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Jeff DeLuca on FDD and Transforming Large Organisations to Product Thinking

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In this podcast Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Jeff DeLuca, founder of Feature Driven Development and an early agile development pioneer, on the background to FDD, Java modelling with colour and transforming large organisations to product thinking. 

Key Takeaways

  • The first value statement of the Agile Manifesto (Individuals and interactions over processes and tools) is the key to agility, and yet agile is often equated with processes and tools today  
  • In the traditional, siloed environment, the structure that delivers value (the project) is transient and moving to a NoProjects/product structure results in better outcomes and higher value for the whole organisation
  • Aligning KPIs and metrics with business outcomes across the whole cross functional team results in faster problem resolution and better products
  • Changing just one part of the organisation can have very detrimental impacts on other parts and can be detrimental overall and needs to be approached with care
  • Be wary of salespeople selling silver bullets – there is no easy answer and simple solution to the complex problems organisations face when brining in new ways of working

Show Notes

  • 00:36 Introduction
  • 01:52 The impetus behind Feature Driven Development and the large banking project where the foundational work was done
  • 03:18 It was just the way Jeff ran projects
  • 04:38 Joint discovery exercise to identify the initial requirements using colour
  • 05:10 The collection of practices that became Feature Driven Development (FDD)
  • 05:58 Identifying repeatable design patterns that connect and interact in a very repeatable way
  • 06:22 Modelling the classes in colour
  • 06:32 The profound effect from using colour in the models
  • 07:32 FDD is an agile approach which describes how to design and build large software systems
  • 07:58 Moving away from the “badge-engineering” of agile and focusing on the values and principles that underly the thinking
  • 08:15 Tackling transformation on massive scale
  • 08:57 The four value statements of the Agile Manifesto bound a very disparate bunch of techniques together
  • 09:41 The first value statement (Individuals and interactions over processes and tools) is the key to agility, and yet agile is often equated with processes and tools today
  • 10:32 The danger of the nomenclature approach – call something X, therefor we’re doing X – without actually changing any thinking or ways of working
  • 11:12 The drivers for organisational change today
  • 11:36 We need to structure for fast, efficient delivery and learning
  • 12:20 In the traditional, siloed environment, the structure that delivers value (the project) is transient which doesn’t make any sense
  • 13:01 The ills that this structure and philosophy causes in organisations
  • 13:07 What is needed is a persistent, core team of people to work on a part of the business on an ongoing basis
  • 13:31 Long-lived, cross functional teams, oriented around parts of the business and run in product mode
  • 13:42 “Build-run teams” – the team that builds it, runs it and maintains it
  • 14:40 The complexities of working in large, legacy environments
  • 16:10 In the large, complex organisation changing the way people work is hard and takes time
  • 16:25 Changing just one part of the organisation can have very detrimental impacts on other parts and can be detrimental overall and needs to be approached with care
  • 17:32 Explaining how build-run teams work together
  • 17:56 The makeup of a truly cross-functional build-run team spans beyond technology into multiple business areas
  • 18:28 A collocated team, organised around a part of the business
  • 18:48 Have the IT teams share business KPIs
  • 19:01 How KPIs impact behaviours
  • 19:41 An example of how KPIs can incentivise bad behaviour
  • 20:18 On time, on budget is a bad metric to use
  • 21:50 How silo-based metrics cause problems to thrash and create cultures of blame without safety
  • 22:52 The lack of alignment between IT metrics and business outcomes which results in ineffective collaboration
  • 23:12 When the metrics are common then the whole cross-functional team works towards the same outcomes
  • 22:21 An example using conversion rate as a common metric for a whole team
  • 24:18 These long-lived, cross-functional, co-located teams run in product mode, not project mode
  • 24:32 The approach these teams take to delivering work is best defined by the people doing the work
  • 24:45 Technical excellence and good development practices including CI/CD are key
  • 24:58 The team focus changes to efficiently delivering value with as short a time as possible with consistent feedback loops
  • 25:20 An example of how this played out in a real situation
  • 26:01 The NoPojects approach enables changes which are a fundamental shift in the way of working towards more effective outcomes and higher value for the whole organisation
  • 26:10 Projects are a bad structure for value delivery
  • 26:48 Additional benefits that come from the NoProjects approach
  • 28:02 Examples of how project-based approaches result in massive waste in the workflow
  • 28:32 The project structure just doesn’t fit with agile approaches
  • 29:04 Advice for financing and implementing the noproject/product structure
  • 29:48 The big inversion is to fund the team and classify the work rather than funding projects and classifying people
  • 30:05 Bring work to the people rather than bring the people to the work
  • 30:20 How the capex/opex classification is addressed in the noprojects approach
  • 31:05 The mistaken belief that calling something X means we are doing X and how that is playing out in the large consultancy environment with the adoption of the Spotify “model”
  • 31:38 Simply saying something is not doing it – the underlying intent of any activity needs to be applied rather than just copying and doing it by rote
  • 32:03 Exploring where the Spotify approach came from and how that environment and context is completely different to the large enterprises where it is being applied (badly)
  • 33:31 Be wary of salespeople selling silver bullets – there is no easy answer and simple solution to the complex problems organisations face when brining in new ways of working

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