What does the future look like

I remember back in the late 90s and early 2000s there was a portion of the population that were fascinated by the culture of Japan. One aspect of that, that captured people’s imagination is how we used to find it so odd that at “celebrities” like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were doing adverts for strange products in languages other than their own. This became such a part of our own culture that it was even parodied in the TV series Friends.

These days we’re not even shocked when “celebrities” like George Clooney endorsing coffee, or Snoop Dogg rapping about take-away apps.

Being a fan of Sci-Fi I’m fascinated by the idea of what we would make of technology from the future. If a smart phone from 2050 landed in your hand, how would you interpret it? Or use it? Would it even be recognisable? We can’t know what it would look like, but I think we can predict our feelings towards it.

This past week I listened to a Cautionary Tales episode about the Sinclair C5 in which they dramatised the launch of the C5, a “revolutionary” electric vehicle. Among its many failings, such as being incapable of coping with the weather of the country in which it was launched, it was also simply “weird”.

The C5 was unlike everything anyone had seen before. Even now, in a world with eScooters and hoverboards, the C5 looks like a strange device – although that could be to do with the 80s styling.

I think this can tell us something about those who are yet to be exposed to practices such as ZeroTrust and DevOps practices, or those that have been exposed and are resistant to it. There is no doubt those ways of working are here and likely to stay, and may well be superseded. But some people view modern engineering techniques as this odd, alien, concept that upsets everything that has gone before it. Those people are like us, viewing the culture of Japan through a lens of “well this is weird”.

Through my own experience of learning and practising Agile techniques, I found it’s a total mind-shift from the traditional way of working. It turns up-side-down so much of what we’re taught by companies, society, and universities.

It also challenges many things outside an engineering team, things that are usually deemed sacred, like finance and procurement. Making it so that even if your engineering team does adopt it, it’s full effect cannot be achieved without a holistic cultural shift in your organisation.

Remembering those early days is important, to remember how you felt, how you got to a stage where you were comfortable, and to use those “aha!” moments to bring others on the journey with you.

I hope to write about the best way I find to achieve adoption soon. Implementing Agile methodologies across an organisation certainly is a slow process and potentially generational in nature, and it cannot be done in isolation to work effectively. But I hope that this gives you a sense of empathy towards those who may not have even heard of it.