Ryan's Blog

Observations from a Pandemic

23 Oct 2020

The Corona Virus pandemic isn’t slowing down, but mentally I’ve emerged from hibernation. It hit hard in April of 2020, and now it’s October. That is how long it took for me to emerge from the haze of feeling mentally unsettled.

Tags:

Enough Tutorials Already!

20 Oct 2020

The other day someone reached out to me with a question I get somewhat regularly, but I never really thought to write down my answer much. The question was, “How do you come up to speed quickly on new languages and technology?”

Tags:

A Vignette of Kaizen

13 Oct 2020

Don’t tell my kids, but we bought an absurd present for Christmas, and I spent a few hours putting it together and hiding it in the attic. It is called a Pickler. As I assembled it, I went through several rapid improvements in my approach to building it, and I am going to connect back to Kaizen or continuous improvement hopefully.

Tags:

The Ups and Downs of Recruiters

09 Oct 2020

Last night I saw a tweet fly by about a new book coming out that was all about the technical resume. I found it fitting since today I want to start promoting my first-ever class on the same thing. They mentioned it includes advice from 200+ recruiters and managers.

Tags:

Piercing The Veil With Failure

01 Oct 2020

Years ago, I worked with a team, and they showed some remarkable results after I suggested some pretty bold changes. On that team, there was one person who continued to work the way they always did. The team was frustrated with them and eventually exhausted themselves, trying to get them to participate. The whole team went back to the way they did things before.

Tags:

One Resume to Rule Them All

23 Sep 2020

Most people I meet on their path to getting the job they want in software show me a resume that looks like something they either haven’t touched since school or full of fancy design aspects and empty when it comes to content. I quickly explain the concept of the “Prototype” resume to put them in a position to customize resumes, apply to jobs quicker, and better prepare themselves to negotiate.

Tags:

Thinking About a Portfolio Site?

15 Sep 2020

I get asked pretty regularly by people about how to go about building a portfolio site. My controversial answer is, “Don’t.” What I want to talk about today is why I recommend limiting your time making a portfolio site and using that time on other things.

Tags:

I Never Said That!

09 Sep 2020

I was working with a group, and we were starting a new project. In this particular case, one group thought the project was for one set of users with a scope set. Another thought the goal was different, and yet another thought there was an other stakeholder.

Tags:

How I Stopped On Call Support

03 Sep 2020

For the first few jobs in my career, I lived with what many did, the dreaded on-call rotation. That is, for the uninitiated, when you do your typical workday, and then you remain available to handle support issues through the night. One particular job left me with several weeks of late-night calls, and I couldn’t stand it anymore. So here’s the story of how I stopped doing on-call support from then on.

Tags:

Practice Those Interviews

31 Aug 2020

I talked with a friend this week who was asking for some advice about if they should apply to some jobs they found recently. Before deciding now if they want the job, I suggested that they start with treating them as practice. We then talked about some things to consider practicing during interviews. Let me say a little about practice, and then I’ll give three examples.

Tags:

What’s My Value

28 Aug 2020

On Friday, I led two back-to-back workshops about building resumes that lead to getting interviews, nearly 100% of the time. One of the things I was most worried about teaching people was how to write their experience in a way that shows value.

Tags:

How I Cut Development Time to 1/3rd

27 Aug 2020

A familiar reprieve from many consultants, agilists, and others is, “There are no silver bullets.” I’m going to describe the closest thing I know of as one, and it is also the most controversial thing I bring to my clients.

Tags:

Dos and Don’ts for Decision Making

24 Aug 2020

A new project is about to begin, and various leaders are gathered in a room to make a few critical decisions. On the table today is the number of teams. A consultant provides several options. After listening, a leader asks about their current approach. The consultant asks, “How’s that working out for you currently?” The leaders pause and begin to talk about the problems before quickly suggesting that this time will be different.

Tags:

Can You Hard-Boil an Egg?

28 Jul 2020

My favorite chef, Jacques Pepin, says that he judges a chef by what he does with eggs. That eggs are so simple in concept, but require precision to get right. He goes further to talk about the importance of technique, and that learning to perfectly hard boil an egg is where some people should start.

Tags:

Running the Name Game

26 Jun 2020

The other day someone was asking for an activity to help experience what happens with smaller batch sizes. He might also have said limiting work-in-process, but I do have a small activity that I do to help people experience the impact of limiting how many things people take on at once.

Tags:

Taking a Stance

11 Jun 2020

I’ve found myself in the past 2-3 weeks, well, unlike myself. I realized that who I am now is a lot more like the person I used to be, and I have been thinking about how I’ll move past it.

Tags:

Building a Habit

26 May 2020

I’ll admit it, right now with COVID-19 still going strong, most of my routines and habits are in shambles. Before this time, I felt like a powerhouse of productivity. Now, though, it seems even the smallest things I was doing daily have slipped. So now it’s time for me to explain how I typically rebuild habits.

