Click here to close now.


@DevOpsSummit Authors: Greg O'Connor, SmartBear Blog, Tim Hinds, Anders Wallgren, JP Morgenthal

Blog Feed Post

Michael Spayd on Coaching the Agile Enterprise

Noel Wurst: Hello. This is Noel Wurst with Skytap. I am speaking today with Michael Spayd. Michael's going to be speaking at the Agile 2014 Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Monday, July 28. It had a really interesting sounding session, and I just wanted to learn a little bit more about that session and some of the topics that may come up during it. 

Michael, how are you doing today?

Michael Spayd: I'm doing well.

Noel: Great. 

Michael: Thank you for hosting this, Noel.

Noel: No problem at all. Your session, again, on Monday, July 28, is titled "What would it mean to Coach an Agile Enterprise?" I noticed that the first sentence presents a huge challenge in enterprise level software development today. In your abstract you say, "Enterprise agility is both a hugely popular aspiration and a widely misunderstood buzzword.” That comes up a lot in agile, with the ability to “do agile” in so many different ways. 

Is that the reason that maybe enterprise agility is only an aspiration for many people, and not something they can call an accomplishment? That maybe the phrase is so loose or so misunderstood that, it’s like the difficulty in defining 'done' sometimes, that you get so many versions of it that it's hard to know when you've reached it?

Michael: I think you're definitely pointing in the right direction. I guess, what I'll say about it is that it's an aspiration because people want it. They want what they have experienced on their teams, on their agile teams: more harmony, more productivity or satisfaction, more customer value, and all that kind of stuff. They want that in a big way. They want that everywhere. They don't just want it on their team. They want it with their leadership. They want it in their organization's culture. They want it in the funding process. So that's what attracts people, I think, to it. 

Yes, different people mean very different things by it, from just scaling up the actual software delivery process, as if you could do that in isolation, and maybe to some extent you can, but along with that comes all kinds of cultural assumptions, and cultural beliefs and values, shared values, and organizational structures, and processes and policies and stuff that impact your ability to do that. So you can't just scale, per se, in that dimension, I don’t believe. That's not my experience, so it means a lot of different things. It means all those different things and various ways to different people. It's complex. It's probably complicated, also. It's big, and it's hard.

Noel: Right, it is. That's one thing that no one's ever accused agility of being was an easy process, especially with there not being an end to it. Then to look back at the abstract for this session, again, which I really enjoyed. You talk at one point about the “limits of culture.” I was curious as to what those limitations are. That's not something I feel like I read a lot about is the limits of culture. We hear how about agile, DevOps, and all of these other practices are all about culture. I know one thing we've talked about, here, at Skytap before is the idea that it’s all about culture; you do need that, but at the same time, if you don't have some of the, maybe, collaborative tools or collaborative abilities of your teams to actually do their work and to have access to the environments they need, when they need them for as long as they need them, then you can have all that culture but if people can't get their work done—that there really are some limitations to culture. So I was curious as to maybe what you saw some limits to be?

Michael: Cool. If you'll permit me a digression it would help to explain a little bit of the model that I am developing to answer that question. It's called “Integral Agile” which means a complete view of things, or all the necessary parts. It comes from a field of integral studies or integral theory that is out there in the world, like the agile movement, actually. It's actually a big movement. I'm adapting that into the enterprise agile world. So it talks about four fundamental perspectives that we can take on things that usually we tend to have our bias toward one of them or maybe two of them as being the truth, and we don't pay attention to the others, but to have a complete view of things we really need to take all four perspectives. 

Let me just describe each of them briefly. One of them is what people talk about as being agile, as opposed to doing agile. Those are two of the four perspectives. The being side, what I experience, what I value personally. Maybe my pride in being a software craftsman or my motivation to serve on a team, to not just be an individual contributor, for instance, but to really be part of something bigger than myself. That's one perspective, the being side of things, you might say. 

