Getting to Done Faster

Clay Dowling

Twitter @ClayDowling

I want to solve my customers’ problems

I’m not that fussy about the how.


I am an agile software consultant. I’ve been drinking the cool aid for years.

There’s No One True Way

It’s Always a People Problem

The Right People

The smartest person isn’t necessarily the best.

Adaptability is more useful than skill in a technology or technique.

Take Care Of Your People

Your success depends on the people around you. Proper care and feeding is essential.

Sustainable Pace

No nights.

No weekends.

No exceptions.


A team that trusts each other can move mountains. A team that lacks trust can barely roll down hill.

Building Trust

Be open about your failings and weaknesses.

Encourage and act on feedback.

Extend trust to others without expectation.

Speak the Kind Truth

When there is a problem, do not avoid it.

Have empathy for the person you are addressing.

Blame The System, Not The Person

Seek the flaw in the system, not the person.

From their own perspective, every person is a rational actor.

Short Feedback Loops

Mistakes caught early are cheaper than mistakes caught late.

Show And Tell

  • Show incomplete work
  • Solicit feedback
  • Change direction based on feedback
  • You are not your code

Push to Production Every Week

  • Deploy to production in week 1.
  • Deploy as often as you can.
  • Remove barriers relentlessly.

You’re Going To Build The Wrong Thing

Make changing direction cheap.

  • Invest the bare minimum in planning.
  • Keep backlogs small.
  • Craftsmanship is important.
  • Don’t prematurely optimize.

Maximize The Work Not Done

  • Focus on value delivered, not features
  • Ruthlessly cut features as you achieve value
  • Celebrate the work you won’t have to do

Automate Ruthlessly

  • Testing
  • Deployment
  • Backlog Grooming?

Avoid Best Practices

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Everyone Is A Special Snowflake

A practice that worked in one place only works in that place. You have a different set of constraints.

Consultants Love to Sell Systems

Just because you’re paying me a lot of money doesn’t mean I’m right.

Every Agile Transformation Is Different

What speeds development at one place will slow or stop it in another.

Team Health

Nobody is coming to save you. All you have is each other.

“Leader isn't a title, it's a way of life.”
—John Gartee


Talk about what worked well. Celebrate victories.

Talk about what didn’t work well. Take action to fix it.

Private Conversations

Some problems are hard to talk about in a group. Try to talk to everyone privately as well.

Fix Your Problems

Sometimes it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.



Cream of the Crop Leadership Development


Cream of the Crop Leadership Development


Thank You

Twitter @ClayDowling

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