David Hussman Product Agility on the Guardian Podcast with Ryn Melberg. Agile / The Guardian Podcast

David Hussman Product Agility

In this edition of the Guardian Podcast I have a chance to talk with David Hussman. David is a very interesting person and someone from whom we can all learn a great deal. The only downside to the podcast was that we had so little time to interview him, but did the best we could and came away knowing more about Product Agility and what to work on, or not, than when the interview started. It was a great interview and I encourage you to listen to the entire thing from my website: www.rynmelberg.com, my iTunes page https://goo.gl/EdneU9, or Sound Cloud https://goo.gl/cqjnan.

Coming from an IT shop in the ‘90’s David did a lot of things that were what he thought was a collaborative and outcome based team, but found there was more to saying a group was  collaborative and outcomes based than actually being those things. So, he started asking questions.

David Hussman Product Agility on the Guardian Podcast with Ryn Melberg.

David Hussman Product Agility on the Guardian Podcast with Ryn Melberg.

One question he asked was how could there be so many people making so much money and accomplishing so little? Like what the hell were they doing? Spending time on non-productive chores was part of the problem he identified, but another was little if any time spent with customers. The building of experience and learning from processes like those that come from the Agile practice of sprints, iterative product development, testing, etc. were not part of engineering or code development back then. There had to be a change for him. The path to corporate success does not often include asking hard questions, and according to him, David was too mouthy and opinionated to be a very good employee. With this self-knowledge, he went out on his own and started coaching. There was more to work for him than getting paid.

David liked coaching and found it a good niche because he likes helping people do better work. Big heavy ecosystems were not for him or those who gravitated to one of his companies, DevJam. According to David, his evolution into a coach was somewhat accidental but also not difficult because he was simply recommending things that worked. What works? Frequent feedback helps link value to the customer where long lead times did not. For me, I’ve often gone on to the next thing way before anyone else was ready to give any feedback. As David said, a sense of purpose is what is needed in the workplace. “Instead of asking am I following the process correctly, ask am I adding value and doing what the customer wants,” he said, which was very sensible.

On the podcast, I reveal that I was a philosophy major and David (a former rock musician) also worked with a philosopher who co-wrote music with him. Why ask why? Easy. Philosophers ask why, because it’s the only question people who want to make sure they are working on the right thing should ask, why? As David says, “the world is not absolute, it needs exploring.”

Now, for those who are interested in the Agile Day event we talk about on the podcast, the web site for that is www.agiletwincities.org. And like always, there is more information about the Guardian podcast along with articles and other interesting and free material on my web site which is www.rynmelberg.com. Thank you for listening.


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