Guest Dave Denham | Agile, Lean, Scrum, Kanban
What is a conference MVP?
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Dave Albert: Hello and welcome to the podcast. I’m your host Dave Albert. In this show, I talk about technology, building a company as a CTO and co-founder and have guests to discuss their roles in technology and entrepreneurship.
Dave Albert: Today I’m joined by Dave Denham, a script master and Agile coach at workday. Who is also a former colleague and current friend of mine. He’s also the original one of the original organizers of the Agile Lean Ireland conference. Thank you so much for joining me Dave.
Dave Denham: Yes, it’s great to see you again Dave.
Dave Albert: Yes
Dave Denham: Always a pleasure to meet up
Dave Albert: Yeah
Dave Denham: I look forward to the task.
Dave Albert: Definitely. Maybe to begin, give us a little bit of your background.
Dave Denham: Yeah, a little bit of my background, I start to work like a script master and a coach here in workday. Been working as a script master in that area for five years now so it kind of came kind of an unusual route to that like I was pretty much in UX for seven or eight years before that so pretty much like what I started in college and actually I’m in two startups so my first one in college was pretty much like a web solutions provider with my cousin which we run out of his attic.
Dave Albert: And I don’t remember that.
Dave Denham: Yeah
Dave Albert: I do not remember that, I do not remember we talked about that.
Dave Denham: No, I don’t think we have. No, no. So yeah, we run that for about two years or so and then we realized that doesn’t really you know pay the rent and stuff. It was nice for pocket money and stuff like that.
Dave Denham: But that was great. Cause they’re supposed you know, it wasn’t just you know you’re a designer or developer, you’re also a good salesman for the company and you know you’re the support agent for the company and all that sort of stuff. So that was really interesting and probably not too publicize but yeah Acid Web Solutions was the name of our company. And then I supposed I kind of moved in to a work in Symantec for a number of years with yourself for nine and a half years in various different roles. I was the UX lead there, so I managed the team there for a few years and front-end development as well. And also, an ex-colleague of mine, we set up another start up so that run for about a year or so and did a similar thing- a web solutions at the time. So those were the days when you couldn’t just wizard up a website and you need someone to design it like you couldn’t just use a Wordpress or Wix or whatever they use now. So okay lots and lots kind of learning from there and I’ve been working in workday for the last two and a half years or so and just kind of coaching teams here, coaching teams and product owners and leaders as well. So, I really really kind of caught the Agile book probably about five years ago and involves with some of my co-founders in the Agile Lean Ireland community as well. So, running meet ups, lots here in workday and various center places around Dublin and looking forward for the third conference this year as well. So yeah, I’d say kind of it’s more of an accidental path to be honest into Agile we kind of arrived here by accident, so I can tell you more about that if you want.
Dave Albert: Yeah, yeah definitely. If you’re in Western Europe, you can come to the conference. It’s fantastic. I’ve been every year so far, planned to go this year unfortunately I don’t have my ticket yet.
Dave Denham: Find it here somewhere. Yeah, I appreciate it though.
Dave Albert: So definitely get your tickets. Go! It’s fantastic you will learn a lot.
Dave Denham: I think as well, we failed to mention that you were kind of an encouragement for this as well. So, I think in the spirit kind of experimenting, you know which I think is kind of part of the spirit of this podcast as well and learning. So, definitely appreciative of the nudges, I supposed the nice nudges.
Dave Albert: It was all selfish, I wanted to go to it.
Dave Denham: It was all selfish, you just wanted to get a free ticket man.
Dave Albert: I needed you to make it happen and occasionally give discount.
Dave Denham: It works. Yeah
Dave Denham: So, that was cool man.
Dave Albert: Yeah, you were saying there’s more to that story there.
Dave Denham: Ah yeah. Like I supposed you know working as a team lead for a number of years. I kind of like UX teams, I supposed small teams in Symantec at the time and you know I think seem various incarnation of Agile, I kind of have a negative perceptions of it cause I kind of seen when it doesn’t done well. And to be honest it was just an encouragement from like leaders. And maybe have seen like what’s the vision of Agile done well and encouraging. Like at the time they encourage me to go to a conference, an Agile conference in Paris and a few of us to go over and just get the feel of other companies were dealing with so we saw people like, Henrik Kniberg he was working with Spotify at the time and we heard stories run like kind of a Netflix culture and stuff like that. I think that was the thing that kind of bit me at the time it was really Agile as a culture and you know rather than I supposed the meeting failed ceremony latent thing that I kind of seen before and I kind of seen how it you know some of the problems I saw on my own teams around. You know how does motivation in terms of motivation tie into like how people work together and cross functioning deliver product and I think my background has always been focused on products like since like and you know being part of the couple of start ups being kind of an UX side, empathizing with user, empathizing with customers it hasn’t really been maybe more traditional project manager route, which is maybe were a lot square masses or coaches come from or developers or development managers and things like that. So it’s always going to be on the UX and product site, so I think it’s probably giving me like probably an interesting perspective on maybe how Agile helps people build better products when it’s done well, so yeah. Like I think like I said I kind of arrived at that conclusion a little bit by accident just by I supposed hearing stories and I think at the time it was kind of like yeah that makes total sense so I mean a lot like kind of devalues that people are talking about here and you know the Dan Pink, Drive Book and you know a lot of things that really like Agile I think is really just of a value system that kind of leads towards kind of more I supposed human you know evidence based way of working and that really kind of aligned of how was trying I supposed to lead teams at that time and to build better products and like even just like how you actually fits into Agile like I think I always see challenges with that but like I could actually see how Agile could actually help with that . And even things like Lean as well, like there’s an extended breath of knowledge around Lean, cause Lean startup later on. I kind of see they all kind of fit in to that same picture of you know quick feedback leaves direct contact with customers connecting teams with users and stuff like that. Like I kind of just see that they all connected as patterns so yeah kind of not a traditional route but definitely as soon as I understood like what kind it stood for and you know I kind of wanted to move it in that direction so that happen very soon I think after that.
