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Newsletters 2024


Feature Kick-off

How often has your team started work on a new feature without taking a moment to consider some important questions: why, what, how?

Too often we all are champing at the bit to just GSD, and we forget that less haste, more speed applies to software development, too. Maybe especially in our profession, where refactoring can be expensive and missing the mark can have devastating results for the business.

Introducing Feature Kickoff Meetings:

Feature Kickoff Meetings are quick, 15-minute sessions designed to synchronise development and testing efforts, establish clear acceptance criteria, and define robust testing strategies for upcoming features. By bringing together key stakeholders from both development and testing teams, these meetings ensure alignment, foster collaboration, and set the stage for successful feature delivery.

Why Feature Kickoff Meetings Work:

These meetings serve as a proactive mechanism to address potential issues and mitigate risks early in the development cycle. By clarifying acceptance criteria and defining testing strategies upfront, we can prevent misunderstandings, reduce rework, and accelerate the delivery of high-quality features to our customers. Moreover, the collaborative nature of these meetings cultivates a shared understanding of project goals and fosters a culture of teamwork and accountability.

How to Action Feature Kickoff Meetings:

  1. Schedule Regular Meetings: Allocate 15 minutes at the beginning of each feature development cycle to host a Feature Kickoff Meeting. Choose a convenient time that accommodates the availability of key stakeholders from both development and testing teams.
  2. Set Clear Objectives: Define the purpose and agenda of the meeting in advance to ensure that participants are prepared and focused. Clearly communicate the goals, expected outcomes, and topics to be discussed during the session.
  3. Collaborate and Clarify: Encourage active participation from all attendees, including developers, testers, product owners, and business analysts. Use this time to clarify acceptance criteria, discuss potential edge cases, and define testing approaches that align with the feature requirements.
  4. Document Decisions: Record key decisions, action items, and insights shared during the meeting to serve as a reference for future discussions and to ensure accountability. Distribute meeting minutes to all stakeholders for visibility and follow-up.

By embracing feature kickoff meetings as a cornerstone of our shift left testing strategy, we can streamline our development process, enhance product quality, and deliver exceptional value to our customers.

As always, if you have any feedback to share, positive or constructive, you can do so by simply hitting reply to this email. I’m keen to get your feedback, because I want this newsletter to be as useful to you as it can be.

Best wishes,


The 15-Minute Catalyst


Analysis paralysis

One of the biggest challenges we face as teams is making decisions, with the right balance of consideration and speed. We need to consider the consequences of our actions before we commit, but we don’t want to get caught into analysis-paralysis.

The 10/10/10 method is one of many ways to approach this, it’s easy and opens the stage for helpful conversations.

Why it Works:

The 10/10/10 method, popularised by renowned business thinker Suzy Welch, offers a structured approach to decision-making by considering the consequences of our choices in three timeframes: 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years. By adopting this method, we gain clarity on the short-term, medium-term, and long-term impacts of our decisions. This enables us to make more informed and strategic choices aligned with our goals and values.

How to Action it:

  1. Identify the Decision: Start by clearly defining the decision you need to make. Whether it’s choosing between testing strategies, prioritising tasks, or addressing a quality issue, articulating the decision is the first step towards applying the 10/10/10 method.
  2. Consider the Consequences: Take a moment to envision the potential outcomes of your decision in three timeframes:
    • 10 Minutes: Reflect on the immediate consequences and how your decision might impact the current situation or project.
    • 10 Months: Shift your perspective to the medium-term implications. Consider how your decision could influence the project’s progress, team dynamics, and stakeholder relationships in the coming months.
    • 10 Years: Zoom out to the long-term horizon. Contemplate the lasting effects of your decision on your career, the organisation, and the broader industry landscape.
  3. Evaluate Alignment: Assess whether the potential outcomes align with your personal and professional values, team objectives, and organisational goals. Look for synergies and potential trade-offs across the three timeframes to gauge the overall impact of your decision.
  4. Take Action: Armed with a holistic understanding of the consequences, proceed with confidence in implementing your decision. Trust in the insights gained from the 10/10/10 method to guide you towards choices that contribute to our collective success and growth.

I like it because it gives us an easy framework for considering different timeframes, and if you practice it with your team you may discover new strengths in some of your colleagues.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes by replying to this email!

Best wishes,


The 15 Minute Catalyst

Bug hunt

What I have for you today is one of my favourites: the 15-Minute Bug Discovery Challenge.

