A Scottish Revolution to Re Energise Agile

Regardless of the state of the world or futility that people may feel at this time something tremendous has been started in Scotland that is touching and building up people all across the world. The reflection at this point on what has been a groundbreaking movement is essential to understand it’s future. What is this thing, not politics something far more important and credible and that has actual value to ensure that people are the priority in today’s world. While many will say later they were involved in Celebrating 20 years of Agile they weren’t. I’m writing this about the the people who made this happen and who have worked tirelessly in service to humanity to give them something to focus on in February 2021.

As all the preparation work comes to an end on the 20th of January (the last submission date for events) for the Agile20Reflect Festival, I do wonder where is the engagement from all the companies, corporation and organisations that have cashed in on Agile over the years? Naturally I will be publishing companies that have become engaged because they clearly understand Agile, Business Agility, Agile Transformation in a human and community context.

This is a true revolution because we still don’t know what will happen at the end of February, but what we do know is that we have over 111 (and counting) free Agile events being held across the globe, a new movement has been galvanised in South America and with 10 days left before submission end we are excited to see such diversity so, thank you Scott, Ashish, Craig, Sath, Karl and Grace (honorary Celt).

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Combining Agile and UX in Organisational Design for Business Agility and Agile Transformation

Some things to understand before getting into the main article. Agile is based on some very human concepts around how to work and what to value. Some of these concepts are exactly the same as UX and are driven by the same desire for simplicity and functionality.

Agile in its most basic sense is about people, how they work with other people and how to maintain a continuous flow of transparent work. In Agile many people will focus on ‘continuous flow’ and ‘transparent work’ and forget the ‘how to work’ and ‘other people’ negating them to agile ceremonies, frameworks and practices. This of course creates an imbalance in organisations adopting agile, as their focus is not on how it affects people, their sense of worth, emotions and their carefully crafted mental models around work and colleagues as much as changing what work is.

Similarly in UX where once a holistic approach to defining the feature set of a product or service to align to the mental model of service consumers to business key performance indicators has become focused on user interfaces, the real value of UX has been diluted from solution creation to solution components. The combination of these two professional skills and others (as Agile Transformation is a team effort) in Organisational Design enables the delivery of Business Agility and Agile Transformation.

UX Transformation

Many people now working in professional areas of business may be unaware that UX has a transformational element and has certainly been a major catalyst and change agent in ‘how people work’ and ‘interact with others’. Much of that function moved into Customer Experience (CX) and was always focused on the mixture of the strategic customer journey and the tactical customer interactions, which has now morphed again into Service Design. While these new terminologies have created focus they have also begun to reduce the overall impact and effectiveness of UX in delivering a ‘holistic ecosystem model’ as we used to describe the key outputs of UX Transformation.

Like many other areas of business UX had adopted but refocused methods from other professional arenas including Personas, taken from Marketing and upgraded with higher levels of quantitative data and demographics, with ordered and scientifically repeatable qualitative data. Customer Journey Mapping, User Flows, Cognitive Mapping (voice and AI) and User Stories were invented in UX and have now been adopted by other areas. This is a far cry from what is now practiced where Jakob Nielsen’s big business sell out 10 user rule is used to cripple to true value of User Experience and it’s potential to deliver groundbreaking innovation and sometimes complete invention from research. Accepting that this was beginning to happen and likely to become the norm for most digital products and services, I decided in 2006 to take the substance of UX on a different pathway and bit by bit focus it on Organisational Design through Agile Transformation and the now current terminology of Business Agility. This is the subject of my current Book, Agile an Unexpected Journey due out in 2021 Paperback: ISBN 978-1-8382370-5-9 and E-book: ISBN 978-1-8382370-4-2.

Agile Transformation

While there is now a huge body of work in regard to Agile Transformation much of it has been focused on ‘continuous flow’ and ‘transparent work’ leaving the areas of ‘how to work’ and ‘other people’ in many cases without guidance so they often create anti-patterns that ultimately undermine the Agile Transformations. So I’m not going to cover CI / CD here although I recognise there is an extreme lack of actionable tools to achieve actual automation and outcome measurement at release train and scrum of scrum levels. I’m going to focus on portfolio to value transformation (specifically the holistic lifecycle) and specifically economic ordering and value slicing in relation to how it changes ‘how to work’ and ‘other people’.

Communication is Critical

It is clear that changing how people work aids the organisations involved with deeper knowledge, flexibility and measurements of everything, what is often less clear is, how one more transformation benefits the workers. They have after all seen a continuous flow of ideas, some quite mad (like JIT just in time, which was call JOT just out of time by the participants, you can’t just translate a method without the culture) being thrown at them. Often in a half baked formats and are used to seeing them fail miserably and in some cases creating a nice firework display as their proposers are escorted from the building.

So few Agile Transformations are transparent themselves and I don’t mean sharing confidential HR material which are critical parts along with regulatory compliance and Union engagement. The value pitch once made to the organisational leadership is not structured and communicated to other executives, management and workers with effective points of reference to them in their work. Rather everyone seems to get the same messages that require a thesaurus to gain a meaning, though often the wrong one as geography and culture change the meaning of words.

Planning is Critical but Lightweight

While many consultancies love the idea of charging clients for large teams to swarm (for obvious reasons) over their organisations to understand the problem its not necessary to fully understand a whole organisation the start an Agile Transformation. In fact it’s a huge waste of money, unlikely to deliver any useful outcomes to the client or in fact be relevant to the final transformation. The simple reason is that organisations, their work and their customers are not static, while they may appear to be, they are in fact changing constantly. So planning is required but in a lightweight fashion, the focus should be just enough to be able to ask questions, what are these questions, well some of them are;

Is there a vertical product, service or regulatory compliance that slices through the organisation from the portfolio level, through solutions into development and provides a customer outcome that can be measured against the portfolio outcome?

Instead of transforming the whole organisation the focus in then to deliver one end to end service, product or regulatory compliance, that touches as many parts of the organisation as possible, a banking candidate would be MiFID II.

