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2018 06-19 DeveloperWeek NY - Building a Lean Culture through Servant Leadership

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Slides from my talk at DeveloperWeek NY (DevExec track) on Jun 19, 2018

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2018 06-19 DeveloperWeek NY - Building a Lean Culture through Servant Leadership

  1. 1. Building a Lean Culture through Servant Leadership A technical manager’s guide to agility Vishal Bardoloi
  2. 2. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership HELLO! VISHAL BARDOLOI Lead Consultant at ThoughtWorks @bardoloi medium.com/@v.bardoloi 2
  3. 3. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 3
  4. 4. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Exploring the relationship 4 Agile DevOps Lean Leadership
  5. 5. Two Stories
  6. 6. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership #1: Major Airline 6
  7. 7. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 200 million visitors annual e-commerce traffic 3 years old current portal 9.5% conversion shop → buy 7
  8. 8. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership “ Let’s build the next version of our e- commerce platform! 8
  9. 9. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Project Motivations & Goals 9 ! 15% Conversion ! Better user experience ! Desktop + Phone + Tablet ! Latest technology stack ! Scalable infrastructure ! Lower TCO ! Better talent retention
  10. 10. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 10 3 Years $30 Million 150 people 1 Million hours 12 dev teams Later...
  11. 11. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 11
  12. 12. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 9.2% Conversion rate (after 2 weeks of go-live) 12 ↓
  13. 13. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Poor Results ! Didn’t meet business goals ! Over budget ! Missed schedule ! Highly coupled architecture ! Prod deploys: Once a month ! Daily builds took 4-8 hours 13
  14. 14. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Did all the right things Process ! Scrum ! 2-week sprints ! User stories ! Velocity, backlog ! JIRA, Confluence, Hipchat, ... Technology ! React front-end ! Java Microservice APIs ! Jenkins CI ! 96% unit test coverage 14 People ! Small teams ○ Aligned to a product flow ! Each team had: ○ Product Owner ○ ScrumMaster (not PM) ○ QA ○ BA ○ Devs
  15. 15. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 15 What happened?
  16. 16. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership #2: Sports Management Organization 16
  17. 17. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership “ We need a new e-commerce platform! 17
  18. 18. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Set up to fail? 18 Statement of Work Feature a Feature c Feature d Feature e Feature z ….. Feature b Feature f ! Fixed scope ! Over-promised by 3x ! Fixed bid contract ! Deadline non-negotiable ! Limited resources
  19. 19. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 19 6 months later...
  20. 20. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Successful Go-Live! 20 ! Exactly on time ! Under budget ! Pilot program started earning $$$ at 4 months ! 0 customer service calls ! Rave reviews on Social Media
  21. 21. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 66% of original scope: didn’t implement 21 Statement of Work Feature a Feature c Feature d Feature e Feature z ….. Feature b Feature f
  22. 22. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 22 How?
  23. 23. faux Agile vs true agility
  24. 24. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership What does your project lifecycle look like? 24
  25. 25. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership How soon does you project start delivering value? 25
  26. 26. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership The reality of most projects 26 Time
  27. 27. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership The reality of most projects 27 Time ++ Tech Debt ++ Bugs ++ Architectural Coupling ++ Development friction ++ Stress ++ Attrition -- Product quality -- Code quality -- Decision flexibility -- Employee happiness -- Value to end user Time
  28. 28. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership “ “We need a better ____!” (process / solution / methodology) 28
  29. 29. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 29
  30. 30. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 30
  31. 31. Outside-In: doing vs being agile
  32. 32. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Agile is deceptively simple 32 Observe Decide Act
  33. 33. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Being (Why) ▪ must come from within ▪ grows through practice ▪ experimentation & failure ▪ cannot be mandated ▪ is never complete Doing (What, How) ▪ easier to mandate top-down ▪ easier to get certified on ▪ easier to measure ▪ easier to teach ▪ easier to blog/speak/write about ▪ easier to scale! Why people end up “Doing” Agile 33
  34. 34. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership DevOps can’t succeed where Agile is failing Agile can’t scale up when it isn’t scaling down 34
  35. 35. Case Study #1: A simple scenario Rediscovering agility from the ground up
  36. 36. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Set up to fail? 36 Statement of Work Feature a Feature c Feature d Feature e Feature z ….. Feature b Feature f ! Fixed scope ! Over-promised by 3x ! Fixed bid contract ! Deadline non-negotiable ! Limited resources
  37. 37. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 66% of original scope: didn’t implement 37 Statement of Work Feature a Feature c Feature d Feature e Feature z ….. Feature b Feature f
  38. 38. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 38
  39. 39. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Understand your users to define “Value” 39 Statement of Work Feature a Feature c Feature d Feature e Feature z ….. Feature b Feature f For each and every feature: ! “Why?” ! “For whom?” ! “How many?” ! “How do they use it?” ! “What alternatives?” ! “What if…?”

