Former RBA governor says immigration is putting ‘downward’ pressure on wages. “Mr Fraser said more needed to be done to train local workers to fill the gaps that tend to be in roles such as IT. “We should have more skills being developed here. It doesn’t take Einstein to work out this is an area [of demand].””

I’ve been in the IT industry for 30 years. In the ’80s and ’90s, companies recruited talented local people, trained them and paid them well. When the big Indian outsourcing and offshoring companies entered the market in 98/99 big companies stopped training people…

Product and technology projects are notoriously risky endeavours that frequently go over time and budget and deliver fewer benefits than expected. However, in a recent survey, the Project Management Institute found that 25% of projects met expectations, 64% were challenged, and 12% failed, which is a significant improvement over previous years.

In a report analysing 5000 digital transformation projects, the Standish Group found that four factors made 80% of the difference between success and failure, as shown below.

Small Agile Projects

Organising your project or program into small agile projects makes the most difference to project success. Research shows that small agile projects…

Diagram by Peter Merel from XP based DevOps

Back in 2004, at an online jobs startup, we had one team for requirements, design, architecture, dev, test and part of IT ops. We automated all our unit tests, integration tests and deployment tests to our test environment. We had a one-button deployment to test process that we ran multiple times a day. We used feature flags to deploy features to production that weren’t ready for business deployment. Our Dev team made performance improvements, deployed their work to production and fixed their own production bugs. We called this XP and Agile because that’s what it was called in 2004.


When you combine agile with small projects, you get a dramatic improvement in project success rates. Small agile projects are nearly six times more likely to succeed than large waterfall projects and seven times less likely to fail.

Research by the Standish Group shows that small projects are ten times more likely to succeed than large projects and 1/2 as likely to fail, as shown below. In this research, a large project has 25 to 50 people working on it and a $6 to USD 10M budget. …

Many agile coaches are discouraged by the state of agile today. There is a lot of dark scrum, fake agile, water-scrum-fall and authoritarian SAFe out there. But we need to remember that there is still tremendous value in real agile.

When I’ve been empowered and supported, I have transformed multiple teams and business units into high performing agile teams that did great work, and people loved working in. The research supports this. Standish Group research shows that projects using agile approaches are 3X more likely to be successful and 1/3 as likely to fail, as shown below.

The resolution of 10000+ software projects from FY 2011–2015 within the Standish CHAOS database.

Successful Agile transformations…

The Cynefin framework is a conceptual framework used to aid decision-making. Cynefin offers five decision-making contexts or “domains” — obvious or clear, complicated, complex, chaotic, and confusion — that help managers identify how they perceive situations and make sense of their own and other people’s behaviour. The green areas are a transition between domains. The grey area in the middle is a state of confusion. The clear domain is rigid and can collapse into chaos with sudden change.

Cynefin model from Dave Snowden

Traditional management methods work well in the Obvious domain, works partially in the Complicated domain and fail in the Complex and Chaotic…

VUCA Matrix (Bennet and Lemoine, 2014

A model to help you explain and manage product and technology development.

Research by the Product Development and Management Association found that around 60% of new products fail in the market.

Product Failure rate by Industry, Product Development and Management Association, 2012

And research on hundreds of software applications by the Standish Group shows that people only use 36% of the product features we develop.

Code reviews are a big cause of delays in many development teams. There is a very easy solution to this. Agree as a team that code cannot be integrated into the build until the code review is passed and make code reviews a top priority interrupt for the dev team with a goal to complete them within 1 hour or less.

It works like this. Dev A submits a pull request to integrate their code into the build. This triggers a code review request that must be approved by someone else in the Dev team. Dev A asks “Who can…

The idea that Scrum is the parent of Agile and therefore you have to do Scrum to be Agile is wrong. You can be agile without doing scrum and you can do scrum (badly) without being agile. They are not the same thing.

If you do Scrum well then you are going to be pretty agile but Scrum does have some weaknesses that you need to address in other ways. Good Agile teams experiment with a lot of other approaches. They try Kanban, they try working without sprints and they try different team roles and responsibilities.

Keep an open mind.

Murray Robinson

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