Don't Look Back in Anger: Wildman Whitehouse and the Great Failure of 1858

schedule 01:30 PM - 02:15 PM place EN 413 (L80) people 22 Attending

In the 1850s, Edward Orange Wildman Whitehouse was appointed the lead engineer of the first attempt to build a trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. With the entire population of two continents waiting for his go-live, their handlebar moustaches aquiver, he demonstrated in fine form just how spectacularly a big project can be a bigger disaster.

This is a tale of long-winded rants, spectacular sideburns, and gentlemen scientists behaving badly. It is also a lesson about the importance of honest reflection in technical teamwork. Lilly outlines some of the mistakes made during one of the biggest tech delivery projects in history, and how a constructive view of failure helped to turn it all around. Through the public meltdowns of Wildman Whitehouse you will learn the importance of feedback, how to handle complex tasks gracefully, and the best way to recover from having your pipeline eaten by a whale.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

5 mins - introduction of speaker and topic

5 mins - explanation of what "feedback" means in the context of software delivery

5 mins - historical and technological context for this period of time (1850s)

10 mins - the story of the big project and the horrible aftermath

10 mins - what we can learn from this: open mindedness is critical, treat feedback sensitively, remember the Prime Directive of Retrospectives, no room for "heroes" in a strong team

5 mins - what happened to the project in our story once the dust had settled

5 mins - questions

 

Learning Outcome

- the importance of regular, honest feedback in strong teams

- how to handle complex and difficult tasks gracefully

- how to learn and recover from a bad delivery project

Target Audience

developers, testers, managers, software makers

schedule Submitted 3 months ago

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