Communitea with Dave Farley

In this series we’re bringing a stream of leaders across the word of tech and digital together to discuss a number of thought provoking topics, giving you insights from those pushing the boundaries and driving innovation and change.

Today I’m delighted to be joined by Dave Farley, pioneer of Continuous Delivery, thought-leader and expert practitioner in CD, DevOps, TDD and software development in general.

We’re going to explore some of the biggest challenges leaders face and find out how you can drive business or customer value and what makes a successful team today.

So lets begin!

Dave, welcome! Tell us a bit about yourself?   

I am Dave Farley. I am an author, software developer, consultant and speaker.

I work as an independent Software Engineering Consultant, advising organisations and speaking at conferences and other events all around the world. I am one of the authors of the Continuous Delivery book and the Reactive Manifesto. My consultancy practice is mostly organised around those approaches.

Previously I was the Head of Engineering for one of the world’s highest performing financial exchanges, employing advanced Continuous Delivery techniques in a technically demanding, regulated industry.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I started my own business a little over 5 years ago. My work is pretty varied. I am currently working on developing a YouTube Channel (https://bit.ly/CDonYT) to discuss ideas about Continuous Delivery and Software Engineering and I’m developing a series of video-based training courses to help people to create “Better Software Faster”. I am consulting regularly, albeit remotely, and am writing a book on Software Engineering. I also have a couple of side-projects so write code every week, if not most days.

How are you driving business or customer value through technology or the cloud?

My business is really about education, rather than (sw) product delivery these days. Though the build of my career has been spent creating complex software systems.

My “thing” is an engineering centred approach to software development. Continuous Delivery is currently “state-of-the-art” in Software development process. It helps the biggest, most successful SW companies in the world to deliver great products, quickly and efficiently with VERY high quality. I help my clients to achieve similar results.

What are the biggest challenges as a leader you face today?

I believe that we, the software industry, have found the answer with how to build high-quality software effectively and efficiently. We now know, and have evidence for, what works. The problem is getting people to understand it and adopt it. One of the things that I have learned, being involved at the birth of several now widely adopted ideas, is that “semantic diffusion” is an incredibly powerful thing. Nearly everyone misunderstands popular ideas, often missing some of the most valuable aspects of those ideas.

I see my job as an educator and coach to help people have a better framework to process and adopt ideas that matter, and also a framework to help them to discard ideas that don’t matter.

What does a successful team look like?

A successful team is small, autonomous, has all of the skills that it needs to make its own decisions without referring to anyone outside the team for help (during the majority of their work). They can produce a “releasable outcome” multiple times-per-day and spend 44% more time on new work than lower-performing teams (source: “Accelerate, The science of Lean Software and DevOps”, by Nicole Fosgren, Jez Humble & Gene Kim https://amzn.to/2YYf5Z8)

How do you ensure you stay ahead of the curve?

One of the reasons that I chose Software Development as a profession, was because I am addicted to learning, so I am always interested in new ideas in our field. I am less focussed on tools and frameworks and more focussed on patterns, principles and design thinking. I am an avid reader and watcher of presentations and explanatory videos.

Which quote defines you?

“It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, if you guess and that guess cannot be backed up by experimental evidence – then it is still a guess!” – Richard Feynman

Tell us a story you’re not telling enough?

I once created an automated Deployment Pipeline for Deployment Pipelines, complete with unit and acceptance tests.

Who inspires you?

Lots of people: My wife, Richard Feynman, Sean Carol, David Deutsch, Alan Perlis, Kent Beck, nearly everyone that I have ever worked with.

What three pieces of advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?

1)     Don’t think that your job is to be the smartest person and come up with all of the ideas. Use evidence, not guesswork or only experience. Work experimentally!

2)     Your job is to have a vision for where you want to go, but the team should work out how to get there.

3)     Effective leaders amplify the power of a team. Think of yourself as a sports-coach, hire talented people, try and help them develop and grow their talent.

A huge thank you to Dave for sharing these insights in our Communitea series, if you would like to participate in a future session or have questions you would like to ask our next series of leaders please get in touch adele.lewis@esynergy-solutions.co.uk.

To get in touch with Dave please visit https://www.continuous-delivery.co.uk or follow him on twitter @davefarley77