Hi. I’m CEO of Net Objectives, a leading global consulting/training company that assists corporations in transitioning to effective software development with Lean-Agile methods. Besides guiding Net Objectives, I actively consult and train with our clients – which gives me first hand experience of the methods we use. I focus on Lean, Kanban, Scrum and design patterns – having written several books covering these methods.
What do I bring to the LSSC?
My forty years experience in the software industry gives me perspective. I have seen many changes to management and technical methods over the last several decades. Although the methods change, the patterns of adoption and rejection are amazingly similar. I have seen some very good ideas take much longer to get adopted than they should have – as well as other methods held on to well past the time they should have been abandoned. I have taken a personal migration path in Lean-Agile methods that I now see started with studying Deming and writing systems incorporating automated acceptance testing in 1984. I started consciously using agile in 1999, starting informally with my own methods and adopting XP and Scrum shortly thereafter. In 2004 I incorporated Lean Software into my methods and 2-3 years ago adopted Kanban as well. I have seen teams succeed and fail with all of these methods over the years and have been asking why they succeed and why they fail? What about them helps teams and individuals, and where can they be used? This quest has led me to a solid understanding of the principles underneath all of these methods and why/where they work. I, of course, have not figured this out myself, but have learned from literally dozens of thought leaders both personally and from their books and other writings.
I have eventually come to the conclusion that Lean Software is not best understood by observing Toyota. Rather, Lean, to me, is a thought process, mindset and set of principles that stand on its own. This makes it much easier to take Lean to the software community, whose problems are considerably different than the manufacturing community.
Why did I got involved in the LSSC?
I hate to say this, but if there were one word that sums up our industry in its general attitude, in my mind it would be “unprofessional.” By this I mean that too many individuals, at all levels (executives, management and development) tend to do what they like without exploring and adopting methods that have proven to work. Our own opinion tends to matter more than reality. Even so, I have a great faith in people’s intentions and motivations. I believe that the overwhelming majority of people have a commitment to do their best and that they take genuine satisfaction when they add value to others and are frustrated when they cannot do so. This passion works against them, however, when they don’t understand what needs to be done – as it drives them to often take an expedient or familiar approach.
The Agile community rightfully puts respecting people as a foundational cornerstone. However, in my mind, it has not put enough emphasis on the other side – the information, practices and principles are essential in order to get the job done. Relying on the ability and motivations of people is not enough. I believe there needs to be a foundational knowledge set that guides their work. Lean provides much of this with its paradigm of management and its paradigm of product development flow. Both also help support technical practices which I feel should be broadly adopted throughout the industry (e.g., ATDD, TDD, design patterns). My involvement with the LSSC is to create awareness of the possibilities for our industry and to help promote knowledge that would be useful to software development organizations.
What do I hope the LSSC will achieve?
I see Lean Software and Systems Consortium as a growing community of thought leaders where exchange of ideas is freely possible. We are guided by what works in practice and without concern for its origin. Our goal is to foster this body of knowledge, to see it grow, evolve and mature. The Lean SSC is intentionally not declaring who can teach this knowledge as doing so tends to make changing the knowledge base difficult. Instead, we focus on the knowledge and methods itself. Both extending it and encouraging its evolution as the community learns.
I am working towards the LSSC helping transform the software industry into a profession where people better understand what they need to know in order to work effectively. I am focusing on defining those competencies that people need to know in order to be effective in this field. Eventually, these competencies can provide a basis for a meaningful certification, which is currently lacking in our industry. My dream would be for me to be able to say that I retired from a profession at the end of my career.