Walking Through a Definition of Ready

few weeks ago we looked at the Definition of Done, which describes the conditions which must be satisfied before a team’s deliverables can be considered fit for release. That’s the acid test of what “Done” ought to mean. Can a team’s output actually be deployed into production and used immediately, or is any work still outstanding? We saw that a team’s Definition of Done will often fall short of this essential standard, and “technical debt” will be incurred as a result. This debt reflects the fact that certain things still need doing, no matter how small or trivial they might be held to be. Additional work will need to be carried out before the increment under development is truly usable. Perhaps there might be further tweaks to be done, or optimizations, or tests, or integration work with the wider product. Any such technical debt will need to be tracked, managed, and “paid off” by completing the outstanding work so the increment is finally brought up to snuff. Continue reading “Walking Through a Definition of Ready”

Google Says These 5 Characteristics Can Make or Break a Successful Team

Google studied 180 teams through its Project Aristotle over two years. They were on a quest to find the common traits among the most successful ones. Going in, they assumed the best teams were comprised of the most skilled people. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, they found 5 core characteristics of high-performing teams:

  • Dependability
  • Structure and Clarity
  • Meaning
  • Impact
  • Psychological Safety

How can we incorporate these important characteristics into your team? Continue reading “Google Says These 5 Characteristics Can Make or Break a Successful Team”

How to Write Smarter User Stories for Product Design and Development

Most of you probably have some tried-and-true best practices that you lean on to formulate requirements and articulate what needs to be done.

In many cases, that may involve the creation of use cases and user stories. While both are valuable tools, neither go quite far enough in defining the problem and desired outcome. But as I think you’ll see, a very simple change in the user story format will profoundly impact the finished product. Continue reading “How to Write Smarter User Stories for Product Design and Development”

Continuous Delivery vs. Continuous Deployment: An Overview

Getting software updates to users quickly is paramount in today’s world. You know from your own phone, mobile, and computer usage that software updates for applications are a daily occurrence. We live in “internet time.” The ability to be quick and responsive with value to meet users’ needs can mean great success for a company, but the inability to do so could mean the death dive.

In order to survive in this world, you must be able to produce both swiftly and frequently. This is how you get ideas out fast and bring business value to customers. And, being able to do this requires agility. Working in the traditional Waterfall process of software delivery where there was a long drawn-out series of investigation, analysis, and planning doesn’t cut it anymore. Agile development allows you the framework that is critical to optimize planning, testing, and implementation. Agile development is a way to have faster cycle times, the goal being to achieve “internet time.”

Achieving Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment in the Solution Delivery Pipeline means your organization is nimble and can release updates to users in a responsive manner; these 2 phases in the pipeline are very important to the overall goal of fast, responsive deployments. However, sometimes there is confusion about what they are. In this article, we clarify the difference between Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment and describe how each fits into an Agile environment. Continue reading “Continuous Delivery vs. Continuous Deployment: An Overview”

The Problem with Saying “Don’t Bring Me Problems, Bring Me Solutions”

It’s time to retire the saying “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.” Even though advocates of this approach believe it reduces whining, increases empowerment, helps employees manage up, and boosts careers, it’s fraught with challenges.

Not every problem has an easy solution. Tackling the complexity of most significant business issues can take a pool of talented people with diverse points of view. What’s more, according to Wharton professor Adam Grant, solution-only thinking creates “a culture of advocacy instead of one of inquiry,” where each person comes into the situation locked into their way of solving the problem and lobbies hard for that particular solution rather than considering multiple perspectives. Continue reading “The Problem with Saying “Don’t Bring Me Problems, Bring Me Solutions””

How can leaders help employees find meaning at work?

Leaders can’t rely on organizational mission statements to inspire employees. They have to help their people find inner purpose. One way is through action identification theory, exploring levels of meaning attached to any task. Another is through regular check-ins that help employees think about what they’re good at, what they enjoy, what makes them feel useful, what propels them forward, and how they relate to others. Continue reading “How can leaders help employees find meaning at work?”

Top 10 Books Every CTO Should Read

As a CTO in a rapidly evolving industry, the knowledge you had when you first entered the industry is no longer sufficient. In fact, the knowledge you had this time last year is already outdated.

But when you have a long list of responsibilities, a team to lead, and deadlines to hit, keeping up with the latest technological trends and ideas can be difficult — although it is your job to do exactly at.

