Brian Fox

Brian Fox is Systems Development Branch Chief at the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center (NGTOC), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Want a More Innovative Agency? Encourage Employees to Experiment

How agency leaders can create a work environment that fosters innovation via creativity and experimentation. Every organization seeks to innovate, to use the latest technology or methods to provide new products and services to their users—but despite this near-universal desire to improve the product, many can have a tough time generating meaningful innovation. What differentiates those agencies that are creating novel products or services from the rest is leadership’s role in creating a safe, creative work environment where employees have freedom to experiment on the job.

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Thinking About Going Agile? 5 Benefits Your Office Will Reap With Agile Methods

Some organizations are curious about agile and want to know the benefits of working with this methodology. While there are a number of benefits and opportunities from going agile, there are also a few challenges for leaders to manage. Agile will create teams and leverage multiple developers against each project, which may mean that the organization can no longer sustain as many projects as it once tried to support. Development teams, compared to individual developers that are working alone, have an easier time pushing back on unrealistic workloads, and this will require managers to start paring down the lower priority projects and products.

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Thinking About Going Agile? Consider Mass Training to Facilitate the Change

How organizational instruction can help transform the processes and culture of your office. Many leaders are interested in their organization “going Agile,” but they wonder where to start. A great place to start is with a mass training event. That is, in-house instruction that allows the majority of the organization that develops software, as well as those that have or manage requirements for software, to all get in the same room at the same time and learn the concepts.

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Four Challenges of Adopting Team Structures (And How Leaders Can Mitigate Them)

If you’re considering “going agile,” one of the critical components of such a transformation will be adopting team structures. In your current, pre-teaming state, your developers are probably working by themselves, and may be engaging directly with stakeholders. Agile will place your developers into teams. Teaming is important, as it will enable your development staff to actively learn from one another, improving the quality of their individual and collective work, and improving the work environment.

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Improving Stakeholder Collaboration Can Improve Software Development Performance

It’s important for software development organizations to make it as easy as possible to enable improved stakeholder behavior. Development stakeholders can include business development representatives, product managers, and senior project managers, and they are typically carrying the weight of the organization’s mission. They are concerned about the organization’s goals, and are usually focused on ensuring that the software development efforts are effectively supporting the organization’s mission. But they can have a difficult time managing the communication and conflict among themselves, and if this happens, software development and the greater organization can suffer.

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