2014 Retrospective

At the end of 2012 I performed a simple Retrospective of the year.  I seem to have neglected to do one at the end of 2013 but it shall be a yearly habit from now on.

Conferences attended:

Presentations:

Published:

This is a big achievement for me personally.  Thank you to those that made it happen.

  • Joint Contributor with Paul Shannon in More Agile Testing by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory
  • Contributed a chapter to Build Quality In – the collection of Continuous Delivery and DevOps stories edited by Steve Smith and Matthew Skelton
Personal:

  • Co-organised my first conference – PIPELINE 2014!
  • Went skiing for the first time
  • Started Portuguese lessons
  • Took Cycling Classes and Bicycle Maintenance classes
  • Continued my Cello lessons (aiming for Grade 3 this spring)
  • Attempted the Computer Networks Coursera course and achieved a grade of 47%. I’m proud of this score as it was a pretty intense course.
  • Stepped down from the ACCU committee as I could no longer devote the proper time to it.
  • Only managed to finish reading 6 books when I’d hoped to read 18.
  • Donated blood 3 times before being temporarily suspended to investigate anaemia 😦
  • Sadly, I still have limited proficiency with the Portuguese language

Changed Jobs
In August I left my role at 7digital, I job and company I loved and spoke about, after 4 years of being with them.  I wanted to try a new challenge.  I know it sounds corny, but I really did.  I wanted to see if I could take all the things I’d learned there to somewhere new, share my knowledfe and learn even more.
I took up a Senior Engineer role at JUST EAT and it’s been great.  I’ve had much to learn and as a result have been battling my own Imposter Syndrome, but I hope I’ve been making a difference, even a small one.

Next Year

I plan to get back on top of my reading, blogging and neglected fitness – the usual stuff.

Having left 7digital in August I now longer feel comfortable presenting about the experience report about their journey towards Continuous Delivery.  Change happens there every day and I am no longer able to ‘finish’ the presentation with details of what is currently being achieved.  There are still many things I could talk about from that time though, possibly distil the learnings into something more transferable, but I believe the audiences enjoyed hearing a real life experience report.

Creating a new presentation is top of the list and I’m open to ideas and suggestions.

Conclusion

Once again I’ve achieved more than I thought – a year is a long time and we regularly fail to remember anything other than recent events.  This feeling has been compounded by my focus in the latter half of the year being centred almost exclusively on my new role at JUST EAT, which is to be expected.  A new role is challenging with a new codebase, domain, terminology and people to learn about, which is exactly what I was seeking, so I’m happy!
Here’s to 2015!
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2012 Retrospective

As all Agile methodologies teach us, the action of looking back and reviewing your progress is an essential part of improvement. As such, I’m going to try and run a simple retrospective for my 2012.

Review

Lets start by reviewing the last year on a timeline. As it’s such a long period I’ll stick with monthly increments and pick out notable events.

January: 
 – Discovered WebGL and my messing about got picked up by LearningWebGL.com

February: 
 – Nothing of note 😦

March:
 – Attended first GDC Meet a Mentor event
 – Started planning the “Devs in the ‘ditch” events

April:
 – Organised a successful first “Devs in the ‘ditch” event
 – Organised the 7digital stand at the “Find your Ninja” event.
 – Attended GeekGirl Meetup in London

May:
 – Organised and helped man the 7digital stand at Silicon Milk Roundabout
 – Attended the Progressive.Net Tutorials

June:
 – Organised second “Devs in the ‘ditch” event

July: 
 – Became a STEM Ambassador

August:
 – Nothing of note 😦

September:
 – Organised third “Devs in the ‘ditch” event
 – Stepped up to take over the ACCU Mentored Developers from Paul Grenyer and thereby co-opted into the Committee.
 – Kicked off an ACCU Mentored Devs book group on JavaScript: The Good Parts
 – Attended DDD10

October:
 – Organised and presented at the fourth “Devs in the ‘ditch” event.
 – Presented the same talk at ACCU London
 – Became the API Team Lead Developer

November:
 – Took part in a Year 9 Careers Speed Networking event as part of being a STEM Ambassador
 – Presented to undergraduates at the Middlesex University IT Careers Forum
 – Passed Grade 1 of Cello

December:
 – Presented at APIDays 2012 in Paris

Other Stuff:
 – Adopted a lovely Cat
 – Attended at least 18 events, and spoke at 3.
 – Attended 4 Weddings (one of which was a surprise)
 – Lost just over 10lbs in weight and no longer officially overweight
 – Visited Portugal, twice, and Paris.
 – Finished reading 5 books, and started at least twice as many.
 – Wrote 12 blog posts
 – Created 13 Github Repos

Good / Bad / Change

Now is the part where I reflect on the year, using items that I brought up in my review as an aid and write down what I felt went well, went badly and what I’d like to change going forward.

