Nov 032015
Considering Group Dynamics in Agile Adoption

Understanding individuals and how they interact with each other is one of the key priorities of Agile. In fact, the very first statement of the flagship Agile Manifesto highlights this priority. When individuals interact positively with each other, they promote the group’s common goal. This is collaboration. Honest collaboration invariably challenges the inherently territorial nature of humans. We love to hold on to our spaces and boundaries (both geographical and mental). Collaboration permeates those boundaries and makes them porous. The need to break down the territorial mindset in humans is perhaps the hardest thing to comprehend and accept in an Agile culture change. Promoting collaboration fundamentally depends on understanding how two (or more) individuals interact Read more

Oct 202015
The Gamification of Ordinary Life

At the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), attention turned once again to the Internet of Things (IoT) and personal devices. Wearables showed up in great profusion, focused upon watches, wristbands, and other personal sensors used to monitor activity rate, pulse, temperature, and whatever else can be determined from movement or simple surface sensors. For the home, measuring and control devices are emerging for temperature, humidity, intruder detection, and so forth — all attached, to personal networks, to the Web, and generally streaming data to external monitors. This all constitutes an escalation of device communications, which ultimately can lead to something like gamification of personal life and the home (Figure 1). Figure 1 — The gamification Read more

Oct 062015
Same Tune, Different Lyrics?

A person who lived through the introduction of digital automation in the 1950s could be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu. Once again, there is a growing feeling of unease in the public that perhaps digital automation has progressed to a point where this latest generation of “smart machines” will indeed cause massive unemployment of today’s workers. Feeding this nervousness are recent pronouncements by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who has said that “20 years from now, the labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower,” or by technology professors Carl Frey and Michael Osborne from Oxford University’s Martin School, who claim that an estimated 47% of US jobs are at Read more

Sep 302015
Strategy And Backlogs Exist To Be Adjusted

During today’s webinar about ALM, I took great pains to talk about what constitutes a real strategy for software innovation, and what an imitation strategy looks like. Many of the questions we receive at Cutter, such as, “What scaled Agile approach should we pursue?” are impossible to answer without a strategy to guide these sorts of decisions. Before talking about scaled Agile, or whatever the topic du jour is, we first must backtrack into a discussion of the strategic imperatives behind these questions — assuming anyone knows what those imperatives are. One of the hardest aspects to understand about strategy, either for ALM or anything else, is that it’s not written on stone tablets. Strategy is made Read more

Sep 082015
Perceptions of Time in EA Teams

We all have different perceptions of time, and our individual perceptions are influenced by the culture and norms of an enterprise. Our experiences of time have been researched and studied from many perspectives. For example, think about attitudes to the following in various enterprises or cultures: What is the attitude toward time-keeping? Do meetings start on time, stick to their agenda, and end on time? How many clocks are there in a building or meeting room? Do people keep checking the time? Is it acceptable to arrive late for meetings or appointments? How much time is allocated to different tasks? Do you have enough time to think properly about the vision? How often does it Read more

Aug 192015
Call for Papers: Digital Transformation: Unlocking the Potential

Cutter IT Journal Call for Papers — with Guest Editor: Stijn Viaene — Abstract Deadline: September 9, 2015 — The combination of new digital technologies such as Social, Mobile, Analytics (Big Data), Cloud and Internet of Things gave rise to digital disrupters such as Uber, Airbnb and PayPal. However, from an incumbent perspective, an unrealized potential to transform existing businesses and industries remains. Many observers have identified a significant gap between incumbents’ recognition of the importance of new digital technologies currently at their disposal and their understanding of how to optimally exploit them. This signals that many questions surrounding digital transformation are left unanswered and even unidentified. Some organizations are experimenting with digital innovation labs, Read more

Aug 112015
DevOps Needs an Architectural Foundation for QA

I have spent most of my professional time in telecommunications company projects. Although both telecommunications and IT are technology-intensive industries, they differ in a fundamental way. Telecommunications services are end products and customers pay for them. IT services represent a means for supporting the products delivered to customers, and customers pay for the product, not for the IT component included in the product. This is the reason why a service assurance practice is much better developed and established in the telecommunications business. But the world is changing, and IT-based services are increasingly becoming end products themselves. Practices for IT-based service assurance can gain a lot if we pattern them on telecommunications practices. The latest developments Read more

Serious Games At Agile 2015

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Aug 102015

Every year, serious games have made a larger appearance at the Agile Alliance’s yearly conference. For instance, a few years ago, one session featured a game that simulated the collaboration between UX professionals and an Agile team. Other sessions demonstrated how to use serious games to improve the dialogue between Agile teams and their customers. If you know me, you’re already aware that I have a special interest in this topic, in part because, as it says in my LinkedIn profile, one of my professional missions is to make serious games wildly successful, not just in software development, but in lots of settings that desperately need the typical rules of conduct disrupted. This year was Read more

Aug 062015

One of the best presentations I heard this week at Agile 2015 was Declan Whelan and Jason Little’s pithy summation of the necessity of structural change in organizations embracing Agile. Their argument was as pithy and forceful as the phrase, No justice, no peace: No structural change, no Agile. If you want to judge whether any organization, including the big and complex ones most notoriously prone to inertia and rigidity, has embraced Agile, look no further than the presence or absence of significant structural change. Agile should remold the organization, starting with the team, not just turn into another set of governance rules (“Thou shalt do a daily stand-up”) imposed on teams. We’ve been over Read more

Jul 302015

Software innovation has reached a level of necessary sophistication where purely technical skills are necessary, but not sufficient. “Computer science” now significantly overlaps social science, incorporating the insights and methods of psychology, sociology, economics, and anthropology. This evolution of the profession has profound implications for skills, roles, organizational structures, product and project decisions, innovation timelines, and a whole host of other considerations that go to the heart of how software professionals work. This topic is far too large to encompass in a single blog post, so I will address it across several. Eventually, we will identify the reasons behind the merging of computer and social science, and look ahead at the implications for organizations who Read more