Lean Agile Manchester

This month we welcomed Lean Agile Manchester to our support centre at One Angel Square for the first time. This meet-up ran by Ian Carroll brings together local Agile practitioners from around Manchester and the North West.

Picture of Lean Agile Manchester Meet up
Lean Agile Manchester

The evening started with Tom Loosemore, our Digital Services Director. Tom shared his experiences of introducing an Agile mindset and ways of working to more traditional organisations. It was a really insightful talk on some key learnings he’s made along the way.

Tom Loosemore presenting at Lean Agile Manchester
Tom Loosemore

The night was complimented by some great lightning talks. Gemma Cameron updated us on the upcoming tech events in Manchester.  Ruta Blazeviciute spoke about the importance of changing organisations from the inside. Kevin Rutherford shared with us why it’s critical to bring your developers along on any agile adoption journey.

I closed the night with a brief introduction to an estimating technique that Kevin had introduced to me a few years ago.  Rather than guess the estimate for the story, Kevin’s technique challenges the story to fit into the time and collect data that can be used to relatively size for future items. Keeping the stories small also ensures you’re not spending lots of time estimating work you may never do if priorities change. 

Picture of Anna Dick speaking at Lean Agile Manchester
Anna Dick

Thank you to all the speakers and to everyone who came along.

We’ll be hosting future Agile events in 2017, we’ll share them on Twitter nearer the time.

Anna Dick

Making design better by being open

TL;DR: GCHQ’s tech team published a paper on GitHub about their digital transformation. Lots of people should read it, so we’ve improved their design to make it clearer. GCHQ made things open, so we could make things better.

GHCQ’s activities are often highly contentious.

However few would argue that their technology capability is anything other than world-class, notwithstanding widespread concern as to how that capability is put to use.

Recently GCHQ’s technology leadership team published a paper entitled  “GCHQ: Boiling Frogs? Technology organisations need to change radically to survive increasing technical and business disruption

Example page from original design of GCHQ: Boiling Frogs
GCHQ’s Boiling Frogs paper

Anyone interested in digital transformation should sit down and read it.

It describes how GCHQ has embraced the culture, processes, practices and technologies of the internet era, optimising for agility.

It also explicitly encourages other UK organisations to adopt a similar approaches to their own digital transformation.

To give you a flavour, here’s the table of contents:

• Operating Model (including structure and interaction styles) • Organisational cultures • Use of accommodation • Approach to measurement • Skills management • Use of commercial suppliers • Leveraging Big Data • Approach to architecture • Use of processes and techniques • Approach to Security • Approach to HR

I only have two minor criticisms.

Firstly, the language could be clearer. Maybe the GCHQ team could ask someone who’s not a technology expert redraft a future edition?

Secondly, the paper’s amateurish design risks undermining the perceived importance of the content, and hence reduces its impact.

Fortunately, GCHQ made a point of publishing their paper via GitHub.com, the mother-lode of open source code and culture.

So, while we were loathe to edit the words, here at Co-op Digital we’ve been able to improve the document’s design.

We’ve also published our redesigned version on GitHub.  

Example page from new design of GCHQ: Boiling Frogs
Our redesigned version

Our redesign is not branded Co-op. The design is neutral. That should make it easier for anyone to share it. The words are the same, but it’s hopefully easier to read and less likely to be rejected as “a collection of clip-art and geeky blog posts” (not a quote from anyone at the Co-op, I hasten to add!)

We’ve used one of GitHub’s co-operation tools (aka a  ‘pull request’) to make it easy for GCHQ to incorporate our new design into a future edition, should they so wish.

Make things open. It lets us all make things better.

Tom Loosemore
Director of Digital Services