Author Archives: Tom Howlett

Could we really be so wrong?

I see us frustrated when we aren’t given the time to do the right thing. Hierarchy leaves us vulnerable to pressure. Encouraged to take short-cuts, we’re nervous and tense. Those unwilling to cave to the pressure learn their craft. Creating code that’s solid, elegant, creative, not reactive. Fulfilling for the craftsman, but the result is […]

Why Go?

Why did I stay so long? – 13 years. Because I loved working with that team. It was a rare thing – A real team who each day learn’t from each other, continuously supporting one another. But there was something I couldn’t change – We grew into each other and lost touch with the outside. […]

What do I need?

My last few months of working with a larger, more traditional organisation has lead me to conclude that the roles and processes involved in traditional project management only serve to get in the way of creating something meaningful. I’m sure I could deliver so much more for them, with less risk, without the big plan, […]

Tipping Point

On the left meet Power – fighting to get to the top, competitive, hierarchical, insecure, invulnerable, defensive, threatened, fearful, closed, siloed, suspicious, conservative. To the right is Learning – creative, collaborative, open, vulnerable, trusting, questioning, listening, risk taking, growing, continually improving. Where do you sit on this scale? Where would you like to be on […]

The disease that afflicts us

Today I ran a brown bag in a large enterprise and told the story of our company discovering agility. To those who stared blankly at me while I evangelised about how different thing can be – what was going through your mind? I’ve been lucky, in our small company change came easily, but now I understand […]

A creative system of work

It’s been more than 10 years since I last worked with him. He’s a lovely guy, full of humility and kindness. It was a pleasant surprise to work with him again. Thankfully, in that 10 years, the way I work bares no resemblance to the way we used to, but to my horror, for him, […]

The day I met a customer

Like many developers, I’ve been protected from apparently difficult customers by my managers and left to get on with the important job of “writing code”. But this week I left our office and headed out to a technology park to work directly with one of our customers, and after a couple of days of understanding […]

Quality Pays

Finally, I’ve started reading Deming It took me too long to discover that I deliver more value, not by coding faster, but by focusing on quality. As a young programmer being assigned tasks as an individual I felt pressure to code fast. Just getting something working was an achievement. Untested the work would keep coming […]

A Return To Scrum

After five years of Scrum, we decided to break free of it’s shackles. Abandoning fixed length sprints, work-life became one long un-estimated party. Diverse collaborations throughout the organisation enabled us to take on new challenges. The backlog was full of surprises: I had little idea where half the stories came from. For a while I […]

My 2013

What did I do with myself? I wrote a book, the Programmers Guide To People, self-published and retired it because it’s soon to be republished by Dymaxicon. I published 36 blog posts exploring the fear and courage of programmers. I setup and ran 11 Cheltenham Geek Nights, we now have 200 members, had some amazing […]