MiFID II is a legislative framework instituted by the European Union (EU) to regulate financial markets in the bloc and improve protections for investors. Its aim is to standardize practices across the EU and restore confidence in the industry, especially after the 2008 financial crisis. Investopedia.com 2018.

The essential point is that MiFED II is aimed at delivering client confidence which can be measured, it meets a critical path for Financial Services, it impacts all processes and cultural values and creates a very diverse ecosystem of touchpoints and data that can be used to set up the first versions of metrics.

And then ….

There is of course a great deal more in this than these two steps but as an experienced Agile Transformation Director, I hope you will contact me to discuss your programme of work rather than just lift things online and expect them to work without my expertise.

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What is Human Experience in Design?

Excerpt from Designing for Human Experience, republished by permission of Polymath Knowledge 25th Nov 2020

designing for

TDP – the design process

IA – information architecture

CA – content author

PD – product design

ID – instructional design

U – usability

A – accessibility

CHI/HCI – computer human interaction

UX – user experience

UXS – user experience strategy

CX – customer experience

UCD – user centered design

HCD – human centred design

SD – service design

DT – design thinking

ST – systems thinking

PX – pervasive experience

IoT – internet of things

DT – digital transformation

AT – agile transformation

OD – organisational design

SA – scaled agile

BA – business agility

human experience

This is a short glossary to cover the now myriad of terminology related to designing for humans. I expect there to be more as time goes on humans do seem to love reinventing the wheel and then renaming it.

TDP – the design process

The design process goes back hundreds of years and really goes back to how humans solve problems. The first annotated materials I can see regarding a process are from Leonardo de Davinci in 1452 – 1519. Personally, I utilise the materials from the Bauhaus from 1919 to 1933 which is incidentally also responsible for the structure of all modern University and College modular learning. It is a fallacy of the human condition that people will constantly rewrap the design process as their design process, this is noted later a few times. The most common components of the design process involve defining the problem, carrying out research (who are the users, how do they think, what is the market, etc.), creating a few solutions, testing those solutions with users, refining the solutions, selecting what gets built (with why and due diligence), build a model, test the model, refine the model, build the product or service, deliver, get feedback, upgrade then start again.

IA – information architecture

Wikipedia describes “Information architecture (IA) is the structural design of shared information environments; the art and science of organizing and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability; and an emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design, architecture and information science to the digital landscape. Typically, it involves a model or concept of information that is used and applied to activities which require explicit details of complex information systems. These activities include library systems and database development”. However, this description misses out some essential facts and complexities around the use of the term information architecture.

The Wikipedia description is the European description in the USA until fairly recently an IA was in fact a UX person, confusing I know but an important part of the evolutionary history of the field. A while back I was a member of the Information Architecture Institute in the USA, its focus was information science while the US job market was looking for UX skills.

In my work IA has been focused on Taxonomies and Ontologies to support the creation of context focused navigation including government standards, narratives, search engine optomisation and information schema for content design.

CA – content author

Content authors are professional writers who produce engaging content for use online. One of my friends used to call this work being a Word Smith which is quite accurate given they must reshape words and narrative for each use. Examples would be the use of common English for a general information location or technical English for specific subject audiences. This is also the area where content object models should be created to support the objectives of different personas and outcomes. Certainly, I have created multidimensional content objects to facilitate golden source data systems for six primary audiences in 114 countries for global enterprises. At this sort of scale, the content authors role will be critical to ensure that the content is engaging for each specific audience. This role is often not filled by a professional and dramatically reduces the customer engagement and experience.

PD – product design

Product design is the process the businesses use to blend user needs with business goals to help brands make consistently successful products. Product designers work to optimise the user experience in the solutions they make for their users and they support their brands by making establishing the features and capabilities that are communicated though marketing communications, analyst communities and shareholder engagement.

ID – instructional design

Instructional Design is the systematic development of instructional materials using a focus on how people learn and instructional theory to ensure the effectiveness of instruction. It combines the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It is commonly associated with enabling the completion of complex tasks by humans including anything from white goods installation to rocket systems and everything in between. It requires the ability to think like the intended users and to test the instructional materials with the intended audiences. I will often include the need for an engagement with a content author to set the tone of voice in documentation and create writing guides.

U – usability

The earliest reference I can find to usability is from passenger liner design from the 1940’s describing the usability of corridors for infirmed passengers who may need the use of a wheeled chair. I suspect usability is considerably older than that as a way of thinking about designing for human use. The adoption of this way of working into software solutions is still sadly ongoing, User Experience is the solution side of Usability though many seem unaware of this close connection.

I was a member of Usability Professionals Association UPA which was not at that time interested in the design aspect (solutions to usability problems). As a member I suggested adopting Experience Solutions and that if it did not move forward, I would start a separate organisation to cover that area, thankfully they saw sense and became the UXPA.

A – accessibility

Accessibility is the practice of making pretty much everything accessible though often associated with building, transport or technology access and usage usable by as many people as possible. Often it is associated with a narrow view of people with disabilities, however common things like 50% of all men are colour blind to some degree make the affected group cover most of humanity in some way. Accessibility is therefore more about inclusion and creating pathways to access features, capabilities and opportunities. Accessibility is a Human Right not a nice to have and should be a starting point for all solutions, it also creates benefits to other ways of working by enabling the adoption of mobile devices and people affected by the digital divide with costly access or slow access due to network connectivity.

HCI / CHI – human computer interaction

So there are two terms for the same thing here Human Computer Interaction, the British Computer Society term and Computer Human Interaction, the Association for Computing Machinery (USA), they mean the exact same thing being focused on the Academic and Engineering end of User Experience.

UX – user experience

User experience (UX) is about how a person feels, appropriates, attributes and generally thinks about using a product, system or service. A person’s experience is based in their mind and their emotions and can be established by both actual interaction and reflective (biographical experience) inputs. The current approach to UX is that it is the practical implementation of audience drivers, cognitive acuity, usability standards and accessibility laws with ergonomics (physical, contextual use) and anthropometric (digital behaviours analytics) measures. Creating an integration of business context into user context, to facilitate alignment, transactions and communications. User experience has four core components;

• Research from quantitative data to find out what is the problem or meet a demand
• Research from qualitative data to find out why it’s a problem or meet a demand
• Multiple solutions that may solve the problem or meet a demand
• Validation that it does solve the problem or meet a demand, from users (target audience) business that its sustainable (meeting business strategy and cost/benefits) and technology its possible (often within legacy and technical debt constraints).

