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In September, 2012 I had the honor of presenting the keynote address at The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) World Conference in Boston. Here is the abstract and video recording of that presentation. I hope you enjoy it.

The carpenter is a skilled craftsman who is adept at reading architectural plans and building what is prescribed. A good carpenter has a well-developed set of skills, high-quality tools, and the experience to build high-quality structures that will last.

The cabinet maker’s work is designed to be seen and must be visually appealing. The joints must appear seamless, and the finish flawless. A good cabinet maker works with the customer to design a functionally effective configuration and select styles, color, and appearance. Unlike the carpenter’s coarse tools, the cabinet maker’s tools are precise and delicate.

The furniture maker’s work must serve a specific purpose, but its actual design and appearance can vary widely. A chair might have arms or not, have a high or low back, be symmetrical or asymmetrical. An innovative furniture maker’s vision is not tightly bound by the appearance of the chair, only by its functionality. The artistic furniture maker is not directed by the customer, but instead measures success by how many customers buy his work.

All three are skilled craftspersons who possess the right skills, tools, and experience. Data warehouse, BI, and analytics practitioners have historically been most like the carpenter, building what the architects prescribe. This talk examines a blend of Lean Startup, Kanban, and agile techniques that offer the opportunity to work more like cabinet makers and furniture makers, infusing creativity, vision, and innovation into our results–-and measuring how well our customers like what we build.

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I fear that, “agile as the latest magic bullet” has crossed the chasm, but that “agile as a different way of behaving” has not."
- Ken Collier
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