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Waiting In The Wings

What’s going to the next big thing in terms of approaches to software delivery? And when might we expect the transition to that next big thing to become apparent?

“The future’s already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

~ William Gibson

The Days of Agile Are Numbered

We can argue about how much life the Agile approach to software delivery has left in it. What’s beyond dispute is that there will be something after Agile. And I propose it will  look much different from Agile. I find it inconceivable that Agile is so perfect that there’s no room for improvement. Even though – ironically, give the exhortations to “inspect and adapt” – many in the Agile supply chain don’t want to talk about it AT ALL. Why rock the boat and derail the gravy train?

Customers and users, however, are waking up to the inadequacies of presently lauded approaches. And current upheavals in organisations, such as remote working and the scramble for talent, are accelerating these folks’ dissatisfaction.

Holding You Back

What’s prolonging the transition towards any new approach? Basically, it’s the prospect of the serious pain that comes with the adoption of effective new approaches. SAFe’s transient popularity illustrates how many organisations prefer an ineffective approach, with the illusion of change, rather than an effective approach that actually brings benefits. Any significant uplift in software delivery and product development performance implies a much different approach to running technology organisations, including, not least, different styles of management.

Your View?

What’s your view? What promising new approach(es) do you see waiting in the wings? And if there’s nothing with a recognisable name or label, what characteristics will a new approach have to have to boost it into consideration?

– Bob

Celebrate With Us And Receive A Free Copy Of Quintessence!

QuintessenceCover

To celebrate the launch of The Quintessential Group, our new software delivery startup, we’re making copies of my most recent book “Quintessence” – free for just one week <- coupon link. A $35.99 value! (And worth many more $$$ when applied).

If you’ve been curious about what’s the next big thing in the world of CKW (collaborative knowledge work) in general, and Software Delivery in particular, it’s all mapped out in detail in Quintessence. 

Whether you’re a developer looking for revolutionary ways of working (we choose rather to call it playing – and we’re inviting applications) or a business person looking to solve the software delivery crisis in your own organisation, there are many awesome things in the book for you.

Tell your friends, peers, teammates, co-workers and higher-ups. This is likely a one-time special offer!

– Bob

PS. I’ve just published a new version of the book (v1.5 – minor corrections and updates).

Alien Tech: What Is It?

powertech

Alien tech power at one’s fingertips

At The Quintessential Group, our motto is “Alien Tech for Human Beings”.

What do we mean by “Alien Tech”?

Dictionary Definitions

Let’s take a look at the dictionary:

Technology noun
\ tech·​nol·​o·​gy | \ tek-ˈnä-lə-jē \

Definition of technology

  1. a: The practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area
    // medical technology
    b: A capability given by the practical application of knowledge
    // a car’s fuel-saving technology
  2. A manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge
    // new technologies for information storage
  3. The specialised aspects of a particular field of endeavour
    // educational technology

Alien adjective
\ ˈā-lē-ən, ˈāl-yən \

Definition of alien

  1. a: Belonging or relating to another person, place, or thing: Strange
    // an alien environment
    b:Relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country or government: Foreign
    // alien residents
    c: [Exotic sense]
    // alien plants
    d: Coming from another world: Extraterrestrial
    // alien beings
    // an alien spaceship
    // When it comes to knowing what alien life forms might be like, we don’t have any idea
    ~ Kate Shuster
  2. Differing in nature or character typically to the point of incompatibility
    // ideas alien to democracy

Our Definitions

So, by the above dictionary definitions, we can define “Alien Tech” (Alien Technology) as:

capability given by the practical application of knowledge, where that knowledge is strange, or seeming as if coming from another world.

Put another way, and closer to our quintessential usage:

An approach to running collaborative knowledge work businesses that differs in nature or character from the norm, typically to the point of incompatibility.

When it comes to relating to alien ideas, most folks just don’t know where to start.

~ FlowChainSensei

In Practice

What does “Alien Tech” mean in practice?

It means running a business, in our caseThe Quintessential Group, based on assumptions and beliefs incompatible with typical businesses. Assumptions and beliefs which lead to levels of software delivery excellence unobtainable by other means. We attend to folks’s needs in ways totally alien to those immersed in traditonal management mythos. For those clients that judge by results, this is little more than a curiousity, until the question of “how do they do that?” comes up.

