Interesting stuff club
Our monthly roundup of anything we’re doing and learning in our own time.
“I came across ‘The Toyota Way’ a while ago and it’s something I come back to from time to time. It’s a set of principles and behaviours that underlie the Toyota Motor Corporation’s managerial approach and production system.
Recently I was involved in a Twitter discussion centred around what the software industry defines as ‘waste’ in relation to the waste (muda) described in Principle 2. But this isn’t really my interesting point. What I find interesting is the fixation that the tech industry seems to have on just one principle out of 14, as if that is the only important one. There are books and talks and thousands of articles in the tech industry about the evils of waste – see ‘Lean’ anything these days and I wonder why, when in my opinion there are more meaningful learnings to be taken from the principles.
There’s a theory that whilst Toyota’s management always purported to be completely transparent about the Toyota Way of working, they were rather more cautious about the idea of giving away this competitive advantage. So instead of hiding the principles they instead chose to over emphasise certain ones. By doing so, they aimed to derail attempts to copy their ‘way’. It certainly seems that’s the case in our industry.
And my favourite principle?
Become a learning organization through relentless reflection (hansei) and continuous improvement (kaizen).
“Harking back to my uni days of using Flash, I love to see movement on the web. I was recommended Val Head’s book “Designing Interface Animation” at Generate Conf (which was great!) so I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Straight away I knew I’d love it with all the references to Disney, but that aside, it’s a really useful book if you’re looking to include any animation in your UI. She advises where and when to use animation to ensure it’s subtle and not just for the sake of it, and how it can really enhance a user’s experience.”
“The past month I’ve mostly been honeymooning! However I’ve started reading a book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport which was recommended on my new favourite podcast Syntax.fm. The issue it focuses on resonates with me in that we live and work in a time of constant distractions. From open plan workplaces designed to encourage disruption in the hope of spontaneous innovation, to laptops, tablets, phones and watches all competing for your attention. Cal raises awareness of the importance of having the time and space to focus in order to be productive and to gain a competitive edge in a world overwhelmed by distraction.”
“Eddy and I have been working on a personal project called Velocity that I wanted to build to make everyone’s lives easier for deploying docker applications as our current Jenkins is too complex with all of the additional plugins and configuration. It’s been exciting working on the backend/slave/cli side with Go. I managed to get a slave streaming build logs back to the master in real-time over Websockets, which completed our proof of concept. Trying to follow the rules of idiomatic Go for package structures has been interesting as it’s encouraged to DIY in Go and so there’s no standardised guideline for web framework packaging. Next up for Velocity is getting websockets streaming to our web client in Elm!”
“As VJ mentioned, we’ve been collaborating on a brand new CI tool. I’ve been working on the client, which is written in the Elm language. The structure of the project is loosely based on Richard Feldman’s Elm SPA example. Some challenges for the frontend so far have been nested routers/pages and incorporating websockets into the page tasks. My confidence writing in Elm has improved dramatically and I can’t wait for the proof of concept to be complete so that we can show it to the world!”
“I recently saw a mini documentary on Concorde and it piqued my interest as to why a technology, which seems to be an improvement on current aviation, died out. After doing some research I found a great article on the BBC documenting the life of concorde, its achievements and pitfalls. Concorde would fly from London to New York in 3.5 hours at a height of 60,000 feet. However, there were some really good reasons why it was retired. The cost made it a form of travel for the select few, and the cost to the environment was equally as high. You can read more here.”