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Chris Matts on BDD, Real Options, Risk Management and the Impact of Culture for Effective Outcomes

| Podcast with Chris Matts Follow 0 Followers by Shane Hastie Follow 11 Followers on Apr 24, 2017 |

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

In this podcast recorded in London Shane Hastie, InfoQ Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Chris Matts “The IT Risk Manager”, one of the original thinkers behind Real Options, Feature Injection and Behaviour Driven Development. 

Key Takeaways

  • Real Options is about translating the ideas from financial risk management into IT projects
  • Understanding that things go wrong and that what is thought of as the last responsible moment is often actually too late and is in fact an irresponsible moment
  • Most of the challenges to agile adoption are far above the level of the delivery team
  • Introducing a simple governance framework which supports an agile culture
  • The difference between the community of needs and the community of solutions, and the need for both

Show Notes

00m:30s Introductions

00m:55s Real Options is about translating the ideas from financial risk management into IT projects

01m:50s The intent behind Real Options is to manage risk rather than ignoring it. 

02m:10s Three simple rules of Real Options

  • Options have value
  • Options expire
  • Never commit early, unless you know why

02m:25s The fourth rule which is not often discussed – the value of options increases with uncertainty

02m:35s Explaining how real options can be used in decision making

03m:10s The mistaken perception that making a decision is making progress, even if the decision is a bad one

03m:50s Knowing the point at which options expire and the default action will happen regardless of the value

04m:20s Understanding that things go wrong and that what is thought of as the last responsible moment is often actually too late and is in fact an irresponsible moment

05m:25s Options give us choices

06m:00s Implementing cultural change using a risk management framework

06m:15s The importance of a governance framework

06m:50s Four elements of a lightweight governance framework for agile projects

  • Deliver measurable value
  • Reduce lead times
  • Ensure sustainable quality
  • Manage risk

08m:40s Using the culture to change the culture – the framework forces a change in focus from business to outcomes

09m:10s Cynefin – moving from complicated to complex solutions

09m:45s Embracing uncertainty and focusing on valuable outcomes

10m:20s Changing the metrics from features and effort to outcomes and customer value

11m:25s Most of the challenges to agile adoption are far above the level of the delivery team

12m:25s Changing the lead time measurement to reflect the entire value stream through to getting value from the features in the hands of real customers

13m:40s The need to break work into very small pieces

14m:05s Design metrics such that when people game the metric they exhibit the behaviour you want to see

14m:15s Example of how a lead time metric can influence the size of features

14m:40s Example of how a “concept to cash” metric can cause the wrong behaviours

16m:30s The backlog at the portfolio level needs to be ordered

17m:40s A mechanism to order the portfolio

18m:15s The real constraint in most organisations is capacity within teams rather than budget or time

18m:45s Prioritise the work at the constraint, capacity planning or delivery mapping

20m:00s Application of Theory of Constraints

20m:40s Culture in the agile community

21m:00s There are two broad communities that agile practitioners span–

  • Community of needs
  • Community of solutions

21m:15s Community of needs is identifying problems which don’t have well established solutions and create solutions through experimentation and learning, then sharing the ideas with others

21m:25s Community of solutions is able to apply solutions which have been identified through the community of needs

22m:35s Example of Scrum and Kanban crossing the chasm and becoming part of the community of solutions

22m:50s The two communities have very different behaviours. 

22m:55s Community of needs events tend to be peer to peer and collaborative

23m:25s Community of solutions events are more expert driven, classroom style

24m:15s Many of the agile events and commences are in the community of solutions now

24m:25s The need for a strong focus on the community of needs to conduct experiments, learn new things and develop new solutions, especially around scaling agile

24m:50s Example of how the risk framework didn’t work in a particular context and how that made the approach more robust through identifying the context for failure

25m:50s Agile at scale is still in the experimental and learning stage

26m:50s The risk of losing credibility through unrealistic expectations and not understanding the organisational context

27m:25s Questioning if some of the frameworks are in line with the agile manifesto

27m:35s Uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it

28m:00s Adopting practices because they are proven in many contexts, not because they sell well

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About QCon

QCon  is a practitioner-driven conference designed for technical team leads, architects, and project managers who influence software innovation in their teams. QCon takes place 7 times per year in London, New York, San Francisco, Sao Paolo, Beijing, Shanghai & Tokyo. QCon San Francisco is at its 11th Edition and will take place Nov 13-17, 2017. 100+ expert practitioner speakers, 1300+ attendees and 18 tracks will cover topics driving the evolution of software development today. Visit qconsf.com  to get more details.

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