One Lab Zero colleague has been bringing fresh-baked bread to work every morning for the last four years.
You’re our executive sponsor. You’re our business stakeholder. You’re our subject matter expert. You’re the business analyst who mocked up the data we’re presenting. You’re the head of product.
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) helps organizations build software products with large teams. Its practice affects all levels of a company from front-line teams to the CEO. Lately we’ve been fielding a lot of questions from our clients who are considering SAFe. Some of them have loosely coupled teams, and just use a few tools like Program Increment Planning and Lean Portfolio Management. Other clients have teams with complex dependencies between them, and they need the whole framework.
People fight about all kinds of things. The desk near the window. Spaces versus tabs. Whether you can play more than three Sex Pistols songs in a row over the office hi-fi.
Your co-worker comes back from lunch and you can see immediately that they ate a poppy-seed bagel. They’re wearing their lunch on their face, and this is exactly what’s going on with your website.
Agile runs through everything we do at Lab Zero: how we explore customer and market needs; how we describe a problem space and identify product hypotheses; how we course-correct our design and our software seeking qualified feedback along the way; and, of course, how we organize ourselves. We also help our customers integrate these methods throughout their business.
For us, Agile falls somewhere between Faith and Practice. We believe that iterative building and learning makes a huge difference for the types of products we work on. Forming testable hypotheses, working with real users, and delivering on a rapid cadence are just some of the things that we insist on when we take on a new client.
Lab Zero is a pretty flat place. Organization-wise. When we’re working with clients our team members hold leadership positions because they’re able, personable, and have grit. But when we’re back at Lab Zero, we’re a flat org. There aren’t a bunch of VPs and Managing Directors like you see at many design/build outfits. But we’re growing now, and because The Number One Thing is the Team, we’re choosing now to promote some folks who have what it takes to help grow our teams and to set standards within those teams.
People get great software product ideas all the time. Modern software development injects reality to the picture. Agile and Lean practices, test-driven development, customer interviews: plans and teams that are tethered to reality won't float away and build something pointless.