Good

– Finally started speaking at community events, I’d been wanting to do so for so long, but was afraid
– Attended many events and conferences
– Improved my overall health 🙂
– Began organising events and learned a lot from this
– Began putting myself forward as role model to younger people as part of the STEM Ambassador work

Bad

– Didn’t read or finish as many books as I’d have liked
– Didn’t really travel or visit many places
– Only wrote a few blog posts
– Didn’t finish any programming projects I started
– I wanted to have done more with WebGL
– I seem to have coasted through the first quarter of the year

Change

– Must commit to projects and finish them before starting new ones
– Must commit to finishing reading books that I start before starting new ones
– Try to read more books
– Blog more, it improves writing and communication skills
– Stop procrastinating!

Goals & Actions

Normally the team would vote on which topics they’d like to promote to goals and actions but as it’s just me I’ll pick three that I feel are the most important.

Goal: Make 2013 The Year of Reading
Action: Read and finish at least one book a month.  Preferably a technical book but any kind counts. I’ve put the GoodReads Challenge in my sidebar as a reminder.

Goal: Present and speak more.
Action: Volunteer for more events. I did three last year, I’ll aim to improve on that.  I’ve already put myself forward for an event with the London Continuous Delivery group in March

Goal: Visit a new country
Action: I’ll make a point this year to take holiday somewhere that I haven’t been before.  It doesn’t have to be far, just somewhere new to me.

Retrospective Close

I feel that this was indeed a useful exercise.  It took a couple hours to do and write up mostly because a year is a long time period and I wanted to go back through my calender and emails to ensure I picked up as many events as I could.

Looking back I can say that that I’ve both done a lot of things, but also not enough things.  I picked up new items such as speaking and becoming more involved in the ACCU, but I also let things slip such as blogging and reading.  It’s so easy to let things slip by you when they happen one day at a time.

I’m hoping that 2013 will continue along the trend that I started as there is so much that I want to see.  At the end of the year I will run another retrospective and compare it with the actions above, which should be interesting!

Group Feedback

Cross-posted from the 7digital Dev Blog
Whiteboard with Group Feedback cards arranged showing Pairing and Communication as the biggest groups

The API Team decided to trial a Group Feedback in our last Retrospective influenced by this post from Mark Needham – we were hoping to promote a safe atmosphere for everyone to talk about each other in a frank manner.  Initially the idea was received with trepidation and a fear of public humiliation, but we were willing to try a new approach.

Hibri, our Team Lead, suggested that we should present our feedback as three points in a similar vein to the “Start, Stop, Continue, More of, Less of Wheel” but sticking to just Stop, Start and Continue.  This would focus the feedback and prevent any potential for the retrospective from spiralling off course.  The team took a vote on whether to try this approach before starting.

The ‘Subject’ sat on a chair, called the Hot Seat, facing the team whilst everyone else had 5 minutes to jot down on three cards an item for that person to Stop, Start or Continue.  The cards were then tacked onto the whiteboard behind the Subject.  Everyone took their turn in this manner as the Subject and afterwards we got a chance to read the points suggested and comment if we wish. The original plan was for the team to read out the cards to the Subject, but we decided against that and reviewed the feedback as a group.

We found that there were overall themes for each person and it was felt that nothing on the board was a complete surprise to anyone.  This may have been due to it being the first time we’ve tried this as it was noted that it was harder to write the cards than be the Subject being assessed.  As expected everyone had areas they could focus on more and areas where they were strong.  Each person was encouraged to create their own personal actions from the feedback, which was not divulged to the team.

We also found, whilst reviewing the cards, that we had a couple of common themes across the team, and we decided to rearrange the cards and group them up. This showed that the team felt we were focussing really well on Refactoring, but that we needed to address Pairing and Communication (as well as being late for standup…).  We discussed the cards further, noting the overall themes and devised a couple of actions;  Pomodoro techniques whilst pairing and Bi-Monthly team “Show-and-Tell” sessions for anything that needs communicating, such as major refactorings undertaken and any lessons learned.

The exercise turned out to be very useful and was a different way to find areas within the team as a whole which needed attention.  Also, we were focussing on ourselves and not our output, our processes or our environment as per most retrospective exercises and everyone received positive along with any negative feedback.