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Todd Little : Presentations
       It's all about making ship happen.      

"It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future."
                      - Yogi Berra

Conference Presentations by Abstract

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Click here for Movie clips used in the presentations

Stand Back and Deliver”

“A Framework for Agile Leadership”

(90 or 180 minutes)

We start by introducing the purpose alignment model. By characterizing activities by mission criticality and market differentiation, we show how organizations can discover and align with organizational strategy to focus their activities and improve their effectiveness. Next we introduce the key attributes and techniques for leading collaboration to create an environment where teams can be creative, innovative and productive. Lastly we show how to characterize projects by complexity and uncertainty and the implications on project management, governance, and leadership development to minimize risk and deliver on the purpose efficiently.  In summary the framework provides some practical guidelines for:

  • Creating and Aligning to the Strategic Vision
  • Dispersion of the Strategy via Leading Collaboration
  • Utilizing the Strategy to Guiding Decisions
  • Execution of the Strategy via effective Project Governance

Stand Back and Deliver, presented at Lean Agile Sweden 2008

A Framework for Agile Leadership, presented at Agile2008

A Framework for Agile Leadership, presented at ORC Software STORM 2008 Conference

A Framework for Agile Leadership presented at Agile2007 Leadership Symposium.

"Risky Business: Real Options @ Work"

“Risk and Risk Management

(90 minutes)

Two industries that extensively deal with risk are Investment Banking and Oil Exploration. As seasoned veterans involved in developing software in these industries, Chris Matts and Todd will introduce a number of theories, tools and practices surrounding risk and risk management. They will share their practical experience using these techniques and approaches, explaining what works and what does not based on their experience and that of their colleagues.

Learning outcomes

  • Categorization of Types of Risks
  • General Strategies for managing risk
  • A set of practical tools for managing risk

Risk and Risk Management, presented at Houston APLN July 2009

Risk and Risk Management, presented at Agile 2009 (August, Chicago)

Risky Business: Real Options @ Work, presented at Agile Roots 2010 (June, Salt Lake City)

Risky Business: Agility @ Work, presented at Rally Agile Success Tour 2011 (March, Houston)



“An Introduction to Agile Software Development”

(45 minutes)

Agile software development has become very popular lately. Just what is agile development? Todd spends some time to introduce the history, values, and practices of agile development and also navigates through some of the agile soup such as Scrum, eXtreme Programming, Lean, Kanban, Agile Alliance, APLN and others.

An Introduction to Agile Software Development, presented at OpenSpirit Lunch and Learn  2009


"Making Ship Happen"

"It Depends"

“Context Driven Agile Leadership”

(60—90 minutes)

  • We expect uncertainty and manage for it through iterations, anticipation, and adaptation.
  • We improve effectiveness and reliability through situationally specific strategies, processes and practices.

The "one size fits all" approach to Project Leadership is inherently flawed.  We have found that the two primary attributes of uncertainty and complexity of a project provide guidance to effective project leadership and governance.  Complexity includes project composition such as team size and criticality, while uncertainty includes both market and technical uncertainty.  The approach and leadership style required for a simple, stable project is quite different than what is required for highly uncertain, highly complex projects.

Context Driven Agile Leadership, presented at Synerzip Webinar 2010

Making Ship Happen, presented at PMI Iowa 2008

It Depends, presented at APLN Leadership Summit, Dallas 2008 (get audio here)

Context Driven Agile Project Leadership, presented at Agile2006.  (See video here)

Context Driven Agile Project Leadership, presented at XP2006

Context Driven Agile Project Leadership, presented at Agile Business Conference 2006

Context Driven Agile Project Leadership, presented at Agile Business Conference 2005

"Barely Sufficient Portfolio Management"

(180 Minute simulation)

Yogi Berra is quoted as saying, “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” Effective management of a software portfolio is a challenge that many companies ignore, avoid or fail to follow through because it is too hard. Many approaches to portfolio management get so complex that decisions fail to get made. But what would “barely sufficient” portfolio management look like? In this hands-on tutorial we review some basic portfolio management guidelines and introduce a simulation game where participants make decisions about which investments a company makes.                    