Tags:

Crystal Clear

24 May 2020

I have been giving a lot of thought on making the most of the distance I currently have from my clients and teams. One idea that always keeps coming back is around visibility and transparency.

Tags:

Habit: Checking-In

10 May 2020

The adjustment to everyone working remotely continues, and companies everywhere are experiencing a lot of hard decisions as their main lines of business are interrupted. My clients and others I know are reporting layoffs, furloughs, and other work interruptions. Ever wonder how companies decide who to lay off?

Tags:

Maximize Your Time With Pomodoro

02 May 2020

This week I wanted to write about a technique that I use pretty regularly. The Pomodoro Technique. While I suspect many of you are familiar with it, I want to go over the basics so that if you want to find a way to make the most of the time you have, you can get started.

Tags:

On the Front Lines

30 Apr 2020

When many companies want to bring about change they primarily train and inform people as to the new behaviors and expectations. What is often unattended is where the lines are where the change is the most disruptive and what needs to happen right on that line.

Tags:

Acing Remote Interviews

14 Apr 2020

There are lots of strategies you can employ when preparing for a job interview. There are a few more opportunities to pay attention to when you are interviewing remotely. So how can you set yourself up for even more success when you interview from afar?

Tags:

Some Work From Home Tips

10 Apr 2020

Well, one interesting thing that the COVID-19 virus is causing is that a lot of companies are encouraging people to work from home en masse. While many of us have worked remotely, the sudden surge of it as a focal point has led to a lot of advice circulating about how to do it well.

Tags:

Top Reasons to Try Pair-Programming

23 Mar 2020

I started pair-programming years ago, and it has become a huge part of how I code and work with others ever since. Yet, when I go to clients, the very thought of pair-programming or pairing up is met with lots of different objections. They range from things taking longer, or that it is a waste of a senior person’s time, to paying twice as much for half the work. Those are the objections, but what are my main reasons for advocating for it?

Tags:

Missing Skill: Facilitation

21 Mar 2020

It seems like there is always another meeting coming up for most of us. And if your experience is like mine and many others, that thought doesn’t bring a lot of joy. The fact is, most meetings are a boring chore that struggles to accomplish much.

Tags:

The Importance of Breaks

20 Mar 2020

So a lot of us are at home and adjusting while there is also much uncertainty in what the future holds. There’s a small idea that I want to offer as we get through these changes right now and in your career.

Tags:

How Long Should We Meet?

16 Mar 2020

There is always one meeting that your group has that never seems to go well. For a lot of groups their planning meetings fit this description. After so many poor planning meetings, the group decides they are taking too long, they try to shorten it instead.

Tags:

Habit: Asking For Help

07 Mar 2020

When I first became a Senior Engineer and was told that I was now expected to mentor my juniors I had no idea what to do. Soon my own panic was replaced by a greater one. None of my juniors were asking for anything and I had no idea what was happening.

Tags:

How I Conquered My Inbox

06 Mar 2020

If you’re like me, you have multiple email accounts, each of which is filling up with more and more emails. If you’re also like me, it feels like I can never quite keep on top of them.

Tags:

Hacking My Productivity

04 Mar 2020

I have a three-month-old and a four-year-old, and that means I don’t have a lot of time to myself after I come home from work. Most days I only get about two hours to myself, so I have a real need to stay focused and organized, or I’ll never make progress on my personal and business goals. I’ve tried lots of things over the years, but this is what I’m attempting now.

Tags:

Habit: Update your Resume

21 Feb 2020

Getting ready to change jobs takes a lot of effort and courage. After you’ve made up your mind, then comes all details of getting ready: Searching for jobs, asking friends, updating resumes, LinkedIn, and so on. But, there is a habit that if you start now and keep up with it will pay off in multiple ways.

Tags:

I’ll Never Be Good Enough

16 Feb 2020

Let’s talk about imposter syndrome for a minute. Almost every developer I’ve ever met has it at different moments in their career. That includes people that have been at this for years. If you feel like a fraud, you’re in good company.

Tags:

The Interviewing Cast

11 Feb 2020

So you’ve built your resume, put time into a portfolio, contributed to GitHub, and polished your LinkedIn. After you send in your application, who sees it, and what are they looking for?

Tags:

The Life-Changing Magic of Flat Code

31 Jan 2020

Here’s the situation, you come across some code and you have to start making sense of it. As you read the code you begin to build a mental model of how the pieces work, and then slowly but surely you get enough of it in your head that you see potential bugs or areas to improve.

Tags:

Choosing a Tech Stack

26 Nov 2019

Not too long ago, I was involved with a new team starting up. The team went through the training and sat at their desks, ready to work on their problem of replacing an existing system. They had a critical decision to make, what would their tech stack be?

Tags:

Can You Hear Me Now?

05 Sep 2019

Its all-to-often that during meetings, people make numerous decisions and aren’t communicated out. Maybe a new strategic direction was set for a few teams or its time to experiment with agility, we’re going to try OKRs, or a new set of people are being brought on. The decision could be anything, but I guess that one of those probably fits a simple set of criteria.

