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Jag Reehals thinking on things, mostly product development

Posts about “agile”

Empowering Engineers: How Cambridge University Press Adopted a Shift Left Culture

08 Mar 2023

Companies must be agile and respond quickly to changing customer needs in today's fast-paced and constantly evolving technology landscape. That's why DevOps practices that emphasise collaboration and communication between development and operations teams to deliver software rapidly, reliably, and at scale have become increasingly popular.

Shifting left, a core principle of DevOps can significantly benefit companies of all sizes. By empowering engineers to take on more operations responsibilities and promoting a culture of experimentation and innovation, companies can improve collaboration, increase reliability, and deliver high-quality software at scale.

In this post, I'll discuss how and why Cambridge University Press adopted a shift left culture.

one way sign pointing left

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Data-Driven vs Assumptions : Why Engineers Should Take a Doctor's Approach

10 Feb 2023

Engineers are responsible for designing and building complex systems that are expected to perform optimally under different conditions. However, without a deep understanding of how these systems behave, they risk making assumptions that can result in inefficiencies or even system failures.

In this post, we'll discuss why understanding a system like a doctor helping a patient is essential for engineers and by taking a proactive and data-driven approach, engineers can ensure that their systems are performing optimally and can make informed decisions that result in improved performance and reliability.

doctor talking to patient

Photo by Zach Vessels
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Teams should communicate like a team fielding in cricket

08 Nov 2022

When working with clients, how teams communicate tells me more about the culture than anything else.

Successful teams should communicate like a team fielding in a game of cricket who work together towards the same goal giving each other support and encouragement.

By sharing information about the batters, pitch, conditions and strategy, a feilding team agree on a plan on how to bowl and position themselves.

Teams playing cricket

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Facilitation is an art

15 Jun 2022

A good facilitator seamlessly keeps the flow of conversations fluent and relevant, encouraging people to engage and have equal participation while remaining impartial and patient.

It's a role similar to a conductor orchestrating a choir.

conductor orchestrating a choir

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Why great products need strong foundations

12 May 2021

You've probably heard someone quote Norm Kerths' Prime Directive during a retrospective

Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.

In my experience, engineering teams doing their best at that time inevitably end up having to shoehorn features as requirements change or new information becomes available.

In this post, I'll discuss why great products need strong foundations.

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Getting people to believe in your vision

14 Dec 2020

It can be a struggle, endlessly trying to convince your organisation to believe in your ideas and vision.

person holding a lightbulb

In this post, I'll share how I managed to do this.

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How agile helped Cambridge Assessment to scale

07 Dec 2020

In 2008 the media were reporting on mistakes and delays in marking examination scripts. To ensure they never made the front page of newspapers for the wrong reasons, Cambridge Assessment decided to rethink how they electronically marked examination scripts for millions of students worldwide.

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Creating a product culture at Cambridge University Press

01 Dec 2020

In 2015 I was hired by Cambridge University Press to develop a web application providing digital access to over 35,000 books and 1.5 million journal articles, consolidating several smaller sites. The application would go onto have over 2 million users a day and generate £65 million in revenue per year.

It was a fantastic technical learning opportunity, but it was our culture and approach to product development that would teach me the most important lesson of all.

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