Practicing Evolutionary Management at Trainline: Experiments in Self-Management and Wholeness

For the last year, I’ve led the web team at Trainline on a test and learn journey towards a new way of working called evolutionary management. Building on the foundations of agile, this management paradigm adds a new playbook of practices meant to promote self-management, wholeness, and evolutionary purpose.

Part one of this series describes my journey towards discovering this way of working and the foundations of evolutionary management. Here in part two, I detail what we learned from experiments designed to create breakthroughs in self-management and wholeness – the good, the bad, and the beautiful. Continue reading

Spring-clean your backlog

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Is your development backlog too big? Do you to find yourself having two backlogs without realising it? One which is high priority items, recent defects and tasks to be completed in the next few weeks, and one which is full of nice-to-haves, low priority defects and legacy requests? I think we all know what gets the focus and what is just muddying the waters. Continue reading

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

Practicing Evolutionary Management at Trainline: The Journey to Evolutionary-Teal and Beyond…

The gong went off with a humming twang.

Around the table, 20 people sat staring. Our agile web team had kicked off many sprint planning meetings, but none like this. As the sound of the Tibetan meditation bowl receded into silence, nervous impulse rushed to fill the space – fidgeting, murmuring, exchanging glances. After 30 seconds or so, this noise died down too, settling into a deeper silence still. Once another half-minute had passed, I rang the gong again.

We then proceeded to have one of our most efficient sprint planning sessions in weeks. We even finished 15 minutes early. Not a bad return on investment for one minute of silence. Continue reading

Agile and Employee Engagement

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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

Deadlines are not Agile! Are they?

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Rage against deadlines

How often have you found yourself set an ‘impossible deadline’ and been left asking: “Why the heck am I having to break my neck to hit it? Where did it come from? Who came up with the date?”

Pretty often, huh? I know it’s happened to me a lot. I regularly see people getting very angry about being set a deadline. The typical response is to froth at the mouth and curse “the management”. Continue reading

Better collaboration: Agile and Improv

IMPROVISATION

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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

Be Afraid

Be afraid.

It’s OK. You are allowed to be afraid. No need to ask permission for it. We’ll worship the gods of Agile, and we won’t even have to work and push and move to do things, we can just point at our collective fear and say “we didn’t have permission”. We won’t feel right about it, but that’s OK. It’s not like we’ll tell anyone. Be so afraid you don’t care, be afraid to move jobs, be a fearful cog in a fearful machine, ground into meek submission. Continue reading