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[Agile Iowa] ‘Theranos: An Agile Anti-pattern Case Study' by Kevin Sutherland
January 20, 2021 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm CST
Once valued at over $10 Billion, the biotech company Theranos claimed to have invented a device capable of running hundreds of blood tests from a single drop of blood. Theranos was ultimately unable to make good on this claim and closed down in 2018. The company’s visionary and founder, Elizabeth Holmes, is currently facing fraud and conspiracy charges. In hindsight, critics blame the massive failure on the toxic corporate culture and “fake it ‘til you make it” strategy Holmes implemented throughout the 15-year life of the company.
This presentation explores how basic agile practices could have been applied to deliver Holmes’ vision. What could have been done differently to align closer with agile values and principles? What might have been the corresponding impact on the outcomes? How can similar thinking be applied to the delivery of other initiatives?
Speaker Kevin Sutherland:
Over the last 20 years, Kevin has delivered large system transformation projects, primarily for State government clients. He has played nearly every delivery team role from training designer to conversion lead to program manager. Kevin spent the first half of his career working 60-80 hours per week on $500M+ 3-5 year waterfall projects following the Accenture Delivery Model (ADM) methodology.
Kevin’s journey in agile began in a scrum master role on a fixed scope, fixed cost project to implement Medicaid eligibility changes driven by the Affordable Care Act (as you can imagine, the agile nature of this project was in name only). After completing the initial push to meet ACA timelines, Kevin launched an independent consulting company with a focus on learning, improving, and delivering as much value to his clients as possible. Kevin continues to be a student of agile principles and is continually seeking new perspectives and experiences he can apply to improve delivery effectiveness.