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Alexandre Freire Kawakami on Enabling Engineering Culture


This is the Engineering Culture Podcast, from the people behind and the QCon conferences.

In this podcast Shane Hastie, InfoQ Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Alexandre Freire Kawakami, a Director at Industrial Logic about his talk Enabling Awesome Engineering Teams, the ideas behind Modern Agile and the importance of feedback loops and real usage data for product development.

Key Takeaways

  • Overview of his talk on enabling awesome engineering teams
  • The contradiction between values-driven and process-driven change
  • Modern Agile is designed to help people and organisations get over the process obsession
  • Working software is not enough – achieving better outcomes for customers is what’s important
  • By having analytics and usage data available we can learn what works and what doesn’t and make better decisions

Show Notes

0m:50s - Introductions

1m:10s - Overview of talk – Enabling Awesome Engineering Teams

1m:45s - The danger of just copying what other organisations do without understanding the values behind the practices and how they fit in with your culture

3m:00s - The contradiction between values driven and process driven change

3m:45s - Blindly looking at process as a means to achieve productivity inevitably fails

4m:20s - Process should support culture

4m:30s - Getting to continuous delivery and stopping short of continuous deployment is an example of a values-based decision

5m:25s - What’s happening with modern agile?

5m:40s - Modern Agile is designed to help people and organisations get over the process obsession

6m:15s - Modern agile is about a community sharing ideas and stories about working towards four principles:

  • Deliver value continuously
  • Make people awesome
  • Experiment and learn rapidly
  • Make safety a prerequisite

6m:40s - Some techniques which can help achieve these values, depending on the culture fit

7m:25s - The benefits of single piece flow

8m:10s - The importance of safety to make experimentation and learning possible

9m:40s - It’s about building a community- not selling ideas

9m:55s - Some practices which can be taught

10m:22s - Not all organisations want to change at the same rate and to the same extent, and that’s OK

11m:00s - Applying these ideas outside of technology

11m:35s - 3000 people can’t be a team – that’s just too big

11m:50s - What makes a team: cross functional, shared goals, collective ownership

12m:55s - Working software is not enough – achieving better outcomes for customers is what’s important

14m:50s - Alignment means leaders need to provide clarity about outcomes and convey these to the teams

1m:44s - Listen to the people in your teams and learn

15m:55s - Psychological safety is important to being able to admit we don’t know and need to learn new things

16m:52s - Feedback loops and continuous learning to achieve better outcomes

17m:10s - Some of the problems with the Product Owner role:

  • Too much responsibility for one person
  • Spread too thin and not able to focus on one product
  • Decision making without feedback

17m:50s - It’s easy to instrument your runtime environment and build analytics into products today- just do it

18m:00s - The data is not just for Ops – feed it back through the whole development team

18m:05s - By having the data available we can learn what works and what doesn’t, and make better decisions


Learn how to solve complex software engineering and leadership challenges. Attend in-person at QCon London, (April 4-6) or attend online at QCon Plus (May 10-20).

QCon brings together the world's most innovative senior software engineers across multiple domains to share their real-world implementation of emerging trends and practices. Find practical inspiration (not product pitches) from software leaders deep in the trenches creating software, scaling architectures and fine-tuning their technical leadership to help you make the right decisions. Save your spot now!

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