I’ve started looking at Topgrading at the suggestion of my colleague Kristen Johnson here at Twitter.

In short, the goal is to hire great team players that have the technical skills and an ability to collaborate effectively – two traits essential to driving the business forward. The thinking goes: it is better to falsely reject than mistakenly hire.

If, like me, you’re not familiar with Topgrading here are some resources to get you up to speed:

I’ve not put this into practice yet – merely learning what this is about and thinking of how best to apply this approach to hiring for product teams. Of note was the final step of the interview where the candidate arranges a reference check call directly with their present/former boss.

What has your experience been with Topgrading?

Thinking about BDD

June 13, 2014

I’m just starting to scratch the surface and learn more about BDD. I’m yet to put it into practice. Here are the resources that are bootstrapping my understanding:

What has your experience been?

AgileCamp Silicon ValleyYesterday I had the good fortune to attend AgileCamp Silicon Valley. I joined a panel on team dynamics in the morning and presented a revised Collaborating Across an Enterprise: Quarterly Planning at Twitter with JIRA and Confluence in the afternoon.

The event was hosted at the amazing eBay Town Hall. Honestly, what a brilliant training and conference centre they have! Also, kudos goes to Stacey, Mary and the entire organising crew – it is not easy pulling off a full day conference and they did a superb job. Thank you!


Choice Quotes:

As you gain agility you have to gain discipline.

– Ryan Martens, @RallyOn

I agree wholeheartedly. Being agile is hard, and without the discipline individuals, teams and organisations will return to their old, familiar and less effective methods.


Business of innovation is mainstream. Agility is a necessity.

– Victoria Livschitz, @vlivschitz

This tied in nicely with the statistic that the average span of time a company is on the Fortune 500 list has dropped to 15 years, down from a high of over 30. Agility gives companies the ability to be innovative, validate customer problems quickly and get to market promptly.


As is built.

– Luke Hohmann, @lukehohmann

This one was gold. When the product manager doesn’t have sufficient insight into a particular area they may write “as is built” for the acceptance criteria. In this situation the product manager will accept the solution that the team comes up with. Very nice.


Collaborating Across an Enterprise

Collaborating Across an Enterprise – Quarterly Planning at Twitter with JIRA and Confluence includes some new reporting goodness that we’ve been exploring since we got a good baseline in 2013-Q4. In this talk I share cumulative flow diagrams and control charts for two groups and we compared their behaviour. Lots of fun, and some great (tricky) questions as well. Cheers!