Recently, Astro Teller gave a TED Talk about the importance of celebrating failure. Teller, who is part of X (formerly known as Google X), or, as he calls it, “the moonshot factory,” believes that having a workplace and a mindset that is all about agility and quick adjustments is crucial to the success of projects that would otherwise be expensive, and would fail in an expensive way. The approach that X takes is one where failure is embraced. Teller says that the teams come in each day thinking of how they can break their projects. He says that this is the secret to success at X. “We spend most of our time breaking things. And trying to prove that we’re wrong,” says Teller.
This may sound like quite the odd approach to problem solving, but it’s actually become a very popular system, especially at technology companies. SimpliVity also has an Agile culture in our engineering teams. We have taken a page out of X’s book and structured our engineering core with tight feedback loops of making mistakes and learning new designs. This allows us to pivot easily to meet customer needs and demand. Now, we are able to release updates and new features in a matter of a few weeks instead of waiting months for a large release, as we used to do in a traditional engineering setup.
As part of our move to an Agile engineering culture, we changed the structure of our engineering leadership. Instead of having to constantly manage, those in leadership positions are now responsible for leading, not managing day-to-day activities. Instead, the independent teams manage themselves, committing to delivering work based on business priority, testing, and then looping back around to make the appropriate changes.
This change in culture is something we believe will benefit the company as a whole, and will also bring great value to our customers. We are now able to be more responsive to customer needs and can bring solutions to market much faster. In The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization, Peter M. Senge writes, “The only sustainable competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster.” Learning faster is exactly what we’re trying to accomplish. We are using Agile and the feedback loop so we can learn fast and subsequently succeed fast.
To further our mission to become an Agile company, we invited Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of Scrum, (the foundation of SimpliVity’s Agile culture) to our headquarters in Westborough, Massachusetts to enable our engineering leaders and teams with some training. Jeff explained to the team the importance of an Agile culture, and also the benefits to a company implementing this kind of environment. One of the key benefits of Scrum – productivity gains of as much as 1200% have been recorded! Additionally, the team has been able to consistently push out software releases every three months instead of every 20 months.
At the core, hyperconverged infrastructure and Scrum are looking to accomplish the same goal – make organizations more efficient. SimpliVity customers are able to simplify their IT environments while becoming more operationally efficient. In fact, according to an April 2016 IDC white paper, SimpliVity customers increased time spent on innovation and new projects by an equivalent increase of 81% after deploying hyperconverged infrastructure.
Since we pride ourselves on innovation and disruption, SimpliVity is shaking up our own culture in order to tighten feedback loops, be able to learn faster than the competition, and be able to provide value to customers at a quicker pace.
And, as a final note, I would like to thank some of my colleagues who made Agile all possible – Christian van den Branden, Steve Daukas, Josh Dion, Ben Muise, Kathy Moxham, and Steve Rebello.
If you are curious about SimpliVity, take a moment to learn more about SimpliVity’s culture.