Dave Albert: Cool. And so, Dan Pink? The book is drive and the co-reference of all is that there are three?
Dave Denham: Yeah.
Dave Albert: What is it? Autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Dave Denham: Purpose! Yeah, yeah, exactly. So I think yeah, I mean it’s I think just a very simple I supposed code vacation maybe of intrinsic motivation vs extrinsic which is maybe the more kind of carrot and stick approach. But I think in that book like I think he makes a couple of really good points around, you know people I supposed the management in some tradition pay people more and give them incentives and rewards and be more motivated. I think it really turns it on its head and said like take money off the table, like pay them fairly, pay them the market rate or just maybe just above the market rate and take that away. And because I supposed intrinsically what people really care about is autonomy, so you know the kind of need to be able to kind of control their own destiny and how they work and mastery in terms of I supposed that are continuously learning and actually becoming a master of what they do so like I see this every day, you know working here in workday with developers here you know set up sharping dissolve sessions or hackathon sessions or book clubs or things like that. And this is something they do on their free time, you know where they go to meet ups you know there’s a meet up on here tonight and you know people are not forced to do this things, people want to learn and we talk a lot about the open source movement and things like that like what why do people do this for free in their free time? And you know so that’s an interesting one and purpose of course like I think that kind of ties back to the likes of Simon Sinek worker you know start with why you know why are we doing this so like in an Agile terms it might be what’s the vision for the product what’s the product vision and you know to serve and understand that cause you know I have find the teams they’re so disconnect from maybe the end user and I don’t even understand like why they’re doing this, you know so. So just generally connecting teams to the purpose of their work every day and like to the purpose of like what need they’re trying to solve for you.
Dave Albert: Right, which doesn’t always have to be 100% altruistic.
Dave Denham: No.
Dave Albert: So when I first heard of it, you know one of the first things of the whole list is save the world you know but it doesn’t have to be that.
Dave Denham: Yeah exactly, I mean that’s the example they gave, and you know they gave some examples of an organizations even like Tesla and things like an Apple and they give very very high level visions. But it might be just you know, you’re working on a I don’t know healthcare app or for something and you know people are to get their prescriptions earlier or something like that or if you’re working on a HR app you know you’re changing people’s life in some way. You know even if it’s just a small way that you know like one of the things we actually do a lot of work here at workday, we have a user testing labs so we try to get the teams down to see users come in and you know the whole get out of the building thing, you know I think you talked to my friend Rob a little bit about that recently, but it’s so true because there’s nothing more interesting when developers actually see, first of all user say “Oh, I don’t get that actually” and just you know just click the button, click the button, the team were saying in the room. They don’t see it or they don’t get it but also on the flip side when they see something that they’ve created actually be useful and actually solve a need so it could just be logging PTO or creating expenses really quickly or things like that or even things like the you know the into it turbo tax something like that. You know so things like that only really come from direct contact with users and that ties back to the purpose of actually trying to help people it doesn’t have to be save the world it could just be, I can you know, I can do my taxes really easy now because of what you did. So yeah, I think like things I’ve seen even before getting to Agile like we’ve done hackathons and things like and we didn’t call any of that Agile, there were just things we tried those. So like you could say we were working in an Agile way. without knowing what that was but like in terms of mastery purpose we think of a hackathon or something like. That so you know that that’s fall of that right like you know people working through the night they do half through they’re working on something cool or something different that I think that’s going to change things and you know there’s a purpose of that. So yeah I think that’s one of the books I think that definitely I’d always recommend to people.
Dave Albert: Oh definitely.
Dave Denham: I think Drive is really good.
Dave Albert: And if you’re not into books, at least watch the YouTube video it should at least wet your appetite. My only problem with the book is, I was already sold on the idea in the first, the first act of the book was trying to sell you on the idea and I was like come on go faster.
Dave Denham: Exactly, well you know you watch it one and a half speed of on your videos. double speed, everything is double speed.
Dave Albert: Were trying to encourage listeners, if you’re listening to this listen on as fast as speed as you can manage.
Dave Denham: Yeah until we sound like chipmunks, basically so. But yeah, I through like that’s the video I usually share with leaders like when I’m starting with teams as well cause it just gives a bit of an understanding about I supposed the yeah just intrinsic motivation I think it’s really important so.
Dave Albert: So what are your typical interactions with your team here at workday like?
Dave Denham: Yeah I think the team sounds like I’m working with a couple of teams at the moment and yeah when it comes to details like basically I kind of like new initiatives that haven’t been around so far and I think one of the things I’ve seen work in and we tried to do every day try to get a bit of a start of feel within the team we’re working in a large enterprise now, workday is not a start up like five years ago it might have been the startup but it’s grown like crazy at the moment but I think one of the things that I always kind of encourage is the try to keep the start up feel you know try to keep the culture which I think is really important but that what I kind of see thing frameworks and lightweight frameworks like SCRUM or Kanban or things like that. Try to do, is to try and create mini startups like when you them done well try to create mini startups within enterprises like that’s when they are done well and when you’re taking in like a regular customer feed backs and things like that, and when teams are kind of get out of the you know or just another meeting or things like that well it actually doesn’t feel like it shouldn’t feel like meeting to the teams. You should just feel like these are events that happen during the week to help us achieve whatever goal it is we’re trying to do so like I think a lot the work I try to do with the teams, is more than that at the moment like I think one of the things that learned is that really focused more on outcome based road maps like that’s one thing so you know focus a lot of time your product vision like I think one of the things I definitely be working on more with product managers in the last few months has been around the road maps cause when I find this road maps are very influential about how the team works, the goals that they have and things like that so a typical product roadmaps and I think I’ll kind of reference John Cutler whose someone I follow a lot of product management guru I follow a lot on twitter and you know don’t Gantt chart your product road map and that’s kind of what I see a lot of product roadmaps being is literally a list of features later like a Gantt chart and with like timelines like usually months or weeks even against them.
