The secret shortcuts to Agile... (that won't get you there)

schedule Feb 27th 05:30 PM - Jan 1st 12:00 AM place Esquire

This is an exploratory talk, based, first, on some recent insights from cognitive science, behavioural economics (which have enriched Agile folklore already) and then on, some interesting twists from culture based research in sociology and psychology. While the former will be useful in understanding the common pitfalls encountered in a scaled Agile implementation, the latter, maybe useful in understanding the unexpected twists when doing scaled agile in a distributed/off-shore environment that have different cultural norms.

While the anti-patterns and anti-paths are common across the world, the solution to these does differ. The assumptions behind what leads to a motivated, self-organizing, self-directing team will determine how to bring about a nuanced mindset to Agility, and understanding that what works in the West may not work in India (and other similar higher Power-Distance-Index countries).

While sharing my experiences in a large scale Agile transformation and working with different cultures, I hope to bring out some subtle variations that could be useful in coaching and working with and transforming Agile teams in an offshore engagement.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

1. Introduction to some relevant aspects of cognitive science & culture-based studies that inform upon some of the assumptions behind Agile

2. Introduction to the shortcuts/anti-paths - some typical reactions to tough situations that most teams end up taking on the route to transformation/scaling Agility  

3. Presenting the The Darwin awards for Agilty - the top anti-patterns/shortcuts

4. Finally, we'll have a discussion, on avoiding the  pitfalls, along the follwing lines: 

a. How does the pitfall manifest because of some cognitive hard-wiring we've developed evolutionarily

b. How Agile tries to solve it through its core principles - in some cases that works easier in low PDI culture

c.  Why Agile adoption faces still challenge (especially in India)

d. Some possible ways to achieve Agility when outsourcing and working with high-PDI cultures

Learning Outcome

 If you've tried Agile, or if you've tried teaching Agile, you've surely come acorss these confounding problems. But do you have all the tools and knowledge you need to overcome them. This talk will introduce a few tools from Cognitive science and Sociology that can help understand the common pitfalls to scaling agility, especially in certain cultures:

1. We'll look at some common shortcuts (Anti-paths) to Agility! - and how to avoid them, and take the hidden, less-travelled and long road.

2. What recent research in Sociology (Joe Henrich & Geert Hofstede) say about commonly accepted theories - that they may have a narrow western/college-grad focus and be quite irrelevant/different for other cultures. 

3. For example, we'll be answering questions like these:

a. (How) Does co-operation occur in a high-PDI culture?

b. Does Autonomy/Mastery/Purpose mean the same in every culture - if not, does a lot of Agile principles still make sense everywhere? 

c. How do you measure value when there are multiple, conflicinting yardsticks?

d.  Why the zombie refuses to die - the great project manager role! 

e. How does self-organization work in high-PDI cultures -> Does it occur? if not, can it facilitated? Or does it need be coerced?

Target Audience

Agile enthusiasts of all colours - Dev, QA, BA, PO, Management, Coaches

schedule Submitted 4 years ago

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  • Ram Srinivasan
    By Ram Srinivasan  ~  4 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Ram

    What recent research in Sociology says about commonly accepted theories - their narrow western/college-grad focus and their complete irrelevance to other cultures -

    What does it say? I tried to look for that in your slides and could not find it. 

    You talk about behavioral economics in your abstract, I could not find that in your slides. What aspects of behavioral economics are we talking here (with respect to Agile adoption)? 

    Also, I am concerned that you are mixing Agile with specific Agile methodologies (like XP and Scrum). Example - Slide 7 - Agile Path - Stories must be written from the users PoV. 

    >>Where in the Agile Manifesto do you see that? User stories are from XP and is a Generally Accepted Scrum Practice(GASP) to describe your requirements/features as user stories

    Your title "Short cuts to scaling agile" and the contents are divergent. Or am I missing something? I am not exactly sure what scaling problem your presentation addresses.  Can you please clarify? 

