The Human DevOps - 19th May 2024 - Leading from Behind

Software development is mentally and emotionally challenging work. Studies reveal that around 50% of developer time is spent on maintenance or wasted in workplace inefficiency. How can we, as individuals, enjoy our work and stay productive and healthy while positively influencing efficiency, quality and customer value?

This question has bothered me throughout my career, and I'm finally on a path to finding some practical answers.

As I delve into this topic, I'm struck by the profound influence of the average software development team's composition, dynamics, and motivations on our collective cognitive load. It's not just about inefficient organizational setups; it's also about the very nature of many of our ‘best practice’ tools and techniques that can limit our potential.

I'm inspired by a few texts and a few people here, not least:

  • Quiet by Susan Cain
  • Turn This Ship Around by David L. Marquet
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear

All of these books explore how we lead through inversion of control, using influence and importantly, reducing lofty goals into manageable steps. Leading as a manager sets up a lot of expectations. Leading from Behind is an effective and sustainable way of making sense of complex domains such as software engineering.

Have a great Sunday.

-- Richard

The Passive-Aggressive Pull Request

Published on May 18, 2024

Have you ever had an extreme reaction to someone leaving a comment on a Pull Request (PR)? Why was that? Was it something about your mood that day? Was it that you feel attacked and don’t like it? Is it the frustration with the speed of the PR process? Something else? PRs are divisive. They… Read More »The Passive-Aggressive Pull Request


Human DevOps

DevOps at is the heart of modern software systems. In my regular newsletter, I dive into the human factors that make successful engineering organizations where teams and platforms thrive at the heart of your socio-technical systems. From leadership to team setup, maximizing performance, tools and techniques.

Read more from Human DevOps

It has not by any means been a good summer in the Netherlands. It's been very wet and the last few days have also been extremely windy. At work, on the streets and on the roads, there is a tension. I try to take the time to go out for a lunchtime walk at least a couple of times a week and took this photo last week during a gap in the rain. The Middelpolder And we head towards the summer break, make sure to take some time to relax before you face the serious business of relaxation. I'm taking...

I lived in London in 1997 when the Tony Blair "New Labour" government swept into power. It was a time of great hope and audacity. It felt like "we" could do anything, but then I was 25 years old and living in London, and indeed, anything did, in fact, feel possible because I was at the dawn of my career without responsibilities or the weight of history behind my thoughts and actions. So perhaps older and wiser, we are here. The UK has been (according to some) bitten down by 14 years of Tory...

Do you always want more? More opportunities, more recognition for your work, more advancement? Sometimes, it's just knowing more, solving problems, and being right. What do we do to ourselves as software engineers and programmers that makes us want to do more all the time? We want to know more, write more, read more and perhaps even present more. I was interacting with someone on LinkedIn this Friday, and it made me reflect on what I am doing now compared to what I did a year ago. A year ago,...