There is more about this in the rest of the book.

UXS – user experience strategy

A user experience strategy is the plan and approach for a product or service. UX strategies are focused on mapping the whole user experience both withing the intended product or service ecosystem but also prior to entry and on leaving also. It maps human thinking, choices, impacts and the imposition of technology, policies, legal constraints, financial constraints and in fact anything that either directly or indirectly impacts customers, users, patients or any other term used to define the audience. UX strategies help businesses translate their intended user experience to every touchpoint where people interact with or experience its products or services. User experience strategy has become superseded by Systems Thinking and Service Design which has adopted customer journey mapping often to the exclusion of the wider and more insightful parameters of user experience strategy.

CX – customer experience

In commerce, customer experience is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. It has shaved part of User Experience related to quantitative data to make decisions, unfortunately quantitative based decision making is highly risky as it does not properly define the problem statement and is open to manipulation and bias by the exclusion of outlier data.

UCD – user centered design

User-Centered Design is a framework of processes in which usability goals, user characteristics, environment, tasks and workflow of a product, service or process are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process.

HCD – human centred design

Human-centered design (ISO standards) is an approach to problem solving (superseding User Centred Design in an attempt to focus on all users not just customers), commonly used in design and management frameworks that develops solutions to problems by involving the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process.

SD – service design

Service Design has superseded User Experience Strategy which has adopted customer journey mapping often to the exclusion of the wider and more insightful parameters of user experience strategy. Service design is the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between the service provider and its users.

DT – design thinking

Design thinking refers to the cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts are developed. It is not in fact a design process it is an ideas elicitation and prioritisation process for executive management to properly focus the efforts of their organisations. The double diamond created by the United Kingdom Design Council, unsurprisingly others claim to have invented it and they themselves are extending it as an innovation process. It’s worth noting though that design thinking is not much different from the design process (though often excluding UX) it just has a nice graphic.

ST – systems thinking

Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of systems. A system is a cohesive conglomeration of interrelated and interdependent parts which can be natural or human-made. Systems thinking is another divergence from User Experience Strategy a lesser part like Service Design that is reinventing the wheel for a new generation of beginners.

PX – pervasive experience

Pervasive is an evolutionary UX that enables ubiquitous Open IoT Ecosystems through Human Centered Design HCD. Hands in the air I’ve done the same thing of defining by output a different focus for user experience strategy. Pervasive experience is essentially user experience strategy that involves IoT, AI and blockchain. Regardless of the marketing around these technologies they have major adoption issues, helpful like a hammer but not a humans first choice for activity, interaction or transactions, at least not yet.

IoT – internet of things

The Internet of things describes the network of physical objects “things” that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet. While machine to machine and automation are the driving force the human benefits have yet to be adopted and without pervasive experience they will forever just be seen as job takers rather evolving human living bringing us all into Smart Living.

DT – digital transformation

Digital transformation is the adoption of a new engagement philosophy with customer at the centre, a new way to communicate and get responses. It is often incorrectly focused on the adoption of digital technology that transform services or businesses, through replacing non-digital or manual processes with digital processes. When it should be the point of change to abandon unnecessary, overly complex and damaging customer (staff, vendor, clients) experiences. For example, when the United Kingdom Government first adopted digital technologies like the world wide web to allow citizens to do their taxes, they mandated that the online experience should be an exact copy of the paper forms and that there should be no additional support provided through calculators or guidance. This has now thankfully changed yet the moving of pointless and unnecessarily complex experiences online or into software is still common in commercial companies and many countries governments, for example the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is truly horrific.

AT – agile transformation

Agile transformation is an extension of the Agile Manifesto https://agilemanifesto.org/ beyond teams, into teams of teams or slices of organisations it relates to designing the flow of work that support both customer and business values, through organisational design and for me is a natural progression of user experience strategy. I have certainly been involved in the application of agile in transformations since 2004 and it was my impetus for adopting agile.

OD – organisational design

Organisational design is finally moving on from the four standard structures into far more dynamic ways of working where staff are not just a resource but an impetus for new directions and opportunities. Classically organizational structure defines how activities such as task allocation, coordination, and supervision are directed toward the achievement of organizational aims. In my work organisational design is focused in agile transformation or the building of new capability, divisions or entire global companies, a slice at a time.

SA – scaled agile

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a set of organization and workflow patterns intended to guide enterprises in scaling lean and agile practices. It was developed by and for practitioners, by leveraging three primary bodies of knowledge: agile software development, lean product development, and systems thinking. It has become a catch all for frameworks and transformation, it is not proven to work in its entirety although many components work really well.

BA – business agility

Business agility refers to the capability of a business or its components to rapidly respond to a change by adapting to maintain stability. It is linked to Agile Transformation, Organisational Design but is more holistic than many Agile Transformations which until 2018 mainly focused on changing how Technology worked, it now includes every aspect and skillset that impacts customer and business outcomes and is focused on adding value not completing work.

So when reading the book and you read any of the job titles above please just swap them out for “designing for human experience”.

Designing for Human Experience Paperback on Amazon

Canada https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1838237011
Japan https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/1838237011
Italy https://www.amazon.it/dp/1838237011
Spain https://www.amazon.es/dp/1838237011
France https://www.amazon.fr/Designing-Human-Experience-Karl-Smith/dp/1838237011
Germany https://www.amazon.de/Designing-Human-Experience-Polymath-Band/dp/1838237011
USA https://www.amazon.com/Designing-Human-Experience-Polymath-Smith/dp/1838237011
UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1838237011/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_zGXMFbME0P72Q

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Top 100 Thought Leaders and Influencers to follow in 2020

Karl Smith named in the The Awards Magazine, Top 100 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers to Follow in 2020. Well let’s step back a bit from that, I mean it’s wonderful sounding but what does it actually mean and does it matter at all?

