Business Agility Wellington (WellyBAM) – Public Sector Agility Accelerator

WellyBAMMy talk with Julian Smith (no relation) from WellyBAM called “Public Sector Agility Accelerator” is available on Slideshare.

Today ‘agile’ is no longer just a buzzword. From building spacecraft to manufacturing, some of the most complex and largest organisations in the world are using agile ways of working to deliver better outcomes, respond to change, improve quality, foster more productive and happier teams, and reduce risk.

This hands-on and interactive session is aimed at showing how public sector organisations can support agile ways of working, from policy development through to service design and delivery.

Presenters, Craig Smith an Enterprise Agile Coach and Consultant from SoftEd, and Julian Smith, Head of Agile Practice for Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency, will provide an interesting and informative view of how agility can be applied in the public sector and will introduce the Government Agility Model, a framework that you can use to assess where to apply agility in your agency.

Craig is based in Australia and works extensively with the Australian Public sector and as a member of the Agile Alliance Board of Directors, brings a global perspective.

Julian is a digital leader and entrepreneur who specialises in public sector agility. He is experienced in lean-agile policy development, digital transformation, user-centred design and digital technology.

This will be an interactive session, so please be prepared to share your own experiences as well as introducing and encouraging anyone that wants to bring agility to their department or agency to attend the session.

Many thanks to Andy Cooper for inviting myself and Julian to present this session.

Agility Today 2021 – Public Sector Agility Accelerator

My workshop with Julian Smith (no relation) from Agility Today 2021 called “Public Sector Agility Accelerator” is available on Slideshare.

Today ‘agile’ is no longer just a buzzword. From building spacecraft to manufacturing, some of the most complex and largest organisations in the world are using agile ways of working to deliver better outcomes, respond to change, improve quality, foster more productive and happier teams, and reduce risk.

This hands-on and interactive session is aimed at helping public sector organisations build capability to support agile ways of working, from policy development through to service design and delivery.

Deepti Jain and the team did an excellent job putting together this month long festival and it was also a pleasure to be part of the Advisory Board.

 

Digital Summit 2020 – Agility Accelerator Workshop

Digital Summit 2020

My workshop with Julian Smith (no relation) from the DTA Digital Summit 2020 called “Agility Accelerator” is available on Slideshare.

Today ‘agile’ is no longer just a buzzword. From building spacecraft to manufacturing, some of the most complex and largest organisations in the world are using agile ways of working to deliver better outcomes, respond to change, improve quality, foster more productive and happier teams, and reduce risk.

This hands-on and interactive session is aimed at helping public sector organisations build capability to support agile ways of working, from policy development through to service design and delivery.

Belle Hogg from the DTA did an amazing job of capturing a visual scribe of the workshop and managed to capture my headset, glasses and lack of hair a little too well!

Episode 157: Transforming the UK Government Digital Service with James Stewart

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Craig is at YOW! West in Perth and has a conversation with James Stewart, formerly Deputy CTO for the UK Government and co-founder of the Government Digital Service. In varying locations they talk about:

  • YOW! West keynote “Lessons Learned as a Government CTO
  • UK government had some large IT failures  in the last like the NHS National Program for IT (12 billion pound failure), but now lots of successes like Spine 2
  • Agile techniques have been successful in the UK government not just because other approaches have failed so badly but the cost of an IT project is only a fraction of the overall cost of a system
  • The Government Design Principles – start with user needs – successful projects start with clearly articulated principles, did not realise how much they would resonate
  • Worked around a number of government process early on, support from the…

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Episode 152: Communities of Practice, Onions, Bus Stops and Shopfronts with Emily Webber

The Agile Revolution Podcast

Craig is at YOW! Conference and spends some time with Emily Webber, Agile Coach and author of “Building Successful Communities of Practice” and “The Agile Team Onion” and they chat about:

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Breaking the Cylinders of Excellence (in the Australian Government)

YOW-Nights_Logo_stackedAt the recent YOW! Night in Brisbane (as well and Sydney and Melbourne), Lindsay Holmwood (the Head of Technology at the DTA) presented “Breaking the Cylinders of Excellence”. It was a rare experience to hear the story of how the DTA is using cutting edge development practices to help the government catch up with, and even exceed, the public sector. 

