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Yesterday, Monday the 8th of March was International Women’s Day. It is a global day of celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD collectively belongs to all women everywhere. Although women have come a long way since, as professionals they continue to face biased expectations at work and at home.
For IWD, ABC news published a piece on How much ‘invisible work’ are you doing each week? Imagine if you were to outsource all the hours you spend working in the home. What is your time “off the clock” really worth? Fill out the short form and this article will show you how your contributions to the household compare to the Australian average and who is doing the most unpaid labour. It is another reminder that women who stay home to look after the family lose on superannuation contributions, or usually select to take a lower paid position that offers flexibility, and how both these things contribute to lower financial stability later in life for women.
McKinsey and Company’s 2020 report on Women in the Workplace covers how COVID-19 has disrupted the workplace in ways we’ve never seen before and its effects on women’s employment prospects. It highlights how companies need to address the challenges women face, and especially support Black women. It also offers solutions for companies to build a more equal workplace, to prevent millions of women from leaving their jobs. The report suggests six key areas companies should focus to make a change, for example: make work more sustainable, reset norms around flexibility, reconsider performance reviews, take steps to minimise gender bias, adjust policies to better support women, and strengthen employee communication. More locally, the excellent Project F tweeted their three preferred actions under the hashtag: #ChooseToChallenge: https://twitter.com/ProjectF_au/status/1368752381148557313?s=20, which in short are: train your managers to manage people based on outcomes, introduce pay transparency, and take responsibility for creating a safe environment.
There is a lot of work to do before we can be satisfied with the beginnings of gender parity in our industry, but with the rapid changes in economics, politics, environment and digital space, there are many opportunities for women to excel their careers in STEM and we are seeing more global companies embracing women in technology.
We mentioned GirlGeekAcademy in last month’s newsletter whose mission is to teach one million women technology skills by 2025. The five female founders ran the first #SheHacks for International Women’s Day in 2014 and have now taught over 1,000 teachers to code, inspired 12,000 kids to learn STEM, and sold 32,000 books in Australia. Our own Sarah (who leads sales and marketing) has been inspired to start her own geek journey by learning how to code in her spare time. Yippee!
Be sure to put your purple on this week to show your support for women around the world and for those close to your heart 💜.
Mark this in your diary folks, our Building Empathy in Remote Teams workshop will be on the 20th-22nd of April 2021.
This workshop is designed to help individuals and organisations promote personal development, inclusion, and emotional intelligence, within a remote and distributed work context. It teaches strategies to address issues that prohibit team productivity, and enables you to foster a diverse and inclusive company culture. Moreover, it prepares you for a post-pandemic future, where work is mostly done remotely, where trust, autonomy, and communication are more important than ever, and where working smarter (not longer) should become the new norm.
We are reserving two spots in each workshop for people from under-represented minorities in the technology industry who could not otherwise afford it, because we believe human diversity improves both the software and cultures we create and the community in which we work. Email us for a spot.
Lauren Capelin, Principal at Startmate, released their recent results against their diversity indicators. We always love to see companies and organisations do this, particularly in the world of startups where such things have often been considered not important until later: https://medium.com/startmate/summer21-diversity-indicators-how-did-we-go-7016270baf37
Related, we’ve been spending some quality time with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s Data Explorer: https://data.wgea.gov.au/ You can view the data by industries or by organisations. The WGEA data comes from the reporting of Australian companies with 100 or more employees as required by the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.
Sarah wrote a blog post why belonging is crucial in team culture and organisational performance. What does it mean to belong to a group, a team, or an organisation? Belonging is a sense of fitting in or feeling like you are an important member of a group.
Lastly, our book club started a new book this week: The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo. Learn more at https://github.com/Blackmill/book-club/issues/106. Join us next week?
This month we are super excited to have our friend Patrick Wiseman talk to us about his company Spaceship, continuous delivery, Cunningham’s law, and woodwork. A delightful and engaging cuppa with Mr Wiseman for sure. Thank you, Patrick!
1. What do you do at Spaceship and how long have you been there?
I am the co-founder and CEO at Spaceship. Tim Dorr and I formed Spaceship last year to democratize access to the way that the fastest-growing companies ship software. Spaceship takes the guesswork out of adopting Continuous Delivery through a powerful, reliable, and easy-to-use process.
We’re still a very small team, so I do a bit of everything — general business operations, customer discovery, customer support, customer onboarding, finance, team management, and product development. My typical day involves helping develop the platform in the morning and doing an amalgamation of everything else the business needs in the afternoon.
