The Agile Executive

Making Agile Work

How to Viral-Spread Agile on a Large Scale

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In last week’s Agile Austin Distinguished Speaker Series, Sue Mckinney and Pollyanna Pixton presented the Agile/Lean work they carry out at IBM. Their approach to making Agile of interest to 25,000 employees in IBM’s Software Group stands in nice contrast to the classic quip “I am from Corporate; I am here to help you.” As a matter of fact, during her presentation Sue recounted how as a developer she disliked edicts that came from above when they did not suit context and reality in the trenches.

Sue’s presentation is available here. It deserves thorough reading by anyone who is concerned with scale and scope issues in Agile roll-outs. Here are some of the more interesting points:

  • The initial  impetus to go Agile was time-to-market imperatives
  • The Development Transformation program which Sue drives at IBM provides a menu of thirteen Agile/Lean best practices a development team can choose from.
  • The program puts an emphasis on adaptive planning
  • The program stresses the importance of sharing both code and best practices
  • An expanded community of 40,000 IBM’ers and >100 customers are part of the program
  • Geographically distributed teams are considered the norm at IBM (given the company’s M&A strategy); Agile practices must take this reality into account

Interestingly, in the series of workshops she delivered at IBM, Pollyanna did not even speak about Agile! Instead, she talked about the various aspects of collaboration and team dynamics. You can get a good sense of the themes Pollyanna covered at IBM  in her presentation on Collaboration and Collaborative Leadership in the Experience section of the Accelinnova web site.  See Jean Tabaka’s note and Michael Cote’s note for complementary opinions  on collaboration, organizational dysfunction and Agile.

 Sue and Pollyanna are continuing their Agile roll-out work at IBM. Stay tuned….

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Written by israelgat

February 15, 2009 at 4:38 pm

One Response

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  1. […] Sue McKinney and Pollyanna Pixton gave about their approach to bootstrapping Agile at IBM (click here). It also touches on some of the points made in our post The First Decision to Make. Whether you […]


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