Unusual Subroutines

The blog and musings of Christopher Allen-Poole

The Slow Time

It's that time of the company lifecycle… the slow period. That time between projects when there is not quite enough time to start something new and everything old has more-or-less wound down. There are few projects which will need attention until the new year. Recent weeks have shown me logging an increasing number of hours towards doing things like minimizing technical debt and moving unit test coverage to our minimum standard threshold. (I am very glad to say that I have no more Sonar blockers in any project I have direct control over).

When this type of period starts in a company, there are a number of possible outcomes. Something which should be an obvious concern is employee listlessness. This warning seems especially apt:

Expressions of discontent, complaints about the firm, and poor morale never surface more frequently than when there is not enough work to keep everyone occupied.1

But if employees are handled correctly, then this employee "downtime" does not need to be one of concern. If anything times like this are when you have resources free to actually create, so long as you are geared towards innovation.

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Proposed Metrics

One of the biggest problems that projects have is in feedback. Everyone in the project has a duty to tell others, and especially the team lead and the PM, if there are any concerns, but most of the time people don't. There are a few reasons for this, but in general people don't like being the one to give bad news. I'd like to find a way to go about avoiding that problem. 

I came up with a basic survey and I'd like it included in my future projects. The goal would be to have it filled out by everyone on the project at the start of a new sprint. This would mean that the PM would be able to get a pulse easily. I think it would also allow people to hint that there might be bad news without having to be the one to come out and say it. 

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Without Staff, There Are No Standards

Something which I was recently discussing with a colleague was her problem with her company's recent top-down initiatives. There was a series of major pushes in her company which she didn't feel were justified. Things had worked decently in the past but these changes seemed like a bad attempt at fixing something which was not broken.

The problem here wasn't actually the reforms. The reforms were probably well justified (I didn't really have visibility into whether or not they actually were). The problem was the approach.

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Farley Files

I just finished Double Star, and one thing which really impressed me about the novel was the idea of a Farley File. A Farley File is named after one of FDR's advisors who kept a basic set of notes on everyone that he met. When it was time to meet with them again, he could then read up and remember things like the dog's name, or the daughter's birthday, etc.

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