Agile Leaders Interviews: Gavyn Howard of Giffgaff

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Apr 12, 2021
Updated on
Jun 21, 2022
Table of Content

Gavyn Howard is an Agile Coach and Agile Delivery Lead for giffgaff, as well as Director of Discover Agile Ltd.

A natural Scrum Master through personable, natural, and engaging attitude. Always keen to coach positive outcomes in teams, products, and culture.

Specialized in Data, I love to utilize the power of data to help dev teams make data-driven decisions when looking to grow and develop. Experimenting and Researching new ways of working is the most enjoyable in the world for me.

What have been the most unexpected changes you've encountered in your software development process and/or team post-COVID?

That digital working vs bricks and mortar (offices in particular) have next to nearly no change in product delivery.

If anything, digital working has now overcome traditional methods and we are seeing a shift. The people in organizations seem to prefer working from home due to work/homelife balance and have therefore become more productive.

It is a sentence I thought I would never say as an Agile enthusiast but that’s the fact. I think the biggest change that impacts Agile thinking is that it removes the "interactiveness" and collaboration. There are ways and tools to get around this though, it is not the same but it is doable.

What have you learned from a full year of all (or mostly) remote development?

Enjoy life, don’t sit behind your laptop all day every day. You have the luxury to enjoy doing things you'd never have time to do. Don’t waste it. Also, experiment with how you work. I spent a full day working from my phone one day in a park and it worked perfectly fine

What's one lesson that you want to apply (or thing that you want to do differently) in the coming year?

Become more humble as a human and hopefully let that reflect in my work for Agile and businesses. Basically a lot of internal work.

Any other lessons you must also apply (there's never just one)?

Just be myself. I have a reputation for being just that and it works well. So just to continue being myself and hopefully in turn it teaches others to be a little less serious all the time.

There's a lot of talk about creating a blameless engineering culture. Do you agree with this as a goal? How is this currently supported in your organization?

Absolutely, trust and transparency right? I often reflect on a quadrant that describes 4 C's (Control, Collaboration, Competitiveness, and Creativity). Although all four of these are important for a functional organization. Collaboration and Creativity often lose themselves over power moves and Controlling attitudes to beat Competition. The key is to find the balance in my view.

I would certainly say that in an organization like the one I am in. They have quite a flat organizational structure. The hierarchy isn't there so to speak (or at least less than other places I am aware of). So the blameless engineering comes in as a part of the "we are one" thinking.

That being said, it does exist from time to time. And it’s tough to mitigate this completely, is it impossible? I’m not certain.

Retrospectives tend to be fairly qualitative. Would quantitative data contribute to sprint retros? If so, what would you want access to – and how could it assist?

Quality is the aim of the game, in my opinion, to get the best quality you need to explore quantity. Identify numerous amount of problems or "challenges" as I prefer to call them. Then drill down through collaborative voting and asking incisive questions when the times to do so may appear.

I don't want to see anything in sprint retrospectives other than people reflecting and allowing themselves to break away from the daily grind for a bit. Not all sprint retrospectives need actions either. Just to throw that out there. Whether that’s qualitative or quantitative, doesn't really matter as long as it’s valuable!

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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