Or at least I think I did.

I was recently pretty unwell for nearly three weeks. Everything points to it being Coronavirus but with no access to testing my doctor and I can only guess.

About four weeks ago, I felt a cold coming on (it was a Wednesday). Nothing major; just a slight runny nose and a mild scratchy sore throat. That evening, I began to feel quite unwell and spent the next day in bed. I was fatigued and achy, but still thought it was just a cold or mild flu. It was my first sick day in nearly five years.

I told my HR…


A six-part series on the why how and what of software engineering metrics.

This six-part series of articles looks at a metric strategy you can apply to a software engineering function throughout the entire delivery lifecycle, from the backlog through to production:

  • Part 1: Start with why
  • Part 2: Define your audiences
  • Part 3: Understanding stocks and flows
  • Part 4: Define your metrics
  • Part 5: Monitor and observe
  • Part 6: What to do with your data

Part 3: Understanding stocks and flows

I’ve recently been reading about Systems Thinking. It gets quite complicated but is interesting even at a simple level.

Briefly put, the measurement of the state of something is static at a point in time (a stock)…


A six-part series on the why how and what of software engineering metrics.

This six-part series of articles looks at a metric strategy you can apply to a software engineering function throughout the entire delivery lifecycle, from the backlog through to production:

Part 2: Identify your audiences

Once you understand your categories, you can begin to think about the audiences that will consume your data and why they need it, naturally leading to an intuitive set of metrics.

You will want to cascade your…


A six-part series on the why how and what of software engineering metrics.

This six-part series of articles looks at a metric strategy you can apply to a software engineering function throughout the entire delivery lifecycle, from the backlog through to production:

Part 1: Start with why

As Simon Sinek very famously said, “Start With Why”. He was talking about company purpose, but the idea is entirely applicable to many other things.

Metrics is a great example. It’s super easy to start at the…


A six-part series on the why what and how of software engineering metrics.

This six-part series of articles looks at a metric strategy you can apply to a software engineering function throughout the entire delivery lifecycle, from the backlog through to production.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure

Every organisation wants to know how it is doing. To understand what is happening and how you should respond, you need insight into your entire delivery chain.

You can’t do that on feel and hunch alone. To do it properly and to enable positive change, you need data. A good set of metrics sensibly designed and applied will allow that.

This series of articles looks at a metric strategy you can…


If you are serious about managing your staff, building great relationships and helping them deliver, develop and progress, the 1:1 is your absolute best tool.

For ease of reading, I am referring to your direct report as ‘her’. It could equally have been ‘him’.

What is a good 1:1?

A good 1:1 is:

  • A regular, 30-minute, face to face, private catch up.
  • An event that both of you know will always (or almost always) happen. It takes place on the same day each week, at the same time.
  • It is rearranged for the same week if missed for any reason.
  • Is even done via video or phone if otherwise impossible.

It is a time when both of you know you have each other’s undivided attention and focus. …


As a manager, a key part of your job is to work with your team to get things done. You’ll be more successful at that if you empathise and communicate using a simple questioning technique.

There is a difference between commanding and leading

A commander tells people what to do. A good leader gives people the opportunity to shine and the trust to get on with it.

This works best if the other person fully understands what has to be done. You will achieve this by listening more than you talk and asking incisive questions, rather than making statements. And when you talk, you should leave no doubt what you are asking for.

Remember, communication is what the listener does. Asking questions gets the other person talking and they will have a much better understanding of what is needed.

Here are six questions…


Here’s how to motivate yourself to keep going through any challenges and reach your goals.

Cast Away

My 9½-year-old son, Harry, loves movies. Over the weekend we watched Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks. (It’s quite an old movie, so I don’t think this article spills any spoiler beans.)

Chuck Noland¹, the character played by Hanks, is washed up onto an uninhabited desert island after a plane crash. He survives, just about, on coconuts, rainwater and — after creating fire and learning how to hunt — fish and crab. All of his basic needs are covered; food, water, shelter and clothing.

Survival is not enough. Chuck fears he might die alone on the island and dreams of getting…


I committed to writing an article every working day, but I failed for a week. Here’s how I got through my first writer’s block.

How to get past the wall of writer’s block

Late last year I decided to write an article every working day in 2020. It worked great until about a week ago when I got stuck. I didn’t publish anything for five days.

Creativity is not my problem — I have a long list of ideas for things to write about. I got stuck inside a single article I was writing.

It started well, and the words were flowing onto the screen. It even had a bit of structure, and I’d created an image for it. But at some point, I hit the wall, and none of it was making…

Jeremy Burns

Head of Software Engineering for a major UK media organisation. A long career of development, leading and managing.

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