Why or Why Not Agile? – Meet Up

 

“Sorry, the new Champlain Bridge cannot be built using Agile…” – Mathieu Boivert presentation attracts many participants at Agile Ottawa MeetUp!

This MeetUp brought together Agile practitioners and students who have just begun a journey in Agile. The topic of presentation provoked an open and interactive discussion on the topic, “Is Agile recommended for every project?”

Some follow up questions included, “What should we take into consideration when proposing Agile, and once it is decided on, how do we organize and implement it?”, “Why Agile? “, and “Why or why not Waterfall?” Everyone was encouraged to come up with a real example, and arguments and ideas based on their own experience and practices.

The values and principles of understanding Agile provide a base to identify potential the type of project which can be successfully implemented using this approach.

Agile Manifesto was a dedicated theme for the MeetUp introduction session moderated by Simon Bourk. The consensus reached through open discussion between participants was very useful to underlining the Agile Values applied in practice, and facilitated answering the question, “Why or why not Agile?”  for any project.

Indeed, Agile is essentially developing an asset by doing your product step by step, from sprint to sprint, from delivery to delivery! It also means starting the project and asking, “How aware are we of requirements, technology, client expectations and team maturity?”  It is essential to assess and evaluate Known and Unknown zones (see Stacey’s Chart), as well as acceptable levels of Uncertainty we can afford upon our project. This evaluation will help you decide on your approach to project implementation and efficient risk mitigation.

Delivery Value vs. Delivery on Scope – You Decide!

Agile Ottawa MeetUp was a great opportunity to meet members of the Agile community and exchange ideas, and gain knowledge through hands-on practice!

Simon and Mathieu created a very pleasant and friendly discussion environment. The interaction and dialog between presenters and participants was key to creating a positive and efficient atmosphere – and a lot of smiles!

 MeetUp – Meet people!

I appreciate the opportunity to get to know new people, participate in open discussion, share experience by interacting with others, and am looking forward to the upcoming MeetUp!

Next time, we’ll have a new topic, new ideas, and a new exchange of knowledge and experience! Everyone is welcome! 😊

Spark the Change – Montreal

Spark the Change brings together change leaders from all industries and walks of life, with one mission only: to work together to create positive and lasting change. If you have a vision for change within your organization then this event is for you.

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Top 5 reasons to attend Spark the change

They have a great Spark the change line up for speakers, Register for Spark the Change – Montreal now and be inspired.

Agile Film Festival

Thanks to all who made it out on a very snowy night to our Film Festival! Not only did the participants brave the harsh weather, but they also brought with them their curiosity and juicy questions about Agile adoption.

Here’s a quick summary of the content shared during the Film Festival.

101 Session Whiteboards – Brief Overview of Agile and Scrum

These brief interpretations were created and presented by Caroline Sauvé

Film #1: Agile Version 2016 by Dan North, presented December 2016 at GOTO Conference

In this 30 minute video, Dan offers an overview of where Agile has come from – noting that Agile is 20 years in the making. He also offers a view into where it should be going based on real world experience. To learn more about Dan, check out his website: https://dannorth.net/

Film #2: Cynefin Framework by Dave Snowden

We followed up the overview of where Agile has come from and where it is going with an introduction to Cynefin Framework. This decision making framework offers a useful lens to apply when teams and organizations are asking themselves – how should I approach Agile adoption. We noted that most adoptions are effectively managed between the Complex and Complicated (this is where most systems are stable).

Thanks to Dag who managed coordination and facilitation of allowing remote collaboration for this event – on short notice!

 

 

Lessons Learned from our “Fail Faire”

On a cold December evening, several of us gathered to share our latest stories of Agile woe.

One of the outcomes of a “Fail Faire” event is to gather a set of lessons learned. The session we hosted three years ago gathered many such insightful gems – you should go read them – great stuff there: https://agileottawa.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/lessons-learned-from-our-fail-faire/

This session proved a little different. The group of participants was smaller. We sat (round table style) and shared stories – the outcome was an incredible amount of support and help from all. Indeed, everyone at the table was keen to exchange ideas on how to make things better. The session was a shining example of the very spirit of an Agile team…

By sharing our problems openly, we create the opportunity to learn and gain the support we need to improve.

For those who missed the event, here’s a quick summary of lessons learned from our discussion:

  • Strong facilitation can accelerate your meetings and help to solve problems.
  • Make sure “safety” is established and maintained during a retrospective.
  • Recognize when your help is not “helping” – sometimes, the skills required are beyond what you are able to offer.
  • When adding a new team (scaling), you need to have active support from leadership. Be aware of leadership “passively” supporting – they need to be involved.
  • Guide the solution, don’t provide the solution.
  • Anonymous feedback is very helpful at uncovering blindspots.

Thank you to all the participants who joined us for this event. From everyone at Agile Ottawa, happy holidays – looking forward to connecting in 2017!

Sponsor Profile – Neuland

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For almost 50years, Neuland has been developing and manufacturing professional learning tools for all manner of training, workshop, and conference environments, in our own facilities located in Eichenzell, Germany. Creative concepts and inspiring furniture designs have made us a preferred meeting and conference interiors specialist for hotels and corporations.

