Agile in the City: Birmingham – All about high-performing teams

Summary

Jovile
Published by
Jovile Bartkeviciute (@jovilebart)
PUBLISHED: April 3, 2017 10:34 am
ESTIMATED READING TIME: 9 MINUTES

Day 2

Keynote by Jenni Jepsen“Empowering people is impossible”

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Jenni Jepsen delivered an inspiring talk on what actually means to be empowered and why empowered people are essential to your organisation. Key takeaways:

  • Empowerment – if I have rely on somebody to empower me then how empowered am I?
  • It is all about giving control and pushing decisions to people who have information – we need people who feel empowered and would take the control.
  • Empowered people:
    • they have autonomy and influence,
    • they feel connected to each other, team and organisation,
    • they have purpose
    • their work is fair
  • This is what intrinsically motivates us – we feel engaged, more willing to take control.
  • Some people just want to be told what to do, why?
    • There are no people who are born wanting to be told what to do – it happens over time. 
  • “Can I give you some feedback?” phrase calls out the same emotions as seeing a bear in the woods.
    • You should ask for feedback yourself to stay in control.
  • We can design interactions to control what we want people to feel.
  • What gets in the way of giving control? Common obstacles Agile leaders face on the journey:
    • Busy-ness
    • Contradictory messages in the environment – we do not need the signs, we need trust
    • Too many procedures to follow
    • Stress
      • Neuroplasticity: over time connections in the brain change – it is a survival mechanism and if we are stressed a lot, we start seeing the errors and are quick to go negative instead of seeing positive things.
    • Old habits
      • We are wired to stay in the habit mode – doing what we know takes less energy for the brain.
      • You need to create new habits
  • We cannot empower people, but we can change the environment so that they would feel empowered.

 

Scott Fulton“Agile life lessons – looking beyond the processes”

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Scott Fulton walked us through the nine lessons he learnt by adopting agile in the police.

9 Agile Life Lessons:

  1. Agile can teach you the difference between leadership and (micro)management
  2. It can change how you judge success
    • Software is not a project – projects by the definition has a start and end
  3. If you feel overwhelmed you just don’t know what to prioritise next
  4. Your stakeholders will get confused
    • You might need to stop using word “agile”
  5. “You can’t make a tailored suit if the customer never comes in for measurements”
  6. Technology is for people, not done to people
    • technology is the enabler – people do not want to use the technology, they want the end goal
  7. Listen to the team – they are usually right
  8. Being a Product Owner is bloody hard
  9. Change is hard great!

 

Spencer Turner“How many hats can you really wear?”

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Spencer Turner introduced the audience to the problems cross-functional teams solve and cause to the organisation. Some takeaways:

  • Business problems:
    • Nearly 75% of Cross-functional teams are dysfunctional
      • They fail on at least three of five criteria:
        • Meeting a planed budget
        • Staying on schedule
        • Adhering to specifications
        • Meeting a customer expectations
        • Maintaining alignment with corporate goals.
  • Human problems:
    • Pressure / Stress / Anger
    • Overload / Inability to cope
    • Feelings of failure
    • Feeling you can’t say you’re struggling
    • Feeling you’re an imposter
  • In a cross-functional team people are expected to have more than one skill.
  • Some responsibilities don’t mix, don’t try and force them.

 

John Clapham“Team Design for Continuous Delivery”

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John Clapham talked about high performing teams and the importance of social engagement. Key points:

  • Co-dependence and co-evolution of a team are essential for continuous delivery.
  • Use continuous delivery to reduce the risk of releases, decrease cycle time, and make it economic to work in small batches.
  • Relationships are hard:
    • Regarding groups of people – 3 people – 3 individual relationships, 5 people – 10 relationships, 8 people – 28 relationships. The more people, the more relationships there need to be – the number grows exponentially.
  • Why should we care about social engagement?
    • Engagement drives profit – by the State of DevOps Report 2016, companies with high employee engagement grew revenues 2.5 times faster
    • Also, it leads to lower absenteeism (37%), fewer safety incidents (41%) and fewer quality defects (41%).
  • What matters if you wish to have a high performing team:
    • Dependability
    • Structure & clarity
    • Meaning of work
    • Impact of work
    • Psychological safety
  • Successful Continuous Delivery team traits:
    • A strong desire to learn and co-evolve.
    • An understanding of business imperative, and the autonomy to act on it.
    • Safety – to take risk, succeed and fail.
    • Ability to manage a high level of interactions.
    • Self measurement of achievement.
  • It is better to do 100 things at 1% than one thing at 100%.

 

Jim Gumbley“Information security in agile development”

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Jim Gumbley talked about information security needs for agile teams. key points:

  • The problem of security requirements in agile teams:
    • Teams often would not know what are the security requirements
    • There is no thought into the bigger picture
    • In terms of agile security – there is no books about it.
  • The best way to deal with information security is to bring in a security expert to the delivery team, however, there are not enough experts for every team.
  • The most common type of security attack is still is SQL injection, which has been around for many years.
  • You do not need to reinvent the wheel – try these first:
    • OWASP Top 10
    • Building attack trees
    • Application security verification standard – OWASP
    • Risk mapping workshop
    • Microsoft escalation of Privilege Cards OWASP Cornucopia

 

Matthew Skelton“How and why to design your teams for modern software systems”

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And the last speaker of the day, our co-founder and principal consultant Matthew Skelton, concluded the conference talking about Conway’s law, cognitive load and introduced us to different types of team topologies. Key points:

  • Conway’s Law
    • organisations are producing designs which are copies of the communication structures
    • Homomorphic force in action:
      • Reverse Conway’s law – you can change your organisation’s structure to match the structure of the system’s that you want.
  • Cognitive Load
    • Cognitive load – the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory
    • Stress impacts team performance by narrowing or weakening the team level perspective, if they have too much to consider, they’ll cease to perform as a team.
    • A well-performed team performs better than a group of well-performing individuals.
    • Match the team responsibility to the cognitive load that the team can handle.
  • Real-world Team Topologies
    • devopstopologies.com
    • There is no single ‘right’ team topology, but several ‘bad’ topologies for any one organisation.
  • Guidelines for Team Design
    • Evolve different team topologies for different parts of the organisation at different times to match the team purpose and context.

Slides:

 

Overall, the talks were informative, interactive and entertaining, common themes were autonomy and the importance of psychological safety, cognitive load and healthy working environment for a high-performing team.

 

 

Day 1 <<

 

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