Monday, January 17, 2011

Presentation sponsored by Thoughtworks and Agile Austin

I am shifting gears a bit here, but I had the absolute pleasure of listening to Jim Highsmith speak here in Austin Texas.  Last Wednesday Thoughtworks and Agile Austin sponsored a talk by Mr. Highsmith on the topic of Agile Leadership.

I could never articulate all of the great content presented by Mr. Highsmith, so I will toss out some key concepts I managed to snag.  I am hoping Thoughtworks will distribute the slide deck so I can remember even more.

Focusing on Organizational Agility I recall one fundamental distinction.  Is your business focus based on Responsiveness or Efficiency?  If it is Responsiveness then it is probably important to learn Agile Management skills.

The core tenants according to Mr. Highsmith were Do less, Quality, Speed to Value, and Engage & Inspire. 

Do less is definitely applicable to my recent experiences with kanban. 

Of course Quality is important to me.  Quality really does matter to management and it is a proven fact that reducing defects reduces cost.

I am not so enthusiastic about increasing speed, but speed to value is a key to success.   We really do not want to be focusing on things that add little value.  In my opinion, we need to find a sustainable pace.

Now Engage and Inspire is a prime theme for me these days.  After attending the STP Conference in the fall of 2010, I certainly became inspired.  I am seeking the opportunity to engage with other testers and be inspired.  Hopefully I can inspire too.

Mr. Highsmith recommended several books.  You can find those recommendations on his blog.  I recall two suggestions: Drive by Dan Pink and Organizing Genius by Warren Bennis.

Software companies should have a focus on value and delivering features.  Wow!  That certainly makes sense to me. An interesting point was that companies should not permit product owners to do all of the prioritization.  If you let product determine the priority, then there is no room to work on technical debt, defects, or useful tools.  His point was many companies suffer from technical debt.

The talk inspired me to do my best to participate more in the Agile community in Austin.  I was speaking with Matt, the president of Agile Austin and I found out there is a group of testers that meet monthly over lunch.   I definitely want to get plugged in to that group.

My final point is if you get a chance to go hear these great speakers, please do so!  There are bits of goodness for everyone to take home.

Happy Testing!

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