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Innovation Leader Speaker Series: Agile Product Development in Practice

February 4, 2020 //

Early last Thursday evening, the 1810 Accelerator hosted the most recent installment of Temple’s Innovation Leader Speaker Series; a panel discussion on Agile Product Development. This round of innovation-based discussion was led by Kerry Slade, Assistant Academic Director for the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute, and featured examples of how the agile method is used to develop software, by Dell Boomi (“Boomi”), and hardware, by Armstrong World Industries (“Armstrong”).

Tiffany Powley, Agile Coach and Project Manager at Dell Boomi, first explained the origin of agile in The Agile Manifesto, created by a group of software developers in 2001 to improve the way projects are executed. The manifesto outlined the following guiding themes: individuals and interactions over processes and tools; working software over comprehensive documentation; customer collaboration over contract negotiation; and responding to change over following a plan. Ms. Powley described how Boomi uses this method regularly to connect clients’ datasets and release software to them incrementally.

After laying out the agile framework, the panel heard from Director of Global Innovation at Armstrong, Steve Wilkinson, and Armstrong engineer, Jason Cavanaugh.

Jason Cavanaugh

 Steve decided to use the agile method he had learned about at an Innovation Research Interchange conference in 2017 to attack the longstanding problem of creating a ceiling that was seamless and would also absorb sound. Jason described that the team consisted of five members (a senior chemist, two mechanical engineers and two technicians) led by a Scrum Master, essentially a project manager. The process was a success and their result was ACOUSTIBuilt™, a non-cannibalizing new type of ceiling solution. By implementing an agile strategy, the engineering team at Armstrong was able to successfully bring a product to market in less than 18 months, while involving installers and customers in the development process.The Panelists closed the discussion with thoughts on how the agile method complements each company’s leadership development strategy.

The Innovation Leaders Speaker Series, presented in partnership by the Fox School of Business at Temple University, the Product Development and Management Association, and the Innovation Research Interchange, addresses the intersection between innovation and entrepreneurship, and features leaders in the field who have successfully put these principles into practice at organizations of all sizes and industries. For more information, contact Assistant Academic Director, Kerry Slade at kerry.slade@temple.edu