The Burn Up – All things Agile

The podcast about all things Agile and Software Delivery where I discuss all things agile with colleagues, clients and industry leaders. We’ll be giving you an honest take on tools and techniques, will share our experiences and hopefully provide inspiration and guidance to all involved in software design and delivery to ultimately make software delivery more enjoyable and successful.

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Podcast episodes

In these two podcast episodes Dr. Michael D Frick and I continue our discussion of the Chinese Cybersecurity Regime with a look at Multi-level and critical information infrastructure (CII) protection (including cybersecurity reviews) – and a related chat about Intellectual Property in China.

We discuss the concept and implications of Critical Information Infrastructure, that this is a far reaching concept, and the various compliance measures and ‘systems’ owners of such systems need to apply.

Michael holds a doctorate in Business Economics and a master’s in Modern Sinology. He works as consultant advising businesses on Chinese regulatory aspects.

His book “Chinese Industry 4.0” is available as ebook and in print format at Apple or Amazon.

Michael can be contacted via Linkedin or via email.

In these two podcast episodes Dr. Michael D Frick and I continue our discussion of the Chinese Cybersecurity Regime with a look at Online Content Management (censorship) which is the bedrock of the Chinese Cybersecurity Regime.

We discuss the Chinese approach to censorship, what this means for organisations who want to do business in China, how censorship in China is governed, and the mechanisms through which it is enacted and enforced and what it means when you ‘mess up’.

Michael holds a doctorate in Business Economics and a master’s in Modern Sinology. He works as consultant advising businesses on Chinese regulatory aspects.

His book “Chinese Industry 4.0” is available as ebook and in print format at Apple or Amazon.

Michael can be contacted via Linkedin or via email.

In this episode software craftsman Luke Elliott and I discuss what makes great software engineering, excellent software engineers and effective teams…

We argue that understanding and delivering value is really all good software engineering is about. We discuss what makes high performing teams, and touch on the challenge of hiring great engineers.  

Luke is a software craftsman with deep experience in lean and agile software development. He believes that great software is crafted by great teams, and that building great teams is challenging and rewarding work. He has lead successful teams across public and private sector, bluechips and startups, in diverse industries including   finance, healthcare and energy.

He is currently Director of Engineering at OakNorth Bank.
Luke is currently hiring software engineers of all stripes and if you are interested in working like Luke describes, contact him at luke.elliott@oaknorth.co.uk.

He can be contacted via revlucio@gmail.com or Linkedin

In this episode I chat with AlmostAnyHow’s Nathan Ardaiz about nurturing micro-moments to improve human interactions and how they determine quality of our relationships and consequently wellbeing, autonomy and resilience of individuals and ultimately teams and organisations.

We discuss why nurturing micro-moments can only be grounded in shared values and a collective vision and what individuals, teams and organisations can do to improve their interactions.

Nathan is founder and director of AlmostAnyHow, a consultancy focused on facilitation and coaching. AlmostAnyHow nurture the tools and the power to truly hear and understand, speak truths, and move forward toward a better collective future.

He can be contacted via email or via AlmostAnyHow.com.

In this episode I chat with Tom Grogan, CEO of Mishcon de Reya’s MdRxTech, a software consultancy and incubator with a legal edge. We discuss why building legal compliance into the product development lifecycle is ever more important in a Web3.0 world and how this can be achieved within lean and agile design and delivery approaches.

Tom is Chief Executive Officer of MDRxTech. He is a qualified lawyer and has a deep understanding of a wide range of emerging technologies.

Tom can be contacted via MdRxTech or via email.

Dr. Michael D Frick and I discuss the Chinese Cybersecurity Regime. We discuss what it is, how it affects organisations who want to do business in China and how such organisations can navigate the Chinese compliance landscape.

Michael holds a doctorate in Business Economics and a master’s in Modern Sinology. He works as consultant advising businesses on Chinese regulatory aspects.

His book “Chinese Industry 4.0” is available as ebook and in print format at Apple or Amazon.