 

  • DTA – aid transformation in government, small agency
  • Delivery hubs in Sydney and Canberra – help identify and plug capability gaps in teams
  • Prototype of how government services could work  gov.au/alpha
  • Digital Service Standard – 13 characteristics on what good looks like in government, useful in organisations as well
  • Cloud.gov.au  – government cloud service, usage growing, continuous delivery pipeline (which is a major change for government who are used to 2 changes per year)
  • The unit of delivery is the team – not about individuals, but the team – borrowed from GDS
  • Government is slow, but government is designed to be stable, they cannot fail, they have characteristics that are resistant to change
  • Myth that organisations must choose between speed and reliability, high performing organisations deploy more frequently, have shorter lead times, fewer failures and recover faster, but they also have a greater profit
  • Want to deliver like a startup but be stable like a government
  • Not a lot of cross pollination between departments currently
  • Read the policy! – quite often the process is not mandated
  • Document what works and doesn’t so it becomes a repeatable pattern – ie. running a meetup inhouse, don’t tell me I can’t do it, tell me how I can run it without being thrown in jail!
  • Stick with technologies the government is comfortable with if you are changing the delivery engine
  • Security matters – prevention is a battle you will always lose, detection is your best defence – aggregate and log in one place, identify threat signatures, etc
  • Embed security people on big services so it is part of the architecture
  • Proactive testing between different governments around the world on similar platforms
  • Simplest security breaches make the most mess – infected excel macros, leaving free USB keys in the foyer that are malware infected
  • Need to put user needs first – alpha mockup using tools like Jeckyll, then beta then live
  • Lots of people strictly interpret the design and delivery guides – they are guides not rules!
  • Create a longer runway by pulling tech forward – turn down the volume of design, turn up the volume of tech
  • If it hurts, do it more often!
  • Fixed cost delivery with agile is a thing, agile is a way to de-risk in the government
  • Don’t put manual testing on the critical deployment path – have special skills on hand for accessibility, performance and security

Agile 2012 Day 3 and 4 Review

Agile 2012Day 3 and 4 at Agile 2012 meant a large number of interviews for InfoQ, as well as some podcast interviews and numerous hallway discussions. As a result I have combined both days into one post. Here are my notes from the sessions that I attended.

That Settles It! Techniques for Transparent & Trusted Decision-Making on Your Agile Team

Ellen Gottesdiener led this workshop, her slides are available here.

From Agile 2012

Agile team values, starter list:

  • product – quality, value, just enough, validated learning
  • people – transparency, accountability, courage, mutual learning
  • process – fast feedback, all in collaborate, small steps, retrospect continually
From Agile 2012

They are a set of values that impact how we will make decisions.

Traps, risks and blunders:

  • group dynamics – fallacy of the flawed leader, no diversity in the group, inability to consider alternatives, lack of diversity in the group, group-think (striving for consensus  that drives down alternatives)
  • process – not understanding the key terms

Decision making styles:

From Agile 2012
  • delegative – group decision, decision leader may delegate decisions to a sub group
  • democratic – discuss and take a vote
  • consensus – leader and group together agree based on unanimous decision
  • consultative – where the group collaborates and consults to a person to make a decision
  • consensus – all legitimate concerns should be addressed that impact the group, stakeholders all need to be there, it is not a compromise, there is no bargaining, this is and/both thinking

4S – stake, stakeholders, speed and sustainability of a decision

We then created a 2D gradient to map out decison styles – delegate -> democratic -> consultative -> consensus

From Agile 2012

Ellen then introduced some decision making research, success was a decision that was used for greater than 2 years

