Retrospective Meetings: What Goes Wrong?

[Editor’s note: Don’t miss Diana’s keynote The Heroic Learner: Courage, Compassion, and Confidence for the 21st Century at the Cutter Summit, May 4-6 in Cambridge, MA.] Too many retrospective meetings receive cursory planning or inadequate facilitation and are thus unable to reap the potential benefits. Too many retrospective meetings are held to “check the box” on the process meetings template, rather than to focus on real improvements. Too many teams never implement or revisit the action plans coming out of retrospectives. Disguised as retrospective action planning, too many teams seek to shift blame and responsibility for action to others. In too many organizations, retrospective meetings don’t deliver the promised return on time invested (ROTI). It’s …

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Trust Requires Accountability

The whole notion of an enterprise chief information officer (CIO) or chief technology officer (CTO) is obsolete. As technology itself decentralizes — regardless of formal organizational structures — there will be multiple technology experts/specialists/leaders. There are already “go-to” technology experts, leaders, and, yes, even “chiefs” in every business unit, every business pod, and surrounding every business process. They are seldom part of the central IT organization, and if they are, their loyalties are aligned more with the business units than with their “boss,” the enterprise CIO. In fact, time and time again I’ve seen “assigned” technologists commiserate much more with their business units than with the IT organizations to which they belong or with their …

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The Evolving Science of Computational Creativity

Innovation has become accepted as central to competitiveness in today’s world, both in new product development and in enhancement of internal processes. Companies struggle with innovation, and there have been numerous attempts to regularize and program it. But the development of truly breakthrough ideas is difficult, and recognizing them when they do arrive can be harder still. We have processes available for vetting ideas and passing them through a series of increasingly selective gateways until they reach the point of usefulness or are discarded altogether. But we do not have good processes for stitching together new ideas and reaching that eureka moment that says a critical new idea has been found. Some of the ways …

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IT infrastructures are growing in size, capability and complexity as organizations take advantage of cloud computing, big data analytics, the Internet of Things, mobile computing and social media, to deploy complex, integrated, and collaborative applications. As a result, the need to run several applications under varying workloads to meet different functional, nonfunctional, and performance requirements is increasing. Managing these new complex infrastructures via traditional means is challenging and inefficient. Hence, many organizations are looking for new directions and approaches to more efficiently manage their infrastructures to meet their customers’ growing demands, ensure adaptability to changing business requirements, reduce duplication of efforts, and remain competitive. One approach organizations are adopting is software defined infrastructure (SDI) or …

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When you read technology news, security (or lack thereof) dominates many of the headlines. When you scan the titles of talks at Agile conferences, or you skim blog posts about Agile, you don’t see as much discussion about security. Agilists aren’t indifferent to security, but there are few clear guidelines for how to incorporate security into Agile practices. Fortunately, the ways to address security within Agile practices are not too hard, but as with anything related to security, the earlier you deal with it, the better. Security often fits into the work of an Agile team in the following ways: Tasks needed to implement a story. Security often appears within implementation tasks (“When I write …

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Big Data and the Mirror of Erised

“This mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth.” So says Dumbledore in J.K. Rowling’s book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, commenting on a mirror that shows us what our most desperate desires want us to see. This is an apt analogy when describing the analytics available in big data solutions. When you suddenly have all the data you could want and can quickly analyze it anyway you like, unencumbered by extraneous effort that we have historically had to endure, what happens? Being human beings with a tendency to confirm what we so want to have happen or to relive what felt so good in the past, managers often drift into self-sealing and circular analysis …

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ALM 3.0 Starts With The Reports

[Editor’s note: On May 5, Tom Grant will lead what’s sure to be a lively a roundtable discussion on ALM at the Cutter Summit in Cambridge, MA.] Application lifecycle management (ALM) has had a troubled history. Here’s the story so far: Under the banner of ALM, software professionals have often focused too much on the “M” part of that term, emphasizing centralized management, a means to an end, over the actual end goal, greater capability to deliver software value. ALM has tilted far too much in the direction of tools strategy, as if the only ALM strategy worth talking about is solely focused on tools. (The ALM tools vendors have some culpability for that outcome, but …

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Abandon Distribution in Pursuit of Collaborative Invention

Imagine you are responsible for a production plant. Let’s assume it’s a plant that produces a few hundred cars per day. Now you hire a new consultant who promises to reduce your cost by a factor of four. He issues some policies and makes some changes to your production process and, alas, after five months your cost really drops down to half. This was not really what he had promised, but it’s still quite impressive, isn’t it? However, you also observe some other changes. The staff becomes quite upset, and you sense a steep increase in people quitting due to burnout. The customer complaints rise steeply for a significant lack of quality. And the plant’s …

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Cutter IT Journal Call for Papers: Next Generation Production Management

The production and ramp-up of complex and highly customized products are planning and control challenges, especially in small lot sizes. Daily challenges like late change requests, and immature high technology products and processes introduce significant risks in the production process. Using ICT-based approaches can help one develop mitigation strategies to respond quicker to unexpected events, implement and support early warning systems and introduce real-time decision support mechanisms that feature accelerated learning. Using state-of-the-art technologies and tools such as service-based architectures and knowledge-based Multi Agent Systems (MAS) can help improve performance and scalability beyond state-of-the-art. Furthermore, innovative solutions including the IoT and cloud-based architectures can offer the basis for efficient management of the whole production ecosystem …

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Where Are Wearable Devices?

The Internet of Things (IoT) has generated considerable hype over the past few years. Probably nowhere has this hype been greater than when it comes to wearable devices like smart watches (Apple Watch), smart glasses (Google Glass), activity/fitness trackers (Misfit), and smart badges (for location tracking, security, etc.). This includes the use of wearables as general consumer electronic devices, as well as for their possible application in business scenarios designed to help workers perform their jobs. Of course, all this focus on wearables raises the key question: what role do such devices play in organizations’ mobile strategies? A Cutter Consortium survey (conducted July–October 2014) that asked 49 organizations about their mobile technology practices and adoption …

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