The industrial revolution saw the landscape of Britain transformed from rural & agricultural to urban & industrial. The mass exodus of people from the country into the city represented a fundamental shift in the social fabric of the country.
The companies themselves were able to recruit and retain
low-skilled workers, working on high-cost machinery that required constant
maintenance and investment. The machines had maintenance schedules, were
constantly oiled, monitored, measured, and had parts regularly replaced because
they were the core contributor to the profitability of a company.
A worker leaving the company had little impact on the capability
of the business to create its product.
The information age has brought with it a shift in power toward
the knowledge worker due to the nature of work. The information worker is a
higher-cost resource, holds more tacit knowledge and intrinsically more value to
a business, as their knowledge is part of the whole make-up and fabric of a
company. Put bluntly “their brain is part of the machinery”. And therefore a
business has more reliance on its people as resources, rather than its machinery
A worker leaving the company has a larger impact on the
capability of the business to create its product or service. Tacit knowledge is
leaving the business, a new worker is required and their induction into the
collective takes far longer and costs a lot more.
So if brains are the machinery of your company, what kind of
shape are they in?
How much are you investing in them, what does their
maintenance schedule look like?
The software industry has a scarcity of resource, and this
scarcity of resource has existed for a number of years. In the manpower survey
of 2012, 25% of EMEA employers reported difficulty
filling jobs due to a lack of available talent. It has led to you being in a
talent war, having to pay c20% fees for recruitment of team members before
they’ve walked through the door. Also, your best ‘machinery’ is at risk of being
head-hunted by the competition.
So if you’re paying c20% to a 3rd party just to
bring talent through the door, and your best talent is at risk of being pinched,
how much should you be paying to develop and maintain that talent?
 Talent Shortage Survey 2012, Manpower Group
Friday, May 17, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
I’ve been invited to become a CIO Thought Leader and Featured Contributor on a new IDG produced site in collaboration with HP Enterprise Services. The site is called The Business Value Exchange and you can find out more about it here. I’ve written a couple of blogs including a piece on the Cellular Business model and the start of a blog series entitled “Brains are Machines”. I hope you enjoy the thinking!
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Ten whole years of my working life dedicated to creating software through agile methods. A lot of things have changed since those first few sprints. Lots of lessons learned, (usually the hard way), plenty of experience from working with lots of different people, with difference perspectives, in different locations, with diverse cultures and in unique companies.
As I went through the highs and lows of agile adoption I wrote a small but detailed blog along the way. These ‘epistles’ were usually written when I had considerable motivation to tell the story – when on a high from success, or a low from learning things the hard way. These blogs became a vehicle to vent frustration or expound virtues of some new insight or shift in mind-set.
Over these first weeks of 2013, I’m going to take some time to review these blogs, and retrospectively comment, amend and critique the thinking at the time, against the years of experience that have followed. Maybe I’ll learn something new along the way and I hope you’ll enjoy the journey too. There are 2 main categories of blogs I’ll be reviewing:
These blogs are more for the people in the trenches actually using Scrum in anger (or bliss!) and consists of lessons, insights and patterns that have proven useful.
· How Adopting Agile Increases Business Benefits
· The 10 Commandments of Agile Planning
· Which Agile Method?
· Launch, launch, launch
· Agile Metrics & Scorecards
· Constraining Agility
· The Machine that Changed the World
· A Nod to a Solid Team
These blogs are aimed at the executive or change management audience emphasising key concepts, mind-sets and expectations when leading agile change initiatives:
· CIO/IT Director – What Agile Means to You
· Implementing Agile: Top-down or Bottom-up
· Inversion Management: 21st Century Leadership
· Agile & Transformational Leadership
· Lost in Translation
· Organisational Patterns
· Fearless Change
· Emotional Intelligence
· The Cellular Business Model
Thursday, December 06, 2012
Bringing together people living or working in the Milton Keynes area, who are interested in sharing, learning and encouraging the use of agile methodologies, such as Scrum, XP and Lean Thinking.
November Meeting Summary
Thanks again to everyone who attended the first Agile:MK meeting last month. All the feedback received has been positive, and the intent of this bulletin is to ensure the wider group gain some insight into the discussions that took place.Item 1: Why are we here?
We kicked off the session with a small exercise to identify what we believed a valuable user group would look like i.e. what is worth dragging yourself along to on a cold winter’s evening! The group wants to network locally, share experiences and learning, encourage the adoption of agile in Milton Keynes, and drink free beer…
Item 2: Discussion BacklogDuring the initial exercise a large number of discussion topics were identified, these were prioritised to provide an on-going agenda for the user group. From this we were able to identify January’s session as “State of the Art”:
Item 3: Scrum in a Non-Software EnvironmentThe main part of the session comprised a workshop discussion about using Scrum in a non-software environment. One of our group has just completed their first sprint (4 week iteration) and we started by understanding a little about the business.
Mindmap of Non-Software Environment
1. The team presents its outputs for the time period i.e. in this example, the team should present its strategy for the client. This should be presented to the business owner or customer of the product. The purpose is to ensure that throughout the project as more and more sprints are completed, the business understands what is being built and can feedback on both its quality and alignment to business needs. The intent is to ensure that the end result of the project is closely aligned to business needs.
The team retrospects… The team asks
itself ‘what did we do well in the last 4 weeks?” “what went poorly or needs
improvement?” and finally “what are we going to do differently in the next
These two activities are fundamental to the successful adoption of Scrum and represent the key objectives of firstly ensuring a deliverable meets the customer’s needs, and secondly ensuring a team continuously improves its capabilities.
Definition of Done and Acceptance Criteria
The discussion group started to articulate the concept of ‘Definition of Done’. For any delivered feature or artefact, the team needs to ask itself “How well has the feature been completed?” “To what level of quality?”
The essential part of a Definition of Done is that it is created by the team. Typically, the Definition of Done consists of a list of standards and agreements that the team agrees to adhere to for each of its deliverables. Team members should be transparent about these criteria and effective teams are able to challenge each other when these criteria are broken.
So for the project at hand, the question for the team is “what does a high quality strategy consist of?
In contrast, acceptance criteria is a term used to articulate the needs of the customer i.e. what should the deliverable do, what pieces of the deliverable does the customer assign value to and will therefore, pay for? The group outlined that acceptance criteria are the ‘things the customer wants’. So for this project the deliverable of a Strategy would probably include acceptance criteria such as governance strategy, fund-raising strategy and communications strategy as part of the overall delivery. Other criteria could include being written in English, available for download, in pdf and PowerPoint formats.
The Scrum board is typically a white board displaying all the teams’ deliverables and associated tasks. This makes the team’s activities transparent to everyone in the room and this transparency can have a significant impact on the team and management.There are many forms of scrum board, and two typical implementations highlighted were [To Do – In Progress – Done] and [To Do – Analysis – Development – Test – Done]. We further discussed the relative maturity of teams adopting different styles, as well as queue identification and bottlenecks, and observed that more mature teams typically need fewer steps across the board.
The next Agile:MK meeting will take place on Tuesday 15th January 2013 from 6pm – 8pm.
The discussion topic will be “The State of the Art”
The discussion topic will be “The State of the Art”