Better Software East 2011
Mission Critical Agility
Jeff Norris, NASA
Whether it is controlling interplanetary spacecraft, managing medical records, or "merely" staying in business, it seems that more of us are facing the pressure of building and managing mission-critical systems and teams. Although it's tempting to think that reliability is all that matters, we're also forced to adapt to constantly advancing technologies, shifting priorities, and relentless competitive pressures. What can we learn about agility from great inventors like Alexander Graham Bell and the pioneers at NASA who risked everything to change the world? Is it wise to embrace innovation and take risks when so much is at stake? Can you afford to be agile when failure is not an option, or can you afford not to? Jeff Norris explores key principles of agility from a fresh and entertaining perspective by drawing on inspiring stories of people who demonstrated agile work practices long before anyone had heard of a ScrumMaster. Come take a break from the rulebooks and taxonomies of the modern agile zoo and reflect on core traits that we all should embrace as we seek better ways of working.
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What’s Surgery Got To Do with Improving Software Practices?
Edward Kit, Software Development Technologies
Surgeons and software professionals—now those are two occupations you probably haven’t seen in the same sentence until now. It is fascinating to see what real life lessons we can learn from successful process improvement programs adopted by another group of professionals: medical surgeons. Many practices of early surgeons—trial and error, lack of standards, failure to measure and share outcomes, and more—bear a striking resemblance to software professionals and practices today. Ed Kit looks back at the important lessons learned from more than 150 years of key improvements that surgeons adopted and how these lessons relate to our young industry. Offering a practical approach that you can take back to your team and organization, Ed describes how to institute process and practice improvements that will become—quite simply—the way you work. Based on his more than twenty years of helping transform testing and development teams around the world, Ed shares what it really takes to sustain effective adoption of changes that will improve software delivery capability.
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The Agile Mindset: Principles for Collaborating and Innovating with Agility
Adrian Cho, IBM
What is the one thing that can truly enable individuals and teams to collaborate and innovate with agility? Technology companies claim that you need the latest and greatest tools while consultants will say you need a rigid process of best practices. These things will make a difference but they are useless without a culture that promotes the right principles. Much can be learned from successful teams in other domains such as jazz, basketball, and even special forces military units. In all of these fields, multi-disciplined teams integrate innovative contributions from highly capable individuals into group and individual behaviors. They improvise and act with true agility when the path forward is unknown or unexpected challenges arise. To ensure success, they apply key principles: employ just enough rules to support autonomy while avoiding chaos, establish a groove to maintain momentum and synchronize efforts, act supportively and transparently to cultivate trust and respect, and exchange ideas to realize the benefits of diverse skills. Jazz musician and software development manager Adrian Cho describes the ways in which software developers can learn from jazz musicians and great performers in other domains.
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No Silver Bullet? Silver Buckshot May Work
Gregory Popee, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
During Greg Pope’s forty years in the industry, many great processes and new tools have been promoted by incredibly gifted people. It seems that someone is always promising a cure all—the proverbial “silver bullet”—for software woes. Still, the most common request Greg gets from software developers and managers is to “look at our development process and tell us how to make it better.” Greg’s goals for this presentation are for us to understand what “better” really means, to discuss common problems and potential solutions, and to become empowered to make our personal and our group’s practices better. He examines valuable ideas that seem to reincarnate themselves periodically and explores the challenges of today’s modern software. Although there may not be a silver bullet for your software woes, perhaps there is “silver buckshot”—a collection of techniques and tools to solve common problems—which, when properly aimed by capable professionals, will make your software better.
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