Reflections From Denver
The March 18 Rally event in Denver has been covered elsewhere (see here for links to detailed posts on the subject). This post captures my more important takeaways from the event, based on the panel Q&A session, my own breakout session and various one-on-one interactions during the event:
- Scaling end-to-end: More often than not, Agile is still regarded as an “R&D thing”. Marketing, Sales, Professional Services and other corporate function somehow learn how to co-exist with well performing R&D Agile teams. However, it is an up-hill battle to instill Agile thinking in these functions. In particular, receptivity for developing new business designs based on the capabilities of Agile is very rare.
- Agile contracts: Formal Agile contracts between a company and an outsourcer seem to generally be more advanced than the informal contracts between the business and R&D within the corporation.
- Agile metrics: Reporting meaningfully on Agile projects is problematic due to lack of common language/terminology between folks in the Agile trenches and executives. While the issue is probably true for reporting on software in general, Agile poses harder challenge for executives who have not had the opportunity to assimilate the Agile mindset. The problem seems to be exacerbated due to the “Bobby Fischer syndrome”:
- Passion and objectivity: Bobby Fischer was insanely passionate about chess. However, he was very objective about evaluating his position while playing. Various execs fail to appreciate this distinction with respect to Agile practitioners. One can be very passionate about Agile without affecting his/her objectivity with respect to the development tasks to be carried out.
- Passion and beauty: Peggy Reed‘s passion for software is nicely captured in her quip about Beautiful Software: “Software that people love to be with can’t be done by outsourcing and automation.” Whenever I listen to Peggy I can’t help thinking about the software engineer as a craftsman.
- The real user: Surrogates like the “virtual customer” are being used most of the time. Consequently, innovation through experimentation suffers from lack of authentic feedback.
Different that the Denver event was from Rally’s previous event in Austin, the observations cited above generally apply to both events. As the forthcoming Rally events in LA and NYC pull in practitioners from industries that were not really represented in Austin nor Denver, I wonder what differences will manifest themselves in LA the coming week and NYC next week.