Agile 2016 Conference Notes
I used to attend Agile and quality related conferences years ago and have saved notes from many of them. While some topics have become overtaken by events since then, there still seem to be some useful ideas that I’d like to pass along.
Jurgen Appelo Keynote
Jurgen started by discussing intruding on people’s space and how direct the Dutch are in speech which can be off-putting foe people not used to it. He then mentioned the phrase “stepping on someone’s toes” to suggest such a violation of space. Then he said, “Some people have long toes.”
He cautioned about managing people “as if they are computers on legs with hair” and said management should create an environment for people [on teams] to manage one another, encouraging them to run [improvement focused] experiments.
Jurgen’s first book is Management 3.0 and, in the spirit of that book, he urged that we “innovate management, not just technology.”
He said organizational trends “are in opposition to the idea of co-location, and asked “how do we get ‘mental closeness’.” [Consider he was saying this well before COVID-19.]
He mentioned tools/games that can be used with people such as:
· Creating “personal [mind] maps” to answer other people’s questions about each other’s maps as a form of ice-breaker exercise to get to know one another better.
· Using “delegation poker” to explore people’s comfort with various levels of delegation “ to make understanding of one another’s comfort more explicit.
· Considering different ways people can achieve happiness, offering this diagram.
When it came to creating organizational culture, he said that people remember stories, not value statements, so tell stories about how values in the organization are demonstrated. He also cautioned that , “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the management is willing to tolerate.” And the best behavior management is willing to amplify.
Finding Agreement When Everyone is Right — Michael Tardiff
Michael asked us to consider how we might find, make, come to, or take agreement (a British form of the idea).
He suggested, when in a group, we consider what individuals might lose by agreement, then discuss how we could mitigate that sense of loss and accept that “Everybody is right, partially.”
Often when people are wrong, they feel like they’re right — few are wrong on purpose. This feeling comes from years of believing that “Certainty saves lives” which is supported by it being true in many situations. So, we see things as we are, i.e., filtering what we see.
He asked us to consider how we can structure choices to make it easier to decide. One way is having someone start the agreement and see how it spread (the Agreement).
He asked us to envision sandwiches then asked people to write that down. When everyone was done, he asked people to read off what they wrote, getting answers such as: ice cream, open face, “normal” bread, wrap, glute free, 12” plate, “edible.”
The State of #NoEstimates — Woody Zuill
[The #NoEstimates movement was started as a reaction to estimation practices that offer false precision. We should be able to safely question the status quo of how estimation is done.].
Woody asked various questions for us to consider:
· What is an estimate — guess vs other answers.
· Why do we estimate — to make a decision, to budget, to set expectations, to prioritize, to track progress, to reduce risk, to gain knowledge/learn, to set time box(es).
· How much time does it take before we have enough understanding? (What do we need to arrive at such understanding?)
· What should we be certain about (that we have an environment for discovery and innovation).
Things (e.g., requirements) change because understanding increases. Effective “transformation comes more from asking profound questions than pursuing practical answers.”
We want control and certainty, but about what?
Estimates are a thing, not the problem, but a symptom of the problem.
Sometimes when we can’t measure what we want, we want what we can measure. “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Albert Einstein
Fear of losing control is a big barrier to change despite the illusion of control. — Bjarte Bogsnes “Beyond Budgeting” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ed1g_Crw6v8
Modern Agile — Joshua Kerievsky
Make safety a prerequisite (for high performance)
Experiment and learn rapidly; deliver value continuously.
To learn to ride a bike experience balance, push the bike, and don’t start with training wheels.
Wisdom doesn’t go out of fashion, though practices do.
Encourage everyone to speak; listen to one another; review/report others’ points; avoid dominating/interrupting.
“The problem is, we don’t know what the problem is.” — Paul MacCready
Powerful Questions Workshop for Agile Coaches — Martin Alaimo & Olaf Lewitz
Help clients build a [different] relationship with themselves.
If coaching is not life-changing, it’s not coaching, i.e., it has not helped change perceptions.
Coaching can always be appreciated, but not necessarily training.
Woody Zuill’s Stalwart Session
When people leave for home, they can manage their lives without me, so couldn’t they do that at work.
Data Driven Coaching — Troy Magennis
Use data to make a difference, not a point.
Tell a story [context] with the data because people will make up their own if you don’t.
Don’t work alone on data analysis — some see a duck, others, a rabbit.
Use metrics to generate a conversation.
Performance Reviews that Don’t Suck — Todd Little
Can coach behaviors, not impact.