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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Problems Maintaining Product Development Innovation in an Agile/Lean World

Hi all:

I'll be presenting the following discussion at the Agile Austin Leaders SIG on Friday, March 1st, 2013 at CA Technologies in Austin, TX.  I'm really looking forward to feedback!


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One of the benefits that many product development teams are able to realize when they switch to an iterative or limited WIP process for developing software is (finally!) a ranking of work items on which the team can focus.  Over time, this allows a good deal predictability for the stakeholders of the project, especially when work items have corresponding “done” criteria that are adhered to.  Some organizations are so enamored with the results of this shift that they begin to assemble all members of team into these types of structures, including team members that were previously dedicated to research or advanced product development efforts.  While this is not necessarily a bad decision for these organizations, some face issues with maintaining a level of innovation in the product efforts as there may be a perception that there is neither time nor the people to work on important innovation efforts.  Further, some of these team members may be doing work that is neither challenging to them as individuals nor is bringing the appropriate value to the company.

In this discussion, Matt will help shine a light on this issue that can be especially challenging for a product development company that seeks to maximize the velocity of a product team working against the near-term roadmap but may lose sight of competitive challenges that may change the very nature of the playing field.  He will describe the challenges faced by teams he has worked with both in the past and currently and share what he has learned.  A healthy discussion is expected to follow!

Matt Roberts is an agile pragmatist continuing his lifelong learning journey, currently serving multiple teams as Senior Director of Software Engineering and Agile Coach at CA Technologies. His experience is wide-ranging as he has developed software and led efforts to create systems for product development teams to deliver innovative solutions in companies ranging from early-stage startup to publicly-traded companies in both consulting and full-time roles. He has had the privilege of serving the Austin software development community as Agile Austin President over the past two and half years and as Secretary for the IEEE Computer Society over the past eighteen months.
Matt holds certifications as a Certified Scrum Practitioner (CSP), Certified Scrum Master (CSM), and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO).  If you’d like to learn more about him, please visit or see his latest thoughts at

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