MHTA Annual Spring Conference Speaker Preview: Anne Steiner pushes back on Agile processes

April 18, 2019

Anne Steiner will get provocative at the MHTA Annual Spring Conference May 9, when she digs into the critical missing piece in many Agile approaches. Here’s a preview of her talk:

“For 20 years we’ve been trying to process our way to success,” says Anne Steiner, vice president of Product Agility, aka Leader of the Band, at DevJam. “But how do we know we’re building the right things?”

Anne and DevJam are joining a movement of Agile devotees who want to pivot the thinking from process and progress to product. “That is, are we helping move the business forward, or did we just do a lot of stuff on time and on budget?” Her talk at the Annual Spring Conference will provide stories and thought starters to help attendees evaluate how they know they’re building the right things, to collaborate with business partners to be sure the backlog reflects real customer value. “That’s the promise of Agile methodologies,” Anne says. “Somehow, for a lot of companies, understanding customer value has fallen behind the process and checkboxes. We talk too much about the status of the list, and not enough about how the list of stories came together.”

Anne has gone through a transformation in her thinking about process and Agile. She came to DevJam after a successful career as a developer and product owner. In her last role, it became really clear to her that the disconnect between customer and developer had gotten too big. “So, I went to David Hussman at DevJam and said, ‘Hey, I see this problem in our industry, I think you’re in a great position to help people do it better, and I’d like to join your team and help you do just that.’”

Anne’s session can help everyone involved in the product lifecycle – from business leads to product owners to project managers and developers. It’s an opportunity to build empathy – for the customer and for each other. And if you’re an Agile devotee, take heart – she’s not trying to offend anyone. “We’re a process-agnostic shop,” she says, “and this is a philosophical issue not a process one. We can do so much more and so much better if we keep the customer front and center and manage to business issues, not checklists.”

“Look, I love Agile – it keeps me on my toes,” Anne says. It reminds her of hockey and the games she plays through the Women’s Hockey Association of Minnesota (WHAM). “There are no set plays in hockey, just like there’s no long-term guaranteed roadmap in Agile. We have to stay attuned to the fluidity – of the puck or the business needs – to succeed.”

Learn More about the MHTA Annual Spring Conference

About Anne’s session:
There’s a gap in your Agile methodology no one talks about
Presented by Anne Steiner Leader of the Band DevJam
For the last 20+ years we’ve all been diligently working to agile our way to product success. Developing iteratively and applying agile methodologies has helped our industry make huge strides. At times, however, it has also led us to focus on the wrong things. Anne will discuss how inherent gaps in common agile methodologies have led to poor product strategy, flawed definition, and ultimately, subpar execution. Through real life stories, learn how to avoid falling into these traps and to ensure your efforts bring the desired impacts to your users and your business.

Anne’s session is one of many focused on the workforce of tomorrow at the conference.
Check out these related sessions on our conference web site:
• How to build and foster an innovation culture, presented by Grant Thornton
• How women are changing engineering leadership at Target, presented by Target
• Seven skills of successful change agents, presented by wHolistic Change