Dublin Technology Leaders Aug29th: ‘Build Innovation In’

The next meetup for Dublin Technology Leaders Meetup is 29th Aug at 6pm – Our principle agile consultant, Colm O’hEocha, will be talking about agile in high innovation environments, while Ken Finnegan, Chief Technologist at the IDA, will talk about some of the innovations he sees in Irish organisations. For further details and to register go to the meetup page

‘Build Innovation In’ – Colm O’hEocha, AgileInnovation

Innovation can be defined as ‘the discovery, development and concrete implementation of new ideas’. Therefore it involves exploration (for discovery), learning (to develop) and delivery (to implement). Agile frameworks such as Scrum and Kanban have knowledge creation, learning and innovation at their centre.

Traditional management of software development (‘plan driven’, ‘waterfall’) assumes the discovery and learning have already occurred, and that we know before we start what are the most valuable features and how long it will take to implement them. In this case the focus is on the most efficient, productive delivery of systems that meet customer requirements in terms of functionality and quality. There is little focus on exploration or learning, leading to low support for innovation.

Some firms see innovation as a separate activity from the daily work of delivering software. For example, innovation happens during hackathons, or other ring-fenced ‘innovation time’. It is not an integral part of the daily work of delivery. Agile aims to maximise value delivered not just by delivering software as efficiently as possible, but also by supporting innovation to ensure that the features delivered are the most valuable.

Agile isn’t just about churning out code – it supports exploration and discovery with rapid learning by providing high quality feedback and a fail-safe culture. As we discover new knowledge, we can then redesign our solutions and rework our plans appropriately – that is, we can be ‘agile’. By combining exploration and discovery with concrete implementation (e.g. in Scrum you deliver production ready software every sprint), agile bakes innovation into the heart of the way we work. it ‘Builds Innovation In’ rather that treating it as a distinct activity, carried out separately from the work of software delivery.

In this short talk, I’ll elaborate on some core agile concepts that support innovation – from both human and systems viewpoints.

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