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Q&A with Paolo Sammicheli

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Paolo Sammicheli, Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Registered Scrum Trainer and Coach.

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

I discovered Agile and Scrum in 2012 after 20 years of working in software development. At that time, I was employed by a big software company as the Technical Director of the Central Italy branch. I started implementing it and quickly became passionate about it. I founded my own software company in 2015, and we started offering Agile services and software consultancy. I quickly became a full-time Agile Coach due to the high demand of that time market.

By 2017, I had worked with several clients outside of software and in Industrial Manufacturing. With that learning, I published my first book "Scrum for Hardware," which has been recognized as the first significant publication in the world on the topic. Shortly after, thanks to my book success, I met Jeff Sutherland, founder of Scrum Inc. and the co-author of Scrum and the Agile Manifesto. He offered to become a Registered Scrum Trainer for Scrum Inc. Years later, just before the COVID-19 pandemic, I got interested in AI. I enrolled in an AI course at MIT Sloan and other online resources during the lockdown. With that interest, I had the opportunity to coach Teams developing AI.

After two years, at the end of 2022, I published my second book, "Scrum in AI." The same month, ChatGPT was announced, so everybody started getting interested in AI, which also boosted my book. Currently, I'm working on a third book that will land on Amazon before Christmas 2023 but is available as a preview here:

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

We are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: "It is not the big fish which eats the small fish; it's the fast fish which eats the slow fish." Business Agility is crucial across almost every sector. For this reason, the Agile Manifesto values, which software companies have embraced since 2001, are now essential every where. Companies like Spotify, Tesla, SpaceX, Haier, and others demonstrated that unprecedented Agility is achievable in any domain. The job market is also changing rapidly: talented people want autonomy and feel they are working for something that matters. Aspects of Scrum, like self-organizing teams and clear product ownership from optional, are becoming necessary. Also, the increasing demand for remote and hybrid work is forcing agile, Scrum, and open-source practices into the standard way of working for software companies.


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

In 2017, I visited a Swedish company, Saab Technologies, and was impressed by their use of Scrum in building the Gripen Jas 39e Jet Fighter. I was intrigued by their use of digital twins and simulations to speed up development and shorten the feedback loop. A very mature implementation of many Agile practices and incredibly high talent were combined with true ingenuity and an honest and pragmatic approach. That was inspiring.

In my home country, I had the privilege of coaching, together with my dear friend Andrea Provaglio, Pietro Fiorentini Spa, an Italian Oil & GAS company operating worldwide. They achieved excellent results by combining a radical implementation of Lean Manufacturing with Agile and Scrum. Their way of doing rapid prototyping with cheap material, like cardboard and wood, up to aluminum and 3D printing, is extraordinarily inspiring. More information and pictures about them are on my website's case study library:

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

I am convinced that Agile will spread, improve and evolve. In the future, there will be an increasing need for Agility. New technologies like 3D printing, digital twins, augmented reality, AI combined with Agile Principles and Values will generate new practices and enable evenmore Agility. What we consider innovative today, like continuous integration, digital twins with automated testing, etc., tomorrow will be the norm in any fast-paced company.

I don't see particular challenges when leadership embodies the Agile and Scrum values. Truthful and inspiring leaders can implement these practices without particular problems. Ultimately, these practices are designed to improve the working life of everybody. When you have managers, instead, doing this stuff just because they are being told to, then it goes from hard to almost impossible. So, the real challenge is to put the right people in leadership positions. But this has nothing to do with Agile; it is a general problem.

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