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Dominica DeGrandis on Her Book Making Work Visible

| Podcast with Dominica DeGrandis Follow 1 Followers by Shane Hastie Follow 18 Followers on May 21, 2018 |

In this podcast Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Dominica DeGrandis about time thieves, making work visible, the important themes from the DevOps Enterprise Summit and ways to be more productive.

Key Takeaways

  • If we can understand the thieves of time better we can get some time back from our overburdened work-life
  • Having too much work in progress is the mother of all the other thieves of time
  • Much of our work is based on arbitrary rather than real due dates
  • Most daily stand up events take too long because of the focus on status - Instead of talking about what people are doing rather talk about what’s blocking them
  • Different type of works needs different time focus – managers vs makers
  • The value of having a regular cadence for meetings and for “Do Not Disturb” time
  • The danger, and harm, that comes about from believing there are “best” practices which can be applied in complex or complicated domains
  • 0:20 Introductions
  • 0:32 Her new book - Making Work Visible: Exposing Time Theft to Optimize Work & Flow
  • 0:38 If we can understand the thieves of time better we can get some time back from our overburdened work-life
  • 0:48 The five thieves of time are:
    • Too much work in progress
    • Conflicting priorities
    • Unplanned work
    • Unknown dependencies
    • Neglected work
  • 1:32 There are exercises in the book based on workshops Dominica teaches
  • 2:30 One important theme of the DevOps Enterprise Summit was the business case for DevOps
  • 2:52 There are a number of organisations who are sharing their ongoing experiences with adopting DevOps at the conference
  • 3:16 A talk about the Balanced Calendar – the seemingly small things which end up eating into our day and taking our focus away from doing the important work
  • 3:40 Using Lean Coffee and Open Space to bring attendees together to have dialog on topics which are of interest to them
  • 4:50 The range of books being published by IT Revolution in the DevOps space
  • 5:12 Thief Too Much WIP – when you have more demand than you have capacity to handle 
  • 5:38 Helping people understand the importance of saying No without fear
  • 6:03 What happens when we have too much WIP and can’t say no
  • 6:24 The impact of behaviours like triple-booked meetings on our calendars
  • 7:15 Knowledge work is perishable   
  • 8:10 An example of the disfunctions that required due dates produce
  • 9:58 The problem with date-driven work
  • 10:15 We need to have explicit prioritization policies
  • 10:34 Not everything has to have a fixed due-date – identifying a date range allows the person doing the work to manage their own time based around the requests they receive
  • 10:48 Much of our work is based on arbitrary rather than real due dates
  • 11:20 Quoting John Tukey – it is better to be approximately right rather than exactly wrong
  • 11:51 The neglected work thief – set expectations clearly about the nature of a piece of work and why it is worth doing
  • 12:48 The way extra work gets inserted into big projects because that’s the only way to get something funded
  • 13:20 The way most Stand Up events are run that is counter to the intent
  • 13:46 Instead of talking about what people are doing rather talk about what’s blocking them
  • 14:14 Much of the time on stand ups could be saved just by making your work visible
  • 14:35 Expose where work is stuck, how long it’s been waiting, how long are the queues, where are the bottlenecks in the system 
  • 15:18 The Paul Graham article about the difference between “maker schedules” and “manager schedules”
  • 15:38 The manager schedule works in roughly one-hour blocks, the maker schedule needs half-day blocks to be able to get to the level of concentrated thought needed to be productive
  • 16:14 Each schedule works well for the different type of work; the problem is when they collide
  • 16:25 Because managers can dictate other peoples’ schedules they tend to work to their own type of schedule without realising the disruption this causes for the makers
  • 16:55 Dominica’s talk on different calendar types and how to accommodate each other
  • 17:45 The impact on people’s lives of the calendar imbalance, particularly on the makers who end up doing their best work out of hours and risk burnout
  • 18:20 The value of regular cadence for meetings and “Do Not Disturb” time
  • 18:42 Socialise your “Do Not Disturb” time so others know when it is
  • 19:18 The story of the HP Coffee Cart being replaced with self-service and the natural flow of collaborative ideas which happened around the coffee cart disappeared
  • 20:35 In the book Dominica mentions a number of “Beastly” practices – things that she sees organisations doing wrong
  • 20:44 The danger, and harm, that comes about from believing there are “best” practices which can be applied in complex or complicated domains
  • 21:14 There are multiple good ways to address complicated and complex problems
  • 21:40 Individually named swim lanes on a Kanban board are a bad practice – the focus should be on the work, not the person
  • 22:23 Another beastly practice: measuring lead time and excluding weekends
  • 22:38 All metrics are based on assumptions – to question a metric, challenge the assumption
  • 23:14 Ways the metrics get gamed
  • 24:08 To immediately get more productive try some Interruption busters.
  • 24:10 Interruption buster: Pomodoros - fixed time blocks of 30 mins to help focus on only one thing
  • 25:10 In the office – put some kind of visual indicator on display so people you are in a non-interruptible state
  • 25:30 Make sure to also make it visible when you can be interrupted as well

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