I spent yesterday morning at ITV. It’s always interesting to see how another company works. Like most organisations it has some good and bad practices, with some teams being more developed than others. All usual stuff.
What stood out was the overall belief in self-organisation. It was evident that team processes and practices were decided at team level, not prescribed from above. And I expected nothing less after reading a brilliant article about a talk given by Paul Clark, Technology Controller for Online, Pay & Interactive at ITV.
Here’s the full Computer World UK article, but I thought I’d give you a summary:
ITV wanted to move from physical tapes to digital files (because it was cheaper, safer, quicker and more scaleable). It was similar to the BBC’s Digital Media Initiative, but a lot smaller. They went to third parties and, after nine months, received a quote estimating the cost to be between £15 million and £30 million. So ITV got a team of eleven (including 5 devs, 2 testers, 2 devops) and, after four months managed to get an edition of Horrid Henry through the entire process. It also came in at about seven to twelve times cheaper than the quotes.
The rest of the article is what gives me confidence that ITV has a good chance of reaching an amazing position in terms of agile / lean ability. Clark explicitly states that validating assumptions at the start of the project is important, and that changing these assumptions because you were not accurate is fine. He talks about cutting scope if you need to. “If you only ever design what the business absolutely needs then there’s no waste; it’s lean”. Having sat with ITV yesterday, I suspect that ‘the business’ includes ‘the customer’ as it was clear that their business decisions were led by what their customer wants as well as what brought in revenue.
“Report back regularly with both successes and failures” as this “generates trust”. Even when things go wrong, he urges transparency with stakeholders: “The only way to build trust is delivery and transparency.”
Clark stresses that guess-generated packs for the board that give dates for the years ahead are not part of an ITV that he’s part of: “Agile doesn’t respond well to questions of what is it, when will I get it, and how much does it cost. Instead it gives you variables. … Just ask for some money for a few months, then come back and show them what you’ve done.”