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Giving Agile A Brain

November 17, 2014 at 7:13 am PST

There’s a pretty great, short post from Business Insider last year that’s been getting re-circulation recently. It’s one-sentence summaries of famous business books like The Innovator’s Dilemma, Good to Great, Outliers, Purple Cow and The Lean Startup.

I particularly liked BI’s short summary Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup, which is centered around the concept of creating a “minimum viable” product and then iterating on it, fed by with continual customer input and analytics. Here’s the nicely done reductionist summary:

“Rather than work forward from a technology or a complex strategy, work backward from the needs of the customers and build the simplest product possible.”

If you’ve been in tech the last few years – and especially in Silicon Valley – you won’t have escaped the term “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP), and you’ve undoubtedly been immersed in Agile development methodology. But there’s a dilemma in the seductive notion of Lean and MVP when misapplied: We all have seen teams who focus on the alluring idea of minimal without thinking about what will make the product viable from the standpoint of the customer: Across industries, we’ve seen that the “work backward from the needs of the customers” part is easy to miss in the rush to produce efficient code and quick deliverables.

This occasional lack of customer orientation has led to the backlash observation that “Agile doesn’t have a brain,” meaning it’s very good a producing efficiently, but not guaranteed to produce the right end products in the eyes of customers. We in tech have all seen this happen, and it’s vexing because it’s against the core principles of Agile to produce un-useful end deliverables.

Enter author Jeff Gothelf, an ardent evangelist for Lean and MVP thinking. Jeff is author of the excellent book Lean UX, and recently wrote about this “Agile doesn’t have a brain” topic in a really interesting post on the subject.

Jeff is working with us on some upcoming talks and a workshop, and in addition to what he says in the post above, brings some good advice for including design and customer thinking to the MVP debate:

  • Work “Lean” on projects, and focus relentlessly on the customer in your process and measures
  • Focus on user-driven metrics to understand how you’re doing 
  • Make sure designers and other key non-coding disciplines are in your agile sprints — they will add efficiency and dimension, helping to make sure the “right things” are being produced
  • Think “team,” not “roles” within the sprints (at Cisco, we even do this in Marketing sprints).
  • Most important: Transform from a culture of delivery to a culture of learning, where you are constantly tuning and improving based on end objectives and customer needs.

If you’re new to ideas of incorporating the customer-oriented design into MVP and Lean, I recommend Jeff’s book Lean UX.  And, as a bonus, there’s a great video overview he recently gave at Google on some of these topics.

Enjoy!

LeanUXBookPicture

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usNIC support for the Intel MPI Library

November 17, 2014 at 7:00 am PST

Intel MPI LibraryCisco is pleased to announce the intention to support the Intel MPI Library™ with usNIC on the UCS server and Nexus switches product lines over the ultra low latency Ethernet and routable IP transports, at both 10GE and 40GE speeds.

usNIC will be enabled by a simple library plugin to the uDAPL framework included in enterprise Linux distributions. The Intel MPI Library can utilize the usNIC uDAPL library plugin without any modifications to existing MPI applications.

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Discover the latest advances in Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) technology.

IT managers are finding it increasingly challenging to deliver the services end users demand while keeping operating costs under control.  A truly converged environment, using Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) to combine LAN and SAN architectures, can substantially reduce operating costs and simplify management while providing increased performance now and in the future.

How do you migrate to a converged solution without disrupting your existing data center architecture and IT investmentsRegister for this Webinar to Learn more: Dec 2nd *8:00 PST

Register Now

This live, 60-minute webcast will explore the latest advances in FCoE technology, including multihop and dynamic FCoE. You will learn how these and other recent innovations make the benefits of migrating to a converged network more realistic and compelling than ever before.

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Going Native with OpenStack Centric Applications: Overview

November 16, 2014 at 10:08 pm PST

OpenStack ApplicationsCloud infrastructure is useless without applications running atop, providing business services and solving customer needs. So, as applications ascend to the throne as the rightful king of cloud, focus sharpens on their support within OpenStack-based Cisco Intercloud. With this focus, let’s walk through a survey of components and projects supporting applications in OpenStack, understanding what a day in the life of an application in OpenStack is like. We’ll start with an overview of the application ecosystem comprised of a number of supporting projects. In the ecosystem overview below, relevant OpenStack projects are presented in context of existing, similar technologies with which you may be familiar. These similar technologies both under and overlap functionality of the respective OpenStack project, but are shown to hasten your general understanding of which bucket these projects fall into by way of tech you may already know (so, add a pinch of salt when considering relevancy of suggested affiliated technologies). Read More »

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Four ways the IoT expands the mobile economy

The Internet of Things opens up a wide range of possibilities for businesses, especially in the context of an increasingly mobile workforce and primarily mobile customers. To distill down which aspects of IoT are meaningful for business, I joined panelists from Google Enterprise, AnyPresence, and OpenMarket at the Open Mobile Summit to share our thoughts with moderator Maribel Lopez. Here are some of the key insights I took away from our conversations:

The opportunity for businesses is about so much more than just connecting Things. Our industry calls it the Internet of Everything to describe how People, Process, Data, and Things get connected to drive business value. When you look at new ways to connect all aspects of a business, everyone in your organization can make better decisions – and your business can run with greater operational efficiency. Read More »

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