations of those involved and something which could not have been known beforehand. Continue reading

Better estimates by embracing uncertainty

Uncertainty

Existential philosophers tell us that uncertainty is a fundamental given of existence.   But uncertainty is also something which we often find to be undesirable and we seem to spend a lot of time trying to rid ourselves of it.

Friedrich-NietzscheBut often the solution is not to rid ourselves of uncertainty.  Instead, it is to embrace it.  As Nietzsche said:

“Not doubt, certainty is what drives one insane.”

I am sure that a lot of software development teams will relate to this quote when considering estimation – that great attempt at removing uncertainty. Continue reading

Agile Testing – In Search of Enlightenment

Review of the Agile Connexions Meetup event hosted at Trainline. A presentation by Schalk Cronjé on Agile Testing.

meetup-at-trainline-agile-testingTesting is an ever-changing discipline that has been disrupted and reworked after the dawn of Agile development. Traditional testing has made way for leaner, more focused alternatives- where it was once relegated to being a post-development step in Waterfall, testing has since been redefined as an integral part of Agile development and adapted to suit the faster pace of Continuous Delivery. Old practices have been re-examined and changed beyond recognition… but is Agile testing doing anything new? Is it delivering value, or is it too focused on process and management instead? Continue reading

Fear is Waterfall

The terror of owning a decisionThe big selling point of Agile is the fast return on investment it promises. But what excites me most about Agile is its emphasis on people – agility done well injects humanity back into activities which Waterfall has made bureaucratic and devoid of care. In short, care does not scale.  Waterfall’s “inhumanity” comes from the command-and-control paradigm. Teams are not empowered to make the best decisions based on their know-how. Instead this is taken out of the hands of the team and decided by others who are not actually going to get their hands dirty.

Agility is equated with empowerment, but how is empowerment achieved? Continue reading

Setting the ground rules for running a team brainstorming session

“The best way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.” – Linus Pauling

Brainstorming

In my opinion, one of the most important things to get right when running your workshop is to set the ground rules. Our team found that following these simple rules really helped make our brainstorming sessions a success – maybe it will help you too:

Continue reading

Hack Day 2014 @ thetrainline.com

Hack Day 2014 at thetrainline.comThe end of 2014 at thetrainline.com was marked by the first trainline.com Hack Day which took place in our
Farringdon offices. The aim of the event was to give us all a chance to spend a day trying out new ideas, creating something wonderful and innovative, whether a new product feature, a cool way to use a technology which we have never tried before or even just a beautiful simplification of a business process.

Continue reading