Adam Ralph

Software, tea, and snowboarding

NDC Diary - Pre-Conference Workshop Day 2

Yesterday I attended the NDC London ‘Continuous Delivery’ workshop with Jez Humble. Continuous delivery is a stated goal for my team so this workshop was an obvious choice for me.

To kick off, Jez asked us to write what we wanted to get from the day on post-it notes. My three notes were:

  1. How do I convince people that CD is a good idea and worth paying for?
  2. How do I introduce CD in an organisation that opposes it?
  3. How do I make the transition to CD with a project with a huge cycle time?

The first two questions are particularly relevant to my current job since these are real challenges we face. The last question was also applicable, even though our current cycle time isn’t huge. We want to shrink our 2 week cycle time down to days or even hours and I’m quite sure I’ll face projects with bigger cycle times in the future.

The Answers

After we all posted our questions on the whiteboard, Jez walked through them and gave a brief initial answer, indicating what he would expand on during they day. The summary answers to my questions were:

  1. Use evidence. There are several case studies and books available which make the benefits very clear. The case of HP’s firmware team is a perfect example and Jez went into great detail on this later in the day.
  2. Ultimately, by subversion. Jez quoted “Don’t fight stupid, make more awesome”. What this means is that if you do awesome things, ideally in collaboration with others in the organisation, other people will also want to do those awesome things. Bend the rules and ask for forgiveness, not permission. If you always ask for permission you will likely never get it. I can’t agree more with this answer. The team I work in have made huge strides in our practices in the last 2-3 years and it was almost all achieved by subversion. We didn’t break major rules, just minor ones bit by bit, getting the organisation to buy in gradually. We often talk with other teams who ask things like “How did you manage to get that signed off? We’re not allowed to do that!”. Correction: we weren’t allowed to do it until we tried doing it.
  3. Slowly. This can take years. In my experience, this is absolutely true. Whilst we are not yet at the stage of continuous delivery, it has taken us at least 3 years to move from releasing a handful of times in a year to releasing every two weeks. The battle continues…

Throughout the rest of the talk, Jez went into detail on many subjects and demonstrated how CD touches upon every aspect of software delivery. All the way from the golf course (big +1 for this - we talk about the effect of golf on software all the time in my team) all the way through planning, design, architecture, coding, refactoring, testing, deployment, release and more. In fact there is so much to cover that my criticism of the workshop is that it probably should have been expanded to two days. Jez clearly struggled to fit all of the content into one day and some parts seemed a bit rushed. This could also allow the introduction of a little more interactivity although with a subject like CD I’m not sure what form this interactivity might take. In a one day format I think the content needs some cutting and enough to also allow for some more interactivity.

I also recommend Jez’s Continuous Delivery book, which I am currently about half way through. The workshop was the perfect complement to the book to go into some more detail and it’s great to have the author standing in front of you to bounce questions off!

Today: Keynote with Dan North and more…

Names to faces checklist

@jezhumble @randompunter @jrusbatch @roysvork @stevensanderson @serialseb @darrel_miller @shiftkey @JakeGinnivan @Ben_Hall @chrissie1