What are Thought Leaders and Influencers

When I first came across the concept of Thought Leadership and Influence I had though it related to teenagers giving makeup tips for free products or pseudo celebrities from the reality TV areas endorsing products to make a living. Since neither area interested me in the slightest I was surprised that such a thing existed in relation to consulting services or technology and devices like mobile phones and personal computing. So in my normal response to new ideas I investigated it and found that Thought Leadership has been around for a very long time in pharmaceuticals where published and known doctors let their peers know about new products.

Elihu Katz in answers the question, “Who is an opinion leader?” One or more of these factors make noteworthy opinion leaders:

  • expression of values
  • professional competence
  • nature of their social network

The Influencer aspect is certainly newish but can also really be focused back to news media and the editorial format that is followed and represents the readers preference. As I have been blogging since 2001 and writing since 1989 about my work I appear to be such a person from what I have already done and continue to do today. My main blog https://karlsmith.info/ garners around 4,500,000 readers a year, when I first started it was mainly academic institutions in the USA and from the analytics it was clear that my free materials were being used to supplement several major University courses on Computer Human-Interaction and what UX was called in those days in the US Information Architecture.

Recognition is this really real?

Recognition is an interesting thing, I am aware that there is a huge business in buying recognition. I have lost count of the offers for my company to be featured in a Top100 listing, or for me to get a profile or be a judge at some award or another for $3000 fees. The answer I always give is no thanks, if something I’m doing or saying has merit then people will talk about it or write about it. I do the same, I don’t write for a fee or pay for content, everything I write is original content based upon my vision, inventions, innovations and consultancy experiences.

This recognition by The Awards Magazine was not expected, unknown and nothing I signed up for. For me it means that messages I’m sharing are having impact, in a world of fake news, fake knowledge and stolen knowledge is quite common, but thankfully my vision and knowledge still seems to have value. Similarly the Onalytica mention was totally unexpected but also completely accurate in terms of my active engagement in the founding of #IoT and it next states in the #FutureofWork. I’m not writing about the state of work, I’m a design engineer who worked on the first true ubiquity project in the 1990’s and has taken that knowledge into creating UbiNET Inc. I think these kinds of capacity to shift from Management Consultancy to HighTech Engineering or into Design and the Humanities confuses a lot of people who don’t or can’t. The point is I have always considered it normal to become and expert across many professional and academic skills only recently have I come across the term #polymath but it fits and will do for now.

No alt text provided for this image

Recognition in social media is something that can be assessed so valuable recognition is given based on impact not requested. Onalytica has recently changed its way of calculating who influencers are by no longer relying on followers, its an evolution that has brought me in to the listings.

These Who’s Who reports are created using the Onalytica platform which has a curated database of over 1 million influencers. Our platform allows you to discover, validate and categorise influencers quickly and easily via keyword searches. The lists are made using carefully created Boolean queries which then rank influencers by resonance, relevance, reach and reference, meaning influencers are not only ranked by themselves, but also by how much other influencers are referring to them. The lists are then validated, and filters are used to split the influencers up into the categories that are seen in the list.

Why do Thought Leaders and Influencers matter?

As, what work is, changes, so does how we acquire knowledge how we engage and what are our sources of truth. While marketers have believed for a long time they can tell people what to think that is no longer so easy to do as one display route Television is superseded by thousands of routes. When there is no longer a formal and trusted route to information the “people like me” and the “people I recognise” behaviours become the source of truth. The now famous facebook algorithms that mimic these perceptions drive content that Facebook thinks we will like. And shockingly Facebook is often right, people really don’t like to think, they do want an easy life and are giving up their personal freedoms for shared simple experiences. And this is where Thought Leaders and Influencers add the most value as they are clearly not the establishment so may be “people like me” and the “people I recognise”.

Discovering I’m Thought Leader and Influencer

While I was aware through my engagement as a Key Opinion Leader with Huawei Technologies since 2017 as a member of their global programme that my social media had impact with decision makers, I had never looked for recognition. I suppose I had always just focused on creating original content like my Huawei KOL peers. In May 2020 however I found Thinkers360 and thought it would be interesting to upload my content. What I discovered was that I was already a Thought Leader and Influencer but just did not know it. I have found the whole thing to be a nice gamification and a really good way to understand how my materials are viewed by others, so thank you Thinkers360 for giving me that context. I have gained a number of top positions and honourable mentions that really exposes the breadth of my experience to a wider audience.

Some snapshots of Ranking on Thinkers360 Today

Karl Smith ranked 5th overall Global Thought Leadership and Influencer

Karl Smith ranked 1st in Agile Global Thought Leadership and Influencer

Karl Smith ranked 1st in Big Data Global Thought Leadership and Influencer

Karl Smith ranked 1st in Customer Experience Global Thought Leadership and Influencer

Karl Smith ranked 1st in Customer Loyalty Global Thought Leadership and Influencer

Karl Smith ranked 1st in Digital Transformation Global Thought Leadership and Influencer

Karl Smith ranked 1st in Predictive Analytic Global Thought Leadership and Influencer

Karl Smith Thought Leader and Influencer Rankings on Thinkers360 10/25/20
Karl Smith Thought Leader and Influencer Rankings on Thinkers360 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 5th overall Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 5th overall Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Agile Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Agile Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Big Data Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Big Data Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Customer Experience Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Customer Experience Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Customer Loyalty Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Customer Loyalty Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Digital Transformation Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Digital Transformation Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Predictive Analytic Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20
Karl Smith ranked 1st in Predictive Analytics Global Thought Leadership and Influencer 10/25/20

If you a an academic, author, speaker or an entrepreneur definitely sign up for the free account you may knock me off my positions, but that’s fine because it makes your insight more accessible to others and that aids humanity.

Why do Thought Leaders and Influencers matter?

