A Recap of Lean Agile DC 2018

A Recap of Lean Agile DC 2018

CC Pace spent an informative day at the Center for Innovation Technology (CIT) event in Herndon, VA: Lean Agile DCJason Velentino (Director, Digital Reliability Engineering at Capital One) kicked off the conference with a great presentation on DevOps and his journey through incorporating cloud and a DevOps culture at such a large organization. It is rewarding for CC Pace to have been a part of the Agile adoption at Capital One, providing Agile Coaching and Training over the past five years and to see the evolution of Agile, which Capital One has made part of their everyday culture.

Another great presentation and discussion on Agile Engineering was lead by Jose Mingorance, and Carlos Rojas of Fannie Mae. They have pulled together a lot of ideas from Agile leaders to provide Fannie Mae with an exciting assessment and plan to drive business value throughout their organization through advancing Agile engineering practices. It was interesting to see their plans and the excitement surrounding this initiative.

Finally, Dean Chanter, also from Capital One, lead a great discussion on Joshua Kerievsky’s Modern Agile principles. Dean spoke about his journey towards ‘modern Agile’ at Capital One and how those principles are at the cornerstone of their advancement in their Agile transformation as an organization. As Capital One continues their trajectory into being Agile leaders in the Financial Services market, this will be an interesting case study to keep an eye on! We look forward to next year and seeing how everyone has progressed.

I found Mike Cohn’s posting Don’t Blindly Follow very curious because it seems to contradict what many luminaries of the Agile community have said about starting out by strictly following the rules until you’ve really learned what you’re doing.

In one sense, I do agree with this sentiment of not blindly doing something.  Indeed, when I was younger, I thought it was quite clever of me to say things like “The best practice is not to follow best practices.”  But then I discovered the Dreyfus Model of Skills Acquisition and that made me realize that there’s a more nuanced view.  In a nutshell, the Dreyfus model says that we progress through different stages as we learn skills.  In particular when we start learning something, we do start by following context-free rules (a.k.a., best practices) and progress through situational awareness to “transcend reliance on rules, guidelines, and maxims.”  This is resonates with me since I recognize it as the way I learn things and when I can see it in others when they are serious about something.  (To be fair, there are people that don’t seem to fit into this model, too, but I’m okay with a model that’s useful even if it doesn’t cover every possibility.)  So, I would say that we should start out following the rules blindly until we have learned enough to recognize how to helpfully modify the rules that we’ve been following.

Cohn concludes with another curious statement: “No expert knows more about your company than you do.”  Again, there’s a part of me that wants to agree with this, but then again…  An outsider could well see things that an insider takes for granted and have perspectives that allow them to come to different conclusions from the information that you both share.

I find myself much more in sympathy with Ron Jeffries’ statements in The Increment and Culture: “Rather than change ourselves, and learn the new game, we changed Scrum. We changed it before we ever knew what it was.”  This seems like it would offer a much better opportunity to really learn the basics before we start changing this to suit ourselves.