Category: Management

Scrum and tech debt

A Scrum Alliance article has this to say about tech debt and how to manage it in the Scrum workflow

Servicing the technical debt
The first step in servicing the debt is to identify any such issues and register them — making the debt visible for the team. These could be made part of the product backlog or even be part of a separate technical debt backlog for purposes of tracking. The team can then evaluate and prioritize, taking into account the effort required and the “pain” caused by the technical debt and its frequency. The product owner would need to make a conscious decision whether the “economics” justifies the cost of the technical debt. It has to be kept in mind that not all technical debt need be repaid; e.g., one can live with issues relating to a product nearing its end of its life. However, it is important during this time that technical debt is not accumulated, since that would only cripple the system

From David Hawks, CEO of Agile Velocity, who sums it up like this

In the sprint I believe all work should be made visible. I probably wouldn’t put points on it since it isn’t part of the release plan. Also I encourage folks to track a separate tech debt backlog to make that backlog of work visible and prioritized

In other words, the Product Backlog should still only be populated with user stories, and user stories should always be testable and estimable, but you also want a Tech Debt Backlog populated with tech debt stories that aren’t necessarily testable or estimable. This separate Tech Debt Backlog makes it clear to the testers that this isn’t something they need to test, and it’s a useful way of capturing work that might normally be a spike time box or just skunkworked outside the workflow.

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Ok Go – Rube Goldberg video

This is the best video of a Rube Goldberg device I’ve seen so far, it looks like the entire video was filmed in one take. Brought to you by Ok Go

What developers mean


Google admits their brain teaser interview questions are a complete waste of time

From a New York Times interview with Laszlo Bock, Sr Vice President of People Operations at Google:

On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.

Furthermore, there other commonly tracked pieces of information about candidates that proved to have no correlation to that person being a success after being hired:

One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation. Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything.

Instead, they now focus on a structured, consistent set of behavioral questions that drills down on a candidate’s real world experience, rather than letting each interviewer make stuff up.  For example, a behavioral question such as “Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem” and then ask probing questions based on their answer, you get two important clues about the candidate:

One is you get to see how they actually interacted in a real-world situation, and the valuable “meta” information you get about the candidate is a sense of what they consider to be difficult.

He also has some insights on what to look for in a manager and what qualities make them successful.  They collect feedback from people working for managers and assess them based on criteria such as:

  • the manager treats me with respect,
  • the manager gives me clear goals,
  • the manager shares information,
  • the manager treats the entire team fairly.

These are fundamental things that turn out to be really important in making people feel excited and happy and wanting to go the extra mile for you.

We’ll ask for estimates and make them deadlines

We'll ask for estimates and then treat them as deadlines - We'll ask for estimates and then treat them as deadlines  Dr Evil and minions

© 2017 Robert Corvus