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IAE Industry Day 10 - Lessons Learned from an Agile Approach to IT Development Recap

Industry Day 10 featured IAE Assistant Commissioner Eric Ferraro discussing the IAE transition to Agile development.


The Integrated Award Environment (IAE) held its 10th Industry Day  on March 9, 2016. More than 150 attendees signed on to hear Eric Ferraro, IAE assistant commissioner present the lessons learned during the program’s recent transition from a traditional waterfall organization to Agile.

The move toward Agile began in earnest following the unsuccessful launch of SAM.gov in 2012.

When speaking about Agile development’s impact on IAE, Ferraro said, “It changed the organization’s structure to right the ship.”  

Among others, Ferraro shared these lessons learned:

  • Mission first, people always
  • Hoarding information doesn’t work
  • All team members need to take responsibility for their actions, outputs, mistakes, and accomplishments
  • Treating contractor personnel as hired hands is counter productive
  • Skipping retrospectives is a mistake
  • Thinking we’re smart enough to figure it out ourselves creates problems
  • Formal leaders need to balance getting work done by modeling servant leader qualities including building collaboration, breaking down silos, and fostering trust across boundaries  
  • Thinking Agile is all about process and ignoring the people dimension is a mistake

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” according to Ferraro, echoing a quote from Peter Drucker. He pointed out that as IAE was changing course, the program also focused on its culture and people to help them perform their tasks in a newly agile environment.

Ferraro stated that IAE’s big “Ah-ha” moment during the still on-going transition was when the program realized that, “Relationships and trust are everything!”  

Two years into the IAE’s transformation, the Agile adoption has impacted what the organization values, the way it thinks about work, and how it measures success in all aspects of operations--from acquisition to finance to human resources.  While there is more work to be done, the IAE is maturing its practices and continues to refine them as it learns and grows as an organization.

Did you miss Industry Day 10?  You can still view the full presentation online.

Stay tuned for an upcoming Interact post about what we have in store for Industry Day 11.


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The IAE environment is designed to transition multiple, stove-piped applications into an integrated workforce tool set for awards management across... More

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