Interview with Robin Dymond at Agile 2008
In this interview with Robin Dymond at the Agile 2008 conference, Robyn gives an overview of Lean, how it can help take Agile to the 'next level' and why organizations that fail to change will not have successful Agile teams. Robin describes an organizational mismatch between traditional hierarchies and team structures.
There are about 3 or 4 big companies, big enterprises that have adopted Agile. Publicly, we know about those big British telecommunications company, big portal web company and company in financial services and each one of those early adopters was very focused on adopting Scrum at the team level. We had a lot of teams and we had a lot of training going on in those organizations and a lot work to build Scrum teams and get everyone working on that plane.
From that point of view, it's very successful. It improved their delivery timeframes, projects were getting done a lot quicker and people were happier working in those environments. But now, all of a sudden you have all this retrenchment happening in all those organizations where Agile is getting pushed the way side or is becoming less important to deliver things in this way. Part of that is because of the power structure and the current organization, which is still based on the waterfall method, and the Agile way of working, which is based on teams. This is a challenge to the Agile community to figure out how do we organize leadership.
He believes that organizations will need to reorganize around teams to get the most out of Agile.
I believe that, for Agile to be successful in most organizations there needs to be a change in the organizational structure. How far organizations will go with that is an open question, but the best Lean organizations in the world, have really organized around this new way of working - around the process of delivering value, as opposed to the functional silos of "I do this, I do this, etc." As Agile is fairly new to the mainstream market, there is going to be this issue that businesses are going to struggle with.
This interview is well worth your time if you are thinking about the long-term success or failure of your organization's agile adoption initiatives.
Lean Leadership and Agile Teams
Questions like 'How can I get better stories from the PO?' or 'How do you develop and maintain a vision?' are answered by Lean organizations.
Rally's Alex Pukinskis showed their new approach to managing longer term planning using a 'kanban' style process at the Agile Roots conference in Utah. Dealing with more than 2000 requests/stories in the product backlog, product leaders had been faced with competitive stakeholders and probably frustrated developers. Simply tackling a problem like this with a 'scrum of scrums' model would not have solved anything.
Alex showed how a decision to limit the possible number of 'next' features enabled the product leadership to further elaborate on the priority features in the pipeline - and to stop wasting effort on the low priority items.
The new process, which I would define as a 'road map' development tool, answers both commonly heard questions at both the Agile Roots conference and Better Software in Vegas. Well-defined stories relevant to a sensible direction of product development end up in release backlogs. AND, the product leadership focuses energy on elaborating on the characteristics of the product it has chosen to build. It's this decision of what to (and what not to) spend time developing a vision of - a commitment - that gives the teams the leadership and direction they need.
I've found that Agile has been a great way to show the way for teams to strengthen themselves through better communication. It seems Lean will show organizations (all the individuals working there) how to approach decision-making. Since leadership is accepting responsibility for decisions others delegate, Lean will provide the answers to management about how to lead an Agile software development organization.