Agile and the Global Workplace

I spent today, a Saturday, hanging out and touring with a client, and I was pretty amazed at how similarly we viewed our careers and our work. He was born and raised in Belgium, and I in Western Canada. We are both engineers by training, have different career paths, but our perspectives are very similar. Many Agile experts are currently traveling across the EU and North America. Market demand, the Certified Scrum Master brand, and thought leadership are helping fuel this trend. However I believe there is a more interesting change going on that we have not seen before in the software industry. It is the realization that:

  • Buying a new software tool is not going to make us Agile
  • We need experienced help to make Agile work in our organization
  • We can tap into help by finding it on the Internet and spending a small amount on travel and training to bring them in

Innovel is helping clients in the U.S., E.U., Ukraine, and South America. We are smart but we didn’t plan it this way. But what is very interesting is all the commonality we share as professionals in knowledge work, no matter our location.

Whether our industry is game development or insurance, the problems we face in building the right solution for our customers is the same. Not only are the problems and barriers the same, but so are the challenges and the goals. Many alternatives to producing more software faster have been touted, however we have continued to focus on the wrong issue. We don’t need more software! We need the right solution to a business problem. Recent data on Microsoft Word said that the average user used 16% of the features in Word. In groups of 10+, up to 30% of the features were used. If Agile was prominent in our industry 10 years ago I speculate that Word would have a very different set of features to what it does now. This is why Google Docs is so scary to Microsoft. In a short time Google can re-create 10% of Word, and then add many collaboration features (such as allowing numerous people to edit the same document in real time) that are very attractive to many users. We are heavy users of Google’s spreadsheets, they are just great for collaboration on everything from planning to accounting. We don’t need to run Macros and build complex formulae… and that is not what we used Microsoft Excel for most of the time.

The world is a much smaller place today, and we as software and IT knowledge workers simply have to get much better at meeting customer needs. Do that and you won’t need to be so concerned with being outsourced – your customers will love the solutions you deliver, and they will ensure your success and prosperity.


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