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"The people are the magic," said Liz Keogh when asked what she liked about the annual Agile Alliance conference. With Agile 2013 taking place in Nashville on Aug. 5-9 this year, many speakers and participants are experiencing some of that magic. The conference, as always, has a full agenda with 17 different tracks. Monday, attendees heard thoughts about Agile 2013 and advice for Agile leaders from conference speakers, including Liz Keogh, Janet Gregory, Scott Ambler and Bruno Sbille. Here are some of their thoughts:
"This conference is one I use to keep up-to-date on the latest ideas regarding Agile and Lean, and to stretch my own thoughts beyond my own experiences," said Janet Gregory in regards to what she enjoys about the Agile Alliance conference experience.
Gregory, co-author with Lisa Crispin of Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Agile Testers and Teams, is doing something a little different this year. For the first time, the Stalwart Stage is offering participants the opportunity to talk with experienced practitioners about areas of interest. Gregory will be leading a session on Agile testing, fielding questions and encouraging interactive discussion. She's looking forward to talking about real issues people are experiencing.
When asked about trends Gregory has noticed in Agile, she answered:
Over the past couple of years, most of my clients have been from large organizations. These organizations want to take advantage of the benefits that Agile offers, but struggle to meet the cultural change necessary. It will be interesting to see how successful they will be. I suspect that most of these organizations will end up with hybrids, or a mixture of both traditional and Agile.
The other trend I see is that many of the teams that have been successful with Agile are now working towards a continuous delivery.
Scott Ambler, a well-known speaker and author of the Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) process decision framework, has spoken every year at the Agile Alliance conference. This year his topic is Continuous Architecture and Emergent Design.
Ambler said this about his presentation:
I'll be describing how architecture and design is addressed on disciplined Agile teams in a lightweight and safe manner. This is a topic that has been a bit confusing for many people new to Agile because technical practices are purposefully left out of Scrum and left up to you. They are, however, built
right into disciplined Agile delivery [DAD], which is a hybrid that combines strategies from a wide variety of sources, including XP [Extreme Programming] , Agile Modeling, Scrum, Lean and others. Hopefully, I'll help people to up their Agile game a bit.
Ambler noted he sees the trend of enterprise Agile development wanting to go beyond Scrum with something more robust. His advice? "Scrum is a great first step, but it's only a very small part of the overall picture. For enterprise-class development, you need to up your game with a more robust Agile process framework, such as disciplined Agile delivery."
Lean and Agile coach Liz Keogh spoke with Chris Matts on Aug. 5 about leadership behaviors to encourage or damage a learning community. On Aug. 8 she will be talking about growing experts with the Dreyfus Model. This is how she summed up her presentations:
Nobody innovates if everything they do for the next two weeks is already decided.
We're hoping to discover different kinds of leadership behaviors, both good and bad. I'm also running a session on Dreyfus Models and using them to build experts. I'm hoping that people learn how to play on their strengths [and] grow their skills -- even when they're already amazing -- and help others to do the same.
Keogh's biggest piece of advice?
Stop aiming for predictability all the time. Estimates, velocity, breaking things down into stories, tasks, clear acceptance criteria … the whole reason Agile works is because getting people to try things out and look for feedback helps us handle uncertainty really well, and that's the place where you get innovation. Nobody innovates if everything they do for the next two weeks is already decided. Sometimes, instead of analyzing everything up front, you just have to go for it and see what happens. Cynefinis my new tool of choice for helping people work out where that's needed.
Bruno Sbille is an Agile trainer and coach from Belgium speaking at Agile 2013. Sbille will be presenting two sessions: Tools from psychology for coaches, trainers and team members Aug. 7, as well as Learn different leadership styles with Star Wars coaches on Aug. 8.
This will be Sbille's first time speaking at the conference and he's looking forward to the experience. His presentation will teach new communication tools and styles of leadership.
Sbille's biggest piece of advice for Agile leaders is: "Use different styles of leadership. Juggle with them and adapt them to your interlocutor and to the context. "