Past Meetup

Making the Right Thing the Easy Thing w/ Mike Bland

This Meetup is past

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Talk Summary

As a part of an organization, we often encounter challenges that we identify as rooted in culture. To change the culture, we must occasionally take bold action—but how do we build up to that action? How do we cement the progress generated from that action? How do we reach a point where bold action is no longer necessary?

Two of the most powerful solutions to these problems are often the most neglected: documentation and training. Both are rarely bold, shiny, or sexy, but done persistently and done well, they can gradually, suddenly, and permanently shift a culture.

In this talk, we'll explore how effective documentation and training practices shifted Google culture from one in which code was "too hard to test" and many "didn't have time to test" to one in which automated testing has become an indispensable aspect of the Google development environment. We'll also consider ideas about how to adapt similar principles to a more resource-constrained organization.

Speaker Bio

Mike has been an instigator for organizational change since 2005, when he helped drive adoption of automated testing throughout Google as part of the Testing Grouplet, the Test Mercenaries, and the Fixit Grouplet. He was instrumental in the execution of Test Certified and Testing on the Toilet, and the four company-wide Fixits he organized led to the development and rollout of the Test Automation Platform. He also served as a member of the Websearch Infrastructure team.

Most recently he served as Practice Director at 18F, a technology team within the U.S. General Services Administration, where he personally launched and drove several initiatives to increase 18F’s capability as a learning organization. His 18F Hub prototype spawned several other projects, such as the 18F Pages platform and the 18F Guides series, the 18F Edu initiative, the Team API engine, and the 18F Handbook. He is the primary author of 18F’s Automated Testing Playbook, Grouplet Playbook, Guides Template, and Unit testing in Node.js tutorial. He led three 18F Grouplets–Documentation, Testing, and the Working Group Working Group–as a vehicle to develop and promote these tools and projects in a grassroots fashion. Primarily a C++ and Python programmer at Google, he became proficient in Ruby, Go, and Node.js during his tenure at 18F. Almost all of Mike’s 18F code and documentation source is openly available on GitHub.

Everything Mike does aims to produce a culture of transparency, autonomy, and collaboration, in which “Instigators” are connected and are empowered to effect cultural change throughout an organization.