How We Get Agile Transformations Wrong By Trying to Do It All So Right
Sorry to say it guys, but Agile has gone limp over the last few years. As we get more and more coaches into the mix, both external as well as internal, organizations somehow have forgotten that it’s software that we’re trying to produce. Not great stand-ups.
Technical practices matter. In fact, if we could dispense with ALL process and still create the valuable quality software that is needed, we should do that. From a Lean perspective, process adds no customer facing value. But getting rid of all process is crazy talk. Even Fred George, who promoted “Programmer Anarchy” several years ago never got away from all process. In reality, his movement was premised on driving business decision making directly into technical decision making, and completely empowering teams to “be” the company. He premised the concept of “Programmer Anarchy” on using the best and brightest developers out there, and trusting that if they could do something as difficult as create great code that they could do the business decision making as well.
But perhaps we don’t have the absolute best talent out there. Perhaps it’s hard to lure people away from Google and Facebook because of the money and the chance to get great work environment and unbelievable work challenges (change the world, anyone?) Does that mean that we have to go back into the Fredrick Winslow Taylor world view of “The One Best Way”? With that way becoming making a choice between Scrum, SAFe, Lean/Kanban, and other development processes?
I’d like to convince you that what’s going to work for your organization and your employees is something in the middle. I, of course, lean into the “better technical practices will yield better outcomes” frame of mind. You may as well. But when Garrison Keillor said, on “A Prairie Home Companion” (a long running radio show on National Public Radio in the States), “Well, that's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average”, that was satire! And the same is true of your organization. It can't logically be true that all organizations’ developers are all above average. But we can hold people to an acceptable level of technical practices that will yield in writing better code than merely having a process that talks about writing better code.
This session will speak to the specifics of the whats and whys.
Outline/Structure of the Talk
This is a straightforward talk that has a very simple premise. The only artifact that really matters, the one artifact that uniquely adds customer value over anything else, from all of the many artifacts that we create as an organization trying to become more Agile is the code that we create. And no matter how wonderful our process is, without that code artifact, nothing else really matters at all.
This will lead us down the road of paying more attention to the technical practices of the delivery teams and helping them turn product ideas into code and cash.
We will examine the effects of being honest with ourselves as to where our delivery team capabilities are currently and suggest the best avenues to pursue for teams of different skill levels.
- technical practices matter - more than any other factor in predicting project success
- given the choice between great process versus great technical practices, the practices have to win every time
- "You Go To War With The Army You Have - Not The Army You Might Want Or Wish To Have At A Later Time" and how to deal with that
Delivery team members, delivery team stakeholders (POs, SMs, etc), management, and executive management