‘Development’ Category Archives

26
Apr

Modern Leadership & Team Science: Creating Space to Be Awesome at QCon São Paulo

by Meri in Career, Conferences, Development, Diversity, Leadership, Management, Presentations

Friends, thank you for putting up with my poor microphone handling skills and laughing at my daft jokes. You were a lovely welcoming audience today at QCon São Paulo. Slides and links to books and tools mentioned are here.

Books & Tools Mentioned in This Talk

If you’re new to coaching, you might also enjoy the talk I did on stealing coaching lessons from sports at Dare Conf Mini a couple of years back: video and slides.

21
Apr

Modern Management: Creating Space to Be Awesome

by Meri in Conferences, Development, Diversity, Leadership, Management, Presentations, Project Management

Really enjoyed keynoting at Ground Control today. As promised, slides & links 🙂

Books & Tools Mentioned in This Talk

If you’re new to coaching, you might also enjoy the talk I did on stealing coaching lessons from sports at Dare Conf Mini a couple of years back: video and slides.

13
Feb

Awesome People Management with Agile – at Agile North East

by Meri in Development, Leadership, Management, Personal Development, Presentations

Thanks for welcoming me to speak at Agile North East tonight — it’s always nice to be back in my adoptive hometown and the conversation tonight was especially fab.

Books & Tools Mentioned in This Talk

If you’re new to coaching, you might also enjoy the talk I did on stealing coaching lessons from sports at Dare Conf Mini a couple of years back: video and slides.

8
Dec

My Unicode & URLEncoding Hell

by Meri in Development

Struggling with a particularly nasty set of unicode & URL encoding bugs a couple of weeks back, I was reminded just how much I hate dealing with unicode and encodings.

Gave me an opportunity to brush up though, and to find a bunch of good resources I hadn’t seen before including:

And also to revisit some golden oldies & useful references:

Mostly posting as a reference for myself 😉

10
Oct

Baking In Accessibility — Fronteers 2014

by Meri in Conferences, Development, Diversity, Presentations, Web Design & Development

Thank you so much to the Fronteers Conf 2014 crew for inviting me to Amsterdam to speak about hacking people & process to make accessibility and other good practice intrinsic in how we work.

Books Mentioned in This Talk

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20
Jan

Stealing from Sports: Really Useful Coaching #DareConf Mini

by Meri in Conferences, Development, Management, Personal Development, Presentations

Really enjoying Dare Mini — here are my slides from my talk on coaching earlier today. Thanks for all the great feedback so far!

The Dare Mini folks have posted the videos — you can view mine here and all the others here (please consider donating if you benefit from them).

17
Nov

Rejecting the Soft Skills Fairy

by Meri in Conferences, Development, Personal Development, Productivity

A couple of months later, the Dare Conference still swirls into my head at least once per day. Great experiences are like that — they don’t just affect you on the particular day, but for months and years afterwards. Kathy Sierra recently wrote a brilliant piece about how great talks are a user experience (and so the speaker is really just the UI).

Dare Conf was one hell of a user experience.

I still can’t really articulate everything I learnt. Everything I heard. Everything we experienced as a group. Dare felt like early SxSWi. Like you were connecting with people who just got it. Who were simultaneously so different and so like you. Who were taking the time to learn some pretty hard shit, together as colleagues rather than as combatants. Who were deliberately opening themselves up to the scary change, the frightening ideas, the things that might just change the world.

[I appreciate that if you went to much more recent SxSWi you are probably wondering what I’m smoking: read this excellent post by Anil Dash on the web we lost.]

I know I’m doing things differently. Whether it’s realising when my amygdala is hijacking me, remembering to “get in the car” as my friend Neil exhorted, or using Dave Gray’s culture map to illustrate to an organisation why the delta between what they SAY they believe in and what they ACTUALLY believe in is hurting them.

The thing I most want to share with you today about Dare though, is one of the slides from Karen McGrane‘s excellent opening keynote:

Karen was highlighting that in our industry we have (and highly prize) technical skills, but to be really effective we need the others too — we need to be able to work with others (External skills, as she puts it), and we have to have to be able to work with ourselves (Internal skills).

I’ve been managing people for a number of years now. I repeatedly see this play out: someone who is technically brilliant slowly becomes incredibly frustrated that they don’t have the impact they want to have. If they’re lucky, someone helps them to realise that they need to not only be clever and technically brilliant, but they also need to have the soft skills (External) to get other people involved and they need the self-compassion (Internal) to manage their internal frustration at this not being as easy as the stuff they’re already good at.

The only difference between those who managed to develop those skills and those who don’t? Belief in the Soft Skills Fairy.

The Soft Skills Fairy has a wand, and if you were touched with it at birth then you have soft skills. If you weren’t you don’t and can never develop them.

Sounds silly, right? Seriously though, people seem to believe this. The people who believe that anyone can be taught to code, that design skills can be learnt, honed, developed, these same people believe in the Soft Skills fucking Fairy.

The truth is much harder to face: everyone can develop these skills. But it is hard, it takes work, and no one has a magic wand to wave over you to make it happen overnight.

Do yourself a favour: reject the Soft Skills Fairy. Invest in yourself. Make time for learning some of those soft skills in between the technical skills; they are both essential to being awesome at your job. Find people who are good at this stuff and ask them how they learned. Find ways to practise, outside and inside of work. Find people who will tell you the truth about whether you’re getting better and then ask them.

It’ll be hard. It’ll be worth it.

If you want a ready-made safe environment to learn some of these things, come to Dare Conf Mini in January in London. There’s still a £100 discount if you grab an early bird ticket by Monday 18 November. [UPDATE: You can now get a significant discount by using code MERI at checkout too — thanks to the organisers!]

As you’ll see from the line-up, I’m speaking (and running a full day workshop on Practical People Skills) but honestly, I’m hugely excited about what I’ll learn from the other folks speaking and attending. I imagine Dare Mini is going to be another incredible experience and I’ll walk away doing things differently. Better. And I’ll continue to utterly reject the goddamn Soft Skills Fairy.

16
May

DevOps in the Wild

by Meri in Development, Operations, Presentations

I spoke today at the Eduserv Symposium 2013, giving an overview of DevOps to the largely public sector audience. I’ve uploaded my slide deck to Slideshare: DevOps in the Wild and they’re also embedded below.

The further reading links I suggested are:

The original DevOpsGuys post about anti-patterns:
http://blog.devopsguys.com/2013/02/20/twelve-devops-anti-patterns/

Niek Bartholomeus’ excellent presentation about introducing devops to a more traditional environment:
https://speakerdeck.com/niekbartho/devops-for-dinosaurs

The DevOps section of GDS’ Digital Service Manual:
https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/operations/devops.html

Anna Kennedy put together a brilliant list of resources after DevOpsDays:
http://annaken.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/devops-community-resources.html

DevOps Weekly newsletter: http://devopsweekly.com/

You might also be interested in Gene Kim’s The Phoenix Project, a novel about DevOps.

UPDATE: Thanks to Matthew Jones for reminding me that I mentioned DevOpsDays in my talk but forgot to include the link to them: http://devopsdays.org/events/