THOUGHTS ON THE FAILURE OF FOCUS
This was the opening talk at Agile Tour London 2018 presented by @lunivore. As such my notes and memory of this session are not the best, however I will attempt to reconstruct the points which stuck with me! The overarching theme I took away was that of the focus that frameworks such as Scrum lends to development and the focus on the frameworks themselves can be an impediment to innovation.
For an example of how successful innovation can be achieved outside of the scope of the focus Google the story of Ludicorp > Flickr > Slack.
Dave Snowden's Liminal Cynefin featured heavily, focusing on the recently added liminal area which covers light controlled dives into chaos and disorder (see the green area).
As a side note this embrace of harnessing chaos and disorder to bring out creativity appeals to me greatly. I remember when I was introduced to Cynefin that I was somewhat drawn to playing with the potential of chaos. To me this is a welcome addition to the framework.
@lunivore Went on to explain when operating in this area the design of safe-to-fail probes is as an essential practice.
Such probes need:
- Expected signs of success
What shall we monitor in order to know if the experiment has a positive impact?
- Expected signs of failure
What shall we monitor in order to know if the experiment has a negative impact?
- Amplification actions
If it goes well what can we do to amplify positive effects?
- Dampening actions
If it fails what can we to to dampen negative effects?
What is the real world situation that this experiment would be applied to?
Probes should also be lightweight! This has been something I have learned from personal experience, that once an experiment gets to "heavy" in investment, it becomes no longer safe to fail and the level of interest and scrutiny only makes it more likley to fail!
She also introduced me to the ideas of multiple parallel probes - to generate independent solutions from the various disciplines within agile teams - and the Ritual of Dissent - To challenge and enhance proposed experiments.
I have a few other notes but I cannot for the life of me recall what exactly was being said, which means I really need to do some further reading.
Portfolio of Probes - Oblique probes - Naive probes.
Indicators or measures and metrics
Stakeholder stories rather than User stories - in order to broaden the thinking beyond end users
At this point I have to say that the "drinking from a fire hydrant" analogy @ReevesHall had used was starting to ring very true - and this was only the first talk!
For me this was a very useful presentation which I am committed to reading further into. I work with some very creative individuals who I think would relish the challenge of controlled chaotic experimentation!
I feel I have not done @lunivore justice as The points I have outlined above are no where near as well articulated as her presentation, and I have not touched on some of the other aspects (Thomas Huxley and the evolution of feathers for instance) which were cleverly weaved into the hour!
With that admission I will end this with a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche:
One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.
Be seeing you!