A different side is what you actually do. The behaviors you engage in. What other people can see from the outside. I may value software craftsmanship or I say I do, but do I really check in code all the time? Do I really pair with people? Do I really write tests before I write code? That's the behavior side. Do we really follow our team agreements of not letting the sun set on conflict, or whatever it is—do we actually engage in those behaviors? Similarly, what actual processes do we engage in? If you were looking at us from the outside, If an anthropologist was looking at our team or our organization, what behaviors would they notice we engage in? That's an outside perspective, a little more objective. 

On a collective level we have the internal side, which typically we call “culture.” What's the experience? What's the feeling of being in this organization or on this team? I've got to be careful what I say in this organization because we have an uptight culture. Or I work at start-up in Silicon Valley, and we bring our dogs to work, and we wear sandals, and we feel really free and open. That's a more feeling kind of thing or experience: what we share together, what we value together. 

The objective side of that, or the outside of that is what organizational structures do we have? What's our org chart look like? Is it flat? Is it lots of layers of bureaucracy and hierarchy? What about our policies? Do we have lots of policies and really detailed? Do we have very few policies and people have a lot of freedom to make their own decisions? How do we structure things? How do we staff things? How do we deal with funding or whatever? 

So if you think about all those different kinds of things, usually we each have a bias. I might say, "Oh, what I want is, or agile would be great…." My business partner, Lisa Adkins, likes to say, "Agile would be great if only individual leaders would get it." Or somebody else might say, "Agile would be great if only our culture changed." Or somebody might say, "Agile would be great if only we visualized the work flow." Or somebody else might say, "Agile would be great if only we actually followed the agile practices." 

So all those perspectives are valid, but they're also partial. So changing the culture, one, is really difficult, but, two, even if you do shift the culture, the feeling, the belief set, whatever—that might not change the structures. We might have structures, a certain level of bureaucracy or layers or whatever, that keep us entrenched the way we are. 

Noel: Your answer leads me into my next question. It's good that you did digress there for a little bit. It helps out with this next question. You talked about changing culture is hard. A lot of times we hear about how, for agile to have any chance of succeeding, you have to have buy-in from the leadership or executive level, especially on the enterprise scale. I was curious as to, maybe even looking at your Integral Agile that you're working on, what are some of the ways that, maybe those who are in the leadership, executive level, then maybe some ways to approach them, and to be able to sell them on this, maybe not just agility. 

Michael: A couple of things. One is that I think that going in with a persuasion mindset, that “I want persuade them about something,” is usually not very successful. I mean, clearly there are exceptions to that. Particularly, let's say you went in there and you started that way, if that works, great, keep going. But when it starts to reach a limit or when they act like they're interested or whatever, but then they don't. Or they say they're interested but they don't act like it, they're not consistent with what they actually do afterwards, then you've got a problem. 

Usually it helps to go in with seeking to understand. Steven Covey's "Seek First to Understand." We teach in our coaching classes a professional coaching idea of asking powerful questions to people, which are not leading questions. They're not trying to get somebody somewhere, in particular; they're trying to help them explore their own values and what's true for them. Approaching executives, you need to understand where they're coming from. What they're motivated by. What's important to them. How they see the problems in the organization, rather than selling them a solution to what you think is a problem, that they may agree that some part of it is a problem but they may not see it in the same way, and they definitely may not share the same values that you have. 

Another part of the book is talking about different levels of cultural development and individual development, different value sets that see the world in different ways. If you're coming from a success-driven, achievement-driven philosophy exclusively, only part of what the agile manifesto says is going to be interesting to you, not all of it. You're really not going to care about people being empowered, particularly, or shared values together. You're going to care about results and customers being happy, but you're not going to actually embrace all of the manifesto, an organization, or excuse me, a leader or executive wouldn't. Then you're going to have a disconnect. 

So part of what my presentation and my book, Coaching the Agile Enterprise is about, and the parts that I've released called "Downloading the Integral Operating System," part of what that's about is about giving people a framework to understand what's going on in an organization, in an enterprise, so they can make sense of it in a different way. 