Michael can be contacted via Linkedin or via email.

Lyndsay Prewer and I talk about how Chaos Engineering can help improve an organisation’s resilience. We’ll talk about why deliberately messing up a system from time to time is a good thing… We’ll discuss what Chaos Days are, their benefits and how to run them…

Lyndsay has an excellent video recording of his Chaos Days conference talk and has co-written a freely available Chaos Engineering playbook (PDF).

Lyndsay Prewer is a consultant technical delivery manager working for Equal Experts.

S2E11: Learnings from the Space Industry – Part 2 of 2 – The Challenger Disaster and on

This episode is a follow-on from our previous episode about the Apollo space program. Marcel and Todd talk about the failures surrounding the Challenger Disaster as a cautionary tail for today’s leaders to consider to avoid the same pitfalls.

Media of interest:

S2E10: Learnings from the Space Industry – Part 1/2 – Apollo 11

In this episode Marcel and Todd talk about management lessons learned during the Apollo era space program and how they can still apply in today’s management environment.

Media of interest:

  • For full context you may want to watch the “Management Lessons of the Moon” by Andrew Chaikin on YouTube.
  • Further musings on this topic on our blog.
  • The Challenger Disaster: You’re wrong about – The Challenger Disaster – 3rd Jan 2019 by Sarah Marshall and  Michael Hobbes.
  • Apollo 1 fire radio transmission (be warned, it’s not a comfortable file to listen).
  • Highly Recommended! Apollo 11, a Netflix documentary made solely of original source material.

S2E09: Remote Interviewing

We strongly believe that organisations with a successful future are those that embrace remote working practices. Not only does this address some of the challenges posed by the current Covid-19 crisis, but overall, allows organisations tap into a wider talent pool, work with a wider client base and most importantly make for better work life balance. In this episode we discuss remote interviewing with 5 super interesting guests….

Equal experts have extensively written about remote interviewing on their blog and have create a freely available remote working playbook.

In this episode you’ll meet:

Becky Smith, recruiter and people manager, and Neha Datt who works as product consultant, has co-written the remote working playbook and runs a webinar on remote working best practices. She can best be reached via her company Mercurial Phoenix or via twitter @oliphantism.

You will also hear from Nuno Silva Peirera who works as a Delivery Lead in Portugal and with whom we have remote interviewed many times. Nuno blogs, tweets @nunoaspereira, and has recently released a Metal Album which we highly recommend you check out. Nuno also has a most excellent youtube video on remote working.

We also speak with Werner Smit who is a Delivery Lead in South Africa and has extensive experience working across country boundaries, Rajesh Kumar Thiagaran who is a Product Consultant in Pune, India, with experience in the recruitment industry and with whom we have recently run a major multi-day remote training session across London, Bangalore and Pune.

And of course, there is also Dave Hewett whom you’ll have met in Episode 8. Dave has a keen interest in team working practices (remote or other) and hjas been instrumental in making the remote (and other) playbooks happen. If you want to work with Equal Experts you can get in touch with them via their website or any of us.

Please feel free to get in touch with any of them if you are looking for an engagement, want to know more about remote working, work with an organisation that is interested in improving their remote working practices or simply want to say hello…

S2E08: How to do lightweight Inceptions

In this episode Swathi Poddar – who you’ll know from last season — and I chat Lean Inceptions.

Because while we have written the Inception Playbook to provide depth on how to kick off projects well and set initiatives up for success, these days we often run much leaner, highly focused Inceptions that may be as short as 2–3 days, or only 3–4 hours, even… In this episode we discuss when such Lean Inceptions are valuable and feasible and talk through the mechanics of running them.

A visual agenda for a lean inception you might want to look at while listening to the podcast can be found on our blog.
The Tools playbook we reference can be downloaded for free here (PDF).

Swathi Poddar is a Business Analyst, Product Owner and Software Consultant. She has worked and studied in the UK, US and currently works out of Pune and Bangalore, India. She can be ‘found’ and contacted here.