From Agile 2012
  • edict – do it, not very sustainable, used 35% of time, worked 38% of the time
  • persuasion – used 49% of the time, worked 44% of the time
  • participation – used  less than 16% of the time, worked 80% of the time, delegated to a group or sub group
  • intervention – delegated but group had guidelines and benchmarks to make a decision, used less than 16% of the time,  worked 90% of the time

We then talked about values:

  • trust – contractual (shared goals and boundaries), communication (transparent, honest and frequent communication, walking the talk), competency (respectful of others ability of what they do on the team and learning how we can do better as a team, honour our agreements) – is a key part of making decisions
  • values for group effectiveness – people need valid information in a timely way to make a free and informed choice, decision rules that enhance internal commitment

Group versus individual decision making:

  • accuracy – better at group level – more alternatives, diversity, more points of view
  • acceptance – group
  • creativity – group
  • efficiency – individual
  • speed – individual

We then had some final thoughts and questions:

  • collaboration pattern – decide how to decide – need to make a decision but know you have made it
  • common decision rules – delegate, decide without discussion, negotiation, majority vote, spontaneous agreement, arbitrary, consensus  leader decides after decision
  • gradient of agreement – endorse, agree with reservations, disagree cannot support (but won’t block), block
  • 12 Angry Men – good example of the model

  • to reach closure – with decision leader decide on how to decide, with the whole group clarify the decision process, close discussion, clarify proposal, poll group using gradient and decision leader decides or chooses further discussion
  • RAPID – effective organisations have clarity in roles  around decision making – recommend, agree, perform, input, decide (like a RAPSI)

Evolve Your Agile Coaching Dashboard

David Parker led this workshop, his slides are available here.

From Agile 2012

We started the workshop bu being given 5 minutes to draw a fact about the group we were sitting in, and could not use any numbers.

From Agile 2012
  • use scrum to coach scrum teams – to get organized and be different from other coaches
  • scrum on a team of one – more forgiving because you know what is going on, you are all roles in one
  • create a project dashboard – 10 qualities of hyper productive teams, matrix on the wall, denoted yes/no using red/green stickies

We then created our own dashboard based around a scenario that were given.

From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012

Fixing Broke(n) Governments Through Serious Games

In keeping with the theme of Agile in non-software, I was very interested in hearing about this initiative from Luke Hohmann from Innovation Games. A copy of his slides from SXSW appear to be similar to those he presented here.

