What Makes A Developer Culture?

A personal story of what encouraged a Developer Culture at NowOnline. And why Scrum really doesn’t work without it.

Christiaan Verwijs
Jun 5 · 13 min read

Agile software development started with developers. These days, it seems to be more about Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, Product Owners, and other “process roles”.

A bit of context on NowOnline

1. Have fun together & make personal connections

Practical jokes in our software (top-left) to having drinks after work (bottom-left), sharing a barbecue outside our office (bottom-right). One of our bars is shown in the bottom center.

2. Continuous [everything]

An early version of our uptime monitor, showing the status of the various API’s, endpoints and services. The monitor would perform various checks, like SSL expiration, uptime and response time.

3. Create an environment where you can take risks

4. Make your work transparent

Some of the things we made transparent in our work environment

5. Developer Hygiene

A Daily Scrum taking place (top left), a developer pairing up with a designer (top right), creating the Product Backlog together (bottom left) and knowledge-sharing sessions and retrospectives taking place.

When we deployed a breaking bug or when the software crashed, our phones would ring.

6. Learning new things together

An impression of some of our Tech Talks. Most of them hosted by developers or interns from NowOnline / HROffice, others by guests such as Wim Heemskerk, Bert Willems, and Gunther Verheyen. The agenda of upcoming Tech Talks is shown in the middle.

7. Engaged directly with users and customers

One of our developers pairs up with an employee from StartPeople to see how they use our product in their day-to-day work. Not visible in the picture, are other pairs in the back
Results from a retrospective on how to increase the quality of our products and what we could measure to keep track of that

8. Shared identity and history

The picture wall in one of the earlier offices. In one of the pictures, I can be seen ‘wearing’ a fluffy orange octopus. This was the ‘octopus hat of shame’ for when someone broke the build — which I did on occasion.

Not perfect, but an awesome experience

The Liberators

The Liberators: Unleashing Organisational Superpowers

Christiaan Verwijs

Written by

I aim to liberate teams & organizations from de-humanizing and ineffective ways of organizing work. Professional Scrum Trainer & Steward @ Scrum.org

The Liberators

The Liberators: Unleashing Organisational Superpowers