S2E07: Tools to make your live (and initiative delivery) easier

In this episode we introduce our new Core Tools Playbook and how these tools can help a team work more effectively and achieve better outcomes easier.

Contrary to our Inception Playbook which suggest a process or approach to delivery over all, the Core Tools Playbook is a collection of the tools a team can use during kick-off of an initiative or at any point initiative delivery. In fact, some tools are so versatile they can be used outside of initiative or even IT context.

About the core tools playbook and free download (PDF).

S2E06: Risk/Issue Management

In this episode Todd talks about the practicalities of Risk/Issue Management, including what risks and issues are, how to gather them, how to log them and how to review them.

An Google Sheets example risk register.

S2E05: TL;DR – Dependency Management

Dependency management, despite its importance, does not get the attention it deserves and is often a bit haphazard and less structured than it could be. In this playbook, we suggest a lightweight way to identify and manage dependencies.

We explain why to do it, how to do it, what good looks like, and the most important dos and don’ts.

Detailed discussion, dependency map example and template on our blog.

S2E04: Team Roles – Delivery Manager / Scrum Master

In this Team Roles episode, Marcel and Todd talk about the role of the Delivery Manager and Scrum Master. We talk about the difference between delivery roles and give practical advice on how to help teams reduce risks, remove blockers and… Deliver! We touch on the importance of 1-on-1 relationships with team members, the importance of servant leadership, project awareness, project management tooling, risk management, good project hygiene and how to become a delivery manager.

Further reading:

S2E03: Should we allow FE and BE stories?

In this episode Swathi Poddar and I are talking about a thing we used to fight about: Should we or Shouldn’t we allow frontend (FE) and backend (BE) specific user stories? Surely, stories should describe features, something that delivers value? But what, if there was a public API? And if it turns out that API also fed a GUI frontend? And what if your team simply demanded it as it made their lives easier?

A full write up with visuals and diagrams on our blog.

A book we touch on in this episode, and one which is highly recommended to ready is Sam Newman’s Building Microservices

Swathi Poddar is a Business Analyst, Product Owner and Software Consultant. She has worked and studied in the UK, US and currently works out of Pune and Bangalore, India. She can be ‘found’ and contacted here.

S2E02: Assigning teams to features or services

In this episode Swathi Poddar and I are talking about a topic very close to our heart: how do we best assign work to our teams? Do we have clear ownership of features or services, and if so, what do we do with the ‘shared’ service we’ll invariably encounter? Are such services commonly owned, can anyone mess with them, or are we keeping them under tight guard, and we ask: ‘Who owns the frontend?’ Expect an interesting, possibly controversial discussion…

A full article, visuals and diagrams about this topic on our blog.

Books we touch on in this episode, and which are highly recommended to read are

Swathi Poddar is a Business Analyst, Product Owner and Software Consultant. She has worked and studied in the UK, US and currently works out of Pune and Bangalore, India. She can be ‘found’ and contacted under https://www.linkedin.com/in/swathi-poddar.

S2E01: Team Roles – User Research

In our continued exploration into Team Roles, in this episode we talk to Erica Kucharczyk about the role of User Research. This is a role that is frequently overlooked, but can pay off huge dividends in the long run if quality research is incorporated into your development cycle. We discuss how research helps teams validate their value proposition, the value of user research, the process of designing, running and analysing tests, Qualitative vs Quantitative, how to get into user research and what good looks like. So, get out there and do some research!

Media of interest:

Erica mentioned the following tools in this episode:

Erica Kucharczyk is a Brighton/London based User Researcher and can best be found here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erica-kucharczyk/

S1E12: What if WE Were the Client – Selecting Software Suppliers as a Startup

This time we ask: What if WE were the Client?” and engage in some wishful thinking, turning the situation on its head and talk about all the things we would do and change if we were looking for or working with software suppliers.

Further reading:

Wardley maps

The name of author and book Marcel butchered: Tim Ferris, The four hour week.
No link here, as Marcel’s finds the book too ethically challenged and smelling of snake oil.

