From Software Delivery to Software Creativity

This editorial was inspired by a quote from Mary and Tom Poppendieck’s book “Lean Mindset“. They wrote “What’s next is to stop thinking about software development as a delivery process and to start thinking of it as a problem-solving process, a creative process.”

In many large companies, software development has often been traditionally considered as a “production unit” that will translate business requirements in code. There is an important amount of research and practice around the concept of “software factory”, especially in the industrial domain. In recent years, there has been an increased number of situations where the software has become the product or the main way that customer will live their buying experience. When you use an hotel booking app or a social networking web site, you are looking for an hotel room or the capability to connect with other people, but one of the key factor to choose between competing options will be the ease of interaction provided by a mobile app or a web site.

Creativity has always been present in the software development world. In a pre-Internet world however, the costs to distribute and market packaged software was an important barrier to put the new software products in front of the potential customers. Today with centralized app stores and the acceptance of relying on hosted subscription-based solution, the relationship between the software creator and his customer has become more direct. Easier distribution doesn’t necessarily translate into more successes, but it certainly provides more variety and competition in software markets. It seems to me that I discover a new agile project management solution every month.

If this improved context for software creativity has led to the multiplication of software-focused startups, the situation is different in the corporate world. The transition to accepting software developers as partners and co-creators can be slow as they are still considered as suppliers and costs that should be minimized. As in Agile initiatives, the abandon of a command & control vision and the nurturing of a trust culture are not obvious to achieve in traditional management structures.

Software creativity resources

Software Development and Creativity

Enterprise Agile or Agile Enterprise?

Unblocking Developer Creativity

The Art of Disciplined Creativity in Software Development