Simultaneous Chess

I was trying to explain a rather challenging day at the office to my wife; a day where I felt like I had a thousand things happening at once.

I struggled for a few minutes and then stumbled to a description that “it is like playing simultaneous chess” where you must keep a┬ánumber of game states in memory and constantly switch between them.

I think this is a rather apt description. I also see that the ability to play this kind of simultaneous chess is a really key attribute for many senior executives. That’s not to disparage a single-minded focus on one thing, since I believe this kind of attention is really the key to creativity. But not many us work on creative tasks all the time. Sometimes we must play chess, and if you can play multiple games simultaneously then that is also a valuable skill.

As a footnote to this post, I am not suggesting any adversarial element in my work. Of course we all strive for a win-win result in any deal. I am only commenting on the complexity aspect.

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How long is your software release cycle?

Your organization’s software release cycle time is one of the primary indicators of the health of your entire software delivery operation. Ask yourself how long it takes your entire organization to make a software release from the time that a developer checks in that change – any change, even the simplest – until it goes into production.

No shortcuts, now! This release must be one that your enterprise will fully support, so testing and quality assurance is needed.

This is your release cycle time. Is your answer measured in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or even years? Most organizations that I’ve seen measure their release cycle in days or weeks. But there are some organisations with release cycles at either end of the spectrum.

Why is this important? The reality is that your enterprise relies on software releases to fulfil some critical business need. It might be needed to generate business income, it might be needed to fix a defect that is affecting your customers. For these reasons, the shorter your release time, the quicker you can derive a business benefit. The smartest companies will create a competitive advantage from the speed of their software release cycle.

In a future post I’ll be writing about what your organisation can do to improve your release cycle.