"Ladies and gentlemen, the plane is no longer the problem"

Level : Introductory / Beginner

On 28th December 1978, United Airlines flight 173 took off from JFK airport bound for Portland Oregon. Flight 173 was a DC8 long range airliner, 10 years old, recently overhauled & in the prime of its flying life. Shortly before it was due to land a warning light went off suggesting an issue with the landing gear, an issue that did not exist. After delaying landing and carrying out extensive checks flight 173 declared it's intention to land, however it never made it. Five minutes out from Portland International Airfield the plane ran out of fuel and crash landed with 10 fatalities and 24 serious injuries.

What had happened to cause the crash was not a mechanical fault, or lack of sufficient fuel to make the journey but quite simply an organisational one. After an air crash investigation it was declared that the accident was caused by "a breakdown in cockpit management and teamwork".

Fast forward to January 15th 2009 and US Airways Flight 1549 lands successfully on the Hudson river after multiple bird strikes caused all engines to fail. No lives were lost and the entire crew were awarded the Master's Medal of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators. The difference, after the disaster of Flight 173 all flight crew now have to go through "Charm School", extensive training on how to work as a team.

Compare this to the world of software development. We have all of the tools and technology at our finger tips to be able to deliver to our customers high quality software that meets their needs to almost anywhere in the world within hours or minutes of the work being declared complete but in many cases we still don't. And along the way it's often a painful experience as we strive to meet artificial deadlines while navigating company politics!

In this talk we'll explore why our organisations are structured in such a way that makes them ineffective. We'll look at what it takes to design more effective orgs... and we'll ask the question why hasn't Agile solved these problems for us already.

 agile  systems-thinking  complexity

Chris McDermott

Chris is an independent Agile coach, developer and conference organiser. In his 14 year career he has worked in various different domains from the police, investment banking, reverse logistics to media. Since reading Kent Becks eXtreme Programming Explained in 2003 he has been passionate about Agile development. After discovering Kanban, and subsequently Systems Thinking, he has became increasingly fascinated with organisational systems and how to make them more effective and more humane. Chris is also the organiser of Lean Agile Scotland and the co-organiser of the Lean Agile Glasgow meetup group.