Why this works

This challenge leverages the collective insight and diverse skill sets of your entire team, from developers and testers to product managers and designers. The beauty of this approach lies in its simplicity and the powerful impact of collaborative problem-solving. By dedicating just 15 minutes to focused bug discovery, we’re not only enhancing our product quality but also fostering a culture of continuous learning and mutual support. It’s a testament to the idea that great things happen when we come together with a shared goal.

How to get it started

Organising a time boxed bug challenge is easy!

  1. Select a Time: Find a 15-minute slot in your day that works best for you. This could be during a break, after a meeting, or any other time that fits into your schedule. Personally I like to use a time when the whole team is together already – after the standup, or maybe slot it into a scrum demo meeting.
  2. Choose Your Focus: Pick a module, feature, or area of the application that you’re either familiar with or curious about. The diversity of your choices will ensure comprehensive coverage and maximise your bug discovery efforts.
  3. Dive In: Spend the allocated 15 minutes exploring, testing, and trying to uncover bugs or issues. Think outside the box—try different inputs, scenarios, and use cases that might reveal hidden problems. Stick to the time box!
  4. Share the Findings: Log any bugs you discover in your tracking tool and share your experience and insights on your team communication channel. This step is crucial for learning and highlights the value of your collective efforts.
    1. If you want less bureaucracy, open a shared spreadsheet and let people report there. This also allows people to work in parallel if they’re maybe a bit shy to speak up in the ensemble.
    2. I would encourage you to work as a group as much as possible, it’s amazing how different people with different skill sets view a feature, and that alone is worth the time.

We’re not just looking for bugs; we’re fostering a spirit of curiosity, collaboration, and continuous improvement. Your participation and insights are invaluable to your team’s success and the quality of your product.

Let’s embrace this challenge with enthusiasm and a willingness to explore. Together, we can make a substantial impact, one bug at a time.

Best wishes,


The 15 Minute Catalyst

Bias for action

The difference between leading and lagging can often boil down to one key trait: a bias for action. But how do we cultivate this within our teams without sacrificing quality? Let’s dive in.

Quick Wins in 15 Minutes: Encouraging a Bias for Action

A bias for action doesn’t mean recklessness. It’s about encouraging decisiveness and learning from each step forward. Here’s a simple, actionable step you can take today to foster this mindset in your team:

15-Minute Stand-up Exercise:

  1. Daily Decision Rounds: Dedicate the last five minutes of your daily stand-up to quick decision-making. Present a pending decision that doesn’t require extensive deliberation. It could be anything from choosing a tool for a small task, deciding on a feature’s priority level, or selecting an approach for a non-critical bug fix.
  2. Vote Quickly, Act Immediately: Let the team quickly vote on the direction (thumbs up, thumbs down, or a quick poll if remote). The key here is speed, not perfection. Make the decision based on the majority and assign someone to act on it immediately.
  3. Review and Reflect: Spend a few minutes in the next day’s stand-up reviewing the outcome of the decision. If it didn’t pan out as expected, that’s okay. The goal is to learn and iterate, not to penalise.

Why This Works:

  • Empowerment: Team members feel empowered when they see their input directly influences action. It builds confidence and encourages more proactive participation.
  • Speed: It cuts through indecision and paralysis by analysis. Speed can be a great asset.
  • Learning Culture: By reflecting on the outcomes, you’re fostering a learning culture. Mistakes are seen as learning opportunities, not failures.

Your Challenge:

Try the Daily Decision Rounds exercise for two weeks. Observe how it impacts your team’s dynamics and decision-making speed. Are you seeing a more proactive stance? Is the fear of making the ‘wrong’ decision decreasing?

I’d love to hear how it goes. Your feedback and challenges are invaluable as we all strive to lead more effectively towards higher quality applications. Reply to this email with your experiences, insights, or any hurdles you’re facing.

Best wishes,


The 15 Minute Catalyst

Take one small step

I am currently working on developing my new workshops, and often I feel a bit overwhelmed with the task.

So I know it’s easy to feel like certain challenges are out of our hands, like staying on top of tech debt and quality in the code base. What helps me in this situation is to shift my perspective and focus on the power we hold to make meaningful changes, even with the smallest actions.

