Archive | October, 2016

Industry transferable skills and ideas, and what that could mean to a career

21 Oct


I touched on this in my last post, but really it deserves a separate post, and here it is, and that is Transferable skills.

Some transferable skills include:

  • problem solving
  • organising
  • working to deadlines
  • listening
  • management and leadership
  • negotiating
  • personal development
  • numeracy skills
  • motivating people
  • making decisions
  • research skills



Sometimes the breakthrough you are looking for exist in another industry, this can be ideas and even a business models.

When you know more about other things, you can connect them to ideas, and have your very own Eureka moment.

More than a decade ago, 3M developed a breakthrough concept for preventing infections associated with surgery after getting input from a theatrical-makeup specialist who was knowledgeable about preventing facial skin infections.

Introducing James Dyson


One of my favourite success stories is James Dyson, James was an engineer that was fixing a Hoover for his wife when he realised the problem with the hoover was something he had seen somewhere else. James said…

I started working on the vacuum cleaner in 1979. I’d purchased what claimed to be the most powerful vacuum cleaner. But it was essentially useless. Rather than sucking up the dirt, it pushed it around the room. I’d seen an industrial sawmill, which uses something called a cyclonic separator to remove dust from the air. I thought the same principle of separation might work on a vacuum cleaner. I rigged up a quick prototype, and it did.

Introducing Integration hell


The solution to Integration hell, where code might be integrated every couple of months was to integrate as much as possible on a daily basis.

Production line engineering ideas have been incorporated in software development continuous delivery and Continious deployment and LEAN builds

First, some history on LEAN builds

Stop the Line manufacturing is a technique introduced by Taiichi Ohno (of Toyota Production System fame)  in which every employee on the assembly line has a responsibility to push a big red button that stops everything whenever they notice a defect on the assembly line.

When this was first introduced people couldn’t wrap their heads around it; it was part of manufacturing dogma that the best thing you could do as a plant manager was to keep your assembly lines running full steam as many hours of the day as possible so that you’re maximizing throughput.

His idea, however, was that by fixing inefficiencies and problems as they occur what you’re doing instead of maximizing your existing process is actually proactively building a better one.

How does this relate to Continuous Integration?

Continuous integration is a technique that allows us to run the build process just like it was a continuously running assembly line; fresh code goes in one end and (after a series of assembly steps) a build that’s ready for a human to test comes out the other.

On its own CI is a big win for a software team over an old style “daily build”, but by adding the concept of Stop the Line manufacturing to our continuous integration process we can really take things to the next level.


Winter is coming, time to get LEAN

19 Oct


I have been doing a lot of reading recently for various interviews, its interesting how you can relate ideas from one industry to another.

You can tell a lot about people approach to how they go about their work, I saw a guy cutting a hedge last week, I could see how it was before, how he was going about the job, I thought that the job he was doing was brilliant.

Could this guy be a good software tester?

Painter painting a wall


In fact, I once met a guy that was painting an office, he asked a manager what people in the office were doing. The manager said

Manager: They are software testing

Painter: Can I have a go?

Manager: Sure

And that’s how he got started in software testing, and he was very good at software testing, he must have been good at painting too. If you were an office manager looking at paint on the floor, you wouldn’t let that guy near a computer!

Now, introducing LEAN, a method that came from Production line engineering

The story of things, get LEAN



Lean manufacturing or lean production, often simply “lean“, is a systematic method for the elimination of waste (“Muda”) within a manufacturing system.

Lean also takes into account waste created through overburden (“Muri”) and waste created through unevenness in work loads (“Mura”).

Principles include:

  1. Eliminate waste
  2. Build quality in
  3. Create knowledge
  4. Defer commitment
  5. Deliver fast
  6. Respect people
  7. Optimise the whole


1, Waste can be defined as:

  • unnecessary code or functionality
  • starting more than can be completed
  • delay in the software development process
  • unclear or constantly changing requirements
  • bureaucracy
  • slow or ineffective communication
  • partially done work
  • defects and quality issues
  • task switching


2,  Types of Quality to be built in


3,  Types of knowledge to be created

  • Documentation
  • Commented code
  • Version controlling
  • Building Automation scripts that other testers can used in other tests
  • Pair Programming
  • Code reviews
  • Knowledge sharing
  • User stories
  • Training


4, Defer commitment

Decide when you have learned as much as possible to make the best decision


5, Deliver fast

  • Keep it simple
  • Work as a team
  • Eliminate waste
  • Build quality in
  • Hire the right people and then get out of their way


6, Respect people

  • Communicate the Pros and Cons
  • Empower people and let them have their say


7, Optimise the whole

Its no good just optimise one part of the process, the whole process should be reviewed to ensure, what gets measured gets managed.

If each subsystem, regarded separately, is made to operate with maximum efficiency, the system as a whole will not operate with utmost efficiency. – General Systems Theory (Lars Skyttne)

Some food for thought…


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