The Agile Executive

Making Agile Work

Depth in Seattle

with 2 comments

To summarize it in one word, the October 1 Rally Agile Success Tour (AST) event in Seattle, WA was deep. Broad spectrum of topics – from CMMI  and SOX to Lean and “Lean+”; very knowledgeable participants; insightful panelists; plenty of hard Agile data; questions on real needs; dialogues that led to unexpected findings; and, 1-1 meetings focused on actions that could/should be taken after the event. Just like the recent AST event in Boston, MA, there was vibrancy in the air.

Getty’s Jeff Oberlander quantified the progress they made on fairly large scale releases (~900 user stories), shortening time-to-market (TTM) from 24 month to 4 months. He indicated this impressive change in time-to-market occurred in parallel with improvement in quality. Reader of this post might want to take a look at Chapter 1 of Agile Project Management by Jim Highsmith for a quantitative analysis of the correlation between the two (TTM and quality).

The impressive results reported by Jeff were supported by the classification given by Liberty Mutual’s Steven Johnson. Steven observes three kinds of projects, as follows:

  • Grass roots initiatives. Such projects typically lead to: {New TTM = 2/3 Old TTM}.
  • Organized pilots. Such projects typically lead to: {New TTM = 1/2 Old TTM}.
  • Overall R&D transformation. Such projects typically lead to: {New TTM = 1/3 Old TTM}.

From what I know of David Rico’s forthcoming book The Business Value of Agile Software Methods, the results reported by Steven are consistent with David’s findings.

Boeing’s Ryan Kleps focused on the impact of Agile methods on developer satisfaction. He presented the following data from a survey conducted in Boeing:

  • 30% improvement in satisfaction with respect to tools
  • 25% improvement in satisfaction with respect to involvement
  • 10% improvement in satisfaction with respect to trust

Interestingly, Ryan indicated that various “pirates” were starting to do Agile at Boeing as a result of the higher level of satisfaction noted above. We did not have the opportunity to cross-correlate data from Boeing with data from Liberty Mutual. My intuitive sense is that Ryan’s “pirates” and Jeff’s “grass roots initiatives” are synonymous.

thePlatform’s Reena Kawal and Microsoft’s Stein Dolan provided insights that are not often reported. Reena analyzed the much improved ability to assess trade-offs from a customer perspective. Stein highlighted how effective emulation can be in enabling teams to deal with code that has not been written yet. Their thoughts were vividly complemented by the 4X100 relay race metaphor given by Ryan: only 1 sprinter “works” at any point in time, while 3 are “idle”. Yet, there is no faster way to get the baton to the finish line…

One part of the event that was particularly gratifying to me was the role playing during the breakout session entitled “Socializing Agile with Your Executives.” Stein and I played the role of mean executives who do not get Agile. Participants in the session who played the role of the inspired Agile champion beat us up pretty effectively. As a matter of fact, one of the participants – CyberSource’s Tom Perry – gave the report from this breakout session to the whole audience when we reconvened. He delivered a very effective “why you should do Agile in spite of all your misgivings” message.

As indicated in a recent post, the AST “train” stops in Chicago, IL on the 15 of October. We are quite likely to address specialized topics that have not been brought up in previous events. The makeup of the panel in Chicago is unlike any of the nine panels I have prepped so far…

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2 Responses

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  1. Great Summary Israel – put simply great people, great planning = great learning event.

    Ryan

    Ryan Martens

    October 5, 2009 at 2:23 pm

  2. […] Seattle, WA […]


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