Organizational sensing: why indicators are not enough

The world around us is changing quickly. Organizations need to rapidly respond to a changing world. In a knowledge intensive world, pressured by hypercompetition, new forms of organization are required to keep up. Especially around the topic of enabling value delivery, organisations need to balance the paradox of steering. Either steering via management (coordination) or empower teams to organise themselves. John Child in his book Organizations describes the concepts of integration and coordination, mechanisms to enable delivery of value.

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A/B Testing with Netlify

While browsing the Netlify configuration site for my account (in a more or less panicky attempt to find some config item I’d lost track of), I stumbled on an option named split testing. I know this concept as A/B testing, where you try out different versions or options of a site and check analytics to find out which version yields the highest revenue. Netlify tags this option as beta, but at the time of writing I’m pretty happy with its performance. Below is a short introduction on how to use the split testing feature.

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Unlimited versions of your site with Netlify

Remember when we used to have a production, acceptance testing, integration and development version of a site? And that we struggled to get an extra environment from IT just so our customers could test our work?

Those days are over. Below I’ll show how to set up deploys for every branch. Or every commit. And how to have all of those versions available at the same time. The enabling technology is Netlify.

This post will show how to deploy a site on Netlify, based on a GitHub repository. And the killer feature: each single commit can be deployed to a unique URL with no extra effort at all. This facilitates fast and easy feedback from our clients on the products we build.

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Systems Thinking: define the problem, results and behaviour

Great landing, wrong airport

I read this phrase a while ago and it got to me. It fitted the projects I was working on. <Enter attentional bias>.  These organisations I was working with were building great solutions (technically). Unfortunately, not always what their customers were expecting. It confirmed for me that Systems Thinking is really important. Combined with some new insights from behavioural sciences, you will land at the right airport.

Small side confession: reading this phrase triggered two things in me.  

  • A memory of that time I planned a fun getaway to Mallorca with a friend but ended up at the wrong ‘Weeze airport’. Which made me think of changing this title to “Great holiday plan, wrong airport”. 
  • The realisation that this phrase beautifully articulates the million-dollar question: ‘Which problem are we actually solving with this solution?’  

Although the story of the first is – in hindsight – brilliant, I’ll focus on the second one in this post.  

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Secure Deployment: 10 Pointers on Secrets Management

In a previous blog we talked about secure deployment. Secrets management is an important part of that. So what does that mean? In this blog we’ll give some pointers on how to do secrets management well in the perspective of a secure deployment. It’s easy to start saying “use tool X to store the secret” or “have all these detection tools in place!”, but that would lead to blind spots. Instead, let’s take a look at some pointers that would help you increase secret security holistically.

That’s a whole lot of secrets to manage…
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Birn_Municipal_Bank_HQ_Safes.jpg
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Sustainable change requires architecture of technology and organization

A desire to improve. Each organization I have met is searching for new ways to do better. A higher quality of their product. Optimize their process to deliver software quicker. A caveat however is that organizations are typically focused on technology. Learning new skills, introducing new tools. Yes, they have their benefits. They can make your product better or improve the process. However, if you are solely focusing on the technology you only reap part of the benefits. In worst case you are even actively harm the organization. 

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Burst your bubble: using machine learning to change the world

Social media has been blamed for locking people in a bubble, only showing them news that is in line with their beliefs. This divides society into different groups that have almost nothing in common. People read what they think they want to read, never seeing a different opinion. At the same time governments and influencers have started to call for filtering. Facebook would have to filter out lies and fake news, so we all see the truth only. The problem with the filter approach is that it will cause opinions to drift toward some bottom line truisms we can all agree on. If we start fining social media for violations, the companies will get more and more conservative, and we’ll end up in a boring world. Like having a perpetually overcast sky and an eternal drizzle. Grey goo everywhere.

This is not what we need. What we need is to be confronted with opinions that differ from what we think is right. So we (i.e. Albert Brand, Arjan Molenaar and myself) started a one-day research project at Xebia, inspired by a feature of my favorite Dutch newspaper, NRC. The feature is called Twistgesprek. The format is that two people discuss a statement during the week. Their conversation is summarized and published in the Saturday paper as a back-and-forth of messages. Quite often I start with a strong opinion about the subject being discussed, but end up with a more thorough understanding of its nuances because of the discussion. Having your convictions challenged and modified is a wonderful gift.
So, the idea was to show people ideas that directly contradict each other.
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Designing your DynamoDB tables efficiently and modelling mixed data types with Kotlin

AWS (Amazon Web Services) offers a pretty neat NoSQL database called DynamoDB. It is fast and it can scale, what more can you wish for? The thing is, as a developer you are still responsible for designing your tables in such a way, that you actually make appropriate use of the benefits DynamoDB has to offer. If you simply apply your knowledge gained using other databases, you might end up wasting money and performance.

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