Action in 15 Minutes:

  1. Identify the Challenge: Take a moment to think about a specific aspect of your codebase that feels like it’s slipping beyond your control. It could be recurring bugs, code complexity, or even the integration of new technologies.
  2. Find the Smallest Actionable Step: Ask yourself, “What’s the smallest step I can take right now to improve this situation?” It might be as straightforward as refactoring a small block of code, writing documentation for a tricky function, or scheduling a code review session.
  3. Take that Step: Don’t wait. Implement that simple refactor, document that function, or set up the meeting. The key here is immediate action, turning thoughts into tangible improvements.
  4. Reflect on the Outcome: After taking this step, take stock of the change it made, no matter how minor. This is about appreciating our capacity to drive improvements and the cumulative effect of small actions.

Why It Matters:

  • Empowerment: Realising that even the smallest action can lead to improvements in our code quality can transform our outlook from one of powerlessness to one of control and influence.
  • Momentum: Each small action sets the stage for more positive changes, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Perspective: Breaking down our big challenges into manageable actions helps us to see problems in a new light, making them seem less daunting and more solvable.

Feeling stuck or overwhelmed is common in our lives, but it’s crucial to remember we’re never truly powerless. This week, let’s commit to identifying and acting on those small but powerful steps that can enhance our code quality and, by extension, our product.

I’m excited to hear about the steps you take and the impacts, however minor, that you observe. Your insights and experiences are vital to this journey, so please share your stories by replying to this email.

To small actions,


The 15 Minute Catalyst

PS. If you want to learn more about the power of small steps, I highly recommend reading James Clear’s “Atomic Habits”, it truly changed the way I think about achieving lasting change.


Psycho … what?

This one has been a bit of a buzz word in recent years – Psychological Safety. And you might think it’s one of those massive tasks, one that you want to put off for “when the time is right”. That time is now! Like most things, much can be achieved with consistent, small steps.

Why Psychological Safety Matters Psychological safety, a term coined by Amy Edmondson, refers to an individual’s perception of the consequences of taking an interpersonal risk. In a psychologically safe team, members feel confident to voice their opinions, take risks, and express their creative ideas without fear of embarrassment or retribution. This environment is essential for fostering the kind of innovative problem-solving and risk-taking your team needs to thrive.

Practical Steps to Enhance Psychological Safety

  1. Lead with Vulnerability: As a leader, openly share your mistakes and learning experiences. This sets a tone that it’s okay not to be perfect and encourages others to do the same.
  2. Actively Solicit Feedback: Regularly ask for team input on various decisions and discussions. Ensure that every voice is heard, especially those who are typically quieter.
  3. Normalise the Not-Knowing: Encourage questions and curiosity. Make it clear that not having all the answers is a part of the learning process and crucial for growth.
  4. Show Appreciation for All Contributions: Acknowledge and value different perspectives and ideas, even if they do not align with the majority. This reinforces that every team member’s input is important.
  5. Establish Clear Expectations: Be transparent about roles, responsibilities, and objectives. This clarity helps reduce uncertainties and insecurities within the team.

Your 15-Minute Action This week, dedicate 15 minutes to start a conversation about psychological safety with your team. Ask them how safe they feel in sharing their ideas and what can be done to improve the environment. Remember, the goal is to listen and understand, not to defend or solve immediately.

As always, your insights and experiences are what make our community thrive. Share your thoughts or challenges on building psychological safety in your teams by replying to this email. Together, let’s transform our workplaces into spaces where innovation isn’t just encouraged, it’s the norm.

Wishing you a productive and insightful week!


On making mistakes

As many of you will have noticed, and some of you (thank you, I really appreciate the feedback!) have told me – there was a mistake in last week’s newsletter. The platform I use to send these has a minor bug, that led to the subject line coming out a bit mangled. I am sorry for this, and I hope you still found value in the content of the email.

So, what have I learned from this?

  1. Triple check everything before sending out the newsletter. You’d think I know this already, but some days get hectic, and I’m human, so mistakes still happen.
  2. My readers (you, my dear friends) are a discerning audience. The number of opened emails dropped by 15%. Ouch.
  3. Never waste a good opportunity for a coaching moment, right?

Let’s talk about the art of gracefully admitting our errors and turning them into learning opportunities.

Action in 15 Minutes:

  1. Reflect on a Recent Mistake: Take a short pause to think about a recent decision or action that didn’t pan out as expected. It could be a misjudged deadline, an overlooked customer feedback, or a technical oversight.
  2. Admit It Openly: In your next team meeting or communication, openly acknowledge this mistake. Example: “I want to bring up a decision I made regarding [X], which I realise now was not the best course of action.”
  3. Share Your Learnings: Discuss what you learned from this experience. It’s about showing your team that every misstep is a chance to grow. For instance, “This has taught me to pay closer attention to customer usage data, which I overlooked.”
  4. Invite Feedback and Discussion: Encourage your team to share their thoughts or similar experiences. This not only cultivates transparency but also communal learning.

