Agile Business Conference 2011

I have been to the last three or four conferences, and I believe this was the best in terms of quality of content and quality of speakers, completely discounting myself of course. Which is a pity, because attendance was down this year. I hope that more people attend next year because I learned tons!

My biggest regret, as always with these things, is that I can’t be in two places at once, so one has to prioritise which tracks to attend to get the most from the event as a whole. I focused on the Agile at Enterprise Scale track, although I dipped into the Inspect and Adapt and even the Agile for Public Sector tracks

On day two (I did not attend the first day), I learned about PANDAs. No, not the cute and endangered species of bear, but Poor And Non-Disciplined Agile.

I learned about the System Error report and what is happening with agile in the public sector – some very exciting developments, although they appear to still have a number of significant challenges to large-scale adoption (saying “Make it So” doesn’t always work on it’s own).

I attended Margaret Morgan’s workshop exploring the implications of focusing on maximising utilisation and the (negative) effects that has on team productivity. The relay race demonstration was an interesting way of showing the effects on the total amount of work delivered, but while I grasp the concept, I would have difficulty explaining it.

On the third and final day, Ivar Jacobson presented a new perspective on Lean thinking and the concept of a method and practice-agnostic pattern that can be universally applied to all software development. See http://www.semat.org for details. I found it fascinating and could have easily discussed the topic in more detail for hours.

I thought Andrew Griffiths presentation of a structured method for Agile process improvement was very interesting. I wish I had known some of that two years ago, but I will certainly learn from it and try to put the principles into practice.

For people who think even planning poker takes too long, Peter Measey presented a short workshop on magic estimating. It’s similar to what I called matrix estimating a couple of years ago, but even faster. I still have questions about it’s effectiveness as it appears to have pre-requisites to make it work. It also assumes you will do more detailed planning later, but for rapid can-we-do-all-this type planning, I think it’s brilliant and can’t wait to try it.

Jean Tabaka (say Ta-baker) gave an inspiring talk on an Agile Community of Thinkers, which gave me a lot to think about.

The DSDM Consortium should be congratulated on another fabulous event. I especially liked the fact that the first day (which I skipped) was dedicated to those new to Agile or contemplating adopting it. The venue, the Inmarsat Centre, was perfect, and the organisation and catering was superb. It was lovely seeing some familiar faces there again, and great to meet a few new people too, not least Jean Tabaka herself. Pity I missed Arie van Bennekum, Agile Manifesto signatory, who gave a talk on day 2 at the same time as the utilisation vs productivity one.

On a final, selfish note, I would like to thank Andrew Craddock, who helped me pull together and present our talk on Agile Governance. I was astonished at how many people attended. So many in fact that we had to move to a bigger room, and still had standing room only.

Looking forward to next year already.

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About aterny

Agile enthusiast and evangelist, DSDM practitioner, trainer and coach. Specialist in Agile project and programme management, governance and organisational transformation
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