A Team in Ten Minutes

I don’t enjoy watching myself on screen.  I don’t even enjoy hearing my own voice.  I know I’m not alone – I think it’s fair to say tat the majority of people I’ve mentioned this to respond with an empathetic ‘Yeah, me too’.

But what a rich way to receive feedback!

Here’s the Re:Develop 2018 version of my ‘Team in Ten Minutes’ talk, then, where I discuss how organisations typically put teams together in response to crisis events.  How long should my list of feedback items be, do you reckon…

Steve Williams – A Team in Ten Minutes at re:develop 2018 from Base on Vimeo.


Top Ten Tips for Talkers

I saw this article from Nancy Duarte the other day and had a quick read – it’s only a few minutes long. It was well timed, I had a speaking slot at a conference coming up in a few days time and, like most folk, I’m not immune to performance nerves so was more than happy to pick up any tips that could be useful.

One of my own strategies for dealing with those nerves is to attempt to prepare for as many of the common gotchas as I can. I realise that there’s likely to be a surprise at every event and that I can’t simply magic them away through preparation – but what I find is that I can cope with the unexpected better when I’m confident that I have the basics covered.

I’ve ended up with a checklist of sorts.

I noticed that there are things on my checklist that I’ve not seen on others so I thought I’d publish it in the hope it could help someone else out. And so I can find it again:Read More »

Enshrined in a Sketchnote

It was both a privilege and a pleasure to talk at the small Re:Develop conference in Bournemouth on Friday – I had a great day, learnt a lot and met some new folk.  I spoke about aspects of lifeboat crew training that differ from the training we undertake typically in our day jobs, and how these differences could translate into the office to help us respond faster and more effectively when things go wrong.

But the high spot has to be being captured, with photo-like accuracy, in this sketchnote from @NatAlt.  See if you can spot me…



Checklists: The Definition of Done

There are 10 ways to get ‘Out’ in cricket:

  1. CaughtCricket
  2. Bowled
  3. Stumped
  4. Leg Before Wicket
  5. Run Out
  6. Hit Wicket
  7. Timed Out
  8. Hitting the Ball Twice
  9. Obstructing the Field
  10. Handling the Ball
  11. (and some would say Retired, but it’s not on the official list)

I just tried to remember that list from memory and I failed.  I got to seven, then managed to remember the one about hitting the ball twice, then resorted to Google.  Ah well, that’s not quite what I was going to talk about, but is an excuse to publish this picture of me and some lifeboat colleagues playing cricket last week.  We lost, but we had better shirts.Read More »

Checklists and Complexity: should they live together, or just be friends?

Core message ::  Even if you’re working in an inherently complex environment, checklists and templates can help.

Bikes and Traffic in Teipei fighting to 'make progress'

In the UK, Police motorcyclists, amongst the most highly trained and experienced road users, are taught to survive in the complex environment of busy roads, high speeds and often unpredictable behaviour by applying a defined process whenever a hazard is being approached.  A checklist if you like. You can read about it in ‘The Blue Book’ and ‘The System’ it describes is so widely used by trained motorcyclists that I guarantee you that either of those phrases will be immediately recognised in their company.Read More »

Old Skool

At Agile in the City, London, recently one of the keynote speakers, Kevlin Henney,  briefly touched upon his ‘history’ in the tech industry, recounting tales of technology of days gone by. I don’t think Kevlin’s as old as I am and so I, too, have memories to match and his talk caused me to take my own trip down memory lan, for that I am grateful.

So here are some things I remember from my first job, writing and testing software for a Telex exchange…Read More »

The Physical Dashboard

or ‘Looking, but not Seeing

The software engineers I’ve worked with over the years are generally really clever and very adept at getting their machines to do work for them. I suppose that’s almost a definition of the job, but what started back in the day as doing clever stuff with cron jobs has evolved into automated this and continuous that, with complex infrastructure supporting it all.  The automation shift has surpassed the simple thinking of ‘if you have to do it three times, then automate it’ and moved on to actually enabling things that were previously impossible to achieve.

Along with this awesome power to automate also comes the ability to report on that which is automated, resulting in flat screens hanging on walls scrolling through colourful charts, maps of hierarchical test results, deployment trends and so on.

It’s all great, but I think we’re in danger of losing something vital.Read More »