  40. 40. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 40 Their feature request Underlying need or problem The right solution “Why?” x 5 “What if?” x 10
  41. 41. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership ! Solves the user’s true needs ! While also doing this: ○ Fits the budget ○ Can evolve in complexity over time ○ Is simpler than the problem it’s trying to solve ○ Doesn’t create undue tech debt ○ Doesn’t burn out the team ○ Is maintainable The “Right” Solution or Architecture 41
  42. 42. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership ! What is the most valuable feature you need right now? ! If this were the last sprint, how would we build the feature? ! What is the quickest way to test that our solution works? ! How should we architect this so we can pivot or add layers quickly? The Art of Designing Experiments 42
  43. 43. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 43 1 good MVP >>>>>> 10 requirements gathering meetings
  44. 44. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 44 Real-world feedback >>>>>> Your opinion
  45. 45. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 45 Shared understanding of the customer’s problem >>>>>> Your clever solution
  46. 46. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 46 Solving their real needs >>>>>> Following orders
  47. 47. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership The tighter this loop, the more agile you will be 47 Observe Decide Act
  48. 48. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Servant leaders tighten this feedback loop 48 Observe Decide Act ! Delegate decision-making authority close to the action ! Provide goals, context and coaching to aid decision-making ! Bring a keen knowledge of customers and the business environment ! Open lines of communication with other teams ! Make it safe to fail ! Create trust and inclusion ! Create a learning environment
  49. 49. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership ! Make metrics visible ! Ask for details ! Hold people accountable (including themselves) ! Tie organization’s goals to team’s metrics ! Welcome productive conflict Servant leaders share accountability and make metrics public 49 Scope Done Today 102 ↑ 45 → Yesterday 100 45
  50. 50. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Leadership has a bigger impact on agility than any methodology or implementation detail 50
  51. 51. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 51 Agile is a mindset DevOps is a culture Lean is a way of thinking
  52. 52. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 52 True Understanding >>>>>> following someone else’s script
  53. 53. Profile of a Servant Leader Some indicators that you may be one
  54. 54. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 54 “Servant Leader” “Courageous Executive” “Transformational Leader”
  55. 55. 1. Tech Savvy
  56. 56. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 56 TECH@CORE BUSINESS SUPPORTING ROLE COLLABORATION TECH-LED DIFFERENTIATION Formal walls and moats Tech creates digital assets Tech / business boundaries blur Collaborative execution Tech pervades a digital business TECH
  57. 57. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership “Random forests, naïve Bayesian estimators, RESTful services, gossip protocols, eventual consistency, data sharding, anti-entropy… walk into certain Amazon meetings, and you may momentarily think you’ve stumbled into a computer science lecture.” - Jeff Bezos, 2010 Amazon letter to shareholders Tech Savvy Leadership 57
  58. 58. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Not this: Tech Savvy Leadership 58
  59. 59. 2. Experimentation Mindset
  60. 60. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Experimentation mindset encourages: ! Evolution: small steps towards “better” ! Constraints → innovation ! Quick, real world feedback ! Data-driven decisions ! Giving teams autonomy to run experiments 60
  61. 61. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership ! Humility ○ “I don’t have all the answers” ○ “I could be wrong” ! Curiosity ○ “Why?” ○ “Why not?” ! Courage ○ “This seems like a good bet. Let’s do it!” ○ “Ok, that was dumb. Let’s pivot at once.” Experimentation mindset requires: 61
  62. 62. 3. Tolerance for Pain
  63. 63. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 63
  64. 64. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership “ If it hurts, do it more often. Frequency reduces difficulty. - old DevOps proverb 64
  65. 65. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Not this: ! Tech Debt ! Boredom ! Stagnation ! Lack of autonomy ! Bureaucracy ! “Death march” projects Servant leaders only tolerate certain kinds of pain 65 But this: ! Embracing change ! Constraints ! Balancing priorities ! Non-stop learning ! Occasional failure
  66. 66. 4. Control v/s Autonomy
  67. 67. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Command & Control leaders permit silos to flourish 67 “My architecture” “My budget” “My idea” “Not my problem” “Not my job” “Not my decision to make”
  68. 68. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Command & Control leaders love decision-making authority 68 Observe Decide Act Face Consequences
  69. 69. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 69 “I’m the decider... and I decide what is best.” - a famous person
  70. 70. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Do this: ! Reiterate the vision ! Provide “fitness functions” ! Want progress ! Measure for outcomes ! Remove process barriers ! Give autonomy Servant Leaders don’t fear loss of control; they give it away Instead of this: ! Micromanage the details ! Give orders ! Want “perfect” ! Measure for compliance ! Process-heavy ! Aggregate authority 70 e.g. Bjorn-o-grams, Amazon’s 10 Leadership Principles
  71. 71. 5. Investing in People
  72. 72. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Do this: ! Learning, growth culture ! Actual $$ set aside for training ! Open, easy knowledge sharing ! Frequent lateral career moves ! Think in terms of potential ! High influx of talent ! Low attrition Instead of this: ! “My folks aren’t smart enough to figure out this stuff” ! “We don’t have the skills to do this internally” ! Think in terms of roles & titles ! Little flexibility to move internally ! Constant attrition Servant leaders intentionally invest in people’s growth 72
