A call to action for software companies – talk to each other!

“At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly”

Agile Principles

So states the agile principle, but considering we’re all supposed to be finding new ways of improving, it sure is darn hard to talk to other teams about it.

Firstly, let me say networking events continue to be a fantastic source of knowledge transfer for our industry. In our region in Teesside for instance there’s Refresh Teesside and the Hainton meetups, but people tend to have their guard up at these events. The conversation leans towards the ‘this is what we’re doing right’ rather than ‘this is where we’re struggling’. I always find the latter conversation extracts more value, and I feel way more secure talking about this in my environment of work with the people and tools available.

I’ve been on a personal mission the last few years to try and invite developers from other companies to come on site to have a look around at our tools and processes, in exchange for an optional reciprocal tour. Both sides gain insights, understand where their strengths & weaknesses are and hopefully take something back into their retrospectives to make them more rounded teams. Reciprocation has been a challenge at best.

So taking a leaf out of the call centre handbook, I thought I’d share a script to counteract the most common reasons why companies are reluctant to share…

1. We’re too busy / don’t call us we’ll call you

Number one reason we get. I have a simple flowchart that helps in this situation:

Whilst it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, the situation always reminds me of the following ‘too busy to improve’ graphic that hangs pride of place in our physics office:

2. All my stuff is secret

OK, so let’s sign an NDA. And let’s not look at your super secret project. In fact, let’s not have a look at any projects at all. We’re really just interested in how we can be better developers and improve our delivery, and we’d love to help you out too if we can.

3. Are you scoping me / my team out for a job with you?

Nope. No strings attached, no hidden agenda, we just want to be better, and if we can we want to help you be better too.

4. Do you want a job here?

Probably not. I’ve knowingly arranged for my team to go to companies where they’re interested in hiring them, on the understanding that they’ll come back with some valuable insights on where we can improve our processes (I could probably do a whole other post on why it’s not a good thing if you’re a manager and this scares you!).

So please do seize these opportunities to improve (drop me a line on LinkedIn if you want to arrange a no-strings-attached meetup!) and ask this question of yourself : “Am I the hairy guy with the square wheels?”

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