in Prose

S01 E09

The one before the season finale

This has been an incredibly difficult week. Everything is happening simultaneously, and I don’t feel like I can keep on top of it. I’m struck by the fact that we limit WIP to reduce waste, and that has a knock-on effect: it forces us to stop promising due dates. That’s a benefit to us, because it means we can deliver quality work that’s ready when it’s ready, but it’s bad for customers who won’t necessarily know when they’ll need to put aside time for training.

There’s also the law of diminishing returns. I would like to track every item of work I’m doing, down to the smallest task, on a board. However, I’d need to include “writing things on the board” on the board. Then I’d need to include ‘writing “writing things on the board”’ on the board, and that level of recursion makes my head ‘splodey.

Pictured: ‘splodey head

In any case — I’m going to try, for the next sprint, to at least scribble down everything I promise to do, explicit or implicit, with customers, colleagues or myself, and track what happens to those promises. Whether I deliver (early, on time or late), deprioritise, or abandon them all together. I’d love to make this open, but some of it will be sensitive, and I don’t want to add an extra step into the workflow of figuring that out before I add it to my list.

I’m going to use a Google form to collect data and Google sheets to do the calculations. I’ll publish the resultant data in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that.

Here’s the Google Script code:

https://gist.github.com/jonodrew/7ffbfc977ad08e47c4cf2aff02df4a0b.js

YEAH, SPREADSHEETS

And now: the week

Monday was a day full of frustrations that pulled me this way and that. A day where I didn’t feel like anything really progressed, but I still managed to use up all my time. I hate days like that.

Tuesday we finished up a new client’s instance — Madison[0]. I got to do a tiny bit of graphic design and my usual testing. Automating this is a constant theme of work and something I’m now hoping to get done by the end of this year — the first promise I’ll need to enter into my tracker.

Wednesday I presented two papers to my board and received some good feedback. I can’t talk about the content yet, but I’m really hopeful that with some tweaks we can them policy. Fingers crossed.

Kimmy has my back

I also chatted to someone joining the DaT Fast Stream in September to chat about the scheme and their future plans. I’m leaving, and I know it’s the right thing for me, but seeing other people preparing to start this journey is making me hyper-nostalgic. I hope it dies down, because re-applying in five years is going to look silly.

Thursday I went through some customisations for Munroe[1] and then sat down and tried to plan out how we could make this process less labour intensive.

I appreciate this is now bordering on an obsession

I got out of the office a little early to eat steak at High Timber (recommended) and see Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe (also recommend, with caveats). The production is set in the Mexican revolution, and the actors are all extremely British. I found this quite jarring; had this been set in the Haitian revolution, there would have been no thought of getting a majority-white cast to throw in some patois and appropriate national dress — yet for some reason Mexican culture appears to be far game. This at a time when the US President was elected on a platform of anti-Mexican, wall-building policies. It is beautiful. I’m just not convinced that’s a good enough reason to do it.

Friday is retrospective day, and we had a great conversation about what went well and what didn’t go well. I’ve seen a big improvement in these conversations and we all came away with things to work on for the next sprint. I’m a great advocate for retros and for giving time to them: you can’t knock them out quickly and it’s incredibly important to reflect, as a team, on where things are going wrong — and to do it frequently. If you’re not doing it now, try doing it in two weeks time. Put time in everyone’s diaries and battle through the awkwardness.

I’ve had very little time to do my 10% of time this week, but I am making good progress with my O’Reilly book on Docker. I’ve got slightly stuck on my current chapter — I suspect because it needs more than an hour to properly absorb — so I’m hoping to carve out an afternoon next week to crack through it. (That’s promise number two!)


[0] Madison the president, as opposed to the place in Wisconsin. New clients get US president codenames[1]

[1] Not the codenames of US presidents, because it turns out they’re actually a thing, not made up by the West Wing, and the current POTUS codename is “Mogul”

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