Book Review: Making Work Visible

I was recommended Making Work Visible by a developer at Redgate Software. The book caught my eye as it seeks to ensure you can work more efficiently by watching out for some of the common things we do wrong in software development. It’s a DevOps related book, and many of the concepts of flow, work in progress, etc. that we talk about in DevOps are things that I saw in the book.

The overall message is that there are five main time thieves that cause you to work less efficiently than you or your team might otherwise function. These are:

  • Thief Too Much Work-in-Progress
  • Thief Unknown Dependencies
  • Thief Unplanned work
  • Thief Conflicting Priorities
  • Thief Neglected Work

The different issues are introduced early on, with each getting a few pages to describe them. Then later in the book, the author delves into more detail on the issues of this type of time thief, the impact, and ways you can think about working around the issues.

I read this book alone, but I might recommend you work in team here and do some of the exercises shown in the book. Each is really a physical activity, but I’m sure it would work with a virtual meeting these days.

The book is really built around Kanban boards, and there is a lot of detail on the ways to organize, or not organize, your board and team. I’ve seen some of the positives at Redgate, and some negatives as well, though I’ve seen more negatives at other companies.

There are suggestions for meetings, techniques for informing others of status and progress, and even some “beastly practices. There is lots of information supporting why something is good or bad, or really, more or less helpful.

I read most of this book in my Kindle app, but I did go through some in the cloud reader from Amazon. There are lots of images and illustrations, and lots of color, so I might recommend that you get the physical book, or if you like Kindle, read it online at times, especially with the examples and diagrams of the Kanban boards.

For me, personally, I get caught up in unplanned work at times, but often I have too much WIP and neglected work. I start things and don’t finish them quickly enough, or focus on getting them out of the way. One thing I took away from this book is to slow down and dedicate more blocks of time to knocking items off my list, rather than doing some things when I feel like it.

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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