From Agile 2012
  • San Jose, 10th largest city in the USA, in deficit by $115 million, Luke ran into the mayor on a plane…
  • games – have a goal, arbitrary constraints, interaction rules, voluntary participation (Jane McGonical) – most people think fun and entertainment when they think game, now we use the term serious games
  • serious games – advergames (get you to buy stuff eg. Burger King), edutainment (CBS have news footage for school students), news games, simulations, exergames (Nike have a game to escape zombies to entice running), innovation games
  • executives love games because they involve strategy
  • San Jose have a yearly planning commission meeting – worse meeting ever, after a powerpoint, all the citizens were given a roll of nickels to vote on the areas that needed attention (the smarter citizens kept the roll of nickels!), got an accountancy firm to count the results, what happens if nobody voted on health care?
  • convinced them to try an innovation game because you can blame the consultant!
  • first, what is the problem – had already cut the budget to the bone, so the problem was prioritisation
  • buy a feature game– give people 40% of the total, give them a ranked list, the reasons for the ranking and the conditions of the acceptance, they can buy what they want but they need to collaborate often
    • adapted this game to imagine these are the things cut from the budget but we have no money to fund them (green list) and here are the things you can cut from the budget to try and fund them (red list) – the goal of the game was not for everybody to prioritize everything because there are essential services regardless
    • people respond better with physical money rather than things like poker chips
    • for a serious game to be serious it must affect the player – they were suggesting things like cutting 5 firemen per truck to 4 to fund anti-gang warfare and park rangers (for example)
    • each table had 7 citizens, 1 facilitator and 1 observer – used soloid sticks strapped to pant stirrers that were held up to signal questions – blue for police, red for fire, etc… and the head of that department would answer the question, citizens were seated from different districts at a table so they could not gang up on other districts
    • red items needed 100 percent unanimous agreement at the table
    • because people are citizens and dealing with real issues they tend to leave their political beliefs out of the discussion
    • San Jose citizens chose pavement maintenance over libraries – if the mayor went on record to cut libraries then the friends of libraries group would have come out in disagreement but there is no friends of pavements group
    • planning the first game took three months
    • when governments say they will cut the budget by 10% they are never specific, made them specify that cut with a smart goal (eg. no new helicopter)
    • the agile community donated quarter a million dollars of services and materials pro bono
    • the government took action (reductions in fire, police, delays in libraries and elimination of services) and citizens loved the process
  • pushed the boundaries in 2012 – tested new taxes, buy one or none and adding new proposals
  • budget games are better than budget puzzles – about making cuts not about education and they are collaborative
  • prune the product tree – usually for road mapping, used this to identify community service projects, which got shaped into initiatives which were added into buy a feature that the city would seed funding for but the citizens would need to donate time to implement them
  • games work for business but needed changes to work for governments – hard to have anonymity in a way the preserves free speech, coordinating large number of players, minimizing bias
  • gamification – need to ask can the average citizen play this game, need to level citizens up and play more sophisticated games
  • Innovation Games have a network of facilitators and have built trust, but they don’t have all the people and answers – created Every Voice Engaged
  • buy a feature works – a shared commitment using a scarce resource, citizens now sign up to community service initiatives using the same ideas
  • called it a priority budgeting exercise instead of using the word game
  • all the numbers come from the budget and are reviewed by an independent neighbourhood committee
  • neighborgoods – reducing consumer goods, sharing materials in the community
  • draw roadmaps as trees so you can talk about the -illities, show the critical infrastructure at the root
  • our aspirations as a community should be more than decreasing the length of sprints from 20 minutes to 15 minutes – we can do better!

The final story Luke told was how one disadvantaged woman was almost not going to turn up the session because they had always been a waste of time. At the end of the game she stood up and said that she felt empowered because she ” had the same amount of money as everybody else at the table” and was able to make real decisions. Enough said.

Demanding Technical Excellence and Professionalism

Robert “Uncle Bob” Martin presented this session. I had seen most of this content before and did not hear anything much new (I also had to sneak out 10 minutes early to meet up for an InfoQ interview). What was much more interesting was a discussion I had Andrew Prentice from Atlassian at the Conference dinner about the validity of many of the claims that were made in the session (I think we should strive for them but Andrew seemed to think it depends on time and place and the developer).

From Agile 2012

[vimeo 9981123]

  • bad code, 32000 lines of code in two classes (Order and OrderImpl) – what created that sheer irresponsibility? The fault lies with programmers – they chose to write it that way – that choice is always the wrong choice
  • our craft is defined – we have been writing the same sort of code for 40 years – assignment statements, if statements and loops
  • wear the green band – acceptance and willingness to follow my craft and unwillingness to comprimise the craft

These are my expectations from craftsmen:

  • short iterations – close the feedback loop, down to a week or shorter, deliver working code that passes all the tests and is ready to deploy, programmers should be working in short cycles 20 seconds or less (red-green-refactor loop)
  • never be blocked – never wait for anyone, if there is a blockage then go and fix the problem, don’t be stymied!
  • screaming architectures – does your code execute the use case without all the external architectures – should scream I am an accounting system not a Java web system, delay for as long as you can decisions about the database or web server , isolate the business rules so you can switch out the database at a moments notice, use decoupled architecture to focus on business rules, these architectures slow down tests
  • incremental improvement over grand redesign – grand redesigns tend to expensive and open to failure
  • clean code – output should always be clean and kept clean, boys scout rule – do a random act of kindness to the code (leave the camp ground cleaner than you found it)
  • go fast, go well – need to flip the professional bit in your head, the only way to go fast is to do good work
  • TDD – proportion is growing over the years, can’t write any production code until you have written a unit test, don’t write more of a unit test that is sufficient to fail, don’t write more production code that is sufficient to pass the  failing unit test, developers initially find these rules stupid, everything worked a minute ago, always a minute away from working code, don’t want to spend time debugging but want to spend time writing working code, development teams with a long list of defects over a page is not being responsible, confidence to change the code and ship it
  • 100% code coverage – what lower number makes sense, there is no other number that makes sense, personal ethics that the tests have good coverage
  • QA should find nothing – the QA organisation should wonder why they exist
  • statistical estimates – use velocity and it is not a failure if you deliver less, predictable team should have a flat velocity

