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InfoQ Interview: David Hussman on Coaching Agile Adoption

by Deborah Hartmann Preuss on Apr 12, 2007 |
David Hussman "Agile Geek at Large" talked to InfoQ about his approach to coaching teams and organizations adopting Agile, including his ideas about customizing it for different kinds of organizations without sacrificing the common denominators required to make Agile really work. Hussman talked about user stories, "story tests", addressing the fears of management as they see the team shifting into self-managed mode, and building a vibrant development community, in this interview: David Hussman on Helping Organizations Adopt Agile.

Asked "What are some of the culture shock that a manager might go through when the team demands ADO and how can the team ease its fears?" Hussman looked at a bit of history while answering:
... somewhere the message came out:"we don't need managers, we don't need testers". I'm not sure [anyone] even said that, but somehow this myth kind of gathered around that. So for me, a lot of it is going in and doing myth-busting with these mangers, to make sure they don't feel ostracized, to make sure that they're part of a larger community. To engage them and say 'what are the things they have to do?' because they have to report to someone. What are their wants? What metrics are generated by an Agile project, whether it's metrics around risk or quality or progress, that plug right into their world?
Hussman takes a pragmatic and flexible approach to communication: take, for example, his view of Agile planning:
I think it's very much cultural and corporate based, like "what are their needs?" So to the manager question again: If the manager needs something specific we might end up translating it back into their needs.
It would be easy to misconstrue that Hussman is all about management... not so. His background includes not only lots of programming, but also plenty of time in the music industry, years in which he learned the amazing value of great teamwork:
I love to write code, that's where I started, but more importantly, what I like is seeing a group of people succeed. So back to my former life as a producer, an engineer or a musician: there's a great feeling of playing a song... jamming away, or bringing a group of people in the recording studio and making a CD, and they come out and they hold it up and say "listen to this!" They're really excited. I think the same thing happens in software: people live their software experience and they keep referencing it, especially times that are good or bad, like "One time we did this!" What inspires me is seeing the Agile stuff recreate that experience more than once, more than accidentally.
Read the InfoQ Interview: David Hussman on Helping Organizations Adopt Agile

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Reference material by Pavol Vaskovic

David, thanks for this interview. I use it as a reference material to explain, why we are doing this Agile thing.

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