Tags:

It’s Always My Last Day

15 Jul 2019

This past Friday, I said goodbye to a Scrum Master. They were contracting at the same company I was and found a different opportunity. During one of our conversations, I asked, “So, did is there any transition?” Their response was a laughing, “No.” But what does a transition look like for someone that coaches teams?

Tags:

From Strategy to Story

01 Jul 2019

I often wind up with clients who are so fixated on keeping their teams working that they don’t have a clear strategy or vision that they can communicate. They lose themselves in the world of finding more work for the teams to consume. For the few that have a vision or a strategy, there is a considerable gap between that vision or strategy and the work that is happening.

Tags:

Exploiting Opportunity

24 Jun 2019

There are so many things that happen every day within a team and organization. Even companies that seem to move at a glacial pace have lots of moments that avail themselves to the opportunistic consultant seeking change.

Tags:

A Blind Retrospective

21 May 2019

No sprints, releases, recent significant events, or even a common thread of problems with a group I’ve never met is the backdrop for a recent retrospective that I facilitated. I refer to a scenario like this as facilitating a blind retrospective. Did I mention this was their first retrospective?

Tags:

3 Tips for Guerrilla Facilitation

26 Mar 2019

One of the most important skills for any organization to develop is meeting facilitation. Ever see an invitation pop up on your calendar without a clear statement as to what the meeting will be about? Ever walk into a meeting where discussions happen for an hour and the result is another meeting to try and understand more of what was talked about? What about a meeting where lots of small decisions were made, but the net result is everyone leaves with a different idea of what is going to happen?

Tags:

Bounded and Centered

18 Mar 2019

There is a tendency in me to look at things as right or wrong, black-and-white, or on-or-off. I know better than to think this way, but I find myself falling into this way of thinking with enough regularity that I thought I’d write about it.

Tags:

Invisible Member

15 Mar 2019

A new developer shows up to a team. They are eager to contribute and start writing code but have a lot of questions. Where is the source code? How do I set up my environment? How do I build the software? What is the development process here? Where do I look in the code to get an idea of where to start?

Tags:

LeanAgileUS 2019

27 Feb 2019

One year ago I attended my first conference as a speaker. That conference was LeanAgileUS 2018. The organizers invited me to return to speak once again. This is a story of my experience at a conference that holds a special place in my heart.

Tags:

What is the Project Timeline

18 Feb 2019

How many times have you heard the phrase “What is the project timeline?” If you were asked this phrase, what was your reaction? Were you waiting with bated breath to speak your thorough analysis and research into an airtight date with milestones? Were you filled with dread as you utter something that you knew was wrong?

Tags:

As an Introvert

26 Sep 2017

On Friday September 15th, I attended the first Agile Coaching Summit. I already told my wife, co-workers, and friends how exhausted I would be from that weekend. Many thought my exhaustion would stem from staying out late and doing lots of activities. I was exhausted because I am an introvert.

Tags:

My First Time

23 Aug 2017

In 2010 I spent 8 months in the worst job I ever had. For the last 5 or so of those months I was the company’s first an only Scrum Master. The individuals I worked with said that it was the best experience of their careers. This is a story of those 5 months.

Tags:

Thoughts on Agile Coaching

03 Aug 2017

There are incredible people in the world that have taken up the profession of agile coaching. There are others, like me, who are figuring out what to do with their passion. Others still, are trying to make a buck by riding a wave of the current trend.

Tags:

Fake Deadlines

22 May 2017

Last week, during stand up a manager that I’ve been working with said, out of the blue, that several work items now have a deadline of the next Wednesday. My ears perked up.

Tags:

Test or Die

28 Mar 2016

Testing software isn’t a new subject by any means, but that also doesn’t mean it’s well understood or easy to approach. If you’re starting a new project you have the benefit of only needing to test what you create, but if you have an established, legacy project you have the extra burden of trying to test the other interactions of code and system that already exist.

Tags:

A Model For High Performing Teams

10 Jan 2016

We all love throwing around, “High-Performing,” teams as something that you get when you transition to agile beliefs and practices. This high-performing team could be described many ways, and I’ll try to provide a way to think about the journey a team takes as they become high-performing.

Tags:

People and System Thinking

04 Nov 2015

I am a big believer in system thinking. This can be pretty simply defined as believing that people are doing the best that they can, and that the system they are required to operate in is what dictates the results. Another way of looking at it is realizing that if you put any person in the same situation in a given system, you will almost always get the same results.

Tags:

Features and Gambling

14 Sep 2015

Sometimes, I get a lot of pressure from clients to build more and more features. There are plenty of people who speak on the perils of, “The Feature Trap.” I wanted to try and work out my own way of explaining it, and thought I would share where I wound up after thinking about this for a 5 hour car ride home.

Tags:

The Hardest Question

13 Aug 2015

There is an endless number of questions that plague any group releasing a product, but there is one that, if ignored, will cripple any chance of success, and if answered, can yield phenomenal results.

Tags: