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Peter Sellars’ Personal Bliki

AgileNZ 2014 - Day 1 Overview

published in agile, conference, new zealand

Last month I attended the AgileNZ 2014 Conference in Wellington. Sponsored by Assurity the conference boasted an impressive line up of talented speakers, both national and international. Seeing Gojko Adzic (Author of Specification By Example) and Tobias Mayer (Author of (The People’s Scrum) present in NZ reflected the conference organisers credibility amongst the Agile Community.

Day 1 saw me attend the opening presentation by Conference Chair, Edwin Dando followed by Gojko Adzic’s Specification by Example keynote. I also attended talks by a former colleague Dispesh Pala (now IBM), Bernard O’Leary, Clare McLennan and Martin Kearns as well as Eric Willeke’s afternoon keynote. The programme for the conference listing all the speakers can be found here.

Unfortunatly the videos from this conference have been restricted by the publishers to only attendees. It would be awesome if these were made available to the general public - I am sure there are many New Zealand Agilists who would benefit from being able to see the talks but for one reason or another were unable to attend the conference. Some slides have been made available to the general public though and those that relate to talks I attended on Day 1 have been embedded below.

Welcome by Conference Chair - Edwin Dando

Edwin got the conference off to a flying start and challenged attendees to grasp at the Technology based future for New Zealand and how we need to get better at it. He really set the tone for the conference - highlighting that it is not about Agile but about better outcomes. His simple challenge to all attendees was

Will you help us make a better NZ?

Edwin Dando, Conference Chair

[Keynote] Specification by Example - Gojko Adzic

Gojko Adzic presented an entertaining and interesting ‘How to outrun your competition’ (Specification By Example) keynote that raised the bar of presentations to a level that was maintained by most of the speakers that followed. He utilised his Serbian bankground and references to add humour amongst his important messages.

The important message from this version of Gojko’s talk focused on how to outrun the competition due to the impact Specification By Example has on the pipeline of work within your organisation. Utilising Specification By Example enables your organisation to complete work as fast as your developers can output it.

This presentation is one of those available to attendees and hopefully will be opened to the public in due course - it comes highly recommended.

Unleashing the full potential of your Agile Teams - Dipesh Pala, IBM

My former colleage Dipesh Pala provided a high energy, highly engaging talk on unleashing the full potential of your Agile Teams. Dipesh mixed both work and homelife stories into his talk litered with great research, quotes and reflective moments.

If you can’t fly, Run
If you can’t run, Walk
If you can’t walk, Crawl
But, by all means keep moving

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Focusing on the Catalysts vs. Inhibitors and Nourishers vs. Toxins elements Dipesh outlined the basis for a Daily Checklist for Team Leaders he prepared for and uses daily in his role at IBM.

Surfing the wave of emergent design. How architecture works in an Agile organisation - Bernard O’Leary, CallPlus Group

Having seen Bernard present previously it was unfortunate that he struggled in this presentation. His topic, view and message are important ones that don’t get sufficient exposure at Agile conferences. Architectural agility, the use of emergent design and the his two key messages resonate well with me.

Planning to fail vs. failing to plan
Collective brain-power vs. design ‘hero;

Bernard O’Leary, CallPlus Group

Incremental architecture based on the appropriate implementations whilst ‘thinking globally, acting locally’ formed the basis of Bernard’s talk. Whilst Bernard has had better presentation days - his message is important and deserves to be heard. Good on Bernard for stepping up to the plate and sharing this presentation to a wider audience.

[Keynote] WIP: A tragedy in 278 parts - Eric Willeke, Rally

Being well aware of the tragedy of WIP I was excited to hear Eric Willeke would be talking about it in his keynote. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that 2 is actually the optimal number of tasks a person can do to maintain flow. As a result I am now experimenting with this in my personal kanban environment.

All the usual flow metrics appeared such as how much touch time and wait time occur during TIP (Time in process) for tasks leading to the flow efficiency equation present in the slidedeck. I chat on a regular basis with companies who are still focused on keeping people 100% efficient rather than focusing on flow, and it is truly depressing!

Suggested Reading: The Impact of Agile Quantified

Cultural cringe - Clare McLennan, Independent Consultant

Clare provided some interesting insights into Agile teams and the impact introducing Agile teams can have on individuals. As well as updating the Tuckman Model to the ‘McLennan Model’ incorporating the ability for teams to ‘deform’ as opposed to ‘perform’ after ‘norming’, Clare provided useful techniques for helping to build better teams.

Amongst the ideas discussed were the Ladder of Inference and the use of inquiry language. Specifically aimed at the technically minded who ‘may’ need to develop so-called soft skills in order to thrive in Agile teams this was an entertaining presentation that was well received.

Making sense of complexity by designing dynamic environments - Martin Kearns, SMSMT/Scrum Alliance

Martin Kearns has to be one of the most interesting Agile minds in Australasia. This talk along with others I have been priveleged to attend got the mind juices going from the get go - Martin always engages you to challenge your own thinking and in this particular talk his focus is on how to ‘Create a Lens to see things differently’.

We have to learn our way out of problems

Martin Kearns, SMST/Scrum Alliance

The main focus of the talk was a unique space Martin had helped to create. This space captured a lot of disparate information and was used to engage leaders in searching, seeking and discovering patterns in the information. The ‘Immersion Room’ is a truly dynamic environment used to make sense of complexity. The power of Co-creation and collaboration supporting sustainable change and establishing new rituals within an organization.