The unrelated photo is of excavators adding drainage to our home on Salt Spring Island.

These suggestions seem obvious to me, but when I pitch them to teams, I often encounter a surprising amount of resistance. Part of this is probably due to the way that I pitch them - I am not a political genius; part of it is probably due to something that makes these suggestions non-intuitive or psychologically challenging to implement; part of it also might be that I am wrong, and that these aren't good practices after all. Dunno. In any case, here are a few handfuls of them:

  • If you disagree with something, write a memo and let it go. The writing of the memo is as important as letting go is. Both are hard disciplines.
  • Continuous Integration. The longer code diverges the harder (more expensive) it will be to merge it. Converge daily.
  • Automated and opinionated code formatting. Stop debating the style. Your company is not in the business of writing a style guide.
  • Canonical/conventional approaches. Given two or more viable approaches to something, choose the one that is industry standard. It is easier to on-board new developers, the documentation is already available online, and there are fewer unknown risks.
  • Ship something, anything. Before we ship it is easy to fool ourselves into thinking we have a product. Keep yourself honest. Ship it.
  • You are not going to need it (YANGNI). Do not build it until you are quite sure that you will need it - the least expensive software is the software you do not write. A related point is that the best designs are extracted not envisioned.
  • Red/Green/Refactor/Repeat. Since learning this approach to test driven development, my code quality and velocity has improved massively. The best way to learn this is to practice it.
  • Give high level requirements and then let go. As a supervisor/manager, it is too hard to be an expert on your developers' work. Give them high level requirements and trust their decisions.
  • Keep "issue management" process to a minimum. Very little has slowed me down as a developer more that updating JIRA or Pivotal Tracker has. If you need to explain a process more than once, you probably need to simplify it.
  • Keep documentation to a minimum. As usual the agile manifesto (and most open-source code bases) have it right here. Document weird stuff but not all your motivation and rationale.
  • Make stand-up on time and focused. Same time every day. If someone misses it, that's fine. Answer three things: yesterday, today, obstacles. Save chit-chat for the water cooler.

Writing down this list makes it easier for me to relax when a team decides on a different path.