As, what work is, changes, so does how we acquire knowledge how we engage and what are our sources of truth. While marketers have believed for a long time they can tell people what to think that is no longer so easy to do as one display route Television is superseded by thousands of routes. When there is no longer a formal and trusted route to information the “people like me” and the “people I recognise” behaviours become the source of truth. The now famous facebook algorithms that mimic these perceptions drive content that Facebook thinks we will like. And shockingly Facebook is often right, people really don’t like to think, they do want an easy life and are giving up their personal freedoms for shared simple experiences. And this is where Thought Leaders and Influencers add the most value as they are clearly not the establishment so may be “people like me” and the “people I recognise”.

Discovering I’m Thought Leader and Influencer

While I was aware through my engagement as a Key Opinion Leader with Huawei Technologies since 2017 as a member of their global programme that my social media had impact with decision makers, I had never looked for recognition. I suppose I had always just focused on creating original content like my Huawei KOL peers. In May 2020 however I found Thinkers360 and thought it would be interesting to upload my content. What I discovered was that I was already a Thought Leader and Influencer but just did not know it. I have found the whole thing to be a nice gamification and a really good way to understand how my materials are viewed by others, so thank you Thinkers360 for giving me that context. I have gained a number of top positions and honourable mentions that really exposes the breadth of my experience to a wider audience.

Thought Leader and Influencer Ethics

I have some very strong ethics around representation of, well really, anything. I believe I have a duty of care for people who read what I write to not mislead them. This may sound counter intuitive for an influencer but

for me just living is not everything, how I live is everything

I can’t represent something as good if I don’t know it is, just like I can’t give a job reference to someone I’ve not directly worked with. I think people have a right to expect truth, regardless of what that means now. The media describes our social media led world as post truth world, although this may be a shock to some people in marketing, I’m not selling the trust my readers have given me.

What I will do however is, when provided early access to information, about products or services that will aid people, then I will write about it. Often I will not write a face on or broadcast article as I’m not here to be a channel, I will compare the offering in market context and historically and bypass regional and economic bias. For example with Huawei I’m happy to still be involved with them, regardless of all the negative hype because I have no empire to protect. I wrote Government as a Service (GaaS), Spying as a Service (SaaS) the United Kingdom exports some unexpected things as a response to the ridiculous arguments about security risks that Huawei’s mobile infrastructure represents, because American politicians are crying WOLF. The real issue here is the American cultural attitude to investment in infrastructure and the fact they have dropped the 5G ball, they think private companies should set it up for the whole country, mainly because they know the government can’t. The USA is a collection of states not a centralised Country not since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal has the central government taken direct responsibility to resolve major infrastructure issues. I think there is an article there!

About Karl Smith

Karl Smith is a globally known founder in Customer Experience, User Experience, Agile, Digital Transformation and Thought Leader and Influencer based on projects delivered with Fortune 500 companies. He has been focused of Customer Experience since the 1980’s, Digital Transformation since the 1990’s and Agile since 2004 to deliver Digital First Thinking and Transformations and Mobile First since 2006. He has only recently discovered his Thought Leadership and Influencer impact but his blogs impact is clear having a readership uninterrupted by advertising. He has a presence on LinkedInTwitterXingBehanceFacebookCrunchbaseHivemindNetwork and many more networks with a focus on a specific audience, to create engagement and to ensure that he learns from others as well as shares his original content about the work he has done, inventions and insights.

Author of Designing for Human Experience

Fundamental to my work in designing for human experience is my early experiences of human augmentation in supporting what the world describes as disability. When I was eight (1970’s) my father was involved in setting up a respite centre for the families of disabled children. It was the first time I’d seen technologies that support people in doing what I take for granted and it changed my perspective on technology and what it means to be human. Looking back, it was clear from an early age that I accepted all people, recognised individuals and gained the realisation that everyone had strengths and limitations. Through my design training at school, college and then university I was able to frame questions about; what does it mean to be human? Ergonomics and Anthropometrics is what started me on questioning why technologies were not measurable against who uses them and their physical, emotional and intelligence limitations. If that’s offensive think about it, everyone has limitations they also have strengths, certainly I have benefited by having to work harder with reading and writing than others through being able to make connections others cannot see. Karl Smith, Designing for Human Experience, Polymath Knowledge, 2020

E-Book: ISBN 978–1–8382370–0–4
Buy Online US, UK, DE, FR, ES, IT, NL, JP, BR, CA, MX, AU, IN
Paperback: ISBN 978–1–8382370–1–1
Buy Online US, UK, DE, FR, ES, IT, JP, CA

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Agile an Unexpected Journey Compendium Book

Agile an Unexpected Journey. A Compendium of Agile Biographies

How exactly did people get involved in Agile, what did then learn that galvanised them and propelled them into a career in it? This compendium of Agile Biographies by practitioners expresses their experiences and their vision for the future.

Without editing the Agile Practitioners will answer the same five questions listed below.

1. How did you hear about Agile and how did you first get involved?
2. What was your first experience of applying Agile and what did you learn?
3. How has your experience and practice of Agile evolved?
4. Can you share any pivotal work or case studies?
5. Where do you go from here.

In my chapter I will show Agile is a journey not a destination and describe my journey in Agile since 2003. It will express what I have done, what works, what has not worked and what I have learned. It will show the connection between Agile and Human Centered Design and how they are symbiotic for the betterment of humanity.

Compiled by Karl Smith
Published by Polymath Knowledge, Polymaths Series, Book 2
Distributed by Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Due out January 2021
E-book: ISBN 978-1-8382370-4-2

Due out February 2021
Paperback: ISBN 978-1-8382370-5-9

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Servant Leadership Experiments in Ways of Working Book

Servant Leadership is not just another fad in business its a critical component of successful adoption of Business Agility.

The book covers experiences and anecdotes describing 15 years of implementing Servant Leadership in high pressure, results oriented work environments. It includes small startups, medium sized enterprise to global companies covering business agility and technology agility.

Authored by Karl Smith
Published by Polymath Knowledge, Polymaths Series, Book 2
Distributed by Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Due out February 2021
E-book: ISBN 978-1-8382370-2-8

Due out March 2021
Paperback: ISBN 978-1-8382370-3-5

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Fail Fast, Fail Small to avoid Failing Big and Failing Slow #BusinessAgility

You would think by this late stage in the life of Agile and Agility that the concepts would be well embedded in organisational transformation, people assessments and processes. From my experience I’ve never seen Agile actually fail, I seen people pervert its meaning and make up their own versions then blame a framework for personal incompetence. Likewise I’ve not seen DevOps fail either.