Dave Albert: And usually they’re inaccurate.
Dave Denham: And usually most of the time they are not. I’d like to see one that was accurate. yeah maybe for the next two three months there is going to be accurate but beyond that so really I think that’s one thing I think you kind have to start at a higher level like in terms of before even working with teams and you know on the product side the things and talk a bit more about at rooms of what problems you want to solve so like the things that should go to your roadmaps should be more problems you want to solve for users and that’s what we should promise our customers we should be more in the next quarter we’re going to solve this problems for our users and us we’re going to deliver these features for our users and because at the end of the day our customers just want their problems solve and what I often see with product road maps is I see list of features it becomes a feature factory right? list of features go onto roadmaps for months and months and months teams are under same pressure to crank their features that they don’t really know what the outcome is giving in terms of business value and customer value and of course if you start with problems or you start with outcomes and the features are kind of plugged in to that and the team should be a major priority of plugging features into the outcomes that kind of come from the business so yeah that something I’ve been working a bit with product managers and it’s really to try to think more in terms of outcomes rather than outputs and particularly for the product road maps and then I switch it to day to day coaching teams so a lot of the teams are worked with typically we start with SCRUM and they kind of involve into Kanban themes such issue was defined they get more mature and kind of more Lean I supposed and so typically be between training new teams or coaching new teams and to maybe more mature teams becoming more self-sufficient and kind of coaching them at a different level maybe so and then I supposed kind of yeah just you know helping leaders as well maybe he will have Agile teams just to maybe understand and just you know had to work with them and help them more or less you know and so that’s kind of what I see and I think kind of you know start as a SCRUM master and maybe you start just working with teams but I think things like road maps and head leaderships sets of the system or the environment around the team becomes a lot more apparent as to head how it influences how the team works so like give the example of working on the road map at the moment where the team is setting sprint goals and for some sprints and we trying to come up with goals and if the road maps sets the features it’s like what’s our Sprint goals or deliver this feature this feature and our goal is just deliver all the features where as if I supposed the higher level outcome is were trying to increase, were trying to reduce the length of time it takes to complete the task you know on the road maps and you know come with more granulated goals from their sprints that’s a little bit more outcome based so.
Dave Albert: Okay. I really like that, because I actually have seen that within our own team, so our team is a good functioning team but were not great, I am not great at road mapping
Dave Denham: Yeah, okay.
Dave Albert: So that’s one of our biggest stresses within our team and our roadmaps basically looks like a list of features at one point we went of and kind of did an experiment on making sure users could get in to the get a better feel for the application before they were forced to sign up a demo account
Dave Denham: Yeah
Dave Albert: That was a specific outcome.
Dave Denham: Yeah
Dave Albert: And like the team are always post together well but there was something special about that few days of what were able to deliver really quickly. And I think it’s more based on specific outcome. Rather than just another feature I mean all of our features are important. But still, a list of features is different than an outcome that can be done with you know the question was how might we solve this problem as quick as possible and the outcome was good you know so if we can figure out how to reframe some of the elements which may give a lead way to more creativity in the solution that may surface possibilities that weren’t we didn’t think about them two years ago so it didn’t happen because were so focused on delivering what we’ve decided what we’re going to deliver. I mean were not far off you know we are pretty good at trying. To reevaluate things but still people are people if we got a list of these to tick off on your list. You know, I’m going to try to tick off all the thing.
Dave Denham: Totally yeah, I mean looks it’s a challenge like definitely I’ve worked with some product managers that get it like you know I think we’re talking the one recently and he was like of course that makes sense, you know it’s kind of like it’s just kind of sounds like common sense like were focusing on outcomes right. And then there’s maybe more traditional so I think it’s actually a mindset shift to do that. I think probably the challenge there is just around like measuring and cause I switch traditionally like with maybe waterfall projects we focused on measuring outputs right so it’s easy to measure did we deliver this or not right. So you’re really kind of flipping things little bit cause you’re saying were not really, you’re also flipping your reward system cause you’re saying you’re not actually the wording people or teams maybe based on how predictably sometimes were how much they can deliver but actually what’s really the value they can deliver, what’s the impact they can deliver and that’s how they’re to measure so that’s why it goes back to you know when you did the road maps I supposed one of the things were trying to do at the moment is not just talk about the outcomes or the objectives but the key results as well so you know they’re (22:35) framework objective and key results it’s just a nice way to, cause I think it’s all well and good having a lots of outcomes there lots of kind of lofty you know we want to increase cause were retention by 13% of the next quarter and there should be a time box as well right so there should be some kind of where can we check in on that and put there also should be some kind of key results, metric and you know I’ve heard a colleague like hypothesis driven developmental (23:07) it’s kind of all the same idea I just couldn’t see it’s the same idea where you’re making some sort of more scientific type prediction. So I think that’s, I think it takes a while to get there as well cause sometimes you just had to deliver something like work, you know some of the products you’ve been working on sometimes the MVP is just like get something working it’s just (23:32) or gets something working, so maybe that’s just the goal it works end to end. You know I find it like we use things like story, I don’t know if you come across like story mapping, use the story mapping things like that.
Dave Albert: Yes, I have I don’t know if the audience has if we give a little bit of a [..]
