Blogs from leadership consulting firms scare me, they are usually generic concepts wrapped in a fancy title (Give me my 15 minutes back ;-P). I started reading Elspeth’s blog on Change Logic with skepticism, here is another blogger trying to preach how to make Agile better. To my surprise, her article was great advice delivered with wit and candor.
Here is a link to her blog : Six Imperatives to Successfully Implement Agile
I reached out to Elspeth and got a candid interview about her work and advice for us Agile Practioners. Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing our first industry expert – Elspeth Chasser from Change logic.
Agilezilla: Tell us about your role at change-logic?
Elspeth: I am a Principal at a boutique consulting firm called Change Logic. We specialize in helping large, mature firms who are experiencing some kind of disruption in their market. We were founded by 2 Professors, one from Harvard, one from Stanford, who research this issue which they describe as the “Tyranny of Success”. We help clients experiencing this phenomenon respond by exploring into new business models and markets whilst simplifying and tightening up their core business.
Agilezilla: What is your definition of agile? What do you like about agile methods?
Elspeth: I almost always work closely with the CIO and CTO of our clients many of whom are implementing or have implemented Agile. I understand it to be a great method for software development because engineers can test and learn as they go with their business colleagues and hopefully customers. I understand the main problem with the alternative, Waterfall method is that engineers get to the end of the project and, magician like, present the final product “Ta da….” and find that it doesn’t meet their needs.
Agilezilla: Tell us more about your experience with agile methods and why agile fails?
Elspeth: So, I have no problem with the Agile methods. I do have a problem with how it can be applied in large, mature and therefore complex organizations. I’ve seen Agile can cause havoc. The Backlog process doesn’t take into account the aging technology base or the mish mash of interdependencies in the system that, of course, are rarely documented! I recommend Agile for the application and a Waterfall plan and risk log to predict and mitigate the interdependencies/ complexities.
Proponents of Agile often cite the collaboration that comes from being in a hothouse. In my experience, implementing Agile in a mature team that have been working together for a while does not automatically lead to collaboration. In fact, it can heighten the frustrations. So, I also recommend IT leaders “name the elephants in the room” when they’re implementing Agile. Give the team the opportunity to talk about and address any unhelpful team and inter-team dynamics.
Agilezilla: Tell us about your typical work day?
Elspeth: I started working with Change Logic over 5 years ago. The company had been in existence for 2 years at that point. It’s been great to be part of growing a firm. I work full time. I travel a lot because I often spend time with my clients at their offices and I also facilitate large workshops to help senior teams make decisions about the changes they are implementing. When I’m back in our office here in Boston, I catch up on emails, write reports for clients, spend time with my team and work on developing new business opportunities.
Agilezilla: Would you share your top 3 project management and productivity tips?
Elspeth: My top tips are:
• Only check email 3 times a day
• Work out what you need to get done each week and each day
• Don’t put off tough decisions
Agilezilla: If money wasn’t a concern, what would you be working on?
Elspeth: If money was no object I would probably go back to school and study something utterly random (for me) and indulgent like the History of Religion.
Hope you enjoyed our first interview! If you have suggestions on how to improve our articles. Please drop me an email at : firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is how you can connect with Elspeth:
Change Logic: http://www.change-logic.com/people/Elspeth_Chasser