Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Agile Israel 2013

I thought to start blogging with a totally different post, but attending this conference was a good opportunity to jump right in, without a perfect first post :) 
I think this is going to fuel some future posts.

I've been attending AgileSparks conferences and courses in the past few years. There's always something new and thought provoking. Here are my initial notes from this year's event.
Over all, attendance was impressive, which caused some logistic difficulties (like missing chairs and some mess around lunch). Being of the twitting kind, lack of WIFI was a fail (especially blocking international participants from twitting), though I know vendors set ridiculously high price tags for this.

There was a rich, 4 track program, so obviously I had some hard choices to make.. here are my highlights.

Bob Marshall (@flowchainsenseiblog) gave the opening keynote, introducing rightshifting. The talk itself had a great start - I personally loved his guiding principle of "Joy for all". In my workplace we have the official "core values" (Trust, Win mentality, Communication, Responsibility and Innovation) and I often half jokingly suggest "Fun" is missing or should just replace the others... However, as the talk developed and time ran out, a long list of 18 approaches to organizational cultural transformation went by so fast with no context or advice which sort of felt the whole keynote didn't satisfy my expectation of a focused, practical, concept. 
During the talk, and later in a dedicated session, Bob introduced Nonviolent Communication (NVC). This was interesting, and correlated very strongly to me with the work of Christopher Avery on personal Responsibility and it's application to support and drive organizational change.  

Danko (@DankoAgile) talked about Planning - he can definitely hold a crowd, but the most of it was targeted for beginners. Still, some aspects to consider improving, and some hints to consider as potential future state such as blitz planning. I was missing the question - do you really need those estimates (Gil Broza got to it later..) and the topic of understanding the stories and preparing for the sprint was left out. 
While I don't think he mentioned it, for more on these hinted new ideas he wrote the free book AdvanScrum.

Naresh Jain (@nashjain, who is) talked about dealing with uncertainty in a complex adaptive world. The focus was to highlight how biased our minds are towards (false sense of) certainty, and overview of Dave Snowden's Cynefin model. He's suggesting certainty is not an option and we'd better get used to being more much empirical about things. For example, copying a process is like copying a haircut - you might end up looking stupid. Some parts very amusingly delivered - well done.

To hear Naresh, I had to skip Yuval Yeret's (@yuvalyeret) talk, which he blogged about here. Sounds like lot's of good stuff... Alas, the road not taken.

Rafi Bryl from SAP introduced Design Thinking and Lean Canvas. He compared D.T. with Lean, explained the key parts and origin of D.T, and the concept and application of lean canvas. An important take away is that the real innovation lies not in a product/technology but in the overall business model (great examples with Xerox and Sony betamax). Good intro to topics partially new for me.

Tony Gilling from Rally covered SAFe as a framework to scale agile. On one hand it seems quite straight forward, on the other hand could be too rigid for various organizations... Sorry to say this, but it felt like promoting consulting services rather than teaching something new.

Closing keynote by Gil Broza (@gilbroza) shared 10 ways (or, lessons) to put people before process. To be precise: Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools, as the intentionally first value in the Agile Manifesto. Gil covered patterns and anti-patterns with potential outcomes of following each. Once the slides are published, I recommend taking a good look for any manager - read it slowly, and check yourselves.

Later a small group had some good discussions in the Lean Coffee session. One of the participants asked:
"Is Agile going soft?"
He was referring to the relatively many sessions dealing with the "soft skills"/human aspects, rather than tools, metrics, etc. Just look at the keynote speakers: Gil, author of "Human side of Agile" and Bob with the soft-as-soft-gets nonviolent communication. I personally liked this focus a lot, as I strongly relate to the underlying ethics agile is built upon as personal motivation.

If you attended other sessions or can add to those I commented on, you are welcome to share your thoughts in the comments section.


  1. Guy, It's kind of funny that we decided to attend almost the same sessions:
    1. Planning by Danko
    2. Adaptive world, by Naresh Jain
    3. NVC
    4. Lean Canvas by Rafy Bryl

    1. That's a coincidence :)
      Which session did you parallel to SAFe? (last slot)

  2. Nice to see you blogging!

  3. Happy to see you blog. Good luck!

  4. Thank you. I hope you'll find things to relate to.