Agile Testing Days 2021 – 1 of ? – Asking new questions

Eckstein's Law: An organization produces a design that reflects the organization's biases.

I haven’t made time to blog here much this year because of pair blogging with Janet Gregory on AgileTestingFellow.com, along with other writing commitments. I want to write about some of my Agile Testing Days 2021 takeaways, to reflect on them and reinforce them in my own head. So here goes. Might be the only one I get done, yet I do have lots of takeaways I’d like to write about!

I was so happy to see Jutta Eckstein was doing a keynote at ATD. It’s about time! Jutta inspired me in the early days of Extreme Programming. She was a pioneer in applying agile values and principles to large enterprise organizations. Last summer, I participated in one of her Bossa Nova workshops on enterprise agility, and it resonated so much with me.

Even with my high expectations, I was blown away by Jutta’s keynote on sustainability. She urged us Question Askers to change the questions we ask. How does our product, our company, affect people and the planet? What economic impact, perhaps unintended, are we having? Looking at agile principles from these different viewpoints definitely leads to new conversations. Watch for diversity, equity, inclusion. What gates in our employment pipeline are keeping people out? Are we accountable for energy consumption? Are we responsible for our product causing harm?

And we have a new principle to live by – Eckstein’s Law: “An organization produces a design that reflects the organization’s biases.”

Eckstein's Law: An organization produces a design that reflects the organization's biases.

If this makes you think of Conway’s Law – “Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure”, you are not alone! I’ve seen Conway’s Law prove true over and over. And “inverse” or “reverse” Conway’s Law efforts, to try to have a healthier architecture as well as organization, are difficult, but worth the effort.

Let’s provoke our organizations to consider our biases and work consciously to offset them. Educate yourself about unconscious bias. There was another great talk about unconscious bias at ATD by João Proença and Michael Kutz, They also have an interview on InfoQ about dealing with cognitive biases in software development. (And, I plan to include my takeaways from João’s keynote in a future post!)

Get people together and use visuals (remotely or in person) to promote lateral thinking. Embrace constraints to enhance creativity. We can all be change agents! Sustainability is for everyone. Please check out Jutta’s slide deck, and keep an eye out to see if ATD releases the video of her keynote!


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