Cultural Challenges in Global
            Agile
    Agile India Conference 2010
       Raghuram Bharathan
BACKGROUND
Playground
• Co-development
    – Different time zones
    – Different teams
•   2 week iterations
•   Separate QA team
• ...
Rules of the game
• Meetings
  – Pre-planning and Planning
  – Demo and Retro
  – Standups
  – Conference calls
• Work
  –...
Players
• Customer team
  – Average 10+ years experience
  – Similar experience levels
• Offshore team
  – Different exper...
THE CHALLENGES
Why IT industry?
Why IT industry?
•   High-paying
•   Opportunities
•   Overseas exposure
•   Glamorous
•   Air-conditioned work, 5 day week
Education System
• Theoretical focus
  – Civics and civic sense
  – Learn about road rules
    but not follow
  – System o...
Programming
• Focus on quantity – number of languages
• Learn through a set of programs
  – Sort a list of numbers
  – Bin...
Data Structure




                 Complexity
Programming
• Less focus on design and implementation
  – Performance, scalability and reliability
  – Testability
  – Cod...
How it affects
• Doing it right the first time
• Test First/ Test Driven Development
• Writing clean code (free of violati...
IT/Service Mindset
•   Somehow solve a problem
•   Means are not important or relevant
•   Deadline driven
•   Quantity ra...
Contrasting Product Mindset
•   Hardware, OS, browser independence
•   Design for change
•   Logging
•   Installation and ...
How it affects
• Designing for change
• Thinking beyond specific problem
• Looking at the bigger picture
Distractions at work
•   Flexible working hours
•   Getting to office – traffic jams
•   Breakfast and coffee breaks
•   P...
How it affects
•   Sticking to estimated time
•   Working to compensate for lost time
•   Dependant team members and delay...
Hierarchy
• Parents at home
  – School
  – College
  – Job
  – Marriage
• Teachers at school/college
• Supervisors at work...
How it affects
•   Commitment
•   Estimation
•   Ownership
•   Proactiveness
Resume fattening
• Number of different technologies
• Number of projects
• Jack of all arts
  – Master of none?
• Superfic...
How it affects
• Working in a time-boxed environment
  – Sticking to estimates
  – Overcoming technical challenges
  – Wri...
Reporting Impediments
• Cultural influence
  – left hand stigma
  – fear of punishment
• Self-conscious
• Linking to appra...
Retrospective participation




• Cultural influence       • Why raise the barrier?
  – Stoic and self-content
  – Why ups...
Collaboration
• Talking vs discussion
• Divide and conquer vs
  independence
• Me, mine, myself vs us, ours
• Blame game
•...
Communication
• Cultural influence
  – English as foreign language
  – Mother tongue influence
• Trouble with accent
• Wha...
Holidays
• Cultural influence
  – Away from family
  – Going home for festivals
• Multitude of festivals
• Regional and re...
Unlearning
• Happy with status quo
  – resistance to change
• Unaware of doing
  mistakes
• Difficulty in correcting
• Imp...
Tools of trade
Prayer Programming
Pat on the back
OVERCOMING CHALLENGES
Self-driven teams
• Who should bell the cat?
• Why me?
• What is in it for me?
• Harder I work, the more
  work I get
• Pe...
Chief Programmer model
• Create specializations amongst team members
• Break stories into tasks
  – Specialized team membe...
Tool-driven approach
• Minimize the human factor
• Tools
  – to flag style violations
  – to identify lack of code coverag...
Overcoming distractions

•   Core business hours
•   Blocking of social networking at work
•   Co-location – low cubicle w...
Tracking
• Variant of Pomodoro technique – pre-lunch
  and post-lunch (3 hour slots)
• Stand ups before start of work and ...
Communication Channels
• Multiple channels
  – Wiki, Issue tracking system, email, instant
    messaging
  – Regular telec...
Pigs and Chickens

•   Be transparent
•   Track through tools
•   Try to help
•   Shield from
    distraction
* of the iteration
Summary
•   Agile is here to stay
•   Brings issues to surface rapidly
•   Focuses on continuous improvement
•   Need to w...
Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam


                 http://maruhgar.blogspot.com

                 raghuram.bharathan@yahoo.c...
Cultural Challenges In Global Agile
Cultural Challenges In Global Agile
Cultural Challenges In Global Agile
Cultural Challenges In Global Agile
Cultural Challenges In Global Agile
Cultural Challenges In Global Agile
Cultural Challenges In Global Agile
Cultural Challenges In Global Agile
Cultural Challenges In Global Agile
Cultural Challenges In Global Agile
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Cultural Challenges In Global Agile

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Agile development practice has gained popularity in the last few years. India has so far been riding on CMMI bandwagon, with companies vying with each other to get CMMI certification. Recently, we are seeing more and more projects being executed using agile methodologies. This has also brought with it, some challenges. Not all of them are unique to agile, but they tend to manifest earlier and has higher impact in agile.

While there are different types of challenges, here, we are focusing on the Indian cultural ones. Also, we are looking at the challenges in a joint product development – where work is done both by offshore team (which is typically the outsourced organization) and the onsite team (the client team).

After we elaborate on the challenges, we present how we have tried to solve them in our current client engagement.

