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  • Amy Hughes

Des Moines Tech … Can We Talk?

Dear Des Moines, IA technology community,

I’ve worked as a technology consultant in the Des Moines, Iowa, area for most of my near-20-year career. As such, I’ve been fortunate enough to work at most of the large companies practicing Agile in our metro.

I’m interested in inspecting and adapting the culture of our technology community. I know this is a lofty goal, but I, like many others, have reached a breaking point. I can’t continue to do the same things over and over again, expecting a different result. This is my attempt at trying something different.

As a Delivery Lead, a core function of my job is to reflect reality back to my team and let them inspect it for health or illth. When we find illth, we reflect on its source, make a plan to improve it, implement the plan, and measure its effectiveness. Inspect and adapt.

So it’s in that spirit, that I respectfully ask:

Is anything different today than it was 5 years ago? 10 years ago? Has anything changed for the better?

Sadly, it’s been my experience, and the experience of many talented colleagues across various companies and industries, that the answer is, “No, things haven’t changed for the better.”

From what I hear, we still operate in our designated discipline-oriented and leadership-level silos. We still put ourselves in endless back-to-back meetings, even though most of us dread them and find them useless. Our workplace cultures are still largely “command and control” rather than Agile.

Most of the companies in this market have embarked on the journey to agility for all the usual reasons. Lower costs. More deliveries to production. Higher confidence that products will meet user's wants & needs. In short, a greater return on investment and a host of other high-value intangibles.

But do we see any of the purported benefits? Specifically:

  • Do we ship to Production more often? Heck, do we ship to Production regularly and without pain?

  • Do we know why we’re building the product we’ve been asked to build? Do we have concrete data and a business case to back it up? Is that business case a living document that we update as we learn more throughout the build?

  • Do we have Product discovery teams engaged at the enterprise strategy level, arming our leaders and executives with valuable data and insights to fuel improved strategic decision-making?

  • Do we know how much revenue/profit our software products bring into our organization?

  • Do we operate at scale intentionally and effectively, and not because we think scale is necessary to get the job done?

  • Have we stopped saying things like, “Well, we should do it like that, but we don’t because [ insert organizational impediment that nobody wants to address here ]” when training new folks at our organization?

If you can confidently answer all these questions with a resounding, “Yes!” then we need to meet. Seriously, reach out! I need to hear how your company cultivated this kind of organizational safety, strength, and resilience.

No matter what level of cultural maturity your organization is at, I’m welcoming anyone passionate and brave enough to join me in creating a safe, open space to hold courageous conversations about the state of the Des Moines technology community. My ultimate goals for this space are to:

  1. Safely gather data around the health/illth of our respective organizations so that we can create an accurate picture of our current reality.

  2. Create a vision for a healthier, human-centered future that results in greater prosperity for us and our organizations.

  3. Design and implement experiments that allow us to adapt from our current reality to our future vision.

If you’re interested in joining me, please email me. Let’s start talking.

Amy Hughes

Related + Recommended Reading:

  • The Comfort Crisis by Michael Easter

  • Drive by Daniel Pink

  • The Journey to Enterprise Agility by Daryl Kulak and Hong Li

  • Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows



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