     

    Thanks,
    Ram

     

    • Ram Ramalingam
      By Ram Ramalingam  ~  4 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hello Ram,

      Thanks for reading my proposal and sharing your feedback. I have updated some of the sections based on the comments received, and hopefully that addresses some of your queries. Also answer to an earlier question might have answered some. In order that I don't repeat things too much, may I request you check that out too, and let me know if that doesn't make sense. A few specific questions youa had, I shall try and answer here -

      1. Talking of stories: I get your concern which may apply if I said stories were the only way to express requiremtns etc. The slides that you refer to only use the term story as an example of a requirement artifact. The main point of the slide is quite different - that the Story/Use-case.. call it as you may, often end up being expressed from a systemic stand point - so you can rest assured, that I will not call Stories as Agile! That said, I must insist though, for its often overlooked, that though Srum, DSDM, XP etc are but many sets of practices and are not in itself Agile, nor is Agile possible without any of these. Do you disagree? Hence, taking one of these practices as an example, and a medium to discuss some of the principles of Agility is not in any ways restricting he validity of the argument, as long as the argument doesnt just limit itself to the specific practice

      2. Shortcuts vs Slides - the sldeshare file you mean? That does discuss the shortcuts. It doesn't talk about the cultural studies/congnitive science. I have been doing these talks separately thus far. I shall add the connection in today.

      If the above doesn't answer your concerns do let me know. thank much, again, for your thoughts,

      Ram

       

       

       

       

       

  • Joel Tosi
    By Joel Tosi  ~  4 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Ram,

      I am intrigued by your session but am concerned about how the overview is written.  Could you make the overview more tangible with outcomes - why someone would want to attend versus background information?

    Could you provide some examples of the anti-patterns you will cover?

     

    Best,

    Joel

    • Ram Ramalingam
      By Ram Ramalingam  ~  4 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hello Joel,

      First, thanks for reading through my proposal and sharing your thoughts on it.

      Will brush up the overview today and hope it would read better after that. For the benefit of your questions, let me summarise my thoughts here quickly. Do let me know if this doesn't clarify:

      The talk connects three related research areas, which in turn inform on the tenets of Agile - 1. The motivation theories(SDT, Dan Pink etc), Complexity  (emergence and self-oganiztion) 2. Culture and its impact on how team/organizations are different (Primarily based on Geert Hofstede's 5-factors 3. Cross-cultural research that call to question previously unquestioned ideas in No.1 - This is research based on Joe Henrich's work

      The approach am taking is to make the talk a little less dry and use examples to bring out the connection above -

      1. Take some common anti-patterns (what I am calling shortcuts to Agility) that result from natural human errors (congnitive biases) - (example: Feature teams that continue to work on stories that are at a component level)

      2. Introduce the cognitive bias(es) involved (in the previous example its a combination of Heuristics and Expert biases) - Introduce how the biases have been overcome (By a clear definition of Goals and BDD - that short our brains to think more in terms of the users than our expert areas, which are a natural fallout of large organizations and specialized teams)

      3. Introduce the cultural elements that beg for a nuanced solution - where goal direction is generally thought to be a solution, because its assumed that people, given autonomy, will come up with the right solution, given a common goal. What if the cultural forces don't allow you to think autonomously (High-PDI culture, according to Hofstede)? What if the individuals in the team is self-seeking and doesn't have the habit of getting into a co-operative game and in cultures where inequality and injustice are routinely tolerated and even expected? (As Joe Henrich has been finding in the last decade. And as Hofstede's low UAI-index cultures are supposed to be)? Would the mindset to Agile need a tweak?

      4. Finally, in each of these shortcuts (and anti-patterns), I share some experiences on why structure may matter more than self-organization. Why a hierarchy and extrinisic motivation may be useful as much as, if not more than, intrinisc motivation. 

      The second part of your question - a sample of patterns and some common manifestations are there in the slides. The theory I plan to introduce to connect these patterns, are not there yet. I have usually done these talks separately - patterns separately, cognitive/behavioural economics separately. Will add them to the slides shortly.