There is something at the heart of business that hates the idea of being associated with failure in European culture. It’s not even logical as Socrates proposed a logical form that constantly tested (hence willingness even a desire to fail to find truth) by debate. The Socratic method is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions. Concern around failure relies on deep seated fears around not being able to prove worth and conversely the chance that any hint of failure transfers on to the person rather than the thing.

“Fail Fast, fail Small to avoid failing Big and failing Slow”

Fail Fast in organisational transformation, people assessments and processes

If your going to really take this on you should start at the beginning, planning the programme and making the case. Instead of getting some expensive consultants who want to try something in your company (no many how many times they say they have done it elsewhere) get one or two Agile DevOps strategists (these are certified Scrum practitioners) and get 60/100 of your staff from all levels into a room and do a two day hackathon. Will they hack your company, no they will hack the problem and hidden problems to define the ‘Problem Statement’ on day 1, on day 2 they will map out all the moving part to define the scope. Could it fail, absolutely, could it save 12 months of 6 consultants on £2500 a day absolutely.

Start at the beginning with people too, most management exists either to direct work (which should be automated or manage people who are not trusted) or to circumvent freakishly hard processes to get the most simple things done. If your planning on changing the emphasis in your company from hierarchy to teams and outcomes, you must offer the incumbents a way to revalidate themselves or they will actively seeking to cripple or pervert the programme to suit themselves. Quickly test the water with an alternative career path based on knowledge not prestige or headcount. See how many people will sign up to not having to manage people, be appreciated for their knowledge and be paid them same as now? You may be surprised.

Processes in this scenario begin to take care of themselves but its always go to run some ‘what if’ or ‘unhappy path’ testing too, to create checks and balances around change.

Fail Small in organisational transformation, people assessments and processes

When you have worked out your plan, don’t enact the whole thing choose a critical path (if thats what fits with your company targets), a happy path for customers or a low risk path and do the MVE, that’s minimum viable experience to success. Viability in transformation is really important and often missed, viability is the whole not the part in transformation.

“Don’t make a door handle that doesn’t unlock the door”

You’d think that would be impossible but the MVP of a door handle is a door handle that looks like a handle making the mechanism to open a door is the MVE. Often in a transformation people focus on rebranding, a new and more exclusive hierarchy, but that is just the look of things, making it work means that the people and machines that customers and colleagues interact with it, do so with higher quality, are quicker, traceable, with measurable delivery.

Fail Big and Slow

This is pretty much a description of most businesses in their current state though many would not see themselves that way. My first question to any organisation is ‘where do you get your money from’, ‘why do you get it’, ‘are there anythings expected of you to continue to get it’. Weather your a corporation, government organisation or corner shop, getting the money to operate and pay people is part of the clear line around purpose and value. When you have clarity on those compare your ideals with where you are now, are you failing steadily, but very slowly? If the answer is yes, you need help. Contact us here

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#Innova8 combining #designthinking #servicedesign and #userexperience #customer validated services and products

Innova8™ combines design thinking, service design and user experience within an 8 hour process, that takes business issues and delivers customer validated solutions and prototypes.

Innova8™ is a process that fits into Agile and Lean, facilitating DevOps Organisational Design and brings the business closer to their customers through a lens of digital technology and customer validated interactive behaviours.

Design Thinking should never be used to define software, it’s the wrong method. It will create software that only executives want to use, not customers

Design Thinking is a great method to distil the strategic needs of an organisation defining ‘How do we make money’ and ‘What are our services’. Service Design defines ‘How a service works’ and the interrelated model to setup, deliver and manage services, defining customer touchpoints, potential communication routes, digital technologies and key interaction models for a defined service in a blueprint. UX engages directly with customers to deliver the detailed product blueprint for communication routes, digital technologies and their individual key interaction models.

Paradigm Interactions Inc. owns the worldwide rights to the innovation process Innova8™ developed by Karl Smith. The process outline (without critical details) was first published online in 2001. Innova8™ is a unique innovation technique that mashes counterintelligence techniques with human-centered design methods, clients, customers and creative people.

Innova8™ 86681840 in the United States of America

International Class
042 – Scientific and technological services and research and design relating thereto; industrial analysis and research services; design and development of computer hardware and software; legal services.

The process enables clients or consultancies to establish rapid innovation labs to an 8-hour process, where real innovation that meets customers and business needs can be done in hours rather than months or years.

Some completed projects

  • Innova8™ with Deutsche Bank – No film
  • Innova8™ with The Roundhouse – No film
  • Innova8™ with Vodafone UK – No film
  • Innova8™ with Bank of Moscow – No film
  • Innova8™ with Bradford College – No film
  • Innova8™ with Pearson Education – No film
  • Innova8™ with Oxford University Press – No film
  • Innova8™ with Oxfam UK – No film
  • Innova8™ with Zoopla Property Group – No film
  • Innova8™ to launch Accenture Financial Services Innovation

  • Innova8™ to launch Wipro Digital Company

It is worth noting that design thinking used to be called UX strategy, service design was part of UX too, the fact that these have been reinvented as new things is concerning for clients costs as in 2010 when you request UX you could get all three types of skills in one UX person. In the case of senior UX people clients still can. Innova8™ does not rely on these more experience people, but can be done through a group of people with various skills and backgrounds.

For more information please contact the Author: Karl Smith https://www.linkedin.com/in/karlsmith2/ or visit http://paradigm-interactions.com/paradigms/innova8/

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#UX and #Development cannot exist in the same #Agile workstream

“UX and Development cannot exist in the same Agile workstream” might sound like an outlandish claim but if you fully understand, it’s obvious. Forcing things to work as with the picture above is not a good idea.

Can UX be Agile yes, of course in so far that all the effort and artefacts required to deliver UX can exist in an Agile UX workstream.

