Stephen Parry to brew up some agile in Gothenburg

There are roughly two parts to my work in Agile and Adaptiveness. One is working with organisations on transformation. The other is recharging my creative batteries by engaging with colleagues and peers on agile and adaptiveness techniques.

Biog PhotoThis week I will be taking a creative deep dive in the latter category when I attend the Brewing Agile conference taking place in Gothenburg, Sweden.

And while I will be presenting at the conference, it’s my co-presenters that I’m most keen in hearing and catching up with.

These include:

  • Vasco Duarte who transforms product design organizations into product development organisations.
  • Luis Goncalves, co-founder at Oikosofy, Agile Coach at HolidayCheck, author, speaker and blogger.
  • Hilary Johnson, a product manager with Pivotal Labs where she develops software for startup and enterprise clients while also enabling agile and collaborative practices with client teams.
  • Marc Loeffler, an agile coach, author and trainer.

For my part, I will be speaking on The Journey from an Agile Workplace to an Adaptive Business. My presentation will delve into the importance of creating the right work-climate for Agile to manage work more effectively and ensure organisations become highly adaptive to their customers and their marketplace.

Work-climate is a key part of this in this as it is a proven predictor of long-term business performance.

In examining ‘work-climate’, I’ll explore the following questions:

  • What are the best choices for managers and staff to make?
  • What needs to be eradicated?
  • What needs to be redesigned?
  • How do we put the customer and our employees at the heart of the business?

What I hope to do in my talk is persuade my colleagues in the agile and lean world to upgrade the foundation of their thinking to adaptive. It’s about liberating thinking workforces to realise their potential while redesigning the organisations they work in. The knowledge work in the creative environments they develop will change the world of work into a sustainable productive environment. And as goes the world of work, ideally, so goes the entire world.

To read more about the Brewing Agile conference, click here.

If you would like to have me speak to your company or conference about an adaptive transformation, please get in touch.

Parry Presenting 4

Spotlight on the European Lean Educator Conference 2016

Anyone immersed in Lean culture will be heading to Buckingham in the UK for the third edition of the European Lean Educator’s Conference (ELEC) and for good reason.

Although this is only the third ELEC conference, its updates on teaching, supporting and applying Lean, make it an engaging deep dive into all things Lean in 2016. It’s also a superb opportunity to engage with others in the lean community.

The conference theme is Lean Education Outside of Manufacturing which will range from topics such as lean product design, product innovation and lean in the office to applications from fields such as healthcare and lean in education.

More specifically, the presentations include Innovation in Education, Systems Thinking and Re-thinking Lean, Counter-Intuitives: Lean, Innovation & Complex Adaptive Systems and Agile for Lean People. That noted, there are many others that also intrigue which goes to what a fascinating conference this is going to be.

Lean is currently making forays into many fields and getting a current survey of its penetration in European cultures, business and otherwise, is extremely valuable.

I will be speaking at the conference on Designing Organisations That Work for Lean and Agile Thinking People. The presentation will demonstrate the importance of organisational design and route-map sequencing to create conducive work-climates for Lean and Agile thinkers.

I’m particularly interested in speaking with leaders to find out how they are using the principles of lean to create adaptable organisations.

If you’re planning to attend and would like to connect simply send me a note and we’ll make it happen.

Next week I’ll have my picks for what sessions I think will be of most value. So stay tuned!

To read more about the ELEC conference, please click here. Keep in mind that registration is open until September 5. 

The dark and the light of being a change agent

Occasionally, at speaking engagements, managers approach me with questions about being a change agent. They see their business falling behind and / or apart and want to know how to effect the change necessary to stop it.

I don’t have a list of actions to offer them. Nor do I have a prescription. But I do give them the advice they need to be a change agent.

To be an agent of change, they need to develop an almost unflinching honesty along with the courage necessary to speak the truth to power. But it’s not about finger-pointing. What I tell them is that they need to cut through the culture and find clarity about what the real issues are that are killing the organization.

