Interview with Eric Bowman

Interview with Eric Bowman

Q. Could you briefly introduce yourself? I’m Eric Bowman, VP Digital Foundation at Zalando in Berlin. I was Zalando’s first VP Engineering, and lead the growth of the tech team from about 300 engineers to over a thousand. During that time we introduced Radical Agility in 2015 to help unlock our tech teams, which seemed to get slower the more people we hired. Since then we’ve continued to grow the business and the tech teams, and now I am focused on large-scale enablement through technology and organization across Zalando Group. Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic? I’m talking about autonomy, since lots of people see autonomous teams as one of the keys to unlocking rapid product development, but there are a lot of potential problems depending on how you do that. I’m going to talk about how we did it, all the good and bad things that resulted, and how we pivoted our approach while keeping our aspirations intact to overcome some of the early problems, and unlock some secrets for scaling a modern organization. Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session? There’s a lot of good advice to help avoid common problems as you try to unlock parallelism through autonomy in an organization. We’re a bit opinionated in what we think works, now, and I think some people will resonate with those opinions, and others may disagree. Either way I’m expecting a spirited conversation. Q: Can you give some advice to teams/organisations that are transitioning to agile? Agility should be the goal, not agile. It...
Interview with Richard Mironov

Interview with Richard Mironov

Q. Could you briefly introduce yourself? 30 year product management veteran of Silicon Valley software companies, including 6 startups.  I coach product leaders at commercial software companies, and sometimes parachute into companies as interim/temporary Head of Product. Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic? Critical need for product managers/product owners to directly validate their problem statements and requirements.  Everywhere I go worldwide, I see teams building products or features that fail in the marketplace, because they didn’t do enough direct interviewing/validation/analysis with actual end users — before starting the development cycle.  Huge waste as teams try to dig out of poor assumptions and bad information from proxies. Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session? Separate productivity improvements of agile (build things well, often faster) from lean validation/customer discovery work (deeply understand user/customer needs, then build the right thing).  Most agile discussions assume (incorrectly) that we are building the right things, with the right priorities, and have a plan to measure outcomes. Q: Can you give some advice to teams/organisations that are transitioning to agile? Keep a focus on real end user value (do they use our products? how do they measure value?  how do we know we are building the right things?) as well as process improvements (quality, velocity, estimation, retrospectives). Q: How do you see the evolution of agile in the future? Every team I meet (anywhere in the world) tells me that they are “agile.”  On inspection, this is usually just a standup or Jira backlog or release cadence… missing all of the goodness of...
Interview with Dimitar Karaivanov

Interview with Dimitar Karaivanov

Q. Could you briefly introduce yourself? CEO and co-founder Kanbanize. Portfolio and Scaled Kanban enthusiast, passionate about efficiency at scale and hard rock. Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic? We see how the agile frameworks rule the space and many people are deceived into adopting them by the book. I believe that each team and company should discover their own framework and continuously develop it. I will share how we discovered ours and why it’s so effective. Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session? Realizing that there are no quick wins and that agility is achieved through hard work. Also, seeing a very interesting approach to scaling agility through hierarchical use of Kanban boards (from the team to the CEO). Q: Can you give some advice to teams/organisations that are transitioning to agile? Do not adopt frameworks by the book, or if you do, let that be a temporary solution. The ultimate goal is to create your own framework tailored to your context and needs. Q: How do you see the evolution of agile in the future? It’s more and more being recognized as a competitive advantage. Many companies are becoming strategic about agile, realizing that otherwise they will not survive. This will lead to the expansion of the agile and lean principles way beyond engineering. 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? Not really...
Interview with Jonathan Smart

Interview with Jonathan Smart

Q. Could you briefly introduce yourself? I am leading on better Ways of Working across Barclays, a bank which is 327 years old, with 120,000 employees in 40 countries operating in a highly regulated industry. This includes the application of agile, lean, DevOps, flow, Lean UX, customer at centre, servant leadership, and so on, at scale, in order to deliver ‘Better Value Faster, Safer, Happier’.   Our focus is whole enterprise agility, end to end, not just agile in IT. This includes HR, internal audit, real estate, legal, etc.   We have and are implementing agility at scale across a diverse and complex organisation. One size does not fit all. I am a practitioner, having been applying agile principles and practices since the early 1990s, before it was called agile, spending the first part of my career as a developer on the trading floor in investment banking. This was a naturally agile environment, co-located with the customers, with ‘flow’: small iterations of work, fast feedback, small teams, all knowing the value stream in depth. Results were seen quickly. Later in my career, running business line IT departments, I’ve led many agile transformations in order to deliver better business outcomes. It’s awesome to now be servant leader on agility across a large, complex, old, diverse organisation. Lots of learning, which I will share. Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic? I will start with sharing my top learnings from the organisational transformation to deliver Better Products Faster Safer Happier. Things that I wish I’d known about 3 years ago when we started. I will also share...
Interview with Klaus Leopold

Interview with Klaus Leopold

Q. Could you briefly introduce yourself? I am computer scientist and Kanban pioneer with many years of experience in helping organizations from different industries on their improvement journey with Lean and Kanban. My main interest is establishing business agility in a very lean and inexpensive way by improving organizations beyond the team level, especially in large environments from 50 to 5000 people. Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic? My talk is basically a case study about an Agile transition of about 600 people. They introduced Agile methods across the organization but no significant improvement could be seen, although almost all teams were using Agile methods. I will give answers why this is, what we did to improve the performance and what I would do if I would have to choice to start at the beginning. The whole topic is about local sub optimizing an organization by using a team focused approach. That’s what I see in so many Agile transitions where loads of money is burnt without any significant improvements. I love this topic because using a different approach would be so simple! Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session? Learn pitfalls of Agile transitions so that you can avoid it in your situation. Learn what you can do when you are in an Agile transition which is on the wrong track. Learn how to get business agility in a very lean way with very low budget compared to classical Agile transitions. Q: Can you give some advice to teams/organisations that are transitioning to agile? Optimize...
Interview with Jeff Gothelf

Interview with Jeff Gothelf

Q. Could you briefly introduce yourself? I am a coach and consultant working in the lean and agile space. I’ve written 2 books – Lean UX and Sense & Respond. I spend most of my times working companies helping them build better product development teams and organizations. Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic? Scaling Lean in large enterprises. This topic is a key sticking point for most large organizations. They can get small teams to work together and experiment and learn but how do you scale that up to 50 or 500 teams? This talk will address this. Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session? Understanding that there are key principles, not necessarily processes, that are required for strong agile and lean growth in organizations. Q: Can you give some advice to teams/organisations that are transitioning to agile? Stick to the values, avoid blink adherence to the recipes. Q: How do you see the evolution of agile in the future? I hope it ends up simply as “the way we work” as opposed to a branded thing. Collaboration, customer-centricity and continuous learning is the only way to succeed in a digitally powered world. 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? Hmmm….no one’s ever asked me that question....