– Bob

Further Reading

Marshall, R. W. (2015). Aliens. [online] Think Different. Available at: https://flowchainsensei.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/aliens/ [Accessed 8 May 2022].
Marshall, R. W. (2018). Alien Tech Alien Tropes. [online] Think Different. Available at: https://flowchainsensei.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/alien-tech-alien-tropes/ [Accessed 8 May 2022].
Marshall, R. W. (2018). Some Alien Tropes. [online] Think Different. Available at: https://flowchainsensei.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/some-alien-tropes/ [Accessed 8 May 2022].

Second Time Around

Y’all may like to know that Ian Carroll (of Solutioneers fame) and I are launching a new venture named TheQuintessentialGroup, offering a range of services in the software delivery space. First out of the gate will be “Quintessential Teams“. You can find out more at our shiny new website: TheQuintessentialGroup.com.

TQG-Banner2

Note: We’re looking to revolutionise the world of software delivery, along quintessential lines, and we’d love for you to consider joining us.

First Time Around

Back in 1996 we* found ourselves with the opportunity to demonstrate what we had been telling clients for years – that our** approach to software delivery was way more productive than:

a) the industry norm

b) their current approaches

c) what they could ever believe possible

*myself and some colleagues at the Java Centre within Sun Microsystems UK, along with some mutual friends.

**the company we named “Familiar”.

Second Time Around

Now, we*** find ourselves in the same situation once again. Our**** approach to software delivery is again way more productive than:

a) the industry norm

b) our clients’ current approaches

c) what our clients and prospects could ever believe possible

***Ian Carroll and myself

****the company we’re naming TheQuintessentialGroup

Nothing Like Agile

The first time around, commencing circa 1996, our approach could be described as an Agile approach (Scrum-like, albeit risk-based).

The second time around our – distinctly different – approach can be described as the Quintessential approach (nothing like Agile, Scrum, etc. – albeit still very risk-oriented).

Alien Tech For Human Beings

And this second time around, we again lead the industry in breaking the mould and demonstrating the validity and sheer awesome power of the Quintessential approach.

The Quintessential approach is no secret. It’s all laid out, in detail, in my book(s). And yet we defy anyone to replicate this game-changing alien tech. At least, until they have thrown off the shackles of outmoded and crippling beliefs about work and how work should work.

And that ain’t likely to happen any time soon. Although TheQuintessentialGroup.com can help with effecting such changes, too – see my book Memeology, for starters.

If you’re at all interested in the quality, cost, timescales, and predictability of software delivery, you might like to take a look at our newly launched website: TheQuintessentialGroup.com. We have big ambitions and big plans – and we’re hiring too!

Yes there’s more than a little déjà vu here at Sensei Towers at the moment. Familiar was an outstanding success, vindication, trailblazer and golden goose back in the late 90’s. We have every expectation that TheQuintessentialGroup will surpass even that outstanding benchmark.

Putting a dent in the Universe.

– Bob

Further Reading

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Quintessence: An Acme for Software Development Organisations. [online] leanpub.com. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/quintessence/ [Accessed 22 Apr. 2022].

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Memeology: Surfacing And Reflecting On The Organisation’s Collective Assumptions And Beliefs. [online] leanpub.com. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/memeology/ [Accessed 22 Apr. 2022].

Marshall, R.W. (2018). Hearts over Diamonds: Serving Business and Society Through Organisational Psychotherapy. [online] leanpub.comFalling Blossoms (LeanPub). Available at: https://leanpub.com/heartsovediamonds/ [Accessed 22 Apr. 2022].

Blueprint For Effectiveness

How would you go about explaining the factors that contribute to a highly effective software development team, group, organisation?

In Quintessence (currently 24% complete), I’ve done it for you! But do you agree with it?

I invite you to take a look (extensive free sample now available).

– Bob

 

Opportunity to Contribute to “Quintessence”

I’ve just published the Leanpub placeholder for my next and upcoming book: “Quintessence”. First iteration (likely, 8% complete) will be published soonest!

One major reason I’ll be first publishing the book in a very incomplete form is to provide you with the opportunity to contribute to the evolution of the field of software development (and, more broadly, collaborative knowledge work).

The Question

The one question on which I’m seeking and inviting your input is this:

What specific elements – practices, principles, values, assumptions, beliefs, etc. – do you believe characterise the QUINTESSENTIAL software development (and, more broadly, collaborative knowledge work) organisation?

Please respond via whatever channel suits you best (comments to this post, email, etc.)

I’d also be super delighted if you’d visit the Leanpub page and express your interest in the book!

– Bob

Announcement: New book “Quintessence” In The Works

I’ve just published the Leanpub placeholder for my next book: “Quintessence”. First iteration (likely, 8% complete) will be published soonest!

I’d be delighted if you’d visit the page and express your interest!