If you're coming from one kind of motivation and the leader you're approaching is coming from a different kind, that's doomed to failure on some level. So seeking first, like I say, to understand, to go in and understand the mindset, the value set, that the person is coming from, and then decide what to do with that. Are you really trying to change them or persuade them? Are you trying to do it through aggression, through your own ego, in some sense? Or are you actually doing it in a way that's facilitating and that's useful to the other person or to the organization? Or is it just that you think it will be? Those are really different. 

Noel: Yeah, absolutely. I was just thinking that it seems like it maybe hard sometimes to go in there and talk about needing to change a culture if that's not something that that person, like you were saying, has ever experienced or known was a problem, but then being able to show them how, through that change, customers, perhaps, get a higher quality product, and even faster than they were getting in the past, is a good idea. 

Michael: Yeah, you have to connect to what they find to be of value and that may not be ... They may focus on that thing. Let's say it's a faster time to market, but they may not want to bring all the other things along with it, particularly, or they may not value them. Then you've got a disconnect. Then you've got a disappointed agile coach. We see a lot of them. 

Noel: Lastly, to wrap things up, for those who are able to attend your session which, again, is at Agile 2014, in Orlando, Florida, on Monday, July 28. For those who are able to attend it, what's maybe something that you hope that in that short amount of time that you them there in the room, that you can basically give them something small enough that they can begin, on day one, when they return, maybe to their own projects or organizations?

Michael: I think it's really more than something that they would do afterwards; it's a way that they would see the world differently. 

Noel: Oh, wow.

Michael: So that's what I think that the integral perspective has to offer people is a very different way of seeing the world. Seeing its greater complexity. Being able to, at least, start to work with, in a realistic way, the complexity of it, not think that there's easy answers to it, because there's just not. Easy answers are usually ... They sound good and they're tempting, but they usually fall flat after some period of time. 

My hope would be that people would actually start thinking about things differently after my session. That would eventually lead into what they would do differently, but it would really start with, I think, helping them understand why things are happening in their organizations, particularly things that disappoint them about the adoption of agile in a more widespread way.

Noel: That's awesome. I hope the session is a huge success. I'm going to definitely try and be there myself. Sounds fantastic. 

Michael: Okay. Well, thank you. 

Noel: Your welcome! Again, everybody, this was my conversation with Michael Spayd who is going to be speaking at Agile 2014, Monday, July 28, with a session called "What would it mean to Coach an Agile Enterprise." Thank you so much again. 

Michael: You're welcome. Thank you, Noel. 

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Skytap Blog

Author: Noel Wurst is the managing content editor at Skytap. Skytap provides SaaS-based dev/test environments to the enterprise. Skytap solution removes the inefficiencies and constraints that companies have within their software development lifecycle. As a result, customers release better software faster. In this blog, we publish engaging, thought provoking stories that revolve around agile enterprise applications and cloud-based development and testing.

