Marshmallows

So, we’ve all heard of The Marshmallow Test, right? This is where children are tested on their ability to resist one marshmallow on the promise of getting two marshmallows later (a level of self-control that even as an adult I find a challenge!).

But what about the Other Marshmallow Test?

This is a game I conceived to illustrate the benefits of limiting work in progress – given as a talk at Agile in the City.

Cracking the WIP – The Other Marshmallow Test

The initial premise is about efficiency – can we complete our work faster (or consume our marshmallows more quickly) when doing it one piece at a time, or by multi-tasking? In itself it’s an interesting question, and in the game the answer often depends on the individuals who have volunteered and how much they enjoy marshmallows. There is so much more to observe when you try this out though, such as the impact on stress levels, managing risk, delivering value etc. You can download the slides here to get the full story.

The best thing about the game is that it shows just how far the concept of limiting work in progress applies to any work environment – this is not just about software! Upon seeing the game played in a lightning talk, a member of our legal team considered whether this could help them deal with the barrage of requests they get from all directions. An invitation to visit his team swiftly followed.

Kanban in the Legal Team

We played the game, talked about flow, and then I left them with Kate Sullivan’s talk about agile adoption within the legal team at Lonely Planet. A couple of weeks later I strolled by to witness the joy of a stand-up around a kanban board.

We talked about the benefits they were experiencing, as well as some of the challenges remaining. They still have things to improve (we all should continuously improve, after all) but they were finding a lot of blockers removed simply by visualising and verbalising them together. You can read more about how they have decided to apply agile in a post written by John Halton (Assistant GC) for Practical Law.

Learning at FT

One of the things I love about working at the FT is seeing teams from across departments learn from each other. Just as our legal team have learnt about agile from technology; our product and tech teams have learned a lot about how to use KPIs from our commercial teams; our editorial teams think more about reader engagement with help from our analytics teams; and here in engineering we continually exchange new lessons with every department we work with.

Engine Room Live internal conference 2016

We did it again – and this time it was even better!

Pretty much immediately after our inaugural Engine Room Live event last year, it was decided that we needed to run another one this year. People loved it! And who were we to deny the people?

So, plans for our second one began. What was it that had made people love it so much? We needed to make sure we knew what that was, so that we could make it even better.

Throwable mics for the audience Continue reading “Engine Room Live internal conference 2016”

FT Technology Internal Conference: Engine Room 2015

The FT technology team held their inaugural (and pleasingly successful) internal conference at the start of February.   How we came to put the event together, and how it all went so right we will put (irritatingly smugly, I expect) in a later post.  First an account of the day itself, the benefits of holding such an event and some of the ‘takeaways’ we gleaned from it. We named the conference after this blog, calling it ‘Engine room 2015’ and we hoped it would be an opportunity for people to exchange ideas about how we work and what we work with/on.  The organisers sold it to the rest of the department as a chance to ‘lift your heads up from the coal face for a day and maybe even choose a better pickaxe’.

Continue reading “FT Technology Internal Conference: Engine Room 2015”