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Cultural Challenges In Global Agile

  1. 1. Cultural Challenges in Global Agile Agile India Conference 2010 Raghuram Bharathan
  2. 2. BACKGROUND
  3. 3. Playground • Co-development – Different time zones – Different teams • 2 week iterations • Separate QA team • Remote Product Owner • QA inline with iteration • Common toolset
  4. 4. Rules of the game • Meetings – Pre-planning and Planning – Demo and Retro – Standups – Conference calls • Work – User stories – Bugs from released stories
  5. 5. Players • Customer team – Average 10+ years experience – Similar experience levels • Offshore team – Different experience levels - 0 to 10 – Different cultural backgrounds – Most with no agile experience
  6. 6. THE CHALLENGES
  7. 7. Why IT industry?
  8. 8. Why IT industry? • High-paying • Opportunities • Overseas exposure • Glamorous • Air-conditioned work, 5 day week
  9. 9. Education System • Theoretical focus – Civics and civic sense – Learn about road rules but not follow – System of Government – Less importance to games and sports • How many of us can fix a leaking tap, build a book shelf
  10. 10. Programming • Focus on quantity – number of languages • Learn through a set of programs – Sort a list of numbers – Binary search – Matrix multiplication – Doubly linked list
  11. 11. Data Structure Complexity
  12. 12. Programming • Less focus on design and implementation – Performance, scalability and reliability – Testability – Coding standards – Best practices of programming
  13. 13. How it affects • Doing it right the first time • Test First/ Test Driven Development • Writing clean code (free of violations)
  14. 14. IT/Service Mindset • Somehow solve a problem • Means are not important or relevant • Deadline driven • Quantity rather than quality • Applicable for only one situation
  15. 15. Contrasting Product Mindset • Hardware, OS, browser independence • Design for change • Logging • Installation and deployment strategy • Upgrade strategy • Service packs and hotfixes
  16. 16. How it affects • Designing for change • Thinking beyond specific problem • Looking at the bigger picture
  17. 17. Distractions at work • Flexible working hours • Getting to office – traffic jams • Breakfast and coffee breaks • Phone calls • Personal mails and social network • Friends at work • Hobbies and recreations – lack of
  18. 18. How it affects • Sticking to estimated time • Working to compensate for lost time • Dependant team members and delays • Dependant groups – QA, schedule
  19. 19. Hierarchy • Parents at home – School – College – Job – Marriage • Teachers at school/college • Supervisors at work – Tell me what to do and by when
  20. 20. How it affects • Commitment • Estimation • Ownership • Proactiveness
  21. 21. Resume fattening • Number of different technologies • Number of projects • Jack of all arts – Master of none? • Superficial/Shallow knowledge • Disinterest in specialization
  22. 22. How it affects • Working in a time-boxed environment – Sticking to estimates – Overcoming technical challenges – Writing optimized code – Using appropriate library features
  23. 23. Reporting Impediments • Cultural influence – left hand stigma – fear of punishment • Self-conscious • Linking to appraisal • Non-technical Manager
  24. 24. Retrospective participation • Cultural influence • Why raise the barrier? – Stoic and self-content – Why upset the apple- • Skirt around sensitive cart? topics • Set a goal – meet or – People, ability, exceed aptitude
  25. 25. Collaboration • Talking vs discussion • Divide and conquer vs independence • Me, mine, myself vs us, ours • Blame game • Taking feedbacks personally
  26. 26. Communication • Cultural influence – English as foreign language – Mother tongue influence • Trouble with accent • What I said and what I mean • Verbal and written
  27. 27. Holidays • Cultural influence – Away from family – Going home for festivals • Multitude of festivals • Regional and religious • 2 week iterations and holidays
  28. 28. Unlearning • Happy with status quo – resistance to change • Unaware of doing mistakes • Difficulty in correcting • Importance of learning it right the first time
  29. 29. Tools of trade
  30. 30. Prayer Programming
  31. 31. Pat on the back
  32. 32. OVERCOMING CHALLENGES
  33. 33. Self-driven teams • Who should bell the cat? • Why me? • What is in it for me? • Harder I work, the more work I get • Peer pressure
  34. 34. Chief Programmer model • Create specializations amongst team members • Break stories into tasks – Specialized team member picks tasks • Less self-driven and more ability-driven • Leads as Chief Programmers – interact with customer – coach and mentor team
  35. 35. Tool-driven approach • Minimize the human factor • Tools – to flag style violations – to identify lack of code coverage – to flag incorrect coding practices – to run for each check-in and identify issues at the earliest – consistent across local and remote teams
  36. 36. Overcoming distractions • Core business hours • Blocking of social networking at work • Co-location – low cubicle walls • Manager co-located with team
  37. 37. Tracking • Variant of Pomodoro technique – pre-lunch and post-lunch (3 hour slots) • Stand ups before start of work and post-lunch • Individual follow-ups and reminders • Proxy updates
  38. 38. Communication Channels • Multiple channels – Wiki, Issue tracking system, email, instant messaging – Regular teleconferences – Large whiteboard with visible status
  39. 39. Pigs and Chickens • Be transparent • Track through tools • Try to help • Shield from distraction
  40. 40. * of the iteration
  41. 41. Summary • Agile is here to stay • Brings issues to surface rapidly • Focuses on continuous improvement • Need to work hard to stay afloat • Survival of the fittest
  42. 42. Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam http://maruhgar.blogspot.com raghuram.bharathan@yahoo.com
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