Interview with Gwen Diagram

Interview with Gwen Diagram

Q. Could you briefly introduce yourself? My name is Gwen Diagram, I’m a Principal Test Engineer at Sky in Leeds, UK.  I’m one of the co-organisers of the Leeds Testing Atelier, a free, twice yearly punk rock testing conference.  I’ve spoken all over Europe and I absolutely adore going to new conferences and meeting new people to talk about Agile with.  I spend a lot of my time working on the Test Atelier, writing talks or helping with other meet ups such as Agile Yorkshire.  I’m currently working on changing the culture in my workplace by holding workshops on testing, pairing and generally trying to get people talking to each other.  I believe with engaged teams you build quality software – and so I’m trying to engage the teams! Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic? I’m speaking about how one of my old teams in Leeds inherited a project with fragmented, abandoned automation around it.  The automation used so many different frameworks that people couldn’t really run it – and it wasn’t running on any build servers.  From this, we built an automation framework covering multiple testing layers to improve confidence in releasing (and saved us a bunch of time!) We also had to convince the higher ups this was a good thing so I speak about how to sell your ideas to hard to please people. Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session? Ideas on how to build an automation framework that will get the entire team involved – not just testers.  How to get...
Interview with Tony Grout

Interview with Tony Grout

Q. Could you briefly introduce yourself?  I’m Tony Grout, and help lead the thinking at Atlassian on how teams of teams can ship better solutions. I’ve worked in industries from military aerospace to collaboration tools at a global scale. Q: What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic?   My talk is about five signs your scaling of agility is failing. I chose this topic as I’ve lead some huge agile and devops transformations and have observed many more and see some common failure patterns that I thought it would be sharing; along with some potential solutions. Q: What do you think could be the main gain for participants in your session?  Increase the likelihood of avoiding the traps I’ve fallen in to or I’ve seen others fall in to when trying to scale agility. Q: Can you give some advice to teams/organisations that are transitioning to agile?  Start small, focus on both engineering excellence and defining value through experimentation making sure to bring the rest of the organisation with you Q: How do you see the evolution of agile in the future?  Succesful organisations will avoid the trap of adopting a single agile framework. Instead they’ll avoid rhetoric; they’ll be customer focused while not losing sight of responsibilies to society and the people that work in their organisation; they’ll hire smart people; they’ll use data to build insight; encourage experimentation in product and process where it makes sense, value wisdom and manage risk using enabling constraints. We’ll call this something else other than agile so that we get another chance to fix what we didn’t get...
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...
Should the scrum master have technical background?

Should the scrum master have technical background?

Among other things, scrum is very “trendy” lately. Virtually any company that I know of has either adopted it or attempted to do so or at least considered it. The software industry needs change rapidly, evolving the scrum master in one of the most sought after roles. However, the inability of the offer to meet the demand and the absence of required technical skills to become a scrum master has made the role appealing to a number of people outside the industry, giving birth to an ongoing debate. Should the scrum master have a technical background? The scrum guide does not prescribe technical skills as a prerequisite for a scrum master. However, desired qualifications in vacancies range from concrete experience as a software developer to no technical requirements specified at all. Before we endeavor to address the topic, let’s take a step back and think a little bit of Agile. Why do all these people and companies favor Agile over waterfall? After all, waterfall was used for so many successful projects. This can be a surprisingly hard to answer question for a lot of people. In my opinion, the key benefit is the establishment of a short feedback loop. Daily stand-ups, open space offices and loads of sticky notes only serve to alter the process, being merely means to and end. The short feedback loop is an end in itself. Agile suggests that we leave behind the old days when the requirements were specified all upfront and the developers worked isolated for a few months only to deliver software needing change. A very short loop is established, allowing for...
Agile: The end of innocence

Agile: The end of innocence

A study by 6point6 on April 2017, based on a survey o 300 CIOs (average company size: 1,300 people) shows that the perception of Agile is changing. CIOs are often disillusioned, finding (usually the hard way) that some (12%) agile projects fail completely, that Agile is not easy to scale, and that distributed agile teams are often underperforming. This is good news. Agile never was, and never will be a silver bullet. Struggles with Agile adoption and a decent share of failures, show us that Agile will work only when carefully customized for the specific organization. This should shift our focus from advocating Agile to making it work – without expecting/demanding that the organization changes its culture overnight to become ‘Agile’. Established Agile scaling Frameworks such as SAFe can help with that. The age of agile innocence is ending. Finally. The report For the massive effect it has had on the software industry, there are surprisingly few industry reports analyzing the extend of Agile adoption*, compared to Waterfall, the older standard. Moreover, we have little data on the perceived success of the adoption efforts. Is Agile considered successful by the companies adopting it, after all? Most reference reports (such as the ‘State of Agile’ or the ‘State of Scrum’) base their data on surveys conducted on people already interested in or practicing Agile, a fact which obviously limits the sample and creates a strong positive bias towards Agile. This report published recently by 6point6 (a UK consultancy), tried to measure the perception of Agile success and the most common adoption roadblocks, by conducting a study on 300 CIOs, half in the...
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....