Rob Borley – Change your Business, Change the World

My notes from Rob’s talk at DPM:UK 2014. Enterprise mobile provider – we build mobile apps. Software engineers.

WL Gore & Associates (Creative technologies, Goretex) – they inspired me. They did things differently. Staff = associates / building community in company.

Skills gap. Really difficult to hire. Perks arms race. We have perks but don’t advertise them. We want people to buy into our culture, not mercenaries.

People generally want something more than a pay check. Flexible working. autonomy, achievement, clear communication.

20th century business culture full of companies that didn’t do this. Top-down control.
21st century values. Democracy, openess, freedome of data, freedom of expression.

  • People first. Empower people to make decisions without antiquated chain of command
  • Zappos culture. Culture book, “Reply all hat”

Dootrix values:

  • Honesty
  • Transparency
  • Integrity
  • Personal responsibility

How we work

We use agile because we feel it brings the best out of our teams.

  • Sprint teams with “partners” (clients)
  • One team is working with one client at any one time. Never sidetracked.
  • Project coordinator (we think team don’t need managing, are capable of motivating themselves)
  • Project owner = client


  • We create an environment people want to be in. In a farmhouse in Hampshire.
  • Hack days / experimentation in between sprints

A disciplined process is key to delivering good products.

Our agile process:

  • Planning meeting
    • Transparent with client
    • collect inputs
    • User stories
    • wireframe
    • planning poker
  • Two week sprint
  • Daily standup (10m)
    • we make people stand up
  • Sprint demo
    • testable deliverable
    • everyone in company is invited to these
  • Retrospective

Development process

  1. Code repo
  2. Devs check out code from code repo
  3. Automated tests on any changes
  4. Manual tests / peer review / coding standards
  5. Devs check in code
  6. Automated builds

We practise Test-driven development (TDD).

Peer review
Done on everything through the company: code, blog posts, presentations, etc.

Automate as much as possible (test, build, deployment)

Planning poker.
Based on ideal person day so we have the same measure. Cards 1, 2, 3, 5, 7.
Everything is estimated in days.

Engage with community, organise hack days, etc. Helps with recruitment.

We don’t have service level agreements / maintenance teams at present. We have a warranty period. Easier to tie down when delivering software for specific platforms.