The Joy of Work

One of my favourite podcasts is Eat Sleep Work Repeat hosted by Bruce Daisley, the European Vice-President for Twitter. I was delighted when I heard earlier this year that he was publishing a book, The Joy of Work (2019).

The subtitle of this his first book promises a lot: “30 ways to fix your work culture and fall in love with your job again”. The book is arranged into three sections which he claims together create happier work environments:

  • Recharge—ways we can help recharge our own batteries.
  • Sync—suggestions about how to encourage trust.
  • Buzz—ideas, based on research, that can help teams reach a state of ‘buzz’.

Each chapter relatively short, easy to read and is packed with great, up-to-date research and ends with a few practical ideas about how you could implement that idea.

Recharge

The first section offers 12 performance-enhancing actions to make work less awful:

  1. Have a monk-mode morning—silent and distraction free.
  2. Go for a walking meeting—seemingly, it makes you more creative.
  3. Celebrate headphones—they can really help you focus by shutting out the noise around you.
  4. Eliminate hurry sickness—don’t see gaps in your schedule as moments when you are not working, celebrate space—sometimes you have your best idea when you are doing ‘nothing’.
  5. Shorten your work week—stop celebrating overwork, go home on time, break your day into small chunks. Burnout and exhaustion are no good for your creativity.
  6. Overthrow the evil mill owner who lives inside you—don’t be a tyrant, don’t jokingly say ‘half day?’ when someone comes in at 10:00. Don’t give people a hard time about their hours especially when work has some flexibility.
  7. Turn off your notifications.
  8. Go to lunch—it’s better for your mental health.
  9. Define your norms
  10. Have a digital sabbath—for example, don’t email afterhours
  11. Get a good night’s sleep
  12. Focus on one thing at a time

Agile is about culture not processes

At the Cegedim UK conference in Dundee on Wednesday 23 January 2019, Steve Bradley introduced us to the company goals around which the agenda was organised. The third goal was about people and culture:

To develop our talents and to promote an open, empowered, collaborative and energised working culture that embraces change, nurtures innovation and makes us a truly amazing and rewarding company to work for.

This excited me.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines culture as ‘the ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular people or society’. While I’ve not found the word ‘culture’ in any of the books I have on agile or any of its particular flavours (DSDM, Lean, Scrum, XP) this is something I came to realise very early on: agile development is not a process, it’s not a methodology, it is a culture.

This makes sense. The first statement in the agile manifesto reads, “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”.

Agile development is not a process, it’s not a tool, it is a culture. It is about the ideas, customs and social behaviours of a particular team or company that uses experimentation and validated learning to rapidly release quality software and that learns from its serious use with real users.

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