SPA Conference session: When will we ever learn?

One-line description:Learning is not part of business-as-usual (BAU) in most organisations who engage in the software development. Is this a problem and, if so, what can be done to address this?
Session format: Think Tank (75 minutes) [read about the different session types]
Abstract:Learning is not part of the day-to-day work done in most organisations we have encountered who engage in the development of software. Where learning is done, it tends to be done in batches disconnected from the work (e.g. going on training courses, tranches of research, etc.) or sporadically, largely driven by individuals who have a specific desire to learn.

NOTE: As this is a Think Tank, if you can read some or all of the pre-session session reading list at this would be very helpful.

This Think Tank looks firstly to answer the following questions:

- Is learning an essential component of business operation for organizations engaging in software development?
- If so, why do many of these organizations not make it a formal part of BAU?
- What aspects of organizational culture block the realization of this?
- What practical steps can be taken to address these blockers?
- How do you identify the right type of learning required: individual vs team/organization, generic vs specific, etc?
- How does an organization or individual know if they are investing the right amount of time in learning?

Assuming the lack of learning as part of BAU is seen as a problem, there will be a focus on identifying concrete steps that can be taken to help individuals and organizations improve.
Audience background:Working in IT.

If you can read some or all of the pre-session session reading list at this would be very helpful.
Benefits of participating:Take away some ideas, strategies,, arguments and examples to try and make learning part of your day-to-day work in software development.
Materials provided:Examples of how some organizations and individuals working in software development build learning into their work.

Selected source material from studies and expert opinion.

Both of these sets of documentation will be made available before the session and potential attendees will be encouraged to read and consider them before the session.
Process:2 collaborations in groups:

Bringing learning into the workplace as part of BAU software development.

Each group considers:
- Is there actually an issue?
- What are the most likely ways of building learning into BAU software development?
- What will stop BAU learning from happening?
- What effect does organizational context have on the ability to build in learning, e.g. project vs product focus?
- How do you address these blockers?

Each group comes back with:
- A conclusion on whether there is an issue with learning in BAU software development practice
- One or more ways of building learning into BAU software development (max of 3)
- One or more blockers and solutions (max of 3)

Doing the right amount of the right things.
Each group considers:
- How do we determine what learning should be part of BAU? Can and/or should it include technical skills, design, architecture, organizational skills, negotiation, etc. What needs specialized or off-the-job instruction or learning?
- How do we identify and measure the learning being done?
- How can an individual determine if they have enough learning built into their own work and if it is having the desired effect? How does this vary from role to role in a typical software development team?
- How can these aspects be measured at an organizational level? For example, is the team as a whole doing enough learning as software is being delivered?

Each group comes back with:
- One or more ways of identifying the right types of BAU learning as part of software development (max of 3)
- One or more ways of determining how much BAU learning is needed for teams or types of practitioner (max of 3)
- One or more ways of measuring the impacts of BAU learning for an individual or team (max of 3)

Groups will be prompted to use a mechanism of brainstorming ideas or experience on each topic and then using voting to narrow down if they have too many to present back. Each group could use their own process in place of this if they can agree.

There will be a maximum of 3 groups.

Groups will be assembled based on a combination of their type of organization, their role and whether they have already read the background material.
Detailed timetable:00:00 - 00:10 Intro, review objectives, assemble into appropriate groups
00:10 - 00:30 Group work 1: Bringing learning into the workplace as part of BAU
00:30 - 00:40 Present back and collate
00:40 - 01:00 Group work 2: Doing the right amount of the right things
01:00 - 01:10 Present back and collate
01:10 - 01:15 Conclusions
Outputs:Outputs on a publically accessible web location such as a blog or personal web site linked from the conference wiki
1. Andy Longshaw
Advanced Legal
2. Chris Cooper-Bland
Endava (UK) Ltd
3. Nick Rozanski
Barclays Investment Bank