S1E11: TL;DR – Status Reports

Status reports… all Delivery Managers need to do them.  Love them or hate them, this short TL;DR episode will give you practical tips on getting the most out of your status reports and turn the chore into a great communication tool if you focus on your audience and quality, concise content.

S1E10: TL;DR – Backlogs

Most software delivery use a story backlog to manage delivery: effectively a list of things to delivery. But often the backlog is at best a mess, at worst confusing and misleading.

A good backlog provides structure and facilitates delivery, a bad one adds confusion and inefficiencies.

Here is our 5 minute fix to help you optimise your backlog.

Further interesting reading:

S1E09: TL;DR – Story Mapping

Story mapping is maybe the easiest tool to quickly and reliably elicit requirements. It’s my default that always delivers reliable results, not matter the situation.
Here is our 5 minute how-to.

Further interesting reading:

S1E08: Team Roles – Engagement Management

For this episode we have invited our colleague Dave Hewett to discuss all things Engagement Management, Client Service and Account Handling.

We will touch on what good ‘client servicing’ means and where the balance lies between saying ‘yes’ and saying ‘no’. Ultimately engagement management is all about ensuring delivery in a way that both the client and the delivery team are happy. Remember, only happy teams deliver good outcomes.

Dave Hewett, born in New Zealand, is a UK-based based Engagement Manager for Equal Experts with a 30+ year work portfolio in business analysis, delivery and engagement management across industries including energy, telephony, finance, automotive and many others.

S1E07: TL;DR – User Story Writing

Everyone has heard of User Stories, most delivery teams use them, most business analysts or product owners write them, but often we are not writing them well.

Here is our 5 minute fix to help you write great stories.

Further interesting reading:

S1E06: Team Roles – User Experience-, Visual- and Service-Design

For this Episode we have invited our colleagues Isabell Britsch and Tarik Johnston to discuss all things Digital Design with us.

We will touch on the importance of placing the user at the centre of things and in this context will explain the differences between service design (the overall end to end including the organisational view), user experience design (how user interact at the various touchpoints), user interface design (the design of an interface provided at a specific touchpoint).

As usual, in our episodes on roles we will touch on ‘what makes a good practitioner’ in these disciplines, how their day to day work looks like, and how one can get into these roles…

Isabell Britsch is a London based Design Consultant and Art Director and has a 20 year work portfolio with clients across a wide range of industries and projects in digital, print and TV . You can contract her via her Linkedin profile or her portfolio. When she does not design, she teaches Yoga and Meditation.

Tarik Johnston is a London based User Experience Designer with a 15 year work portfolio in designing user-centered digital applications in the public and private sector across ecommerce, banking, government, travel and property. He can best be contacted via Linkedin.

S1E05: Team Roles – Business Analyst / Product Owner

In this Episode we have invited our colleague Swathi Poddar to discuss why the Business Analyst and Product Owner are such important roles for every successful delivery team.

Successful projects are based on a clear understanding of the domain, specifically goals and needs, and how to best satisfy these with a solution within the given constraints (time, money, regulatory, etc).

With the Product Owner hat on, we take care of the up-front bit, i.e. the focusing on strategic fit, while with the business analyst hat on, we focus more on the nitty gritty details of the solutions.

Further thoughts on the topic can be found at our blog:

Swathi Poddar is a Business Analyst, Product Owner and Software Consultant. She has worked and studied in the UK, US and currently works out of Pune and Banglore, India. She can be ‘found’ and contacted here.

S1E04: Team Roles – Team Composition

This Episode, the start a series on our Team Roles Series, we will set the scene on which roles are generally required for a well set-up software delivery team.

In this Episodes we will be introducing each role and set the scene for subsequent episodes in which we will invite craftswomen and men skilled in the various roles to discuss raison d’être, what good looks like, value that role adds and, in fact, what that roes ‘does’.

Expected insightful discussions with some of the industry’s top talent from all over the world.

