by Rey Hernandez
Sony Network Entertainment International
Many times in a project, software or otherwise, the people working on the project become so entrenched in the methods they find familiar that they allow roadblocks to get in the way of project completion. All too often those roadblocks lead to missed deadlines, cut corners, general reduction in team morale, and ultimately a product that does not meet customer expectations. In his keynote at SATURN 2014, Joe Justice of Team Wikispeed and Scrum Inc., treated us to a refreshing view of project management that illustrates how teams can be extremely productive, with high morale, and great customer satisfaction.
Joe started his talk with a great overview of how Team Wikispeed uses Agile thinking with Scrum processes and Extreme Manufacturing to make cars that can achieve 100 mpg. Extreme Manufacturing (XM) is a process that uses the principles in Extreme Programming for software development, but applies these principles to hardware design and production. Using XM, Team Wikispeed is able to iterate the production of their vehicles over weeks instead of months. By giving teams the ability to work faster and smarter, they are also able to work on issues for greater social good, such as using their waste products to build housing structures for the homeless using foam for under $100.
During the keynote, Joe illustrated the merits of the Scrum form of Agile thinking by highlighting a variety of teams using Scrum and Extreme Manufacturing or Extreme Programming principles. Examples include Tait Radio, which adopted XM to reduce their time to market from years to weeks; and John Deere; which adopted XM at a variety of sites, showing that the process is repeatable. Other companies involved in manufacturing improvements include Raytheon, Xbox One, HP, and Tom Tom. Joe interweaved these examples with highlights of the principles of Scrum and Extreme Manufacturing. I found it inspiring how Joe infuses Agile thinking into other industries beyond even automobile manufacturing. For example, a school in Niewkoop, Netherlands brings “Eduscrum” to their campus and has shown an increase in student test scores and a general higher engagement in the students.
There was also a message to architects in this talk. Architectural patterns have played a huge role in maturing the development of software and informing Agile practices. As these practices are migrated to other industries, there is opportunity to take the architectural learnings in software and apply those patterns elsewhere. Aside from patterns used by physical structure architecture, there are very few documented patterns that can be applied to other manufacturing industries. Wouldn’t it be great if software architects could expand their breadth of skills to other industries and help mature these Agile processes there?
Ultimately the goal is to use a process that “Make[s] it cheap to change your mind.” Agile is all about reducing cost to make change. This talk does an excellent job in showing the excitement that comes from people implementing the practices in their own projects, showing huge gains in productivity, and having fun while they’re doing it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.