@DevOpsSummit Stories
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which was later acquired by OANDA. He was also an early employee of server performance-monitoring company...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ability. Many are unable to effectively engage and inspire, creating forward momentum in the direction...
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound cha...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
There are over 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content. Join @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 7-9, 2016 in New York City, for three days of intense 'Internet of Things' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indespensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) IoT's use in Vertical Markets.
After more than five years of DevOps, definitions are evolving, boundaries are expanding, ‘unicorns’ are no longer rare, enterprises are on board, and pundits are moving on. Can we now look at an evolution of DevOps? Should we? Is the foundation of DevOps ‘done’, or is there still too much left to do? What is mature, and what is still missing? What does the next 5 years of DevOps look like? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by DevOps Summit Conference Chair Andi Mann, panelists looked back at what DevOps has become, and forward at what it might create next.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets.
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly spreads the knowledge of innovators through its technology books, online services, research, and tech conferences. An active participant in the technology community, O'Reilly has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
Docker is hot. However, as Docker container use spreads into more mature production pipelines, there can be issues about control of Docker images to ensure they are production-ready. Is a promotion-based model appropriate to control and track the flow of Docker images from development to production? In his session at DevOps Summit, Fred Simon, Co-founder and Chief Architect of JFrog, will demonstrate how to implement a promotion model for Docker images using a binary repository, and then show how to distribute them to any kind of consumer, being it a customer or a data center.
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace.
Webair, a leading provider of Cloud Hosting, Colocation and Managed solutions, today announces that its Chief Technology Officer, Sagi Brody, will speak at Cloud Expo 2015 Silicon Valley, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. Cloud Expo 2015 Silicon Valley is a world-class conference that brings together thought-leaders and cutting edge practitioners in the cloud / utility computing, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC), DevOps and Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) space, which, in addition to prest...
DevOps is a software development method that places emphasis on communications between Software Engineering, Quality Assurance and IT Operations (SEQAITO ) with the goal to produce software and services to improve, increase the operational performance for the Enterprise. Communications is key not only between the SEQAITO team members but also the communication between the applications and the SEQAITO team. How can an organization provide the human communication and the application communication to the SEQAITO team to ensure the successful development, deployment of the application?, the Predictive ELK (Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana) log analytics cloud service company, announced today that it was chosen to speak at DevOps Summit, which will take place on November 3-5 in Santa Clara, California. will explore the entire process that we have undergone – through research, benchmarking, implementation, optimization, and customer success – in developing a processing engine that can handle petabytes of data. We will also discuss the requirements of such an engine in terms of scalability, resilience, security, and availability along with how the architectur...
Automating AWS environments is important for all businesses as it simplifies creation and setup of cloud resources, facilitates otherwise complex processes, and streamlines management. The benefits of automation are clear: accelerate execution, reduce human error and unwanted consequences, and increase the enterprise’s ability to rapidly adapt, all while reducing the overall cost of IT operations. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Patrick McClory, Director of Automation and DevOps at Datapipe, dives deep into the technical specifics of automation for AWS including a discussion of best pract...
Father business cycles and digital consumers are forcing enterprises to respond faster to customer needs and competitive demands. Successful integration of DevOps and Agile development will be key for business success in today’s digital economy. In his session at DevOps Summit, Pradeep Prabhu, Co-Founder & CEO of Cloudmunch, he will cover the critical practices that enterprises should consider to seamlessly integrate Agile and DevOps processes, barriers to implementing this in the enterprise, and provide examples on how an integrated approach has helped major companies embrace a cloud first,...
In a recent research, Analyst firm IDC found that the average cost of a critical application failure is $500,000 to $1 million per hour and the average total cost of unplanned application downtime is $1.25 billion to $2.5 billion per year for Fortune 1000 companies. In addition to the findings on the cost of the downtime, the research also highlighted best practices for development, testing, application support, infrastructure, and operations teams.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Bromhead, CTO of Instaclustr, will walk you through the basics of building an IoT-based platform leveraging Cassandra, Spark and Kafka. This session is aimed at developers, admins and DevOps engineers who have to build, run and maintain high performance IoT platforms as well as data scientists/engineers who are sick of ETL and want to work with the most up to date information.
Join IBM Bluemix on November 4 at 17th Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how to jump start your IoT strategy with MobileFirst, cloud and cognitive computing. Transform everyday MobileFirst Cloud Apps into IoT solutions in 2.5 seconds! What happens when you combine a SmartPhone, a watch and a sassy robot with one MobileFirst Application? What happens when Watson does it - on Cloud!?! Join this session to see IOT in action! There are over nine billion Internet of Things devices in the world today, and the number is growing. Move your MobileFirst Appde...
In their session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, co-founder and the VP of Product at, and Tomer Levy, co-founder and CEO of, will explore the entire process that they have undergone – through research, benchmarking, implementation, optimization, and customer success – in developing a processing engine that can handle petabytes of data. They will also discuss the requirements of such an engine in terms of scalability, resilience, security, and availability along with how the architecture accomplishes these requirements. Lastly, they will review the gory details of the technolo...