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Q&A with Frédéric Rivain

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Frédéric Rivain, Chief Technology Officer.



How could you describe your career path in a few words?


I have a diverse career, ranging from cybersecurity to eCommerce, online gambling or video gaming. The main driver across my career has been to contribute to a product, content or service that impacts the lives of customers. I am a technical leader at heart who enjoys taking customer problems and business needs and translating them so engineering teams understand the why and can provide the best solutions. I have worked with international distributed teams, scaling and growing organizations, whether they were early-stage startups or more mature organizations that needed someone to take them to the next level. In all my experiences, bringing an agile spirit has been a cornerstone of my approach to building a high-performing product and engineering organization. I am passionate about continuous learning and continuous improvement. I keep learning a lot from the tech community and I like to give back through talks and articles, sharing my own experience so it can hopefully inspire others.


How do you think agile practices have transformed companies over the past two years?


I actually think we are past some of the rules of agile methodologies such as Scrum. It’s been more than 20 years since the Agile Manifesto. Its principles should be embedded into the culture and intents of tech organizations, but each context is different and each organization has had to mature how they do things and distill what works for them or not. For instance, working in small increments and shipping value to customers often is what matters, not necessarily working in 2-week sprints or in Kanban or through a SAFe agile train of releases. Making sure teams are closely connected to their customers and internal stakeholders, whatever form that takes.


I would also note that it’s probably been challenging for companies to stay true to agile practices when you are facing economic pressure, layoffs and an uncertain environment, and you may fall back into waterfall projects with crazy imposed deadlines. Surprisingly this is when agile practices should matter even more as they provide the necessary adaptability to teams.


What successful cases of agile transformations have you had the opportunity to observe that have particularly stood out to you?


At Dashlane, we have actually had an interesting “agile” journey. Like many organizations, we originally started by implementing Scrum, pretty much by the book. It was a simple starting point. As we were looking to improve goal settings, we then introduced OKRs. The benefits were that engineers were much more educated about business metrics and conscious of how their work could impact the business. We kept iterating on our practices along the way, pretty much every year. Learning, challenging things that were not working to our expectations, adapting to new business contexts, and in short driving our organization as a product that is constantly dynamic and changing. In that sense, because we were not firmly attached to any specific framework, it has been a successful persistent transformation. If you want to learn more, check out this blog article I wrote at the time.

Will agile practices continue to generate interest? What challenges do you see in the context of deploying these practices?


I definitely hope that the spirit behind the Agile Manifesto is still generating interest and influencing how organizations operate and collaborate. It’s even more important in today’s remote world, with more globalization, rapid innovation, and a need for fast experimentation. But frameworks like Scrum, Kanban or SAFe are probably not enough anymore. They are a good entry point to inspire teams and get them started. But there are new models and trends, such as Design Thinking, Jobs-to-be-done, or DevOps practices such as DORA, SPACE or DevEx that are innovating and suggesting new approaches. Professionals interested in agile should be curious and open-minded and experiment with those to find the ones that meet their needs and allow them to keep raising the bar.  I am also curious to see how Artificial Intelligence is going to impact how we work in the future. At the end of the day, this is a journey. 

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