      I hope I have addressed your main concerns and feedback. Thanks, once again,

      Ram.


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    Other talks and games will teach you how to run a successful Agile project. Only this one will teach you how to ruin an Agile project*. In this game we will break every Agile rule, disregard the manifesto and ignore common sense in the singular pursuit of failure (and fun).

    Each of you will be part of an Agile team with a dis-engaged Customer and micro-managing boss. Being Agile, there will be daily stand-ups, planning sessions, retrospectives, and kanban boards but nothing will go as you expect.

    * More importantly, this activity will teach you "how" Agile projects can fail and the reason behind many common Agile practices.

  • Liked Gopinath R
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    Gopinath R - 3Cs for Agile Project Success - Critical Success Factors & Proven Practices

    20 Mins
    Experience Report
    Beginner

    Agile methodologies are gaining wider acceptance in Software Development and Testing due to its inherent values like Accelerate Time to Market, Eliminate Waste and flexible to adapt changes quickly. Agile practices emphasis on effective communication, collaboration and customer involvement for addressing the challenges in developing the product in dynamic business environment due to fast changing requirements. The co-location of project teams and high customer interaction throughout the project helps in achieving effective communication, team and customer collaboration.

     In an outsourced or offshore Software development, teams are geographically distributed to develop products in a collaborative and cost-effective manner by better utilization of global talents. Adopting agile methodologies helps in better ROI by developing quality products as per changing market needs in short span. Adopting Agile in global software development shall pose few challenges due to wider geographical distance, time zone differences, and cultural aspects and so on.

     

    This paper presents 3Cs – Communication, Collaboration and Customer Involvement as Critical Success Factors that need to be considered while implementing Agile for Global Software Development. It also details proven practices to address the challenges due to distributed agile software development. This paper is based on Author’s experience in executing Outsourced Product Development engagements using Distributed Agile Methodologies for co-creating Telecom products

  • Liked Raj Anantharaman
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    Raj Anantharaman - Cross Geo Collaboration and Delivery of Intel's Tablet - Scaled Agile and ALM Tools Story

    45 Mins
    Case Study
    Intermediate

    We all know it takes a group of skilled engineers and developers to deliver any successful product. But what if they are all located in various geos, have different competencies / focus areas (hardware, software), on top of it - they are given a stringent deadline to deliver? In my session I'd like to share how Intel adopted the Scaled Agile framework and a homegrown "Managed Personal Accountability" (MPA) model to deliver the first tablet solution successfully. 

    It took a combination of good Agile planning and execution (Scrum of Scrums), an integrated ALM Toolset, along with performance management metrics of MPA to deliver this project successfully.

  • Liked Joseph V
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    Joseph V - Tale of an Off-shore Agile Scrum Implementation

    Joseph V
    Joseph V
    Director - Product development
    AON Inc
    schedule 4 years ago
    Sold Out!
    20 Mins
    Talk
    Intermediate

    Couple of years ago our business unit engaged a vendor in India  to do some software development for us.  Since we are agile scrum based organization, we are seeking a vendor who has exposure to agile. We identified and signed up with a vendor to start the process. It was a ride filled lot of excitement and challenges. Finally we are able to land safely.

  • Liked Naresh Jain
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    Naresh Jain - SAMPLE PROPOSAL - Product Discovery Workshop

    Naresh Jain
    Naresh Jain
    Founder
    ConfEngine.com
    schedule 4 years ago
    Sold Out!
    90 Mins
    Tutorial
    Beginner

    Many product companies struggle with a big challenge: how to identify a Minimal Viable Product that will let them quickly validate their product hypothesis?

    Teams that share the product vision and agree on priorities for features are able to move faster and more effectively.

    During this workshop, we’ll take a hypothetical product and coach you on how to effectively come up with an evolutionary roadmap for your product.

    This 90 mins workshop teaches you how to collaborate on the vision of the product and create a Product Backlog, a User Story map and a pragmatic Release Plan.

    This is a sample proposal to demonstrate how your proposal can look on this submission system.