Mike Bland

Organizational culture change Instigator and Stratocaster aficionado

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Here are the slides to my Beyond20'16 presentation, "The Convergence of Wills".

- Alexandria
Tags: Federal government, Google, politics, Test Mercenaries, Testing Grouplet, Testing on the Toilet
Discuss: Discuss ""The Convergence of Wills" slides" on Google+

My delivery of "The Convergence of Wills" at the Beyond20’16 conference yesterday went really well, and turned out what I had to say harmonized with a lot of the other presentations. I had a wonderful time meeting and talking to lots of people, and I’m looking forward to attending the rest of the conference today.

If you’re interested, here are the slides for "The Convergence of Wills". Tons of thanks to Bill Shelton, Alan Kraft, Tony Harper, Carlo Costino, Nick Brethauer, and Jackie Kazil for review and feedback.

I've resigned from 18F, am taking some time off, and am speaking at the Beyond20'16 conference next week.

- Alexandria
Tags: 18F, Federal government, personal
Discuss: Discuss "Another break, another speech" on Google+

I resigned from 18F as of this past March 4, 2016. I meant to post sooner, but I’ve been reluctant to do much of anything with computers ‘til now. In the meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying gorgeous Old Town Alexandria in the spring, running and exercising, making time for friends, taking guitar and piano lessons again, reading a lot of early United States history (which isn’t the fairy tale we were raised to believe), and generally relaxing before I dive into the next gig.

Still, I do have one project going on: I’m the opening keynote speaker at the Beyond20’16 conference in Washington, D.C. next week. Much of the talk is cribbed from my DevOps Enterprise Summit 2015 talk, since the “Google story” is what a lot of folks want to hear and I plan to recap my government projects. However, I’ll have a full hour to speak, and I’m trying to push the boundaries a bit by relating the core principles required to produce culture change (specifically Google’s automated testing adoption and DevOps “transformations”) to those which produced the federal government of the United States.

On the one hand, I’m trying to find new angles for the same old story, so I don’t get comfortable and neither I nor my audience gets bored. On the other, I’m trying to reach beyond the pure entertainment and inspirational value of the story, as well as the hype surrounding Agile, DevOps, and “unicorns” like Google. I’m hoping to provide an ideological framework that emphasizes the real value of these organizational practices, which is to make the liberty, growth, and well-being of employees the first priority; and in so doing, to empower and inspire them to do their best work. All the other business-related benefits that’re often touted as value propositions of testing, Agile, and DevOps naturally flow from this fundamental principle. As proof, I offer not just my Google tale, but the long-term success of the American experiment, though I also aim to underscore how it required an extraordinary focus on that principle and a deliberate, decades-long effort to produce a working, lasting implementation upon that foundation.

If I’m going to preach to the choir, I’m going to try like hell to deepen their faith.

I've written a Slack bot in Node.js that files GitHub issues, and a unit testing tutorial in Node.js based on the bot.

- Alexandria
Tags: 18F, Federal government, grouplets, programming, technical, Testing Grouplet
Discuss: Discuss "Of bots and docs" on Google+

There’s much to say, but since I’ve another 18F blog post trilogy on the way (Andre Francisco’s idea, not mine, just like the last trilogy), I’ll keep this brief. In late November, my colleague Andrew Maier nudged me to write a Slack bot to automate filing GitHub issues for the 18F Handbook based on emoji reactions. A couple weeks later, I produced and launched the hubot-slack-github-issues Hubot plugin. Not only does it file issues for the 18F Handbook, it’s configurable to file issues for any emoji against any repository. It’s a pretty nifty tool, and I’d be interested to hear from others who might be interested in using it.

This bot experience produced another opportunity too good to pass up. Since starting 18F, I’d been meaning to write an automated testing tutorial in the vein of Google’s unit testing Codelabs, cultivated by the Testing Grouplet and Eng EDU. The desire intensified ever since trying to get the 18F Testing Grouplet and 18F Edu off the ground. But for a long time I was stuck for a worthy, inspiring example.

I realized the bot made a wonderful case study, for reasons I’ll enumerate in one of my upcoming 18F blog posts. However, I’ve already posted a mostly-complete draft of the Unit testing in Node.js tutorial. I still have to write the “Tools and automation” and conclusion chapters, and it still needs review and editing. That said, I’m rather pleased with the way it’s coming together. As a bonus, during the course of writing the coding chapters, I made a ton of improvements to the bot and its tests that I’m now porting back into the actual bot.

If you’re inclined to take the tutorial for a spin, I’d love any feedback you may have. If you’d like to subscribe to or participate in any of the technical review issues, please do so.