As its manifesto states, the focus of agile software development is on early validation of ideas and permitting the development team to adjust to the realities of execution. We’ve long practiced agile software development at Thomson Reuters, notably using it to develop WestlawNext between 2007 and 2010. Over the years, we’ve noticed it is far easier to practice the agile approach at the team level than in a larger environment that spans many organizational structures.
Beyond that, like any software development process, adoption and adherence to best practices can drift over time. In early 2016, we started a “development excellence” initiative to explore and execute best practices for software development. This included our application of agile software principles, but also looked at how we code, build, test, deploy and run.
With any organizational change initiative, one of the key areas of exploration is the most effective way to get skills and techniques to the teams on the ground. There are many options, from classroom learning to embedding experts. We’ve tried many and few seem to have the combination of cost-effective scaling and long-term benefits that we need.
Thus, when we heard about the “Dojo” concept, we were intrigued. Dojo is Japanese for “place of the way.” The concept is both a physical and metaphorical space where teams can come to learn agile principles, certainly, but also improve other aspects of software engineering or embrace new frameworks and tools.