– Bob

Organisational Psychotherapy on Slack

For those folks who prefer their interactions via Slack, there’s a new Slack workspace for Organisational Psychotherapy. Check it out and join up now. 🙂

– Bob

PS. Please let me know it there are any other aspects of my work for which you’d like to see a dedicated Slack workspace. 

 

How to Save the Industry and Get the Buzz Back!

[I’m grateful to Antony Denyer for his email suggesting the topic for this post.]

How depressed are you about Agile today, and having to conform to a bunch of prescribed methods (be that Scrum, Kanban or what have you) that you know just plain don’t work?

How even more depressed are you having to pretend to be doing Agile when factors outside your control (for example management monstrosities and obduracy) prevent you from experiencing even the smallest joy of doing Agile as it was conceived and intended, i.e. with no need for pretence?

How depressed are you that nothing new happens in the software development industry any more? Excepting perhaps yet more idiocy and exploitation of the gullible (SAFe, I’m looking at you). PS. Caveat Emptor.

How depressed are you that a wide range of promising ideas are not only ignored by “thought leaders” and management, but often actively denigrated, ridiculed and suppressed?

Enough with the depressing stuff.

Saving the Industry

Much like the idea of saving the planet from climate change (the planet will be just fine, thanks, it’s the species that needs saving, maybe), I don’t particularly believe the industry needs saving. Certainly, customers commissioning software development don’t seem to need any saving. If they did so need, then there might be some demand for same. 

I do see a need for “saving” the people who labour in the software industry. God knows the amount of human potential wasted every day through poor management, poor advice, and the antiquated assumptions and beliefs pertaining in most organisations. Actually though, the only folks that will be doing any “saving” will be the folks themselves. No one has your back. No one in a position to do anything about your problems and frustrations gives a damn about them, or you. Might I suggest y’all organise?

Getting the Buzz Back

As you may know, I propose that Organisational Psychotherapy is the way forward. Personally I get a huge buzz every day through constantly learning about people, groups, communities and what make us tick. I suspect this new direction for the industry is a scary sea-change for most people in the software domain, for whom technology (cool flashing lights and all) has long been the main driver. But who knows? There could be many more (suppressed) “people” people out there than I know of.

– Bob

How to Develop Software – And Why Most Organisations Can’t

There’s a simple recipe for developing cool, awesome, high quality, cost-effective and just plain sexy software. Most developers know this recipe. Most organisations do not.

How To

Get a (small) bunch of people who enjoy working together, who choose to work together, who choose what they’re working on and the scope of that work, who choose their own tools (if any) and equipment, who love what they do (and why they do it / who they do it for), and who have the autonomy to figure out how they can work best together, in the longer term. Offer or invite them to some difficult (but not impossible) challenges and provide them with the wherewithal* to get on with it. Invite them to deliver working stuff (into production) frequently, and make sure the rest of your organisation – and maybe customers too – knows that everyone benefits from immediate and meaningful feedback each time they do that.

(*By wherewithal I mean information, money, connections, someplace to work, and support).

Why Most Organisations Can’t

Most organisations cannot do this. They cannot attract the kind of people who can and want to work this way. Even if they could, they just cannot trust these people to just get on with it. Even when seeing demonstrable progress every week or two. They cannot tolerate the absence of any “management” roles, whether this be overt (e.g. line managers, project managers), or covert (Product Owners, Scrum Masters, et al.). They cannot tolerate people “doing stuff” that they don’t understand, in ways they don’t understand. They cannot reliably give immediate and meaningful feedback. Above all, they cannot tolerate people having fun. After all, work is a serious matter, and results count for much less than how they’re arrived at.

Bonus Tip 1 – What To Do When Your Organisation Can’t

Make your organisation into one that can. One that can attract the kind of people who can and want to work this way. One that can trust people to just get on with it. One that can embrace the absence of any “management” roles – rejoice, even. One that can tolerate people “doing stuff” that they don’t understand, in ways they don’t understand. One that can reliably give immediate and meaningful feedback. Above all, one that can tolerate people having fun. After all, work is a serious matter, and results count for much more than how they’re arrived at.

Bonus Tip 2 – How To Scale

If you have more than one piece of software on which you want to see progress at the same time, get two, three, or a hundred more (small) bunches of people. Ensure they have the wherewithal (including a common purpose). And let them figure it out as they go. Most organisations can’t do this, either.

– Bob

Further Reading

Marshall, R.W. (2021). Quintessence: An Acme for Software Development Organisations. Falling Blossoms (LeanPub).

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