Organisation and Culture

CultureSmithing with Casey Watts (Maintainable Podcast)

One of my favourite podcasts is Maintainable with Robby Russell.

I just caught up with this cracker with Casey Watts, it’s all about culture and how individuals can affect this in software engineering.

A few contentious points in there for me. For example, I would definitely advise against having two backlogs for technical and functional (product) purposes but agree that technical debt needs to be on a backlog somewhere.

Additionally, I’m not a fan of regular 1-2-1s between team members, I feel that it starts off well-intentioned but becomes a death march quite quickly i.e. both parties feel like it’s something they have to do rather than they enjoy doing. I am a big fan of ‘skip levels’ where you talk to your boss’s boss but believe these should be ad-hoc and genuine and again not enforced or ‘fireside chat’ like.

Anyway, plenty to think about and a great list of ideas for team members to build culture individually which Casey has kindly shared.

Some really good ones like:

  • “ask for forgiveness, not for permission”
  • “lunch at your desk” or “lunch with team”?
  • “no deploys on Fridays” (I love this one and it was an unspoken rule when I worked at Rabobank)
  • Some interesting ones are “be actively friendly”, “be welcoming to new people” and “make it easy for people to approach you” and I know a few people who might have a problem doing that!

It’s a very thought-provoking and interesting discussion.

I suggest you check out the podcast and the presentation for more tips on building a happy culture. I’m certainly interested to find out more about Casey and his work at Happy and Effective.



Related articles