ALI2018 Keynote Interview – Jeff Gothelf

We caught up with Agile-Lean Ireland 2018 keynote speaker, Jeff Gothelf, to talk about topics including the evolution of Lean UX, Lean/Agile Transformation success factors, and focusing on outcomes over outputs…


ALI: It’s been almost 5 years since the launch of the Lean UX book. How do you feel Lean UX has evolved since then?

Jeff: Lean UX has moved beyond “ux.” To me, that’s a huge win. It means organisations are adopting not only design and ux as differentiating tactics but they are integrating them broadly throughout the company.


ALI: Many large enterprises still fail to focus on outcomes, rather they still focus on outputs. What reasons would you attribute to this?

Jeff: Orgs focus on output because it’s easy to measure. It’s binary. It’s easy to see whether something shipped or it didn’t making it easy to reward/reprimand. This also fits very nicely with a manufacturing mindset where making “stuff” was the measure of success. Software feels like making “stuff” but in reality you’re teams are building systems. These systems deliver value and need to be continuously optimised and improved — not necessarily with more “stuff.” This is the realisation that modern orgs get and those that fall behind fail to grasp. Continuous improvement rather than continuous production is the key to your digital transformation.


ALI: What were the key ingredients which helped in in a successful Lean-Agile transformation you’ve been involved in?

Jeff: Humility from leaders and a clear, broadly understood vision for *why* the change is happening. In addition, a transparent set of success metrics by which the org measures itself on a path towards transformation and improvement. Without these ingredients companies are just following recipes.


ALI: What do you see the role of the Portfolio function as in a Lean-Agile organisation?

Jeff: I see it as the core of the incentive structure for making Lean/Agile work. Understanding how to position the portfolio’s strategy and then measure it against outcomes AND reward those outcomes is a key factor in the success of Lean/Agile transformation.


ALI: Sometimes we hear confusion around Design Thinking, Lean Startup and Agile, which seem to have similar goals but use different terminology – would you have any general guidance around how these should compliment each other?

Jeff: Yes –




ALI: What are the core tenets of the Sense and Respond philosophy?

Jeff: You’re in the software business.
Managing a software business is different.
Staff and incentivise your business to take advantage of being in the software business.
Use insights to continuously improve what you make and how you work.


ALI: What is the biggest thing companies keep getting wrong and what advice would you give to help?

Jeff: Incentives. By leaving HR and Finance out of the “agile conversation” teams get rewarded for shipping features on a deadline which is the antithesis of agility.


ALI: Where do you see Agile being in the next few years?

Jeff: I hope that it just becomes “the way we work” rather than this big thing but we’re far from it at the moment.


ALI: What are you most looking forward to about coming to Agile-Lean Ireland 2018 in Dublin?

Jeff: I learn a ton at events like this and my experience with the community in Dublin over the years has led me to believe this conference will be the best example of that yet.


Jeff will be our closing keynote speaker at Agile-Lean Ireland 2018 at Croke Park, Dublin, on April 26th 2018. Don’t miss you chance to see him by getting your tickets now. He will also be running a full-day Sense & Respond workshop the day before the conference – register now for his workshop.