Oct 072011
 
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Generations of music lovers have mourned the early death of Mozart, imagining the magnificent contributions he would have made had he lived into old age. Similarly, people today around the world, while celebrating the remarkable life of Steve Jobs, are simultaneously sorrowful as they contemplate the many ways he might have continued to delight us had his life not been curtailed. His ability to innovate and break new ground in so many diverse areas – from computing to animation, marketing to music – makes his loss all the more profound. Steve’s Stanford graduation address is being replayed repeatedly today, full of life lessons for us all. But it’s also intriguing in the context of the …

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The Runway of Software Products

In her October 4, 2011 HBS blog post Can HP Change its DNA?, Judith Hurwitz contrasts corporate DNA for hardware versus DNA for software, as follows: The DNA that has been in HP’s bones from the start is all about excellence in hardware engineering…. With hardware markets, money is spent upfront to develop a system. However, once that product is launched, revenue streams in quickly and evenly. .. By contrast, when software is delivered to the market, it may take a year or even several years before it becomes a well-accepted and profitable endeavor… This is what I’ve observed at HP. As it has tried to invest in software, again and again it has killed products off before …

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Strategic IT planning is central to establishing the IT vision and, more importantly, the vision of how IT will propel the business (or government agency) forward. It’s one of the seven basic competencies every CIO and IT organization should master to bring value to the business. However, mention “strategic” to IT professionals and the conversation will mostly turn to security, cloud, business intelligence, and various platform and network developments. Sure, IT’s roles in the business underlie the conversation, particularly in issues such as flexibility, enhanced user experience, competitiveness, and the like. The truth, though, is that most of this “strategic” conversation is about issues of IT “supply” — how the IT organization will effectively develop …

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How would you define the following? Customer Management Agent Assignment Risk Rating Product Management Margin Determination Account Expiration Profit Determination Research Rejection Now, the hard part, does everyone in your organization define these terms and concepts in the exact same way? Most organizations have multiple definitions for most of the terms they use to describe what the business does. This is fine as along as no work, communication, information, or collaborative exchange ever extends beyond the bounds of a single business unit. In reality, no business unit is an island and the semantic disconnect found in most organizations creates a fertile ground for failed initiatives, inability to execute a merger or strategic alliance, lost revenues, …

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Sep 302011
 
A Seven Year Retrospective

I felt like a psychiatrist in October 2004. An endless stream of strangers was coming to my office to complain about the software I was responsible for. I did not need to ask the classic question “How did you feel about the software bug?!” – I was proactively advised how the person calling upon me – every person! – felt about it… Some actually reverted to Hebrew (my native tongue) in order to make doubly certain I did not miss any nuance of their disappointment, dismay, despair, anger, anxiety and anguish. The only saving grace I had was that I have just been hired to turn the product around. It was a little difficult to implicate me …

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Sep 292011
 
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Innovation is part of the curriculum in just about any Agile engagement I carry out for Cutter. To my way of thinking, the linkage between Agile and innovation is straightforward. Agile enables affordable experimentation. Experimentation begets discovery. Discovery is the first step toward innovation. Just about everyone of my clients responds heartily to this simple-minded derivation, and for a very good reason. Clients crave innovation as it gives them competitive advantage through the life cycle of the product. Hence, enhancing innovation is a very appealing message. I still have to meet a client who would say “well, you know, our problem is too much innovation…” Short-term engagement do not usually give me the opportunity to …

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A New Arithmetic for the Backlog

The delineation ‘functional vis-a-vis non-functional’ requirements has been used by many/most of us for quite a few years. Useful that it is, I find various Cutter clients needing a more granular delineation. For example, in a recent engagement the client has actually identified the following kinds of requirements: Functional “Traditional” non-functional Devops Technical debt (TD) Striking the balance between the four is a tricky business. It is hard enough to generate some kind of (fast changing) equilibrium between the first two. Doing so across all four is a stretch for most teams. It requires good grasp on numerous subject matters. Even if the team includes a member versed in devops and another one who is …

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Sep 252011
 
Our Walls are Thicker

A couple of years ago I found myself immersed in a devops dialog with an executive of a fully integrated service provider. I forgot how many hundreds, if not thousands, of developers reported to her. While all might not have been well with the way software was produced in her organization, the bigger problem she was wrestling with was time-to-value. The software might be done, or even ‘done done’ as Agilists would often say, but its deployment unto the data centers owned and operated by the very same service provider was agonizingly slow. In particular, time to deployment of anything that touched legacy code was “infinite.” Figure 1: Wall of Confusion Slide By Patrick Debois …

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Sep 222011
 
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This month, Cutter unveiled its redefined BI practice, Data Integration, BI & Collaboration. I know it’s a mouthful, so let’s just call it “DBC” for short. As the new Practice Director, my aim is to shape this practice to best address your needs, but more importantly to continuously adapt as your needs change. I also suspect you are looking for Cutter to assist you in staying aware of emerging ideas and trends that might benefit your organization. Please consider this post an open invitation to join an ongoing dialogue that will help me shape this practice appropriately. I hope you’ll share your questions, ideas, and feedback to make this venture a success. The practice name …

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Sep 202011
 
From Here to Agile2021

  Agile 2011 has been something of an epiphany for me. The confluence of workshops, discussions and interactions with Cutter presenters in the conference led me to thinking of the shape of things to come in quite a different manner than I used to. In particular, I reached the conclusion the forthcoming 2011-2021 vintage will be quite different from the tried and true Agile 2001-2011 vintage. I have no doubt the nuts-and-bolts of Agile will continue to be a major component of the Agile “curriculum.” You simply must get the Agile practices working at the team level. Metaphorically speaking, you are building towers in the sand if your teams are not proficient in the Agile method. …

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