Dave Denham: Yeah, yeah, you use the story. It’s one of those that are patterns, so Jeff Patton and his product management guy, he wrote a book how to use the story mapping and as a way basically to slice and more less slice or back log or you know slice an initiative maybe into kind of kind of vertical slices so. So really it’s a good way to slice for example an MVP, so you know let’s say you can open a new feature like a new large feature something like that. You know to map both, it kind of really starts from like what’s the customer journey or what’s the projected customer journey that this new features going to take and then to kind of map those kind of basically users stories which would typically going to like an Agile teams backlog. But it really it really kind of forces a point on kind of thinking iteratively versus you know just delivering a list of features basically and you know thinking about what is your MVP, what do we want to learn here, can we just deliver like basic slice of this. So again it’s just one of those other kind of tactics they find, and kind of think about those outcomes what’s the MVP, what do we want to learn and I think it’s a nice way for teams to frame what they’re going to work on cause I think it gives them a little bit more it gives them a lot more input into what the solution is going to be and saying the kind of freedom to experiment, which I think is really important I think that’s one of the things and I can now google run a survey, I think I’m like what makes an you know I think they survey like a thousand teams or something like that in google and they just steal like the top ten characteristics of like, what are the highest performing teams and like technical excellence wasn’t even on the top ten so I think so glad to go safety was like I think double whatever the second place item was, but I think that speaks a lot to, you know very much start-ups as well like kind of safe way to fail. I think it’s the same thing in enterprises where we’re trying to create like mini start-ups within the enterprise to innovate. That kind of culture that works, like safe to say than safe to try things. I think that all tie together with like you aiming for outcomes because if you think about it you know if you’re aiming for an outcome was, you know task completion we want to reduce it by 13% or whatever and the team got to 6% after, 4 sprints you know they have the safe way to say actually no we didn’t achieve that but we got some way, so you know should we ship it or not so there’s some safety there to try some things and even if we don’t get it then they kind of have the permission maybe to try something else or say actually no this didn’t work so I think that’s important.
Dave Albert: Yeah, yeah just processing. Yeah, I mean some of the things that you could even do with the testing, you know maybe some subset of your customers or user might be very very conservative. But trying to find those not so conservative users to then allow early testing of not quite polished, not quite complete features. They care more about solving problems than they care about does it do 100% of the things
Dave Denham: Right, exactly.
Dave Albert: We could do a better job of trying to do that ourselves, so that’s a good peice of advice there to consider so that you can get that testing and validate if you’re early adapters who claim to have this problem still don’t want to use it and they’re not clamoring for more new features on it perhaps it’s time to rethink whether it should be built at all in the first place.
Dave Denham: Yeah, exactly. I know in previous places where we’ve done things like AB testing and things like that. I think before we started using I think were using adobe target at the time but before adobe target came along we have to (28:08) to do that like I remember sitting in meetings where you know the arguing over button colors or you know and this you know, no decision would ever be made like in terms of being (28:21). No data to back things up and you know, I think things like AB testing like that’s a great talk about like safety to fail target 5% of the users and you know roll back really quickly if it doesn’t work and you know I think. there are some of the best experiences I’ve had with teams before where they actually have access to AB testing you know I’ve worked with one team before where we had access to data scientist like they were doing beta on the team it was kind of you know they could really use like really read the data and kind of helped the PO make really smart decisions you know so I think that’s just one thing I see it’s not enough data being used it’s not for investment being put into you know analytics and using data it’s a lot of fair features and road maps that you know they see a lot of companies having so and yeah use data.
Dave Albert: That reminds me of the book thinking fast and slow. Just you know there’s a part of our brain that has to protect us from being eaten by lions and tigers and so that’s part of why we relay on gut instinct so often, which is all those ongoing meetings that don’t come out with any real results are feels like that’s going to work which we’ve all been guilty of.
Dave Denham: Yeah like hundred percent, like I’ve fallen victim for that many of times like I think one of the things actually I’ve started facilitating recently as being design springs I don’t know if you’re familiar with designs prints.
Dave Albert: Oh, yeah.
Dave Denham: Or have you used them?
Dave Albert:I am very interested in using them, it’s a little for a bit harder for our team at the moment, but we’re actually going try to do a mini designs print sort of thing over were having some of our team who are in India come over in two weeks. We’re taking one feature or one piece of a problem we’re trying to solve within the week that’s not the sole purpose of the week but there’s a lot of stuff going on but that why we’re going to try to limit it to something very small and try solve it don’t know that well do the full designs prints we’re going to do a prototype and then put the prototype over.
Dave Denham: Day four or day five.
Dave Albert: Yeah, but so it’s more going to be our prototype will be on production we’ll monitor what happens through our analytics and then decide we don’t need to put it in the hands of people who may or may not want to use our stuff in the future we’ll put it in the hands of people who are using our stuff now and if there’s a negative result then we’ll rethink it remove it.
Dave Denham: That’s what three days you might spend on it like compared to building something from the ends. You know, like I think it’s a discovery I made recently just a run like designs prints in general and I think is probably a little bit of merge of like my previous background a little bit as well. But just in terms of an you know I just find them great way and I think like one of the things when I run one last year was, you know we typically the design process would be the realm of like may UX designers and product managers and the first one we run we had developers testers we have leadership in there and within day two they were all sketching sketching solutions, you know 9:30 on day two when I said like today were going to do a day of sketching there’s a lot of fear I think in there in everyone’s eyes. But you know really I supposed it’s a great way to you know it has this kind of mantra together alone like so, you know it’s basically it’s a quick way to do design thinking so that you know you’re empathizing with users and you know you’re talking to experts and things like that. And for teams it’s a great way to connect to that purpose to connect like what is the big challenge we’re trying to solve with it’s brand new product a brand new feature, what are the needs and I think you mentioned that the to have might re framework but I find I used it a lot now but because really it’s really a lot of re framing problems as opportunities. I used it in retrospectives now, I use this all of over the place, I use this at home with my wife like how about we get the kids to bed sooner tonight? why we get to (33:07) tonight so everything becomes an opportunity suddenly and I think it’s a nice way to think but like we found a huge impact for like it’s led to an you know a product which to showcase whenever worked to events and but I really came from i’d like a small group of cross functional people who would never have gotten together other wise to do something and you know at the end of the week, they have something tangible because I think that’s something I’ve always, the criticism I’ve always had with design thinking is an often times there’s no something tangible that actually comes out of it than I get the you know you know the diverging, converging and empathizing with users and things like that but I find that the cycle time to actually get feedback is really really long so knows when we did this like just from a lean perspective, it’s kind of like where cycle time used to six months to discover what the right thing to build is through prioritization meetings and hand offs and things like that to our discovery cycle time is five days now basically to learn is this the right thing or is this the wrong thing no it doesn’t give you all the answers but.
