Growing Quality from Culture in Testing Times

At the BBC, we operate at scale with resource limitations our competitors never have to think about. Given these restrictions, how did we fix our team culture, improve quality, and deliver value?

This is a repeat of my talk from 2020 with updates for what we have done since then. The BBC is a unique place to work. We operate at an enormous scale with resource limitations our competitors never have to think about. Where others discuss return on investment, we ask if it delivers value to the public. I have worked in BBC News and Weather apps for over two years. In that time, I have experienced a remarkable transformation and can genuinely say that I am proud of how we work. When I joined the team, things were very different…

There was a troubled relationship with quality, limited comfort with risk, resilience was low and there had not been a release in months. Code was being written and merged but whether it was actually releasable or not was unknown.

As part of the reorganised leadership team, our objective was clear: fix the culture, improve quality, and start shipping value to the public once more. I would like to share this journey with you and highlight some key learnings along the way.

Learnings such as:

  • The importance of shared team values and a common language around them
  • The power of collective over individual responsibility
  • The value of revisiting things regularly to keep them relevant, especially as the team grows and evolves
  • The advantages of creating an environment in which failure is part of the learning process
  • The joys of working with a group of great people when you have a shared vision and sense of purpose