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Simplify development, speed-up delivery and generate insights

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Simplify software development

Quote

Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But its worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
-Steve Jobs

Why Simplify?

Simplifying software development and deployment yields benefits such as

  • Ability to deliver working software faster
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Team is able to maintain a sustainable development pace

To begin with, start with simplifyng the backlog. Do the least amount of work necessary to satisfy customer needs. Breakdown the requirements and at each level ask the question “Is this a must-have?”. Backlog should have the ability to filter by: must-have, should-have and could-have. A minimal viable product backlog ideally should only include must-have items.

The team should look to adopt tools and techniques that enable faster cycles such as: CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment) tools, testing frameworks, automated regression testing.

The leadership should support the development of cross-functional teams and strive to create a healthy working environment.

Speed up delivery

Quote

Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them
-Albert Einstein

A lot of organizations start to adopt Agile because they want to deliver value faster and more frequently. However an often overlooked, and arguably the most important aspect of agile adoption is the agile mindset. To achieve the highest velocity at a sustainable pace the teams and stakeholders have to change their way of thinking about software development. The speed of delivery is limited by a fixed mindset, an agile mindset will allow for continuously improving in every way and hence increase the speed limit.

Knowing the mindset of an organization one can predict how successful the agile transition will be. Agile mindset is about a willingness to learn & improve continuously, to embrace change, to be customer obsessed, to help others & willingness to seek help, to create a safe enviornment, fail fast and take ownership.

Agile mindset can take time to achieve but this is the KEY to creating high performing agile teams. Knowing the current mindset and working towards developing an Agile mindset will increase the benefits of Agile adoption.

How do teams develop an agile mindset?

Culture change is hard. It takes engagement and active participation from all stakeholders. Changing mindset deserves its own separate section because there is a lot to cover. Below is a starter list

  • Create a safe working environment
  • Trust in the team
  • Transparency, information radiators
  • Decision making should be done by those who have the best information
  • Use agile metrics to learn, don’t use it for performance appraisal
  • Simplify communication paths
  • Change hiring practices to focus on growth mindset

Generate insights

Quote

We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.
-E.O. Wilson

Agile teams benefit from learning about themselves and how they operate. Applying the right methods to surface the data to help the team improve is tremendously useful.

Providing data to stakeholders for data-driven decision must be refined through the agile lens to generate the right insights.

Let’s take the exampe of a report that shows how many hours each team member has worked on tasks in a cycle. What is the purpose of presenting this information? What value will this add?

I would argue that for agile teams, such a report is useless.

On the other hand, burndown chart or cummulative flow chart are useful for the team.

Rich insights that align with agile values is the key to help teams improve and meet their goals.