Continuous Lifecycle London 2019 - Day 1: Culture, motivation and having fun!

I am really glad to be a part of Conflux team who went to the Continuous Lifecycle London conference today! It’s the fourth time the conference is being held in London and it’s always a good fun - so many interesting talks that make you rethink the way you do things and give you ideas on how to solve your problems, so many interesting people and interesting conversations!

Here are my impressions of the day:

Keynote: Tanya Reilly (Squarespace) - “Continuous“

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Some highlights:

  • We are busy all the time and it takes time to disconnect - “how much are you here?”

  • We are continuously moving but not always in the right direction, thus we need step outside of the continuous and make sure you we going the right way.

  • “If you don’t think railroads are cool - you are like an alien to me”

  • Two theories of motivation:

    • Maslow pyramid of needs

    • Daniek Pink - autonomy, mastery, purpose

  • “Shiny-driven-development” - we are drawn to shiny and interesting things, we want to solve interesting problems.

  • Productivity - personal output, generativity - difference between the team’s output with me and without me.

  • Don’t do less well. Do less, well. - Colm MacCárthaigh.

  • You don’t need to fix every single thing that’s broken, it would feel more productive, but lots of on-going things would just slow you down and won’t make you reach your goals faster, leave it for designated time. Also, leave fun but not too useful things for right now for the designated time also.

  • Don’t lick the projects! Don’t claim it unless you are doing it this quarter.

  • Write down whether you are or you are not doing things. Keep away from being vague, make sure everything is clear, precise and there is no confusion between people in the team.

  • Being nice is not the same as being kind - nice is external, kind is internal.

  • Senior people set the culture whether they plan to or not - be deliberate. Ask questions, admit you do not know things, learn out loud, call out good work, say that you approve, thank people who admit they broke stuff, notice who’s blocked and help them, make everyone better. If you are senior person, part of your job is to make everyone else better.


Michael Cote (Pivotal) - “Creating a DevOps culture, whatever that means“


Key points:

  • Technology is easy. It’s the people that are hard.

  • “Robot dogs are coming to destroy you” - that’s how you used to scare the people into innovating.

  • Easy culture definition - how do we do things here.

  • You want the people in your organisation to be innovative, risk takers and teams to be people-centric, but it is not easy to get there.

  • You have to figure out a way to make people to take risks, however, risks need to have some sort of safety net, i.e. -If you want to learn how to surf, you need to know how to swim. Support is essential.

  • Leaders needs to give the teams autonomy, trust and voice. Teams need to own their product - responsibility and “parentship”. The autonomy is not easy, but managers have to learn how to trust the teams to do the work.

  • Some more tactics for the leaders: delegate, give feedback and celebrate failure.

  • Blameless postmortems - build trust, talk about your failures.

  • Unmotivated executives: focus on cost reduction to motivate the executives - everyone cares about saving money.

  • Change is hard - so create a new organisation! Sometimes it’s easier to start from the beginning.

  • Money plays a big role in actually putting a good culture in place.

Besides all the useful tips, Michael gave lots of good book recommendations! See them in the slides.


Holly Cummins (IBM) - “The importance of fun in the workplace“

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Key points:

  • Why is fun so unacceptable at work? Why people don’t put that they like having fun in the CVs?

  • There is a ton of research on fun, though research drives the fun out of fun. When fun is your job it becomes not fun.

  • Funtinuum is a thing.

  • What defines fun is positive effect.

  • Programming is fun - we have exploration, puzzles, games which should make it fun, so why are most of our workplacesnot fun?

    • 80/90s management model - hierarchical, dates back to the military

    • fun used to be frowned upon, though even Aristotle said: “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work“

  • Studies shown that when employees have fun, they take less sick leave and are more productive. Research has proven that after watching a comedy video, people were 12 % more productive.

  • Computers don’t expect to have fun (yet). Make them do boring tasks - automate!

  • Continuous integration should feel fun, if it does not feel fun - you are doing something wrong.

  • Your brain needs breaks - breaks with exercise are even better!

  • Is it possible to get fun wrong? Yes, team building activities - nobody likes being forced to have fun. If you want to ruin an office party - take attendance.


Elisa Binette & Beth Adele Long - “Fighting fires for fun and profit: How to be a great incident commander “

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Key points:

  • Incident reports differs from every day tasks by being high stakes and high cadence. Also, almost all incident response is group activity.

  • Incident Commander regulates the flow - IC is the person at the centre of the storm, coordinating all the people together, bringing everyone up to speed.

    • they are not controlling what happens

    • they need to coordinate all the people together to make it less expensive - less overhead for engineers, less confusion for customer support etc etc.

  • ICs deal with emotion, information flow and analysis:

    • Emotion - when incident happens, you usually have a lot of people in one room - all experiencing fight, flight or freeze responses. The role of the IC is to get people out of that reactive mode, because people in the reactive mode are really bad at solving engineering problems.

    • Information flow - ICs regulate the information flow to make sure all executives, security, customer support have the relevant information concerning them.

    • Analysis - good IC needs to know what the current priorities are.

  • Training IC - how do you find the right people and train them? You can train people to be ICs, but normally they need some personal prerequisites:

    • technical fluency - vocabulary + calibration; self regulation - calm + sense of urgency; willingness

  • To prepare ICs you need resources - process and tooling, documentation, training, also - practice! Have game days, let them practice on small incidents, do apprenticeships

  • Habits of great incident commanders:

    • being familiar with explodey bits, knowing the boundaries of your expertise, knowing how to gather resources instead of being the resource, being able to compare the perspectives instead of seeking the right one.

Overall, the the talks I managed to catch had a common theme of emphasising the importance of having a good culture in your organisation, what a good culture actually is and how to achieve it.


We are at the Continuos Lifecycle London tomorrow also! Visit our stand to know more about Conflux, get 30% discount for Conflux Books or win the construction set!

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