Round-table discussions can be a really useful way to discover and share direct experience with peers and colleagues. A good round-table discussion is quietly facilitated by someone who knows the subject matter enough to include interesting questions and can ensure that everyone has a voice.
Here is what I have learnt from facilitating round-table discussions and watching others, too.
understand the participants
understand and prepare the topic under discussion
remember: this is not your platform
encourage quieter people
nudge the discussion to ensure all points are covered
The rest of this post goes into more detail on these points.
Since 2012 I have been running several meetups and conferences with a technology focus: London Continuous Delivery meetup group (2500+ members with around 80 different speakers in total), PIPELINE Conference (5 events since 2014 with around 50 different speakers), CodeMill digital skills meetup, and Assembly Conference. I have been keen to attract and promote a diverse range of speakers and attendees to all these events, and I think (with help from amazing team members) we have been fairly successful in promoting diversity in these tech events.
Much of this diversity improvement has been focused on encouraging more women to speak and attend, but of course there is more to diversity than just gender; recently, I have tried to address other aspects too, including ethnic background, social class, and also personality “type” (particularly more introverted people).
Set up the organisation to ‘sense’ its environment
Treat internal teams (almost) as external providers
Conway’s Law should shape our organisation design
Promise Theory is a useful approach to organisational agility
I have been doing quite a bit of work recently with various organisations to help them develop new capabilities for building and evolving software-rich services. Part of this work involves thinking about the responsibilities of different teams and how these evolve. This blog post captures some thoughts and links on how the more successful organisations arrange themselves for agility and responsiveness.
Our 4th Open Space discussion challenged people to identify the things that they don’t like about the Continuous Delivery book: things that don’t work in practice, things that are plain wrong, etc. – a slightly cheeky session!
tl;dr: Jez Humble and Dave Farley – authors of Continuous Delivery – did not get anything wrong in their book but they “did not say enough” about the culture/people aspect of Continuous Delivery. People and culture are tricky – who knew?! 🙂
I was recently asked to answer some questions about Continuous Delivery for someone’s undergraduate university research. The questions were interesting, so here are my answers 🙂
What do you feel are the benefits of adopting Continuous Delivery?
How do you feel adopting Continuous Delivery has affected your development cycle?
Do you think Continuous Delivery is an important approach for a company to pick up, If so Why?
How do you think Agile compares to more traditional models like Waterfall?
What is the biggest change you’ve noticed since adopting Agile?
What do you foresee in the future for these models in the industry?
1. What do you feel are the benefits of adopting Continuous Delivery?
The benefits of Continuous Delivery are huge:
Greater focus on finishing and shipping.
Increased awareness of need for setting up the work to enable feedback and learning.
Sense of ‘flow’ within teams.
Decisions made using actual data rather than opinions alone.
Higher quality software.
More joy in work.
(Can I stop yet?)
2. How do you feel adopting Continuous Delivery has affected your development cycle?
(Answering on behalf of our clients) Continuous Delivery has helped us to increase the ownership over software and focus on the value-add things that our organisation produces, rather than ceremonies around testing and releasing.
3. Do you think Continuous Delivery is an important approach for a company to pick up, If so Why?
Yes: adopting CD properly can be truly transformative for the organisation as a whole. IT becomes a means to receive rapid feedback on product/marketing/service offerings, allowing the business to invest more wisely and do more with less risk and lower costs.
4. How do you think Agile compares to more traditional models like Waterfall?
Agile is woefully misunderstood (as was Waterfall) so in that regard, they are similar (!). Truly agile organisations are rare because agility challenges entrenched, comfortable positions within an organisation. Agile done well really makes the nature of an organisation transparent.
5. What is the biggest change you’ve noticed since adopting Agile?
(Answering for our clients) We’re able to improve the software delivery part of the process, but this has highlighted the lack of clarity and vision in the Business.
6. What do you foresee in the future for these models in the industry?
We’re starting to see a backlash against Agile and DevOps already, because people misunderstand or misrepresent what’s going on. Things like SAFe seem to be rebranded PRINCE2 which is a shame. Essentially, many organisations are going to fail because their management does not see the need to change.