“Becoming agile requires the will to transform the company”
At last month’s JAX conference, Wolfgang Strunk explained how agile software development can help create a coherent architectural landscape in a large company. We caught up with him to dive deeper into the Agile topic.
JAXenter: The agile movement has come a long way; it started out as a grassroots movement but gained popularity real quick. What fascinates you about the agile movement?
Wolfgang Strunk: There are two essential points for me: to continuously create benefits for the customer and to constantly critically examine our own work. The feedback loops make it possible to constantly readjust your goals and to continuously learn something new.
JAXenter: And yet there are still a lot of traditional companies out there which find it difficult to become agile. Why is that? What are the typical obstacles?
Wolfgang Strunk: Well, there are some very smart people in these traditional companies. And they very quickly come to realize that their authority and responsibility area are being called into question. Therefore, becoming agile does presuppose the will to transform the company.
The feedback loops make it possible to constantly readjust your goals and to continously learn something new.
JAXenter: You talked about Agile teams at the JAX conference last month and how they might have a negative connotation because being self-organized might mean that management is losing control of the team. What’s the best way to make sure self-organized teams still adhere to all software requirements?
Wolfgang Strunk: If all of these things happen in a team, then there is still a lot of interaction and you can keep the models in mind and on the whiteboard. But when I want to start a large program in a company in order to change the entire system landscape, or if it’s foreseeable that I must develop a product with more than one team, then I am going to need artifacts, through which the teams can exchange information and through which the project or the product can also be embedded into the organization.
JAXenter: Can you give us a tip on how to strike a balance between agility and the need to create or maintain a coherent architectural landscape in a company?
Wolfgang Strunk: Look for someone who is in actual need of a coherent architecture and then involve them. Don’t go and create them, just because some processes call for it. Work in and with the individual development teams and translate the team’s results into solutions, which others can copy. Build architectural communities on a medium-term basis.
Even as an Enterprise Architect, you have to solve someone else’s problems, otherwise you won’t be accepted.
JAXenter: Which current trend of the agile movement is particularly exciting to you right now?
Wolfgang Strunk: For me, continuous delivery is definitely the most exciting topic. If you really manage to implement it, then the department (PO) will suddenly realize that a new increment can really be delivered at any given time, and it will lose the shyness of specifying incompletely.
JAXenter: What is the core message of your session?
Wolfgang Strunk: Even as an Enterprise Architect, you have to solve someone else’s problems, otherwise you won’t be accepted. There is no super-architect who can do and see everything, so it’s better to focus on being available as a sparring partner or facilitator and accept that the final solution can come from anyone in the team.
JAXenter: Thank you!