Why It Matters:

  • Building Trust: Admitting mistakes as a leader builds trust and shows your team that it’s safe to take risks and own up to errors.
  • Fostering a Learning Culture: It sets a precedent that every mistake is a stepping stone to better understanding and improvement.
  • Encouraging Open Communication: Such honesty paves the way for more open and constructive communication within the team.

In a field where the only constant is change, acknowledging our missteps is not a sign of weakness, but a testament to our commitment to continual learning and growth. This week, let’s lead by example and turn our mistakes into valuable lessons.

I’m eager to hear how this approach resonates with you and your team. Your experiences and challenges are what make this newsletter. Feel free to share them by hitting reply.

Lead with wisdom,


The power of small wins

This tip came from my friend Lisa, and it’s a great one!

We often focus on major milestones and long-term goals. However, this week, let’s shift our view to something equally critical yet frequently overlooked: celebrating small wins. Here’s why this simple practice can be a game-changer for your team.

1. Fueling Motivation: Every minor achievement, when acknowledged, serves as a reminder to your team that their efforts are valuable. This recognition keeps them engaged and energised, eager to maintain or even surpass their current performance. Imagine the cumulative impact on your project’s quality when every team member consistently performs at their best!

2. Building Confidence: Acknowledging these small victories fosters a sense of achievement. It’s not just about success; it’s about realizing the capability within your team. This boosts confidence, encouraging your team to embrace more significant challenges, often leading to innovative solutions and superior outcomes.

3. Strengthening Bonds: Celebrating together is more than just fun; it strengthens the team fabric. It’s about recognizing and appreciating each other’s efforts, which in turn enhances collaboration. In an environment where everyone feels valued, communication flows freely, fostering a hotbed for high-quality, collaborative work.

4. Reinforcing Positive Behavior: When you celebrate small wins, you’re setting benchmarks for success. These become the standard your team strives to meet and exceed, creating a consistent drive for quality in their everyday tasks.

5. Creating a Culture of Excellence: Consistent recognition of small achievements cultivates a culture where excellence is the norm. This creates a positive feedback loop, with your team members naturally inclined towards delivering their best work.

Bonus Tip: Tailor Your Celebrations Remember, a small win for one team might be a giant leap for another. Customise your celebrations to reflect the achievement’s significance and align with your team’s preferences. This ensures inclusivity and keeps everyone motivated.

In conclusion, don’t wait for the big milestones to celebrate. Start recognising the small steps today. You’ll be amazed at how these tiny ripples can create waves of positive change in your team’s morale, confidence, and work quality.

Keep scaling and celebrating,


The 15 Minute Catalyst

Permission to refactor

I hope y’all had a restful and delightful break, and are back for the new year refreshed and ready to make an impact!

Today’s topic is something that used to drive me up the walls: engineers who didn’t do any refactoring when they came across a bit of unwieldy, confusing or plain wrong code. Because “That’s not what I’m working on right now.” and “I don’t have time to refactor this now. I’ll write a ticket.” And of course, that ticket would be written, and then never be seen again. Infuriating!

But you can stop this: tell your engineers they don’t need permission to refactor. This week’s tip is about empowering your engineering team to maintain the health of your codebase proactively.

Refactoring as a Default, Not an Exception

Refactoring – the art of restructuring existing code without changing its external behavior – is often seen as a task requiring approvals, scheduled into future sprints, or worse, postponed indefinitely. It’s time to change that mindset.

Why Encourage Refactoring?

  1. Code Health: Regular refactoring prevents the codebase from becoming a tangled mess. It’s like daily exercise for your code – keeping it fit and functional.
  2. Efficiency: Engineers who refactor proactively spend less time deciphering legacy code, leading to faster implementation of new features.
  3. Quality: Better-structured code reduces bugs and improves testing, directly enhancing product quality.

Actionable Step:

  • Empowerment Message: In your next team meeting, communicate explicitly that engineers are encouraged to refactor as they see fit. Make it clear that this is a trusted part of their job, not an extra task.

Expected Outcome:

You’ll likely see a short-term uptick in refactoring activities. But, as this becomes part of the routine, expect smoother sprints, fewer bugs, and a more agile response to new features or changes.

Remember: Refactoring is not about big rewrites. It’s about small, continuous improvements. Encourage your team to make refactoring a habit, not a hurdle.

Keep Coding Smartly,


The 15 Minute Catalyst