Through the instruction and the simulation, participants will learn about product, project, and portfolio management issues such as business strategy, investment return, constraint management, technical and market uncertainty and project complexity in order to optimize overall return.

Barely Sufficient Portfolio Management, presented at Agile 2009  (files used in simulation)

Barely Sufficient Portfolio Management, presented at Lean-Agile Sweden 2008  (files used in simulation)

Barely Sufficient Portfolio Management, presented at Better Software 2008 and Agile2008 Conference (files used in simulation)

"The Strategic Business Analyst"

(60 Minutes)

We introduce the Purpose Alignment Model described in the book "Stand Back and Deliver" to demonstrate how to analyze portfolios, projects, functionality, and features based on company strategy. We will discuss the benefits this approach generates, the process for implementing this model, and work through several case studies. After developing a Purpose-Alignment Model for your project or company, you can significantly improve decision making and resource allocation (and make yourself look really good).

Key Learning Points:

  • Learn how to make an organization's strategy accessible to project teams.
  • Learn how to use this accessible strategy to guide project decisions.
  • Learn how to assess requirements based on their contribution to a project’s delivered value

The Strategic Business Analyst, presented at IIBA webinar 2009


"Leading Change Through Collaboration"

(360 Minutes)

Leaders today are faced with an incredible challenge—delivering the right results to changing marketplaces, doing more with limited resources, improving processes to reduce costs, opening new markets, and keeping the company from falling into chaos. Amazingly though, the solutions to many challenges are already held within your organization and team. How do you unleash the talent within and foster the flow of innovative ideas? In this hands-on and highly interactive session, Pollyanna Pixton and Todd Little introduce the principles of collaboration and the tools you need to create collaborative cultures in your team and organization. Combining principles with practice, you will learn how to use a proven collaboration process to generate new ideas and embrace change, identify barriers to innovation and agility, and discover novel ways to implement solutions. Practice these techniques and tools to become a more collaborative leader while learning the process for leading upwards and outwards.

Leading Change Through Collaboration, presented at Better Software 2008 Conference

Leading Change Through Collaboration, presented at PMI Houston 2009

"Agile Test Automation Outsourcing at Halliburton"

(20 Minutes)

A major challenge in agile development is the ability of test teams to keep pace with ongoing development while simultaneously ensuring that new development has not created regression failures. This case study from Halliburton shows how together with Logigear they developed a comprehensive test automation strategy for their agile teams that effectively leveraged both in house and outsourced activities. This approach resulted in a significant quality improvement from prior releases.

Agile Test Automation Outsourcing at Halliburton, presented at Gartner ITXPO 2011

"Integrating Software by Integrating People"

(30 Minutes)

In 1996, Landmark Graphics was a company that had grown from a startup 10 years prior into a leading provider of software applications in oil and gas exploration. The growth via acquisition had resulted in a collection of corporate cultures separated by prior organization, geography, product line and business domain. The visionary leadership realized that the best way to create integrated solutions was by integrating the people. This example of leading collaboration has paid off through increased profitability and market share.

Integrating Software by Integrating People, presented at Agile2008

“What is an Agile Leader

(60 minutes)

In this presentation, Todd discusses the concept of an Agile Leader by examining the Declaration of Interdependence, including a history of its creation. 

We are a community of project leaders that are highly successful at delivering results. To achieve these results:

  • We increase return on investment by making continuous flow of value our focus.
  • We deliver reliable results by engaging customers in frequent interactions and shared ownership.
  • We expect uncertainty and manage for it through iterations, anticipation, and adaptation.
  • We unleash creativity and innovation by recognizing that individuals are the ultimate source of value, and creating an environment where they can make a difference.
  • We boost performance through group accountability for results and shared responsibility for team effectiveness.
  • We improve effectiveness and reliability through situationally specific strategies, processes and practices.

