Steve will be presenting the following session
  • Steve Adolph
    Steve Adolph
    Senior Consultant
    cPrime, Inc.
    schedule 11 months ago
    Sold Out!
    45 Mins

    Large-scale agile transformations do not have a good track record with reportedly up to 70% falling far short of their goals.  From a biological perspective,  many agile transformations are like taking a bulldozer to a wild, diverse eco-system.  While we may create a consistent Way of Working, the transformation bulldozer often results in a monoculture,  a weakened ecosystem that cannot adapt and innovate. Of course, to work together, especially at scale, we cannot just let our enterprise eco-system grow wild because we need consistency to collaborate and coordinate. We can resolve this dilemma by taking a page from Socio-Technical systems for a more sustainable transformation.  We introduce five principles for the "Greening" of the Agile Transformation that sustains and grows our capability to innovate while creating needed alignment and consistency.

1. What got you started/interested in modern software development methods?

To be straightforward, I shrugged my shoulders when I heard about the snowbird meeting (Alistair Cockburn and friends and I were writing a book together at the time). From my point of view the values called out in the agile manifesto were of course what I believed were the necessary values for creating good software and systems. It is the way we had in general organized ourselves on projects previously.  What got me much more interested was discovering that very few of us were practicing software and product development this way.

Using well known methodologies such as SAFe and DA as bodies of knowledge to inform a way of working and engaging in a discplined empirical approach to process improvement. 

2. What do you think is the biggest challenge faced by the software product engineering community today?

The same problem we have had since the term software engineering was coined, organizing and coordinating people to work together to get the job done. Far too many see software engineering and product development in general as a technical problem that has a technical solution. Unfortunately, there is a very large social dimension that is ignored and it is the social side - the fuzzy bunny stuff if you like - that has the greatest economic influence on outcomes. It seems we are still stuck with unhealthy worship of efficiency rather than creating good outcomes.

Getting people to work together effectively on a global scale in highly dispersed teams.

3. What do you think are the most exciting developments in software product engineering today?

A possible shift in thinking about the role and value of people and a greater focus on outcomes (e.g. OKRs, LPM, projects to product thinking) rather than blindly seeking efficiency. 

The shift to working at home. This is far more than just saving millions of engineers the long commutes into an office, it has also shifted the social dynamics for globally dispersed teams. With virtual collaboration, all team members are finding their voice.

4. Why did you choose the topic(s) you will be speaking about at the conference?

Very few of us actually talk about the relationship between people, technology, and outcomes. Technical software engineering topics are fun and exciting and most of us got into this crazy business because we love technology. But real benefits come from how we organize, inspire, and coordinate people to work together. 

5. What are some of the key takeaways from your session(s) at Agile India?

Even with our high agile ideals, we are at risk of re-introducing the Taylorist Machine model of organization with our common approaches to introducing agile into organizations

Product development is best modelled as a diverse eco-system that is easily destroyed when a process improvement effort seeks to impose a consistent - read compliance - set of practices across all groups.

Software development is an example of a social technical system where we must jointly optimize both the technical and social dimensions of our system if we are to get better outcomes.

Set of guidelines for the social-technical introduction and sustainment of agile within an organization


6. Which sessions are you particularly looking forward to attending at Agile India this year?

Not sure yet. 

7. Any personal remarks/message you want to share with the software community?

As Alistair Cockburn and Jim Highsmith once remarked - People trump process

or as Col John Boyd once remarked:

People, Ideas, that order!