Dave Albert: And it’s still has to be implemented.
Dave Denham: It still has to be implemented and I think it’s still like where I think it fall short is you don’t get I think you don’t get to quantitative data from it and so I think you kind of need to tie in you know once you lost it I find you have to tie in somebody in startup metric as well I think we talked a bit of pirate metrics you know. And so like, like I find it very good for getting qualitative real user feedback really really quickly getting the team investor and why very very good for that and you know getting something into customers hands that it could just be a paper prototype right or it could just be a you know an envision screen or something like. But you’re learning really really fast as to are we going on the right direction here or not and you’re getting something tangible and after like one of the brilliant things like we’ve seen you know one of the team was like found something on our desk and it’s like oh here’s a sketch I drew and I was like “Oh that looks exactly like the product we have now” you know and this is from a developer this wasn’t from a designer you know so I thought it was really interesting you know so because really I mean some of the ideas that developers had and I think that the format is nice as well because it’s it kind of anonymous until the very end as well so it’s really the strength of the ideas that come true either we find is the developer is actually that has some of the best idea. So yeah designs prints again just you know how to connect teams to end users and get really fast feedback based of you know actual users interviews and things like that and that’s been a revelation for me in the last year or so it’s using designs prints and I hope it catches on more cause I think it’s also a nice way to integrate UX design into Agile and Lean and things like that, because all to me design thinking and Agile has very similar purposes of kind of connecting with users and fast feedback clips and things like that so designs print is kind of of a nice manifestation of that, I find.
Dave Albert: Cool. So you mentioned retrospectives earlier and kind of a spirit of retrospectives, you’ve told us a bit about what works well, what your finding does a good foot for you.
Dave Denham: Yeah
Dave Albert: What’s not worked well for you in the past?
Dave Denham: Oh, okay. Yeah.
Dave Albert: Obviously, depending on the team any specific team may or may not work well but kind of in general what you thought might work. But you know just now you would never try again. You would be very hesitant to try.
Dave Denham: Yeah, like I think probably a couple of things there, like I know one of the first teams I worked with I think I just come back fresh from seeing how Spotify did Agile. I was like Let’s install that here, let’s use like Kanban and let’s use like they were using Lean startup and things like that and I think I tried to introduce that probably Monday to this actually and to team I was working with at the time and it really flopped like it really didn’t work well because ultimately if you think about companies like Spotify you know they’ve honed these things and develop the mindset around these things for years and so you know I think that’s the trap I think a lot of SCRUM masters are you know Agile coaches were just starting off fall into.
Dave Albert: I just got my driving license, I think I’ll go drive formula one tomorrow.
Dave Denham: It should be fine, what could go wrong?
Dave Albert: Exactly.
Dave Denham: Exactly. So like install something that you see worked well somewhere else and it doesn’t work right? I mean ultimately, you’re dealing with people and you’re trying to change how people work, people’s mindset and things like that and that doesn’t work so like don’t mandate on anything don’t try to install processes and things like that, you know it just doesn’t work so I think that was a learning I had and I think just yeah the other one is kind of around the importance of kind of I supposed engaging what leadership as well. It does something like, I’ve kind of only learned over time and you know the importance of kind of leadership in Agile transformations or Lean transformations, cause I think a lot of the time with things like SCRUM, so SCRUM doesn’t have a role for like a manager on the team and things like that until mobs you see take into these extreme or the same a carry them all managers you know we don’t need, we don’t need those thinking manager type of thing. But you know I think there is a you know, it’s probably a little bit kind of cheesy at this stage you know difference between leaders and managers but really I think it’s just a different type of leadership that’s needed. You know from managers to to manage the system around the team and encourage things like autonomy, mastery and purpose and give them more autonomy for helped develop their competency as well so you know that one increase the autonomy that they can give them. So I think like bringing leaders along on the journey of whatever you’re trying to change or transform, even if it’s just one team and bringing them in on that. Like I think when I did a trainings, I did a Kanban training session last year and like I’ve seen sessions were managers aren’t at the team training sessions but we said to the managers to come along and we did the next (39:58) Kanban which is, like a three hour simulation as to have flow goes through is kind of like an organization at system and you get different scenarios about like blockers that come off and how to deal with them and what happens and you know just one part of the simulation where there’s a manager Carlos and he insist that all the QAs must do all the testing and they must stay late they must all have ten things in progress each and things like that so comes up with all these policies around how QA should work and things like that and a course hit like the simulation game shows head that causes a bottleneck and the team aren’t able to flow and no value delivered and things like that and but it just how it’s interesting cause we had some managers in there and they were like yeah fire Carlos, cause fire Carlos could fire in the game right so the managers were like really on board with like you know this is an impediment of flow and stuff like that and I just thought that was interesting cause one or two of them are being skeptical about this thing before and they got really invested in it and they kind of understood you know the theoretic strengths and weak limit and things like that just by actually experiencing with the teams you know. When the teams are back and actually try to deal it for real, the leaders are actually bought in and you know some of them were like they were still talking with the game to me like a couple of weeks later and they were excited that they had camped their teams that they come on board and set up and things like that so I think there’s an element of like I think you have to bring leaders on the journey and like I think all to me to get to the stage where leaders why are the bigger problems in the organization and try to unblocked it and the bigger impediments to flow, the value flow in organization so and I think that’s a journey for them as well but I think if you exclude them then you’re just going to be a lot of resistance and it’s probably going to fail.