UX includes user research, user requirement, KPI’s, system-wide taskflows, concepts, concept testing, persona definition, user roles, user journeys, usability and accessibility standards, sitemaps, key pathway wireframes.

Development can also be Agile, but not all of it, infrastructure and front end need to be in separate workstreams.

The simple way to express this is to talk through backlog items in a greenfield system;

The user can login…..

  • UX will take days
  • Front end will take weeks
  • Back end will take months

The problem is not size it’s Trajectory and Dependencies;

  • UX = T small, understood activity : D access to target audience to validate success and failure paths
  • Fe = T mid, may need investigation : D access to dummy credentials store
  • Be = T long, will require architecture to respond to scalability and bandwidth changes : D modelling data, server set up, pen testing

Once there is a fuller understanding of these very different aspects of defining, designing, building and deploying it’s become clear that these areas have common points but cannot be run together as and Agile project and to tell client’s that they are is not true.

Agilists don’t call this blind behaviour Agile, we call it Fragile (When Agile becomes Fragile nobody Wins) as we know it will shatter at the first problem.

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#Agile #User #stories is a #UX #method

User stories is another name for a Cognitive Walkthrough

I have been involved in Agile for a very long time, mainly because it uses methods from the human computer interaction scientific process (CHI/HCI).

I’m surprise no one else has blogged about the use of CHI/HCI processes in Agile before, but though I should say something as I keep getting told that it’s interesting how many CHI/HCI people have embraced Agile. In fact it’s the other way around

Agile has imply appropriated UX techniques that have new Agile names

The main one is User Stories; they are in fact a reuse of the Cognitive Walkthrough, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusion.

Cognitive Walkthrough

Cognitive Walkthrough is a method utilised to express how the system works from a user perspective it exposes potential usability failures and defines happy and unhappy pathways

The method starts with a task analysis that specifies the sequence of steps or actions required by a user to accomplish a specified task. The system response to each action is noted. The designers and developers of the software then walk through the steps as a group this enables an agreed view. They ask themselves a set of defined questions at each step to determine all the potential outcomes. Afterwards a report of potential issues is compiled and the project team has a clear focus on the various user pathways including happy paths, risky paths, error paths and failure paths.

User Stories

User Stories are a quick method to determine the who, the what and the why of a business requirement and are produced in a narrative format as if a user was walking through their use of an interactive system

User stores are written at two levels Epic Stories that define groups of functionality (registration) and User Stories that define a single piece of functionality (sign in).

User stories are written by the product owner (an Agile tile for stakeholder or product manager) a user experience architect or a business project manager (not a scrum master) or the development team when they break down stories that are too large (these are then confirmed by the product owner).

The method starts with defining the Epic stories, then breaking these down into smaller stories that relate to an encapsulated (self standing) component. In design and development these stories can be parcelled to the various specialisations including user research (end user validation, How It Works), visual design, user experience design, back-end development (feature and service delivery), security and front end development. These stories will have their interlinks (to other components) stubbed out until those stories are built and can be integrated.

Agile + CHI/HCI = User Centred Requirements, Human Centered Design and Human Centered Development.

They are not exactly the same but the essential method is,

  1. think like a user
  2. describe what you can do
  3. build the system that enables a user to complete a task or aquire a feature


Author Links

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#Blended #program #management #Prince and #Agile methods Part 1

Blended Program Management

I have been involved in project and program management since 1989 across various sectors and more recently have been focused in banking and finance.

I have experience in Prince and Agile methodologies and will expand on the blending of these two methods through the use of user stories (a user experience method) and the positive relationship between waterfall and iteration components in the following parts of this post.

Simply put (before getting into the detail) Prince and Agile = Delivery and in Banking and Finance they can give startling results.

This will not be a shock to many people but I’m not going to be describing the what, but the how.

I have managed some highly complex projects that would have failed if they had been run in Prince or Agile alone.

The clear advantage of blended management processes is that;

the project becomes team centric and affords an environment where success in common and that value is attributed to the correct people

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Save 35% ££ on banking change, requirements gathering should take no more than six months

Best practice, puting the missing part in a puzzle
Best practice, puting the missing part in a puzzle

Requirements gathering in Banking change programs are over detailed, over long and for the most part undeliverable.

There is and has been a huge requirement for change in British banking for several years as senior bankers have sought to lever the capabilities of technology and distributed workforces. This has in turn a great opportunity for IT consultancies to enforce their business models on the banks and make huge amounts of money without delivering anything. This has of course not gone unnoticed and forced many banks to increase their internal IT teams, but the problem remains, as the overall strategy is wrong.

The current strategy for business change requirements gathering is to fully understand the current problem with the assistance of subject matter experts (SME’s) and then defined the end state with the internal client. There are several major problems with this approach;

  • Fully understanding the problem is almost endless in Banking
  • Using SME assumes they really are experts which for the most part they are not
  • That the internal client can see the future of their business
  • That the same consultants will carry the project all the way through

The solution to this problem is a new strategy, in fact an Agile based one;

  • Defining 6 to 10 features of the new system at a high level
  • Involving the enterprise architects to see what has to be new, legacy or adapted
  • Launch the development team during the definition phase
  • Detail the features and get time costs from the designers and developers (not the PM or delivery manager)

Doing the above will change the relationship between requirements and delivery making requirements a service to the delivery of the project rather than an impossible set of promises made by people who will never have to keep them.

The 35% savings is probably low it’s just the 14 months and 35% of a budget wasted on an investment banking project that were eventually discarded. I’m considering a new concept in banking requirements gathering, value for money, is anyone interested?

You can contact me on karl@karl-smith.com

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#Banking #Change #Management through #Human #Centred #Design #HCD

There has been massive change management taking place across all sectors of British banking over the last three years. Much of this is driven by buy outs and mergers, some by efficiencies and a little more recently through questioning the nature and controls around risk management.

However simply changing the owner has caused major problems in these banks as their competitive advantage and therefore their value has been an amalgam of very different skilled people, internal processes and market penetration from the bank or group buying them. These internal processes have often evolved in a highly organic method through acquisition and proven delivery often driven by individual people. However once this people based relationship is broken and these processes are exposed to a wider audience they pose serious questions in relation to risk management, value and the continuance of revenue flow.

