Imagine you are an agile consultant or coach. You are called by the inhabitants from waterfall island, who haven’t heard about agility before and want to benefit from your advice. Which practices, principles and values would you pack in your agile suitcase for providing them guidance? What would you leave at home?
Here's what I caught from each of the speakers and the points are perphaps a bit paraphrased too.
Rachel DaviesRachel was carrying a backpack instead of suitcase so it doesn't get lost! Good metaphor. So here are the points from her presentation:
- Environment matters for Agile software development. Keep learning and keep the environment conducive to the learning.
- Great software takes time.
- While building great teams seems like herding cats, teamwork is essential to Agile.
- Stickies, markers, index cards, whiteboards - all will be in Rachel's suitcase. She's big on consensus building.
- She refuses to carry planning poker cards because they don't measure true value in her opinion.
- She focussed on the importance of slicing and release planning.
- Focus not just on pairing for programming but pairing for non-programming tasks too.
- Try tea-driven-development so you can reflect on what you've done after each little salvo.
- Deal with technical debt early - write clean code.
- Ship early, ship often.
- Show courage.
Mary PoppendieckMary's talk focussed on her husband Tom's passion for photography. It was a spell-binding slideshow of amazing storytelling through pictures and Mary's objective seemed to be to talk about the way Tom has reached this stage of mastery. Tom is an addict with photography and as a consequence very passionate about all aspects of it. He's gone beyond the usual novice's approach to snapshots - he can tell stories with pictures. His intellection has taken practice, hard work, time and heaps of experience.
Tom's persistence with the skill has lead to the fact that he's ready to capture the right photograph when the opportunity comes by. This is a factor of preparedness and skill which again comes from years of deliberate practice.
I think Mary's message was quite simple but used a powerful example to show that expertise stems from passion. Magic doesn't happen by magic, it takes time and we need to invest time in our skills or just be snapshot photographers. When Tom's done learning, he passes on learning and tools to others. For example he passes on his cameras to his son. In the same way, when we gain mastery at something we need to pass it on to others as well.
Joshua KerievskyAgain the theme seemed to be around getting better. Here were some interesting points from Josh:
- Make awesome users.
- Values trump practices.
- Agile is about riding two dolphins at a time - the technical and the managerial. They're not mutually exclusive and you need to build skill riding both at the same time.
- Begin any Agile transformation with a readiness assessment.
- Discard the iron project management triangle. Adopt the Agile triangle and focus on quality, value and constraints instead.
- Think of a project community that involves all stakeholders; this goes beyond just the development team.
- Educate the anti-bodies. People that are unhappy with you, your approach or your success need you to educate them about why what you're doing is valuable.
- Ship when necessary - the Industrial Logic team doesn't do iterations or so it seemed.
- Perform usability testing, because you don't want to make your users think.
- Unit testing is the USP of Agile, so why aren't all 'Agilists' writing unit tests?
- Build the important stuff - it'll take care of the rest.
- Measure what is valuable.
- Do your retrospectives.
Jeff Patton More than anything else, I loved Jeff's typography on his slides so I missed a minute or so because my jaw had dropped. Anyways, here's what I think he said.
The question we need to keep asking ourselves is 'are we there yet'?
- We need conversations which are about words which we hear, then see and then can draw out to create shared understanding.
- It's about learning in a timebox, because we need that as a feedback mechanism and a constraint.
- We need subjective measurements such as how good something is or how valuable it is.
- We need to celebrate success, but more importanly celebrate outcomes over outputs.
- We need to learn how to observe users in their real work context over taking them out of context and asking them questions. Ethnographic research is a key tool in our toolbox.
- Describe your users, role-play them to understand their motivations.
- Keep learning, ship it and change the world!
Patrick Kua Pat made some rapid-fire points with very interesting pictures and I love the fact that he resonated many of my thoughts about coaching and learning. Here's what I think he said:
- Passion is the biggest thing in any professionals toolbox - we can't live without it and it's pointless doing what you're not passionate about.
- There are no silver bullets - context is key.
- Learn about learning - people rarely learn through push so help them learn by pulling what they need and create the context for learning in the workplace.
- Focus on the big picture of the system - a bad system will beat a good person each time.
- Share ideas and be open to new ideas.
- Practices we should never forget:
- Retrospectives: they tell us it's OK to look back in safety and think of how we can improve.
- Kaizen culture: make changes one small step at a time.
- Timebox: we need constraints to innovate; constraints drive innovation.
- Connect with users.
- Whole team: include everyone.
- Celebrate successes.
- Lastly, have fun - it's sustains you at work!
- Pat also talked about the metaphor of planting seeds and creating the right environment for growth."Trees don't grow overnight nor do people."
- Create safety for people to fail fast and learn from their mistakes.
- Leadership means, getting your hands dirty - action matters.
- At the same time you need let go as well. There will be a time you won't be around and you need to plan your obsolence.
- Invite others with your passion to share ideas and improve the process.
- Prepare for change since it's the only thing that's constant.