We will be quite flexible with rolling out the episodes in this series, so stay tuned, and let this unfold organically over the next couple of months…

S1E03: Offshoring and distributed teams

We’ve all been in situations where suppliers and clients alike were extolling the benefits of nearshoring, offshoring or other forms of cross-location working.

And indeed there are very good reasons on why we may want to consider such resourcing strategies, but more often than not we find that making this work in practice and realising the benefits without introducing too much pain is harder than anticipated.

Today, we are in Bangalore and have invited our colleague Swathi Poddar to talk offshoring and distributed teams with us.

Further thoughts on the topic of Distributed teams can be found at our blog.

Swathi Poddar is a Business Analyst, Product Owner and Software Consultant. She has worked and studied in the UK, US and currently works out of Pune and Banglore, India. She can be ‘found’ and contacted here.

S1E02: Values

In this Episode we chat about Values. Values that we as individuals, as supplier and clients hold, and why it is important that we are mindful of such values. We discuss what happens when values are misaligned and propose ways on how to align them.
Because we both know from experience: When values are misaligned, bad things will happen!

Interesting reading on topics mentioned in this podcast are the Agile Manifesto, and the less authoritative, but nevertheless highly relevant Declaration of Interdependence.

S1E01: What is Agile?

In this Episode with provide a high level view on what Agile is. We touch on mindset, process and techniques. We dispel the myth of Agile being a silver bullet that solves all software delivery problems, discuss whether Agile is always right and provide some early insight into how to apply Agile successfully.

Expect more detailed discussion on each topic as the podcast evolves.

Interesting reading on topics mentioned in this podcast are the Agile Manifesto, and the less authoritative, but nevertheless highly relevant Declaration of Interdependence.

Also, a quick overview of Scrum and XP.

If you are up for a related novel check out The Phoenix Project, if you are interested in agile concepts, do read the introductions to DSMD and SAFe (where the latter is concerned, do read this critique before rushing into implementation.)

S1E0: Introducing The Burn Up

Introducing The Burn Up: a podcast about all things Agile and Software Delivery.

In this very first podcast we set the scene, talk about what The Burn Up is all about, who it is for, and what listeners can expect.

Based on our experience as IT consultants we will talk about what makes software projects successful or fail; we will introduce interesting concepts and techniques, dispel myths and challenge common assumptions.

We will look at strategies and technologies and will chat with industry leaders and top talent.

This is our way of giving back to the industry by providing ideas and guidance to clients and suppliers, management and practitioners, to help make software delivery more enjoyable and successful.

Thought leadership

It is very important for me to get out of the ‘bubble’ and keep my fingers on the pulse. I am an active member in my professional communities, but also draw on learnings from other - sometimes seemingly unrelated - areas.
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Get in touch

I’d love to hear from you if you have feedback or want to be on the podcast, or if you have an opportunity or challenge I might be able to help with, either as part of delivery teams, as short term consultant in advisory capacity or as coach.
Get in touch

The Burn Up is hosted by

Marcel Britsch

Marcel Britsch

Product Director

Marcel Britsch is an independent Digital Consultant, Product Owner and Agile Transformation specialist.

Born in Germany, he has been living and working in London for over 20 years. He has worked with creatively and technically focused agencies and clients across retail, conservation, automotive, finance, healthcare and energy.

He helps organisations build solid products and services in a sustainable way by facilitation, pairing, coaching or hands-on product management.

He believes that project success is strongly linked to happy teams, value-focused decision- making and fast feedback cycles. He is passionate about finding the best tools and techniques to optimise team culture, ways of working and solution design. He considers projects that follow classic waterfall / big-design-up-front practices to be too likely doomed to go anywhere near them, but loves to help organisations build products and transform in incremental evolutionary fashion.

Outside of work he is interested in SciFi and comic books, Theravada Buddhist meditation and number theory.

Work with us...

Marcel and likeminded experts are available as team, part of delivery teams, as short term consultants in advisory capacity, as coaches or as speakers. We love a challenge.