After Dark

Wednesday night was the Rodeo Circuit which was an opportunity to collect stamps while visiting all the exhibits. I was lucky enough to win a netbook from the Agile Alliance.

From Agile 2012

Thursday night was the conference dinner that kicked off with a comedian and followed up with a really good band called Emerald City.

From Agile 2012
From Agile 2012

Podcast

Finally, I recorded a short audio podcast for The Agile Revolution wrapping up days 3 and 4 of the conference.

Barcamp Brisbane III: The Search For Flock Wrapup

Barcamp BrisbaneHere is my better late than never wrapup of Barcamp Brisbane III (held last weekend at the East Brisbane Bowls Club), a worthwhile meetup of locals willing to share their skills with others.

Discussion at Barcamp Brisbane III

Discussion at Barcamp Brisbane III

From the lightning talks that I attended:

Speed Intro

A new concept was the speed introductions, one minute to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. Worked quite well, met a bunch of new people and got a good vibe of the different passions of the attendees.

Favourite Cloud Applications

Session presented by Michael Rees.

None of the applications were particularly new to me, but these were my takeaways for more of a look:

  • Gliffy – online diagram and flowchart editor
  • Slideshare – for uploading of presentations
  • Prezi – requires Flash, but is a big space to show text and is a new and interesting way to show presentations
  • Delicious – not new, but Michael uses it as a home page
  • Archive.org – from the guys that brought us the wayback machine, they have a service that allows you to upload audio and video maintaining the original resolution (although the upload is quite slow apparently)
  • Evernote – I have used OneNote for convenience of late, but a place to store and search for notes on multiple platforms and phones, this is a service that Michael pays for as well
  • Online Storage – LiveMesh is a favourite, gives you 5GB that syncs anywhere. He also mentioned Live Sync P2P, SkyDrive and Amazon S3

Introduction to Git

Attended two sessions on Git, a discussion and then an online overview.

  • A local repository, distributed
  • Competitors are Mercurial and Bazaar
  • Git is not as good on Windows environments right now
  • Github uses for public hosting
  • Gitgui is a an interface to Git, amongst many others

This is certainly the next generation of version control, but I have concerns on how to get this working in the enterprise especially since I have enough trouble convincing people to commit let alone to commit often. Can see its potential for open source and independent or small developers however.

Groovy, Griffon & Grails

Paul King and Bob Brown gave a good introduction to the G3 technologies. I was especially interested in Griffon, since I hadn’t spent any time looking at it previously.

Government 2.0

Was interested to listen into the discussion about PublicSphere / Government 2.0 by Des Walsh, and the opportunities it may present. Des has posted a more in-depth post here: http://deswalsh.com/2009/07/19/government-2-0-at-barcamp-brisbane/

Drupal Hosting

Discussion about Drupal Hosting:

  • Open Atrium – intranet website incorporating wiki, forum, internal-twitter – theme around existing modules
  • Aegir – Drupal Hosting System
  • Suspect that much like Linux, we will see many distributions in future
  • Acquia are the Red Hat of the Drupal world
  • Drupal 7 has gone full TDD with 80% coverage

Fish Shell

An online demonstration of the Fish Shell, which can be best described as a shell that adds a bunch of added functionality to bash, such as better history and visualisations.

Conclusion

A good way to get a launch into some new and interesting technologies and meet some new people. There is apparently another planned before the end of the year.