Challenges Facing the Agile Industry: A Slack Takeover with Johanna Rothman | TechWell

Challenges Facing the Agile Industry: A Slack Takeover with Johanna Rothman

Johanna Rothman

Thought leaders throughout the software community are taking over the TechWell Hub for a day to introduce themselves, answer questions, and engage in conversations.

Johanna Rothman, known as the Pragmatic Manager, has more than twenty years of experience in agile software development. She presided over the second Slack takeover, which led to some insightful discussions. Here are some of the conversations from the Hub.

Challenges the Agile Industry Faces Today

“What are some of the challenges for the agile industry today, and how do you tackle them?” —@Kelly M

No matter how much expertise we have, we face constant challenges and must learn to adapt in order to continue growing. @johannarothman shared her top three agile challenges:

  1. Technical excellence. We can’t “go fast” if we don’t have technical excellence.
  2. Stable, fully capable teams. We need to learn how to work together, we need to learn the product, and we need to create automation and systems that work.
  3. Management excellence. Managers need to learn to manage the project portfolio so they don’t get sucked into resource-efficiency thinking.

To tackle these challenges, Rothman recommends helping developers and testers work together to create technical excellence. We can teach developers how to write tests, and we can teach testers how to read code to understand decision points.

Managing People Leading an Agile Transformation

“Do you have any advice in managing folks who are trying to lead your organization's transformation that do not have broad enough experience and do not embody the values that should be derived from Agile (i.e. respect, transparency, etc.) and stay too focused on using just one tool (i.e. scrum)” —@Michelle Vaughn

Agile approaches can help answer business needs, so the first step in managing people who are trying to lead an agile transformation is to ask what those needs are, then figure out the best strategy to get them there. Rothman argues that agile approaches don’t actually get you “faster, better, cheaper,” and too often Scrum is not the answer.

@johanterink echoed her, noting that “Scrum is not the silver bullet.” It could help you reach an objective, but you could use Scrum or another framework as a way to achieve the ultimate business goal.

Getting the Most Value out of Continuous Learning

“I need to get my results and learning into an article on LinkedIn or Medium. BTW, which of those, or something else, do you find you more value in continuous learning and reflection via short articles?” —@Vic Bartash

Rothman said she writes for a few reasons: to teach something, to learn something, and to build a practice of reflection. When you write down a problem, a solution, or a recap, you can see roadblocks in a new light or reinforce successful habits.

Johanna also suggests writing for yourself. She says you should write for your own blog first, then repost your thoughts on other platforms like LinkedIn or Medium. She also advocates writing for a reputable site, like AgileConnection, that pays you and will help you establish credibility.


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