Dave Albert: Yeah, back to what you were saying about implementing and mandating massive changes, you know just small consistent changes overtime add up to so much more than trying to force some big bang change on to people. You’re going to get a much more, you’re much more likely to get buy-in and accepting the feedback of what works or doesn’t work.
Dave Denham: Yeah, 100% yeah. Like I did an Agile coaching course last year with Lyssa Adkins, so she wrote a book called Coaching Agile Team. So she’s the master as far as I’m concerned she’s one of my heroes. They say don’t meet your heroes but do meet your heroes. She was awesome.
Dave Albert: Rob was telling us a story about when he met her.
Dave Denham: Oh yeah. He broke her hand.
Dave Albert: So go listen to Rob Healy episode, if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Dave Denham: I didn’t break Lyssa’s hand, I might shook it very firmly. But like I think like she kind of gave some words of wisdom like one of the thing she said was honor the presence so like if you’re dealing with a, if you’re a change agent, you’re an Agile coach, or you’re a SCRUM master or you’re an agent of change so you’re trying to call us change more or less but like one way to cause change is to actually like respect like I supposed people’s current roles and you know things obviously work to some degree in the past, otherwise the company probably wouldn’t still be around right? So it’s really just to meet people where they are, like I think that was the thing, one of the things she kind of a taught us on this, kind of (43:31), it’s just kind of meet people where they are you know try to empathize with them and just try to bring them along on the journey and kind of you know see what’s in it for them as well so so yeah like I think change, change management I know there’s lots and lots of theories and stuff out there but I see I see kind of that coming up a lot and like I’m a big fan of the Kanban method as well it was like people look at Kanban and see oh Kanban boards and you know flow and things like that but really like big part of the Kanban method is actually a change method so it’s a way the first prints will it to Kanban method is respect peoples current roles and responsibilities and you know don’t try to you know I might be shy for this but like don’t try to convert project managers into certified SCRUM master’s in two days and expect them to be you know completely change and so it’s really to try and respect for people are at the moment and like I think one of the other things I supposed Kanban said is to try and encourage leadership to all levels as well so I think that’s what leaders should be or like modern leader should be doing is like with their teams is to encourage acts of leadership on their team as well you know so. So yeah I think Lyssa Adkins definitely a hero of mine and learned a lot from her.
Dave Albert: Nice. So you know most of your perspective is in larger organizations but I want to make sure that people know that these are valid observations and tips for startups so you’re constantly in a state of change but you have to try to help the team guide that change in the right direction. It’s always changing whether it’s for good or bad depends on the direction given by all members of the team which starts with the leadership. So that’s one of the even harder parts as the CTO in a small company I am defacto, PO,SCRUM master, team member and also the boss so it’s a very difficult thing to do well and I can’t say for sure if that I do it well. I think I do a pretty good job by making sure to ensure the team is heard and try to act as a member of the team. Obviously, sometimes you still have to make a decision that the team may not like so it’s really hard to figure out how to have a self directed team when a member of the team is the leader of the team.
Dave Denham: Yeah, right.
Dave Albert: But that’s how all startup.
Dave Denham: Exactly
Dave Albert: But you have to remember that yourself as the leader, that you have to to keep people on board. And I don’t just mean on board of the company, I mean on board with the mission and the goals, you have to make sure they’re heard and they feel that autonomy. So even if you’re nudged, don’t push.
Dave Denham: Yeah right? there will be no ALI with no nudgings. Yeah like, I kind of think of leaders as well as kind of like gardeners of the culture or almost like you know they’re kind of are almost planting seeds for the culture to kind of grow and encouraging other leaders to grow eventually and things like that. So I think it’s really kind of setting the tone and leading by example in terms of like the culture or you know help be the change you want to see but like really kind of personifying that so what their people are going to I supposed behave their way to that culture. I think it’s there, I think that’s the sure commodore, you know people look at me now the behavior, you can behave your way to a certain culture I think leaders player really keep hard to not at whether during the start of or whether doing a large company trying to do a transformation and you now and they can act their way to that culture or as Lisa Atkins; say Fake it Till you Make it basically, even if you’re not there. It’s a yeah as really key like I think that’s just sets the tone for the culture and I think once the culture is good with thing you know the example is Spotify and you know you here at workday and once the culture is in place. I think it becomes a lot easier to innovate.
Dave Albert: Excellent, you know a lot of what you’ve describe so like we were talking before we started that the Agile Lean Ireland meetup and conference seems to be at the moment a little heavy on the business side and a little bit light in the developer side. And developers, I mean not just developers, developers’ operations anybody who’s ever google De Vaux should go, maybe because it definitely impacts you so just because you may not be the person who is air quote in charge of an Agile transformation you’re always going to learn things that will help your team work better. If your team works, better then your stress levels have to go down. So if conflicts were removed if everything starts to flow better, your day gets better. So there’s absolutely no reason not to go there. So again, if you’re in Western Europe you should come to the ALI conference or Agile Lean Ireland dot I E.
Dave Denham: I appreciate the plug.
Dave Albert: It’s absolutely fantastic. I mean just a maybe talk a little a bit about how it is organizing a conference with that size which now it’s a two day conference you know it started from us talking from in the cubicle.
Dave Denham: Right, yeah about AMINO actually, it was no conference.
Dave Albert: Yeah.
Dave Denham: Yeah, like I think I supposed that the spirit of Agile Lean Ireland is always like a saying been experimental, so we really try things and see how it works. Like it really went, I think myself and and my friend Rob Healy really had the idea about three years ago, cause I think at the time there wasn’t really like much of an Agile community in Ireland at the time and people were kind of talking about it, it seems to be you now starting to be used. I kind of see it like Agile is a little bit of a late adapter here maybe compared to places like Scandinavian some other parts of Europe. But yeah I think it really started from the experiment of you know let’s see if we can run a meet up so lets, I think our friend Ronan we begged him for his projector we got this screen, we begged the screen from someone as well. And we found a room and a pub and we said, I think we set it more than 10 people came the experiment will be validated, their hypothesis will be validated and 37 people showed up that night. Which was awesome.