The standard process applied has been to pass these processes over at division level to change program managers, at department level to business analysts to define the scope of the current structure. After definition many of these process based activities are passed over to information technology to resolve. I remember being taught at University (Napier, Edinburgh) that technology should never be used as a substitute to sound business process; however this technology determinant does not seem to have been passed on to banking business people. While not the best starting point, people who work in technology do tend to ask the right questions, to define epic requirements, even when it’s unpopular with the business.

Information technology analysts take these epic requirements and define an A to Z system ‘what it does’. However to get the B to Y user requirements (or stories), a user centred design analyst, ux research and designer spends time with the users to define ‘how it works’. This may seem obvious to digital practitioners outside banking, but it’s a revelation to those inside banking and banking technology, that users who normally find ways around poor software are able to define the requirements that turn a useful application into a killer application.

This is not really the end, more a beginning, if other sectors can learn from banking, that users (not stakeholders, usually no longer active users) can determine the overall success of software. And that user centred design (UCD) can assure and amplify competitive advantage if underwritten by skilled practitioners, then the possibility of success is significantly raised in all software and change programs.

Author Links

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When #Agile becomes #Fragile nobody #Wins

I have been an Agile practitioner a very long time, in fact as an Instructional Designer I was very excited when Agile was created based upon Computer Human Interaction methods and thinking. As one complete fully applied process Agile is astoundingly effective at bringing together all the best capabilities within a project team and totally removing the hierarchical and often power crazed notion of single point leadership.

Agile and Structured Business

Agile, however does not remove the need for formal and structured Program Management that interfaces with and supports a more formal set of business processes. I can only say this from experience, if you have managed to get the board, finance, operations or other parts of the business to operate in a true Agile fashion please tell us how you did it. I have now worked on a programme that has attempted this, I’d say we got 40% of what we were looking for. That has to be a caveat thought it has to be true Agile, not some invention of yours that you are calling Agile to cover the fact you have made up your own process.

The Agile Team

When I’m working on an Agile project it’s really important the team is complete during all aspects of the Agile process, at enterprise level that includes;

  • User Experience Researchers and Consultants – SM*
  • Visual Designers
  • Business Analysts – SM*
  • UI Developers – SM*
  • Backend Developers
  • Security Consultants
  • Database Administrators
  • Enterprise Architects – SM*
  • Testing Team

From experience the ScrumMaster – SM* can come from any of these groups. The Scrum Master is an active participant in the project and is not an administration or leadership role. The team leads itself with support from the ScrumMaster. The ScrumMaster also produces non partisan solutions along with everyone else. If the final solution is what the ScrumMaster wanted you have not done an Agile project, just an ego trip for the person with the title ScrumMaster, who is in fact, just an old school project manager.

Agile Planning Poker is a team Exercise

Whenever I join an Agile project my first question to the team is when did you play Planning Poker. This is my first clear indication of how Agile the Agile project really is, I hear answers like “what’s that” or “the planners played it, I think” and I know from that we are all doomed!

You might think that’s a radical response, but Planning Poker is the foundation of Agile, its the point at which the Agile team;

  • Discovers the complexities, depth and breath of the project.
  • They get an indication of it’s relevance within a program.
  • They start to piece together the skills and knowledge of their teammates.
  • They begin to establish team thinking.
  • They start to understand their relative strengths and role.

It is integral to an Agile project that the team as a whole own the project, everyone is responsible for every aspect, no one throws anything over a wall to another discipline they are all in it together.

Playing Planning Poker can be done is several ways I still opt for the original method with playing cards. Your looking for an assessment of complexity from the perspective of the highly skilled persons technical knowledge. With such a diverse group of people it is rare the get agreement, however doing the first round together is important to expose Trajectory issues.

If you do the first round with everyone in you will get wildly different scores between User Experience, UI Development, Backend Development, Database Administrators and Enterprise Architecture. This is because a simple requirement in one discipline many be extraordinarily complex or even impossible in another area due to existing structures, legacy constraints, timelines or even regulation.

After the first round I separate the groups to find out what they think their score will be. I focus on four key groups who’s timelines can be vastly different and if just pushed together usually causes the project to fail or worse never succeed (we should as a culture look for ways to help people feel successful, happy appreciated people work better and harder) as it was intended, creating a desire to move the goal posts.

  • UX includes research, conceptual design and customer testing (absolutely no high fidelity design work is done in UX)
  • UI includes visual design and front-end coding
  • BE includes backend developers, security consultants, database administrators and testing team
  • A is for enterprise architects

Also remember when you get to your sprint planning the reasons for these different responses and be careful to make four sets of cards, working out where the work-stream touch-points will be so they can feed into each other at the right time.

Agile Planning Card
Agile Planning Card

I know plenty of people do this differently save money, save time but produce pretty products that people don’t want to use of can’t use, because the MVP is not viable or it never gets launched in time because the enterprise architect were were involved too late to get regulatory and legal to review and approve the product.


I’m not going to do an exhaustive review of Agile here, but the fundamental thing is you can have a Stand Up or a Sit Down to your hearts content but it won’t be Agile. You need to get the basics right play Planning Poker with the entire team to create cohesion, then specialise the Poke to to get viable information. Only when everyone’s skill and experience is involved can you be truly Agile and avoid the awful experience of a Fragile project. Fragile projects are not Agile ones except in name only the process has not been fully applied, easy to spot with people who have created their own version of Agile meaning, Not Agile.

To date my best enactment of Agile was with a .NET team, they were 3 weeks in when I joined, the team was not complete, the requirements were 50% of an A4 page and the budget £1,000,000 on this part of the development alone. The first thing I did was Planning Poker with the available team, around 40% of the final team. I found were dramatically understaffed to deliver in 6 weeks time. I went to the CFO and got a budget release of the extra 50% more staff and a 3 week reprieve to get them before the official start. From official start to completion of a .NET Business Intelligence Toolset working on a 5 day sprint plan was exactly 6 weeks to the completed version 1.0 of the software.

Karl Smith – Scrum Alliance

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