Most of my work these days is helping organisations figure out how to be more effective, in terms of how quickly they can identify and respond to the needs of their external and internal customers, and how well their response meets those needs. This tends to be easy enough in the small; the challenges appear as we try to scale these techniques to the hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of people.
Some software teams get stuck because their business users don’t realise they need to make time to take delivery of features they’ve requested. Over time their User Acceptance Testing backlog increases to the point where the team’s throughput virtually stalls.
I’m having fun in the most unlikely of places. I’m currently working at a Big American Bank. In fact, it’s so big it’s called Bank of America. I recently wrote an article for their internal agile magazine which probably best describes why I think it’s so much fun, and which I’ve reproduced below.
Once upon a time there was a lady in a taxi. It took such a long time for the lady to get to her destination in the taxi that she went to the town hall and told the man from the council. The man from the council wanted to figure out why the taxi journey was so slow, so he placed cameras at all the traffic lights in the town to measure how many cars went past, and how quickly. The traffic light cameras would click every time a car went past the lights.
Business people want estimates. They want to know how much it’s going to cost them to get a solution, and they want to know how likely it is to come in on time and on budget. And of course quality is not negotiable.
A discussion unfolded recently on an internal mailing list that tied together two of my favourite topics, namely learning theory and Lean.