We are dedicated to the philosophy of “active learning” that has pushed us to continually evolve to become one of Germany’s prominent leading suppliers of exclusive learning materials, and as a pioneer of innovative design concepts for meeting areas to host a variety of dialog spaces. “Made in Germany” is synonymous with high-quality, which is acknowledged around the world, and we endeavour to uphold that reputation as our products are designed and produced in German facilities.
As a family-owned company we are dedicated to provide you with everything you need to hold successful, meaningful meetings! Our goal is ensuring you have the most efficient and conducive materials, equipment, and furniture; that not only helps you accomplish your objectives, but that it is also fun, creative and innovative along the way.

Sponsor Profile – Halogen Software

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At Halogen Software, our mission is to help our customers win with talent. Winning with talent means building an engaged workforce that delivers exceptional business outcomes. Through our TalentSpace™ solutions, we help our customers assess, develop and retain the best talent. And we do this by putting ongoing performance management at the heart of their talent strategy.

What services/products do you offer?

Halogen Software offers human resources software that is ranked no. 1 in customer satisfaction (Gartner, IDC, Forrester, Bersin by Deloitte). Halogen TalentSpace™ is powerful, configurable software that helps organizations win with their talent. Our software helps your organization drive exceptional business outcomes with award-winning talent management solutions covering the areas of performance management, succession and leadership, learning and development, compensation and recruiting.

In Agile/Scrum, how do we deal with people working across multiple projects in parallel?

At Halogen, we move work to people, not people to work.  It is becoming common for teams to work on shared initiatives, with each team taking their own part of the workload represented as stories in their backlog.  Continuous integration is used to tie everything together.

Role of wikis or collaboration tools in Scrum?

We use wikis to supplement the face to face work that we do.  Halogen uses Confluence as the wiki.  Each team uses it in a different fashion.  Confluence has a blogging feature that is used to share important information with other teams.  We also leverage the Confluence Questions plugin as a way to share solutions to common problems.  Project documentation, how-to articles, and other useful information are also hosted in the wiki.

What metrics are generally used to assess a ScrumMaster’s performance?

We use a number of techniques to gauge the performance of a ScrumMaster.

Team morale:  We use Halogen PulseCheck to help gauge team morale on an ongoing basis.  This is a short, 7 question survey delivered once per month.  We supplement this with a twice yearly survey from Gallup on engagement at the corporate level.

Team engagement:  We use a service from Gallup to run an engagement survey twice per year.  These results are discussed with the teams to develop strategies for improving engagement.

Say/Do ratio:  We recommend this to teams at the sprint and release level.

Impact on other teams:  Are they influencing the other teams’ practices?  Are they moving the process forward?

What Type of Estimation Methods Do You Teach?

We use a combination of expert-guessing and velocity for estimating work.  Expert-guess is used for high-level roadmap planning to be able to size large rock items and make decisions about release schedules.  At the scrum team level we use velocity for planning out the sprints.

 

 

Sponsor Profile – It’s Understood Communication

Born curious and stayed that way. As a journalist, helped people understand their world. As an employee communication specialist, helped people understand their work. As a communication coach, help people understand their interactions. As a trainer of agile coaches and facilitators, help people understand each other. I love my work.

What made you start your company?

It’s Understood started, 15 years ago, as a web site – a portal for ideas about communication and conversation. Over time, people who liked what I had to say asked me to do work for them. And, surprise, some of them paid me! I was an accidental entrepreneur and it grew more solid with time.

Was there a single moment that sparked the idea for your company?

In my days as a journalist, I went to a workshop where we looked at our work based on its outcomes. I discovered that what I wrote or said was less relevant than how the audience understood it. I was not in the words business; I was in the understanding business. I still am.

What services/products do you offer?

It’s Understood’s learning programs focus on the first value of the Agile Manifesto, “individuals and interactions.” Our ICAgile-accredited courses in coaching and facilitation focus on the people skills needed for the agile workplace. Our newest course, Agile Fundamentals: Real World Agility, examines the foundations and rationale for agile practices and the mindset shift required to add value in an agile organization.

What do you see as the role of management in agile transformations?

I think the role of managers in agile transformations is to create an environment for doing good work. To do this, they need to understand what’s involved in agile work and resist applying outdated and inappropriate management practices. They can use some help with this. They also can make the business needs come alive and provide meaningful context for the people doing the work. They need to be interested and show their interest without “micro-managing.” They need to be ambassadors for agility and supportive champions of the people they manage.

What type of estimation techniques do you teach?

My specialty is communication, not code. I teach people to be very clear about what they say. An estimate is an opinion, an approximate judgment. It is not a promise. It is not a contract. It is not a fact. It is not a commitment. It is not something anyone should bet on. It is more accurate than a wild ass guess because it is based on experience and observation. We need to find a way to up-level the conversations we have about dates and find a way to satisfy both those who want dates and those who don’t want to lie.

What do you think is the most important innovation in your life, thus far?

Mobile phones. And Post-It Notes.

What book are you reading now.

I’m re-reading “The Geek Leader’s Handbook: Essential Leadership Insights for People with Technical Backgrounds” by Paul Glen and Maria McManus. It’s the sequel to “Leading Geeks,” which may be my favourite book ever.