Fear of causing waves and disturbing the corporate status quo may give some pause. That’s understandable. But they must be fearless if they really want to help their organization overcome its ingrained problems.

The challenge is to get organizations to see what is working and what’s not, assessing problems without getting caught in the irritating dance of balancing reality with a dollop of ‘good news’, to soften the blow.

If it seems like the above requires less tact than politesse, you would be mistaken. Delivering the message requires using the A3 structure as an objective framing device to present an improved and balanced ‘complete picture’.

The point is to focus on the issue, not those who might perceive the analysis as an attack on them.

There is also the matter of stamina, of sustaining that A3 focus in the face of a corporate culture designed to prevent any light from being cast on the organization’s problems.

Facing reality is never easy, all the more so in an environment with a history of denying it.

And its possible that your newfound role as a change agent could derail your career in a company.

But ask yourself the question. Do you want to stay with an organization living in a  bubble so airtight that it suffocates all within it? Or do you want to be known as the one who sounded the alarm before the ship sank?

You know the answer. I know you do.


A3 thinking: not a process

When discussing A3, I often find myself having to clarify that it’s not simply a process you can implement. It’s a mindset that influences everything within an organization.  It’s a crucial distinction.

A3 thinking is entirely about developing intelligence, not processes, methods or even solving problems.

It’s about the individual responses to a challenge and not the challenge itself.  An A3 thinker develops a mindset, a way of looking how problems should be tackled, and what issues need to be considered.

Sometimes the solutions are unknowable. But discovering that is in itself invaluable.

The quest becomes the development of thinking to gain better insight into reality, transforming the learning process into a de facto training experience.

An A3 review is a transformative experience for the user. If they’ve had biases and fears about a subject they’re working with, A3 thinking strips that away.

So if you come across references to an A3 ‘process’, raise an eyebrow. There is no A3 process only an individual’s approach that is invariably more honest, focussed and incisive.

To learn more about how A3 thinking can transform your organization, please click here to review our two-day A3 Tutorial Session.

Do we need an Ethical Framework in the Software Development and IT Business?

Stephen Parry 1st Grant Rule Talk Transcript


The Grant Talks

Even though many of us work in a world of analysis, data and detailed measurements, Grant never forgot what it was all for, he challenged everyone to help people do better work, improve themselves along with their companies and societies, to realise their human potential to create possibilities for a better life.

So how do we respond to his challenge? How can we influence companies who are simply concerned with shareholder capital without respect for human capital starting with the software development business?

The Grant Rule Trust. The Trust will be seeking to promulgate the insights into effective business practice discovered or inspired by Grant through a series of “Grant Talks”


 By Stephen Parry

Author of Sense and Respond

Grant Rule Memorial Talk Number One    

UK Software Metrics Association 23rd Annual Conference: 21st Century Metrics


Do we need an Ethical Framework in the Software Development and IT Business?

Social Capital

I want to make this notion of ‘social capital’ and changing the lives of people by changing the work environment, particularly software development and IT environments, the main theme for today.

When discussing software development, Grant talked about issues like technical debt, he worked very hard to reduce it by creating and teaching methods to produce software products that worked with little or no rework, that meet the needs of customers and the business.  When he did so, he kept stressing that the work climate needed to foster respect for people, create a blame-free approach and even eradicate fear in the workplace.  This way, software developers could become creative, innovative and adaptive.

Purposeful measurement

Unfortunately, software and IT measurement and development methods in the hands of a particular management style and approach, ones that tend to treat knowledge work as if it were a commodity, is sadly all too common.  Often there are well-intentioned managers who use software and IT measures for the wrong purposes, applying them in order to create work intensification, to assign blame and target under-performing staff.  The wrong measurement applied for the wrong reasons in the wrong way often results in the wrong people being placed in the wrong……. read more….

Download the full transcription here.Stephen Parry 1st Grant Rule Talk transcript