On a visit to Beijing I had the opportunity to give two presentation on Essence, the methodology for Team-Based Software Innovation I have been working on for some time.
Both presentations were under the auspices of The Sino-Danish Center for Education and Research (SDC). SDC is a joint project on education and research between the eight Danish universities, the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education, the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). SDC is charged to promote and strengthen collaboration between Danish and Chinese research and learning environments for the benefit of both countries. The project started in 2008.
The first presentation was at the School of Computer and Control at University of Chinese Academy of Sciences for professors, PhD students, and students at the masters level. This presentation discussed paradigmatic differences between traditional and agile development and – based on this discussion – suggested values for software innovation at the team-level. The main proposition was that modern software technologies allow for learning and as a consequence also for changes even late in software projects. Following this I presented main structures in Essence and illustrated how insights from prototypes can help develop more valuable solutions as knowledge from the use domain is combined with technological insights.
The second presentation was at the School of Management and Economics at Beijing Institute of Technology for a similar audience but now with a stronger business orientation. My talk there focussed less on technology and more on the potential in using prototypes and representations of visions to increase value in incremental development. That part was influenced by concepts from Problem-Based Learning and reflective development as suggested by Donald Schön. Following this I presented main structures from Essence and discussed some challenges related to project management in software innovation projects.
Although China and Denmark differ in so many ways there is a common interest in innovation and some of our challenges seem quite alike. For example it seems to be a challenge in both countries to ensure management support for innovation in ongoing projects. Risk aversion in ongoing projects appears to be a general challenge.
There seems to be similarities between the discourse in China today and Japan in the 70ies, where Japan tried to develop its own innovative capacities. Universities in China see a similar need and the interest in software innovation is just one example of this more general discourse.
Specifically regarding Essence I learned that concepts like reflection, paradigm, views, and values resonate quite well with the academics I met here.