Interview with Jutta Eckstein

Interview with Jutta Eckstein
Q. Could you briefly introduce yourself?

Hi, my name is Jutta Eckstein and I made my first experiences using Agile (to be exact XP) in 1997. Thus, my first experiences were as a programmer. In 1998 I got independent and started helping projects and teams in different roles – as a developer, architect, yet also as a consultant or coach. In 2001 I dared to scale Agile out of necessity and after some more experiences I published my first book on that topic in 2004. I always try to share the experiences I make in conferences like this one and e.g. in books. I’m currently co-writing a book on Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space, and Sociocracy.

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

I will talk about Increasing Productivity by Uncovering Costs of Delay. Very often it is the small things that are slowing us down and these are the things I want to point out. So my talk is full of concrete suggestions you can first consider if they would make a difference in your setting and if yes, try them out.

A lot of people in our community have heard (or bought) Don Reinertsen’s book on The Principles of Product Development Flow. Yet, not many people have read (or finished reading) the book. The reason is it is not an easy read. In this talk I want to provide a way that is easy to understand and apply that topic. (And if you want to know: Johanna Rothman and I wrote a small book on that topic –Diving for Hidden Treasures: Uncovering the Cost of Delay in your Project Portfolio– with the intention to make Reinertsen’s advice directly applicable.)

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

[see above]

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

First of all have a clear understanding why you want to undergo that transition. What is the reason? What kind of benefit do you expect? By answering these questions come up with a hypothesis on what will be different after the transition, ensure to measure along the way, so you’ll see if you’re progressing in the right direction and you’re gaining the benefit you thought you would.

Another important advice is, to include all perspectives, so hear all the different voices in your company so that the transition will not be overwhelming but supported by the the whole company. I made good experiences to use retrospectives for exactly that. So retrospectives are not only a means for a scrum team, but also for supporting any kind of change. (Actually I also wrote a book on that 🙂 sorry, I didn’t mean to point out all of my writing but it seems you’re asking along this way… so that’s my book on Retrospectives for Organizational Change.)

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

I’m uncertain about Agile’s future (missing the crystal ball), yet I’m pretty certain that we will see more of Agile all over the place. With the digital revolution and thus by software eating the world – software will be everywhere. And because more and more software is created in an Agile way, this means that Agile will be everywhere – also completely outside of IT. (And of course, I’m sure you expected that already – this is the book I’m currently co-writing and incrementally publishing.)

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?

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve co-authored a book with Johanna Rothman. This was kind of straight forward, we had each different topics we focused on and thus we each wrote different chapters. Now, the book I’m currently co-writing with John we actually pair-write. We publish it incrementally and our first version in April had about 70 pages, we’re making quite some progress and the book has now ca. 180 pages. However, pair-writing means we write every single line together (despite the fact that we both travel quite a lot and John lives at the East coast and I live in Germany). So nobody has asked me so far about my pair-writing experience and how this can possibly work. And of course, I will not answer the question here, but hope for people asking me about that at the conference 🙂


Nikos Batsios