Friday 9th February - Realising that the Struggle is Real


If you've followed the story of Maxine Chambers in the Unicorn Project, then you know it's not a simple "10x engineer saves the day" engineering tale of derring-do. It's a struggle; it's hard for Maxine. Her story starts with an effective demotion because she's taken the blame (or been pinned) for an outage. The rest of the book explores the toxic culture at the fictional company Parts Unlimited. We learn about the people, the places, the feelings and that elusive thing 'culture' that the various characters experience as they try to turn around another failing software project.

The Unicorn Project and the Phoenix Project before it are significant books because they don't just focus on the work that the characters are doing but also on their home lives and the impact that stressful software projects have not just on employees but also on their families.

The Unicorn Project probably had the most significant impact of all the books I've read in the last year or two. It made me say, " YES! FINALLY, SOMEONE HAS CALLED OUT TOXIC BEHAVIOUR!" Gene Kim has accurately described the struggle of being a dedicated developer working for a company that probably doesn't fully appreciate their dedication.

I've been so inspired that I'm now writing my own piece of fiction, which examines the strains and stresses placed on families and friendships by tough, demanding jobs in software engineering. If you want to find out more, you can go here. Let me know what you think of the idea!

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEKEND: I've been navigating the choppy waters of logging this week. What do you do when someone else thinks their logging is fine, and you think it sucks?

Have a great weekend,

-- Richard


Can Our Decisions Always Work Out for the Best?

Published on February 5, 2024

Do Decisions Always Work Out for the Best?Or “No Correct Solutions: How Engineering Actually Happens” I’m currently training for a marathon, so I’m out at stupid-o-clock in the morning to get in a training run before work. However, this gives me time to listen to some stunning podcasts. This morning, I listened to the CoRecursive podcast with Greg Wilson about his views… Read More »Can Our Decisions Always Work Out for the Best?

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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.

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