Sociocultural Aspects of Software Projects

The desire to be agile has long impacted human behavior. Consider the elite athlete, the army general, the opera singer, the belly dancer, the professional golfer, the heavyweight boxer, the high seas sailor, the commercial pilot, the top-end banker, and even the federal politician — they all love agility, and so do we. Why? Put simply, agility provides the basis for adaptability and change which, in turn, are integral to our survival and growth. The same agility that enables a springbok to outrun a lion or an ant to carry a load more than 20 times its size allows a small start-up in Southern California to prevail against the might of a large, well-established brick-and-mortar …

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Sep 142013
 
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How appropriate it is that Lynn Winterboer is joining Cutter just about at the time that we publish the Cutter Benchmark Review on Achieving an Agile Organizational Mind. With Lynn on board, we have another heavy hitter who applies the values, methods and practices of ‘traditional’ Agile to data, data warehousing, and business intelligence. The importance of so doing in the era of big data can’t be overstated. Just about every Cutter client I meet is struggling to extract meaning from the data he/she possesses. Needless to say, extracting meaning in an Agile manner constitutes an important competitive capability. Between the ‘old hands’ in the practice and the recent additions of Professor Giancarlo Succi, Sue …

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Given the rapid expansion of social and mobile technologies, organizations have increasing opportunities to connect with customers. The IT organization will play a key role not only in capturing and analyzing customer data and increasing the number and value of online customer interactions, but also in terms of creating the means for internal departments to collaborate and better serve the needs of customers. Some organizations mistakenly believe that customers want an online relationship with their company and bombard customers with surveys, questionnaires, and offers, whereas the reality is that what most customers really want is information and discounts. Organizations that examine and continuously improve their customers’ experience in their ease-of-search, ease-of-purchase, and ease-of-tracking delivery progress …

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  Let me start with full disclosure: A) I am a fellow of the Lean Systems Society; and, B) I will be attending the conference. Obviously, I am a little biased. This very natural bias notwithstanding, if you find my blog posts (click here and here) of interest, I am fairly certain you will have a ball in the conference. Moreover, I believe you will step out of the conference with a few actionable insights that might surprise you. The #1 problem most of my clients are struggling with these days is complexity; #2 is that they are expected to solve the complexity problem through best practices: #3 is that I tell them something like …

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Charette Stirs Debate Over STEM "Crisis"

Cutter Fellow Bob Charette‘s IEEE Spectrum piece, “The STEM Crisis is a Myth” has gone viral, with good reason. Charette opens by describing the worldwide panic over a shortfall in workers to fill STEM jobs, including governments everywhere “pouring billions of dollars each year into myriad efforts designed to boost the ranks of STEM workers.” He then makes a case for the flip side of the story, supported by by many reports that suggest that there just aren’t enough suitable jobs available for all the STEM graduates we have today. A Matter of Supply vs. Demand: Every year U.S. schools grant more STEM degrees than there are available jobs. When you factor in H-1B visa …

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It is my profound pleasure to welcome Sue McKinney and Tom Grant to the Cutter family and to the Agile practice. I am really excited about the expertise they bring to the practice and the opportunity to work with them in person. I first met Sue some five or six years ago in an APLN conference in which she presented her experience teaching the IBM elephant to dance to the rhythm of Agile. My overarching impression from the presentation was “Wow, this lady has fire in her belly!” This impression of mine grew stronger and stronger over the years as I became more familiar with her large scale transformative work at both IBM and Pitney …

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Technical Debt in the Era of Transient Competitive Advantage

A situation that I and various consultants in the Cutter Agile Practice are often exposed to is a pressing need to reduce technical debt. A prospect calls with respect to some software assets that have ceased to perform adequately. What we almost invariably find once we do the Technical Debt Assessment is that over time the client’s codebase got both bloated and spaghetti-like. As a result, the client is struggling with 10M, 20M or 50M lines of tangled code. The combination of size with “spaghetti tangles” renders it hard to effectively adapt the software as in such code even changing/adding a single line of code could require significant integration and regression efforts. The situation is …

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Aug 272013
 
Coherence of Vision

In my recent blog post Choosing Your Point of Organizational Incoherence, I stressed the importance of making a choice on how to deal with systemic incoherence that is beyond your control as a CIO or a CTO. Technology, economy and society are not likely to be aligned anytime soon; emphasis on maximizing shareholders value might make it impossible for you to make certain strategic investments; and, unrealistic expectations about predictability of the software development process might make you want to tear your hair out. True and painful that these three factors and possibly many others might be, you can’t just sit on your hands waiting for all the moons to be aligned. You have to …

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What good is a high-performance team in a vacuum, and how long will one last without an environment in which it can thrive? This is the question that comes to mind when I’m asked to comment on the role of leadership in high-performance teams. Teams may be able to achieve various states of high performance for a time, or from time to time, perhaps experienced by the team as being “in the zone.” But my thoughts turn toward questions of causing teams to be in the zone on demand, and of sustaining a state of high performance. Three Simple Words… Be. Do. Have. These three words outline what I’ve learned in life, and they work as a sequence to …

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Choosing Your Point of Organizational Incoherence

Much has been written, presented and debated in the past few years on the “right way” for executives and policy makers to reinvigorate companies, markets and economies. The distinguished scholar Carlota Perez suggests fundamental changes to the way growth and prosperity get measured. Along somewhat similar lines, Steven Denning focuses on the damage inflicted through adherence to the tenet of maximizing shareholder’s value. Gary Hammel, elaborating on another thread that Perez touches on, advocates values over value. Last but not the least, Hagel, Brown and Davison emphasize the power of pull for both designing the right system and designing the system right [i]. While the debate spans some topics that are clearly beyond the scope …

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