Interview with James Stewart

Interview with James Stewart

Q. Could you briefly introduce yourself?

I’m James Stewart and I help organisations adapt to the internet era, primarily as a partner with Public Digital. Previously I worked for the UK Government where I was Deputy CTO, helping government deliver great digital services and to change its technology infrastructure so it could focus on user needs.

Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic?

I’ll be telling the story of the work I did in government. How we helped an old and complex organisation implement massive change, deliver far better services, and begin to recognise that that unit of delivery is the team.

Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session?

Hopefully our experience will be generally inspiring to people trying to bring about change in complex organisations! But I’ll also offer some practical tips on how to focus your efforts and where to start!

Q: Can you give some advice to teams/organisations that are transitioning to agile?

In many of the organisations we work with, we see agile being boxed in as purely a software delivery methodology. Most of the time really delivering value requires you to iterate everything together – the software, the processes, even the business model. That can be a lot to think about all at once! So it’s absolutely vital that everyone on the team have a clear sense of purpose, a solid understanding of the value you are trying to deliver and who it is for. Without that you’ll easily get pushed into that box, or get lost along the way.

Q: How do you see the evolution of agile in the future?

Everyone’s at different points in their agile journeys, and most organisations are really only just starting. So there’s a lot of spreading out to do without even thinking about evolution.

But I really hope and expect to see a lot more attention on a much broader approach to agility. I spent some time earlier this year working on a report about finance in a digital world and that really reinforced that not only do more organisations really need to start “funding teams, not projects” but we also need to do more to help colleagues who work in roles like finance to restructure their mechanisms to support ongoing agile services.

Q: You have given many interviews/presentations about agile. Is there a question you wish to have been asked but no one ever asked you?

I’ve been asked a pretty wide range of questions! All of my talks in recent years have been very focused on my time in the UK government, and even though this talk continues that I am looking forward to talking about some of the newer work I’m doing and what I’m learning from other organisations I’m working with, so perhaps we’ll get there in the Q&A?

Nikos Batsios