Reading the right blogs and subscribing to the right newsletters will help, but those bite-sized nuggets of knowledge won’t keep you at the cutting edge of tech.

Regularly attending conferences and networking events is one way to go, but that strategy isn’t friendly to your schedule. A book on the other hand, can be moulded around even the most crammed calendar. To help you get the most out of your reading time, we’ve hand picked ten books we think every CTO should read.   Continue reading “Top 10 Books Every CTO Should Read”

Running UAT and Integration Tests During a VSTS Build

There are lots of small suggestions I’ve learned from experience when it is time to create a suite of integration / UAT test for your project. A UAT or integration test is a test that exercises the entire application, sometimes composed of several services that are collaborating to create the final result. The difference from UAT tests and Integration test, in my personal terminology, is that the UAT uses direct automation of User Interface, while integration tests can skip the UI and exercise the system directly from public API (REST, MSMQ Commands, etc). Continue reading “Running UAT and Integration Tests During a VSTS Build”

How to Set Goals That Will Turn an Average Team Into All-Stars


Whether we’re limiting the times we hit the snooze button, increasing our attendance at the gym or improving our work performance, setting goals is essential in order to generate change. Yet, goals don’t always work: According to Statistic Brain Research Institute, a mere 9.2 percent of participants the institute surveyed said they’d successfully achieved their New Year’s resolutions so far in 2017. Continue reading “How to Set Goals That Will Turn an Average Team Into All-Stars”

Help Employees Create Knowledge — Not Just Share It

Many leaders see organizational learning simply as sharing existing knowledge. This isn’t surprising given that this is the primary focus of educational institutions, training programs, and leadership development courses. It’s the “sage on the stage” model, in which an expert shares what they know with those who are assumed not to know it. These “best practices” are presumed to work in a variety of different contexts and situations. Continue reading “Help Employees Create Knowledge — Not Just Share It”

6 Crucial Things to Do in Your First 100 Days in a New Leadership Role

The rate of change in technology is unmatched. Companies are constantly being funded, getting acquired and, unfortunately, going out of business. These dynamic conditions create both challenges and opportunities for leaders. Changing roles is becoming more frequent across industries. Being able to successfully transition into a new leadership position is a must-have skill for entrepreneurs and company leaders. Continue reading “6 Crucial Things to Do in Your First 100 Days in a New Leadership Role”

Revamping SAFe’s Program Level PI Metrics Part 1/6 – Overview

Whilst the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) has evolved significantly over the years since inception, one area that has lagged is that of metrics. Since the Agile Release Train (ART) is the key value-producing vehicle in SAFe, I have a particular interest in Program Metrics – especially those produced on the PI boundaries. Continue reading “Revamping SAFe’s Program Level PI Metrics Part 1/6 – Overview”

You Can’t Have a True DevOps Culture Without Effective Release Management

While the DevOps movement and associated technologies have garnered much attention and fanfare, few have addressed the core issue—the handoff from development to operations. This blog post explains why release management is the bridge between development and operations, and how you can strengthen that bridge with the right approach, tools, teams, and processes. Continue reading “You Can’t Have a True DevOps Culture Without Effective Release Management”

What Can a 1,800-Year-Old Book Teach You About Leadership? Turns Out, A Lot

Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome from 161 AD to 180 AD. During his time as the leader of Rome, he was the most powerful person in the world. Though massive power corrupted many leaders throughout history, Marcus is widely documented as being a noble leader with strong moral character.

His book, Meditations, has been read by countless leaders spanning over centuries. He documented parts of his life and how he worked to manage his emotions and perceptions of the world around him. His personal growth throughout the book is paralleled by his growth as a leader. Aurelius never intended for his writing to be released, giving it a sense of purity throughout the pages. It’s stoicism at its finest. Continue reading “What Can a 1,800-Year-Old Book Teach You About Leadership? Turns Out, A Lot”

How No-Code, Low-Code Tools Will Strengthen- and Disrupt- Enterprise App Development

No-code, low-code tools for helping people without a technical background write mobile apps are proliferating in enterprises, leading to the rise of so-called “citizen developers” – business analysts and domain experts who develop mobile apps without the help of IT. The tools have helped businesses roll out mobile apps quickly, cut costs, and ensure that the apps are useful to the greatest number of users. Continue reading “How No-Code, Low-Code Tools Will Strengthen- and Disrupt- Enterprise App Development”