2. What’s your background? What were you doing before joining Spaceship?
My background is largely in product development, building technical teams, and running businesses. I helped build the technical teams and delivery processes at SalesLoft and Calendly — two Atlanta-based unicorns.
The process that those companies used to continue building so quickly is fundamentally the process that we are building into the Spaceship platform. The focus was always on team collaboration, high-fidelity feedback earlier in the process, and shipping every day.
After Calendly, I ran a consultancy called Deft Services that advised Fortune 500 companies on software delivery and product development.
3. What do you like about Spaceship?
Spaceship feels like the culmination of a decades worth of working with highly productive software teams. It feels like a huge win every time I speak with a customer who is simply delighted by how much easier Spaceship makes it to get their software off the ground.
This is my first time at the helm of a product-led company, and having an opportunity to more perfectly align our success with our customers’ success feels infinitely better than my time running consultancies. There is a very virtuous feedback cycle when you are building things people want and need, and it’s been incredible to be a part of that with Spaceship.
4. What are you passionate about?
It is my personal mission to improve the quality of software across the internet. Everyone has some software that they have to use everyday that they low-key hate. Good software is honestly still pretty hard to build.
I believe the practice of Continuous Delivery helps folks build higher quality software. However, adoption of Continuous Delivery is currently low because it helps in non-obvious ways. A lot of the focus on building better software has been on planning, developer productivity, and better testing. The problem though, is that most of these efforts focus on building the best stable version of an idea that might be fundamentally wrong. Everything you decide to build is at the cost of not building something else. Continuous Delivery as a practice is essentially a demand for a better product process — build the smallest version of this and see if it actually matters.
A Continuous Delivery practice operating at its highest level is an implementation of Cunningham’s law, or the idea that “the best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.” This means that the quality of feedback you will get from shipping bad software is often more valuable than what you’ll get from shipping good software. Users don’t write in to tell you that you did it right; they will write you to complain.
From my experience, we did not build perfect features at SalesLoft or Calendly. Instead, we shipped minimum viable, or sometimes less than viable, features. Often users would tell us they sucked, but they would tell us exactly how and why they sucked. In turn, that feedback helped us build the right version of that feature much, much faster and more easily.
5. What is your advice to others who want to embrace Continuous Delivery and make that shift you described?
Getting comfortable shipping less and less complete implementations takes practice, but it is worth the reward. The alternative is spending a lot of time, energy, and budget bikeshedding hypotheticals about the best version of the feature. With all your eggs in one basket, you have to hope that the first version shipped is the right version – because when you inevitably spend all of your resources up front, you won’t have any remaining to ship the next version once you get feedback. That is the actual crucible through which almost all bad software is made.
As builders, we often believe the worst version of software is the version that people hate. But in actuality the worst version of software is the version that people are indifferent about. If they hate it, then you have very actionable feedback on what to do next. If they don’t care about it, then you’re completely off the mark. Building the perfect version of something that no one wants is psychologically safe, but bad for your long-term success.
Companies should focus on stability and quality tools that empower high-output teams where everyone ships software every day. There should be quality checks that keep developers from hurting the productivity of other developers. But there needs to be a balance. Most teams are over-invested on quality in new development and under-invested in quality on proven, valuable, stable features. A more sophisticated delivery process can differentiate between the quality checks and delivery process for an early-access program feature vs. the quality checks and delivery process for a stable feature. Almost no one but the largest, fastest-moving companies do this today.
6. What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Any hobbies?
Outside of work I channel my inner perfectionist and joy of over-engineering at woodworking. I have built a lot of my own furniture, including shelving, drawers, a monitor stand, a bathtub tray, and other knick knacks around my home. One of my other side projects at the moment is open sourcing all of my woodworking plans and getting them up online on a new personal website (which is also being over-engineered and thus is not online yet). More leisurely, I spend time playing pinochle, bridge, and fortnight with my partner Laura and am looking forward to the pool season starting again this summer.
7. What is some of the best advice you’ve received?
Cunningham’s law: “The best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.” This comes up a lot when trying to make decisions where the cost of mistakes are not very high.
Thank you for showing an interest to our newsletter and we hope that you enjoyed the read. Feel free to contact us if you have any feedback, a burning question or just a recipe that you would like to share 😊.
Until next time, keep learning!
Everyone at Blackmill