AGILENOMICS™ Newsletter – May 2019

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INNOVATIVE PRESENTATION AT XP 2019 IN MONTREAL

On behalf of Cprime, Chrysinou Consulting’s J. Margetis co-presented an experience report with R. Wilk of Metabank (a Cprime client)

On Thursday May 23d, at 3:30pm EST, at the XP 2019 Conference in Montreal, Canada, an experience report titled “Transforming Mindsets to Accelerate an Agile Transformation” was presented by J. Margetis of Chrysinou Consulting LLC acting on behalf of Cprime, and R. Wilk of Metabank, where the innovative experimentation took place. Agile Alliance, the organizers of the conference have posted copies of the experience report on the following link: https://www.agilealliance.org/resources/experience-reports/transforming-mindsets-to-accelerate-an-agile-transformation/


For many years, Chrysinou Consulting LLC consulting team has desired to experiment with aligning the annual goals and objectives found in most corporate performance management systems with the goals of the Agile Transformation that the company is actually attempting to implement. We frequently encounter situations where employees use their existing annual goals and objectives set by management as an excuse not to prioritize the need to change. In the case of Metabank, a Cprime client that we were sub-contracted at, we finally found an executive sponsor willing to tackle this industry anti-pattern.

The details are all in the experience report link above, but the most important learning point that has been confirmed by this experiment is that an Agile Transformation cannot succeed if underlying cultural mindsets are not aligned with the goals of the Transformation. The innovative framework that has been developed in this Cprime – Metabank partnership can be replicated in other organizations. One of the examples that R. Wilk provided in response to a question from the audience (not in the experience report text) was that of an agile team member who was the only one with the knowledge of report creation. By putting “cross- functional training” into his goals and objectives, this individual was motivated to do the previously unimaginable, and cross-trained others on his team. This resulted in increased throughput for multiple reports that were in the backlog, as well as praises for the team member who boldly shared what was previously considered to be “concentrated” knowledge. This simple example, as well as other points specifically mentioned in the experience report, provides evidence that leveraging the existing HR performance goals framework can be a valuable acceleration technique for any Agile Transformation.

OTHER XP 2019 NEWS – J. MARGETIS CALLS OUT THE “ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM” AT AN EXPERIENCE REPORT SESSION ON MAY 22nd:

On May 22nd 2019, at 4pm, Rebecca Wirfs-Brock hosted the Experience Report Round Table discussion, in which there was an even mix of academics, researchers and practitioners. One of the researchers in the audience voiced a concern that access to the industry was not always readily available. J. Margetis expanded the topic by saying: “I have read several of the academic articles and topics presented at this conference. I have seen several references along the lines of ‘we need more research / we don’t understand this, or that’[1]….yet, I and other practitioners like me have solved many of these problems years ago, so we don’t agree that these topics are unsolved mysteries…the reason you don’t know, is because I haven’t written about it…I haven’t written about it because I don’t have time…I’m too busy working and billing…yet, this creates a gap in the industry…academics and researchers need the data, and the practitioners are the ones innovating on the front lines of industry every day. How do we get the research community to be more aligned with what is actually going on in the industry?”…

This dramatic statement set the stage for the remainder of the hour. Several attendees, including Steve Adolph of Cprime confirmed that there is a gap between the academic / research and the practitioner communities. Researchers in the audience encouraged J. Margetis to write and publish more as a solution, but the obvious challenge is that the “day job” of a traveling consultant constrains the ability and willingness to do so. An interesting idea that was floated was how to leverage University co-op programs with corporations in a way that would provide meaningful long-term access to innovation happening in the field.

Another challenge to overcome is the concept of NDAs. It is one thing to request a practitioner to write an experience report that will help the academic community, but it is another thing to ensure that confidentiality agreements are not violated. In many cases, NDA agreements prohibit specific mentions of companies, people, places, etc, and as such, innovation can only be discussed in a non-specific manner. The researchers in the May 22nd experience report session expressed concern that such references would “not be credible or usable” by the academic community. Unfortunately, this antiquated way of thinking does not in turn make valid any “inaccurate” research papers that are published as a result. From the practitioner’s point of view, the innovation is real, it happened, and even in the abstract, non-specific sense, it is truly valid.

[1] As a specific example, the abstract presented on May 22nd (1:30pm) by M. Berntzen and N. Brede Moe titled “The Product Owner in Large Scale Agile: An Empirical Study through the Lens of Relational Coordination Theory states: “… Previous research has shown that the PO assumes a wide set ofroles. Still, our knowledge about how POs coordinate amongst themselves and with their teams in large-scale agile is limited…” – from a practitioner’s point of view, we don’t necessarily agree that our knowledge of this particular topic is limited.

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