Dave Albert: And I couldn’t make that one, the team call that night.
Dave Denham: Oh right, yeah sure you did.
Dave Albert: So yeah, I think from like our second one then, I think we set right lets you know let’s see if we can, I think at the time my other hero was Jeff Gothelf at the time. Let’s see if we can get him, like let’s see if he can do a skype or something like that and cause at the time no other meet ups as far as I could see what we’re doing like to telepresence meetups you know so we did that we run that as an experiment and I think we got 70 people for that one.
Dave Albert: I was at that one!
Dave Denham: You’re at that one, right?
Dave Albert: I was at that one.
Dave Denham: I think our friends of bag of Ireland hosted us for that one and they started sponsoring us and this is made our life much easier we didn’t have to beg for projectors anymore. Which is great. Rob, my friend Ronan was very happy he could watch his movies at night time again. So yeah I kind of just grew from there, it was kind of cool cause we actually built relationships with like some of the people we really admire like we talked about Henric Kniberg he was at our third meet up I think during the skype and Jeff. We met Jeff in Dublin as well soon beforehand cause I think he was doing training here. So it was kind of cool like, cause we kind of became friends a little bit with him as well and of course we had local speakers cause that was really been the mantra like I think we encourage community speakers and I think that’s the really key part. If we go to pretty much ANI/ALI meetup we had one there last weekend there was a community speaker we had Melissa Perry do same format again, skype which were very pact from time to time. And so yeah I really I supposed in the spirit of experimentation that I think 2017 we decided to run a half day Saturday morning conference which we really really just thought of as kind of like again, what’s the MVP? What’s meetup plus one essentially? So and the host is here in workday. We were really fortunate they were really supportive and they gave us some awesome area, gave us some rooms, we got Woody Zuill so he wrote the book of No Estimates and Mob Programming and stuff like that so some really really interesting guy and Jon Terry as well from LinkIt and some really really great speakers from Ireland as well and the community. You know I think we had around 150 people there and we were just blown away by that like I think that was always the thing probably you and I talked about should we try that and again it was like well if we got 50 people there, you know that would be amazing so yeah we were blown away. Early on this year we had our second conference and was 525 people there in Crow Park and we had Henric, we had Jeff all of our..
Dave Albert: In person this time?
Dave Denham: In person, we had all of our newly made hero friends there. I fanboy-ed there, I’ll be honest I got you know, I was like “Can I get my picture with you?’ Yeah he was super cool though, I think that’s the thing around any speakers were looking enough to kind of be able to invite as well and kind of the characters of these speakers as well. Like I think you know I think we’ve been fairly firm about you know making sure that I supposed what we know of them and their values kind of align with what we’re trying to deal as well. And I think that’s the feedback, you know cause they interact with you know our audience of course when they’re here, how was the feedback we got from everyone was you know these guys are very approachable and they thought us a lot of things and things like that so again that was really cool and I think, really I think next year again we want to grow cause really I supposed that the overall goal, we really want to make Ireland for Agile like when people talk about Agile and Lean, we want them to think of Ireland like you know that’s the place to go and so you know that’s ultimately I supposed our overall mission.
Dave Albert: How do you see, what is DevOps within Agile and Lean?
Dave Denham: Yeah, that’s an interesting one.Yeah, like I think DevOps is a culture like?, Like it’s funny like I heard someone say “I will hire a DevOps, I will hire some DevOps onto the team.
Dave Albert: That’s so irritating.
Dave Denham: Yeah, we’ll hire some I think you mean like an operation’s person who can like you know.
Dave Albert: Write scripts.
Dave Denham: Write scripts and then hopefully we’ll eventually get to a DevOps’ culture so yeah I kind of see DevOps as an extension of Agile, I kind of see things automation and stuff like that and some of the things from like extreme programming, I kind of links, I kind of see DevOps as a bit kind of ancestor to XP a little bit so I would say, they work hand and hand basically you know SCRUM team should be using DevOps practices for their to there. They should be doing continuous delivery and
Dave Albert: It’s very hard to do all that testing if you don’t have
Dave Denham: Yeah, right.
Dave Albert: Continuous delivery.
Dave Denham: Yeah 100% like so and things like Kanban and things like that really fit in well with you know with DevOps you know it really thinking in terms continuous delivery and
Dave Albert: You’re probably doing some portion of it and probably poorly if you’re not trying to at least figure out which bit’s work for you or which bit’s don’t.
Dave Denham: Yeah exactly. I’m still learning more of it that the DevOps, like I’d be honest I wouldn’t be an expert to tell on DevOps but like I’ve worked with people who are and you know I think we’re trying to get to that culture like we’re not there yet but we’re definitely trying to get to that culture with some of the teams I worked with and because ultimate I think our holy grail is to have continuous deployments like delivering multiple times a day based of feedback and you know real time analysis and things like that so you know we’re not there yet but we’re definitely putting steps and place to do that so yeah like very much complimentary I don’t think there’s, I think like an Agile events and Agile conferences and things like that it’s definitely something we’re trying to promote more of is a developers and DevOps like we’re going to have a DevOps track and ALI this year as well
Dave Albert: I definitely suggest doing at least some enlightening talks and some of the dev meetups. Cause I mean just a lot of us devs are very introverted, not all but a lot of us are and so we know where we’re going and you know we love meetups at least the ones of us that go to meetups there and you know don’t go looking for things that don’t seem like they apply to us right? I mean that’s the generalization and it doesn’t apply to everybody and it only it some sort of a Venn Diagram right but if you’re in front of them and explain how that fit’s, how it makes their lives better and why they should care you know there’s been kind of Agile has a little bit connotation with the Agile transformation of larger organizations and some people may begin to get the feeling that DevOps is after Agile, not that one of is kind of there different group of tools that being together and whether they used it or not it’s going to determine how you well you move forward with either one.
