Benefits of joining the SDLC

Insights from some the SDLC members on the value they have seen from their membership in the SDLC.

Vanessa Adams (CH Robinson): You really have to participate in the site visits to get the point. I think if you had asked me before going on the first site visit, on a scale of zero to 10, “How likely is that you would recommend the Learning Consortium to a friend or colleague?” I would have said: “Perhaps a 4.” After the first site visits, I said, “A sure 10.” That is why CH Robinson has sent participants to all the site visits, including our CIO. It’s been hugely helpful in accelerating our Agile journey—far more than any coaching or training. For us, the Learning Consortium has made Agile into something real.

Ahmed Sidky (Riot Games): It’s important to recognize that we are exploring the future of organizations that is already here. We’re not inventing anything. We are discoverers and explorers. We identify what’s already there, evaluate it, and synthesize and disseminate it. That is very powerful. We are not just facilitators: if we were just introducing companies to each other, that would be a very limited role. Instead, we are uncovering the future that is already here and uncovering it together. And then capturing it and sending it out so that the whole world can learn. It’s a public service that we perform. It defines who we are and what we are trying to do. In the process of performing that service, we also learn a great deal ourselves. It’s a very powerful process.

Paul Madden (Ericsson): We disseminate what we have learned in the report that we publish. But the learning you get from the site visits is not the same thing. The example that brought this home to me was when we went to Menlo Innovations. I saw pair programming in action. Now intellectually, I knew all about pair programming. I had read about it since 1999 when XP came out. So I thought I knew all about it. But it wasn’t until I actually saw pair programming in action and experienced the feel of it and talked to the people actually doing it at Menlo Innovations that I really “got it.” That was when it really sank in for me and I saw what it meant. When I left Menlo, I said to myself: “I’m going to do this at Ericsson.” That was something that could have never happened just by reading a book or a report. And so pair programming has become a reality at Ericsson in Athlone and it’s a real success. That couldn’t have happened without the site visit to Menlo Innovations.

Steve Denning: Everything that is discussed within the SDLC is confidential. So members don’t have to worry about hiding any of their secrets.

At the same time, some of the members want to share their practices and their discoveries. For them, the dissemination is a big benefit. For instance, Microsoft has been very interested in disseminating what it’s doing in Agile. What we saw there in 2015 was news to us and so, with Microsoft’s blessing, we shared that news with the rest of the world in two articles in Forbes here and here. The articles were very popular and have changed the way many people think about Microsoft. It also helped establish Microsoft as a cool place to work and help them to win some battles in the ongoing war for talent. See here and here.

By contrast, some members are at a different stage in their Agile journey and they are there mainly for the learning from others, not for disseminating what they are doing. It’s a choice that each organization can make. It’s not “one size fits all.”

Matt Anderson (Cerner): Cerner joined the SDLC in the 2016 at the encouragement of Vanessa and Ahmed, but I was extremely skeptical about what it would provide since we were several years into our Agile Transformation. What I found was a group of like-minded companies and thought leaders where we could have “no BS” conversations and quickly get to developing real options to problems we face. I have moved from SDLC skeptic to evangelist as the power of the experiences has helped me reinvigorate Cerner’s journey and expand the enthusiasm to other Cerner leaders.