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We Want Our Small Companies Back

Mike Cottmeyer Chief Executive Officer
Reading: We Want Our Small Companies Back
As we continue to establish context it is important for folks to understand that we get that smaller is better. I wish that everything we ever wanted to build could be built by 6 to 8 developers in a co-located team room. Many folks say things like, you don’t need 100 people to build a software product. 6 to 8 people doing agile can be just as productive.
That might be true if you are putting those 6 to 8 people up against the kind of organization we just talked about, but that’s NOT what we are talking about. We are writing about those times when you need 100, 200, or 1000 developers… all operating in a high-performing agile manner. We might be able to do it with less, but we need a credible strategy for when need to do it with more.
So the section I am getting ready to share is really just a few transition paragraphs to start talking about a specific set of personas we are using to draft out the book. I’ll stop saying this eventually, but we are still not sure yet how much of this makes the book… we’ll just have to see. Personally, I would rather say too much and have to pair this down than to stretch 100 pages into 350!

We Want Our Small Companies Back!

We want our small companies back, but sometimes small-companies can’t deliver at the level of scale required to meet market demand for their products and services. Not having the ability to grow leaves dollars on the table that your competitors will certainly go after. So the question becomes, how do we get back our sense of shared ownership and sense of shared purpose? How do we create larger organizations where the people doing the work have shared accountability for outcomes, and the capacity to deliver against those outcomes? How do we grow while maintaining the values and principles we held as a much smaller organization?

Fixing these problems has been a focus of the agile product development for the past several years. At this stage of our maturity, we believe that the agile community has largely solved the problem at the team level. We have a track record of recapturing that entrepreneurial spirit when we can isolate three to four small teams and align them toward a shared business objective. Given the size and state of many of today’s software organizations though, the scope of the challenge feels nearly insurmountable. Furthermore, what does a single manager do to lead change at this scale? Does the manager focus only within their span of control or do they try to lead out? If so, what are the compelling messages that our senior leaders need to hear?

Let’s be clear, most managers can’t lead these kinds of initiatives by themselves. They will need help both from both their senior leadership and the teams that work for them. We believe that with the right tools, and with the right focus and ability to influence, managers will be able to convince others to come on board. This ability to lead up, to lead out, and to lead teams will essential to introducing these ideas to the broader organization. This book gives you place to start and will help you develop a language and approach to lead sustainable organizational change.

But before we get started, let’s take a look at the big picture and explore a bit what we’ll need to learn about along our way.

Okay… next post we’ll re-introduce several personas that I wrote about here a few months ago. Some may be stuff you’ve already seen, but we’ve added some additional content to clarify a few things. As always, please feel free to comment if you want to join the conversation.
Next Interesting Post... 1/4/2010 through 1/10/2010

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