Dave Denham: Right, yeah 100%. Like I always find it interesting I think like Agile came from you know 17 software developers not kind of management consultants or things like that and you know I think somehow over the years is I think that the meaning of Agile has been lost in many respects and being commodities unfortunately and it’s become kind of more focused in management and practices and project management and things like that and you know a lot of dev you know I’ve worked with that’s kind of what they associate it with. So even the word Agile unfortunate became a little bit loaded I think and like a rest of conference in Poland recently, I think they you know they asked everyone to put their hands up for developers in the room for 500 people, it was 15 people who put their hands up but then for all the coaches in the room maybe were maybe 350 people yeah they asked them to put their hands up above if they’ve ever been to a development conference and I think 3 people have put their hands so it kind of like probably bit of empathy maybe needed there as well you know have you ever been to a react meetup or if have you ever been to a typescript meetup or whatever so there’s probably a little bit of a you know I think there could be more empathy between communities there but yeah definitely I think it’s kind a, I don’t think it’s like due to transformations and then you know install DevOps or you know really really doesn’t work like that kind of yeah they’re very, they should be very much align with each other but I think that’s kind of a really good tip it’s kind of you know how can things like maybe Kanban help at developers what’s in it for them it’s not going to solve their problems if they used some of this practices.
Dave Albert: No, one thing that I don’t hear of much and I’m not a hundred percent sure how it would how it work but with talking about the outcome based road map and Kanban type things how do you see that fitting in with marketing? So if marketing needs to pre-begin the sales process of something of good or you know you’re talking about a 60 or 90 day lead time between initial contact and completion of the sale then I cannot tell you what will be the developed in 60-90 days. I mean everything you do as a creator of software is creating something that’s never been created in a specific way that’s never been done before.Like there are tons of elements have been done before a million time but this puzzle has never been put together in this particular way. So you never know when you’re going to have to pull out the jigsaw and trim a piece and then you find out “oh the card is frayed so now I have to go to the hardware store” and at the hardware store the wheel, the tire falls off of your car and say you’re taking the car to the mechanic and then your run over one of our boss and then you’re at the hall. That’s what it feels like sometimes so how? Do you have any ideas? I don’t know what is perfectly acceptable answer cause this, we’re all trying to solve these problems.
Dave Denham: Yeah, Yeah, No I think it’s a really good question, I don’t think ever really going to answer to be honest for that and like I just think even some products like Christmas doesn’t move right? We know Christmas is like going to happen next year so you know we should have something in the road map for Christmas or for next year and we should probably have some sort of a marketing plan for that. But maybe we don’t have to go to the exact details of what the features are we going to release on Christmas or maybe just we’re going to focus on having an outcome of increasing adaption over Christmas or you know we’re going to have a direction in which we’re going but look I supposed like there is a reality as well there some things do have a fix state and sometimes you do have to deliver something earlier and for marketing campaigns and things like that. So yeah I think, I don’t have a great answer.
Dave Albert: Sure, no. I don’t.
Dave Denham: Maybe, maybe I’ll learn.
Dave Albert: I don’t have an answer at all
Dave Denham: Maybe I’ll learn, go to meetups and someone had the answer to that
Dave Albert: I hope somebody put some on their call for paper
Dave Denham: There you go.
Dave Albert: Puts in their paper for all the (1:03:30) right?
Dave Denham: Exactly.
Dave Albert: I figure it out.
Dave Denham: Put within there’s about 90 days left for a call for paper so, you’ve got an answer to that. I’d like to hear that.
Dave Albert: Please do.
Dave Denham: Depends when this call’s out of course.
Dave Albert:That would be the most attended session. Alright, cool. Is there anything that you want to mention that we haven’t talked about so far?
Dave Denham: No, I don’t think so. Like..
Dave Albert: You can always come back.
Dave Denham: Ah yeah.
Dave Albert: You can come back anytime.
Dave Denham: No, yeah I really appreciate it yeah having me on and I think I appreciate the mention of Agile Lean Ireland as well and so it’s a yeah if you’re just curious about Agile or Lean or some of these practices and you’d like to learn more and you find it more www.agileleanireland.org we have the Dan North’s you know who’s well known in the development community as well, Barry O’Reilly he’s well known to the startup community. You know whatever your, the hat you wear every day is there’s likely going to be someone be very interesting there for you to hear from. Jon Cutler from the product management community and so there’s lots of good speakers therefore you to network with for you to be job opportunities things like that and so and cultural meetups as well like really the meetups are really our hard piece effort every month or every two months. And I will have more meetups coming up so, yeah just find out more there.
Dave Albert: Great and what’s that you know, worse case you know develop more little empathy for the people you worked with. I mean so you know if you don’t find somebody in your specific area which is going to make easier to work with them So it’s always a win.
Dave Denham: Yeah, cool.
Dave Albert: So, is there anywhere else that people could contact you?
Dave Denham: Yeah so yeah you can find me on twitter on @cobrakaiagile. So which I’m a big karate kid fan and I was pretty delight to see the Cobra Kai series.
Dave Albert: I was going to ask.
Dave Denham: So yeah, my twitter account was many years before this Cobra released.
Dave Albert: Nice.
Dave Denham: So it was awesome actually, I definitely recommend watching on YouTube so it’s a really cool series so, Cobra Kai @ cobrakaiAgile you can get me on twitter.
Dave Albert: I’ll stick all the links on the show notes so, thank you so much for joining us Dave.
Dave Denham: We appreciate it.
Dave Albert: It was a pleasure
Dave Denham: Good.
Dave Albert: And thank you all for listening.
Until next time. Remember, any sufficiently advanced technology is in distinguishable from magic.