Agile Leadership presented at Houston APLN 2008.

Agile Leadership presented at Agile Business Conference 2006.

“Uncertainty Surrounding the Cone of Uncertainty

(30-60 minutes)

The “Cone of Uncertainty” of software estimation was first defined by Barry Boehm over 25 years ago. The fundamental aspects of the cone are quite intuitive—that project uncertainty decreases as more is discovered during the project. Todd Little takes an in depth look into some of the dynamics of software estimation, and questions some of the more common interpretations of the meaning of the “cone.”  Todd presents data from over 100 “for market” projects developed by a market-leading software company and compares this data with other industry published data.  Delegates will discover some of the patterns of software estimation accuracy, some of which go against common industry beliefs.  Understanding the uncertainty bounds and patterns greatly helps to understand how to manage for the uncertainty. Delegates will take away from this class the following:

  • An understanding of “typical” estimation uncertainty
  • Suggestions for how to manage for the uncertainty
  • A collection of metrics to track and analyze uncertainty

Uncertainty Surrounding the Cone of Uncertainty, presented at Better Software 2008 Conference

Uncertainty Surrounding the Cone of Uncertainty, presented at IEEE EQUITY 2007.

“A Model of Software Development Value Creation and Value Capture”    (30-60 minutes)

Todd Little presents a model of the software development process that can help managers and project team members improve their understanding of software development dynamics. The model consists of a set of functions and parameters that can easily be applied in a spreadsheet. Utilizing this model provides guidance for the software development organization to maximize value delivery by exploring value creation and value capture in the presence of uncertainty.  Items that can be explored include project staffing, optimal release dates, and potential impacts of process improvements such as Pair Programming.

Value Creation and Capture, a Model of the Software Development Process, presented at IEEE EQUITY 2007.

“Assessing the cost of Outsourcing: Efficiency, Effectiveness and Risk”

(30-60 minutes)

Offshore outsourcing is a popular approach for companies looking to reduce software development costs.  We have found that the full picture of cost and value requires looking at efficiency, effectiveness, and risk.  We provide a financial model and explore the so called hidden costs and risks of offshore outsourcing.

Assessing the Cost of Outsourcing: Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Risk presented at IEEE EQUITY 2007.

Caught in the Matrix

Organizations struggle with whether to have Product Line or Functional alignment, or some form of formal or semi-formal Matrix organization.  This presentation examines the benefits of each form of organization and why each could and should be utilized. 

Caught in the Matrix presented at Landmark World-Wide Developers Conference.

Introduction to Causal Loops and Systems Thinking

Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline does a great job of explaining Systems Thinking and the use of Causal Loops to describe system behavior.  This presentation provides an overview of Systems Thinking and Causal Loops and goes into some of the common dynamics of software development

Introduction to Causal Loops and Systems Thinking presented at Landmark World-Wide Developers Conference.

Jungian Type (aka Meyers-Briggs MBTI)

Meyers and Briggs popularized Carl Jung’s work on personality type.  This presentation explains type and temperament and has been found to be very useful to teams to help them understand themselves and each other. 

Introduction to Jungian Type and MBTI presented at Landmark World-Wide Developers Conference.

The Enneagram

The Enneagram shares some similarities and is complimentary with Jungian type, but also has some important differences.  Fundamentally the Enneagram is based on the compulsion and is quite helpful to self and group understanding.  It also provides a path of transformation that allows getting through unhealthy compulsions.

Introduction to the Enneagram presented at Landmark World-Wide Developers Conference.

Software Metrics

This is a summary of a simple set of software metrics that can be utilized to help a development team or organization understand where they are at.

Software Metrics presented at Landmark World-Wide Developers Conference.


Check out when Todd will next speak about his models and ideas. For more information, contact Todd at

Todd Little