  73. 73. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership “ 73 “Our architects and engineers have had to advance research in directions that no academic had yet taken. Many of the problems we face have no textbook solutions, and so we -- happily -- invent new approaches.” - Jeff Bezos, 2010 Amazon Letter to Shareholders
  74. 74. 6. Responding to Change
  75. 75. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership “ “The scope didn’t change. Our understanding grew.” - Jeff Patton, “User Story Mapping” 75
  76. 76. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership “Everything looks like a failure in the middle” - Virginia Satir 76
  77. 77. 7. Managing the Wobble
  78. 78. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 5 or 6 conflicting demands are pulling at you at all times 78 Budget Schedule Tech Debt Customer demands People
  79. 79. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership The key to the Wobble 79 Budget Schedule Tech Debt Customer demands People 1. You can never balance all the dimensions 2. AND you can’t ignore any dimension for too long, or else it overwhelms all the others
  80. 80. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership ! Mix of delivery and foundation teams ! Small steps towards “better” ! Sustainable pace ! Scheduled tech debt pay-down sprints ! Planned investments in people Servant leaders actively balance delivery, investment, and growth 80
  81. 81. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Transformational Leaders create & support a Generative Culture 81
  82. 82. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 82
  83. 83. Case Study #2: A complex scenario Indirectly influencing change in a large organization
  84. 84. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Large e-Commerce Project: Poor Results ! Didn’t meet business goals ! Over budget ! Missed schedule ! Highly coupled architecture ! Prod deploys: Once a month ! Daily builds took 4-8 hours 84
  85. 85. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Even though they were doing all the right things Process ! Scrum ! 2-week sprints ! User stories ! Velocity, backlog ! JIRA, Confluence, Hipchat, ... Technology ! React front-end ! Java Microservice APIs ! Jenkins CI ! 96% unit test coverage 85 People ! Small teams ○ Aligned to a product flow ! Each team had: ○ Product Owner ○ ScrumMaster (not PM) ○ QA ○ BA ○ Devs
  86. 86. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 86
  87. 87. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 87
  88. 88. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 88 Even if everyone agrees on what the problem is, no one agrees on what the solution should be
  89. 89. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 89 Organizational Inertia >>>>>> Your project timeline (and your patience)
  90. 90. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership In large organizations, one courageous executive is not enough 90 ! Executive / Board buy-in ! Imperative to change (external / existential) ! “Unfrozen” middle ! Plain old timing and luck
  91. 91. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 91 Cultural Influence >>>>>> Any specific actions
  92. 92. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 92 Momentum >>>>>> One Big Win
  93. 93. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 93 Find a catalyst for change
  94. 94. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 94
  95. 95. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 95 Focus on mitigating risks up front
  96. 96. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Attack the problem from all 3 angles People ! Invest time in training up front ! Shared deployment pain across Dev & Ops ! Shared responsibility for operational uptime ! Cross-functional teams Process ! Work backwards from the customer to find value ! Small targets, small wins ! Pick early goals that multiply future capabilities ! Run regular fire drills, so real fires are handled well ! Retrospectives help the team improve over time Technology ! Automate everything that you can ! Have mitigation plans: things will go wrong ! Use SaaS for any functionality not core to your business ! Apply Strangler pattern to minimize code migration risk 96
  97. 97. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 97 Be prepared to accept partial success
  98. 98. Closing Thoughts
  99. 99. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Thinking deeply about your organization’s reality is a better use of your time than blindly implementing a methodology 99
  100. 100. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 100
  101. 101. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Transformational Leader: Impact ! Highly correlated with: ○ software delivery performance ○ employee satisfaction (eNPS) ! Predictive of: ○ high performing teams ○ Lean Product Development capabilities ○ Lean technical capabilities - Accelerate (2018, Forsgren et al.) 101
  102. 102. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership Transformational Leader: Characteristics 1. Vision 2. Intellectual Stimulation 3. Inspirational Communication 4. Supportive Leadership 5. Personal Recognition - Accelerate (2018, Forsgren et al.) 102
  103. 103. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership My leader or manager: 1. Has a clear understanding of where we are going 2. Has a clear sense of where he/she wants our team to be in 5 years 3. Says things that make me proud to be a part of this organization 4. Says positive things about the work unit 5. Challenges me to think about old problems in new ways 6. Has challenged me to rethink some of my basic assumptions about my work 7. Behaves in a manner which is thoughtful to my personal needs 8. Sees that the interests of employees are given due consideration 9. Commends me when I do a better than average job 10. Acknowledges improvement in my quality of work - Accelerate (2018, Forsgren et al.) Transformational Leader: from a follower’s perspective 103
  104. 104. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 104 THANKS! QUESTIONS? ▪ @bardoloi ▪ medium.com/@v.bardoloi
  105. 105. @bardoloi #AgileLeadership 105

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