Author Archives: Simon

Retrospectives Workshop

Are you stuggling with retrospectives? Do you find it hard to get value out of them or are you looking for tricks making them amazing all the time?

Come join us for this year’s Retrospective workshop!

The twelfth principle of the Agile manifesto says:

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

We cannot diminish the importance of this principle; without it one organisation is bound to a total stall: unable to adapt to the latest situation, not allowing time or effort for improvement, unable to be pro-active, always on “reaction” mode.

During this meetup, Dag will elaborate on a few facilitation concepts and invite the group to participate with a corresponding workshop. This workshop should teach you additional tips and tricks making your retrospectives GREAT!

Agile 101 – Transitioning to Agile

Simon will facilitate a discussion how to run a successful transition to Agile from total chaos or total waterfall.


·  November 23rd is the GOAT conference! Buy your tickets NOW!

·  November 13th is the Montreal Agile Tour conference:

·  November 9th is the Quebec city Agile Tour conference:

·  October 20th is the Toronto Agile Tour conference:


Secrets from the Experience Report on Kanban

Once again, the community met and shared their stories, their successes and their failures. This time, it was about Kanban.

Dag Rowe facilitated an agile 101 at the beginning of the evening with a quick exploration of some Agile Metrics.  While preparing the crowd for the Kanban experience report, Dag entertained a discussion on Velocity, Cycle Time, Work In Progress and Capacity. Questions on distributed teams, points, overtime and burndown charts were answered and then we moved to our second beer and some story telling.

One by one, stories were shared courageously.

Secretly, I gathered the lessons learned. Here they are:

  • Kanban helps visualize the workflow, just like a flashlight in the dark. Kanban helps us see the gray areas where we can improve.
  • Agile / Kanban / Scrum gave us the terminology of the “new” ways of thinking we were discovering while inspecting and adapting our processes. Agile formalized our way of thinking.
  • The Agile practices helped us deliver and also clarify what we didn’t successfully deliver.
  • The support of Coaches and Trainers were a key element in our successful transition to Agile.
  • Automation is primordial to the success, without it you may find it hard to keep a fast pace.
  • Kanban helps uncover tasks that are piling up so that you can inspect why things are slow as well as better manage the workflow.
  • While using Kanban, tasks move excitedly to Done.
  • Using the combination Kanban and Feature Mapping (or story mapping), you can better see the flow. People can then be accountable for the movement of tasks on the board. Everything is easier seen and managed.
  • Continuously failing Sprints using Scrum can bring the team spirit down. Being too modest in the forecast of a Sprint seems to encourage members to settle and stay idle. With Kanban, the continuous work flow will encourage us to keep moving and there is no idling.

Thank you to all who participated and shared their experiences with the group.


  • GOAT 2015
  • Don’t miss the Gatineau Ottawa Agile Tour 2015 at La maison du Citoyen, on November 23. Speakers are welcome to submit their topics,  we are looking for sponsors and registration is open. For more information, please visit
  • Concept Share are looking for new Agilistas! For more information contact Kareem Sultan and see their career page
  • During the next Meetup, we will talk about Retrospectives, preceded by an Agile 101 on Transitioning to Agile, most probably at the Algonquin College. Stay Tuned!

The invite for speakers to present at the Ottawa Gatineau Agile Tour 2015 is officially out!

The 2015 Gatineau Ottawa Agile Tour event’s organizing committee is working hard to prepare the upcoming conference on November 23rd. We’re inviting anyone with Agile experience to propose a session for the conference. The submission proposal deadline is Sept 30. However if you propose earlier we can give you feedback to improve your session. You can submit your session proposal for the event by using confengine.
Would you like to present a case study or a report on your experience implementing Lean or Agile within your business or workplace? Have you discovered a workshop so useful that you would like to share it with others? Would you like to take the opportunity to share your knowledge on Lean or Agile? If you answered yes to one of these, we would definitely love to hear what you have to offer!
Don’t forget to submit your session proposal using confengine.

Sessions review will be completed within the first week of October.
We look forward to seeing your proposals.
The 2015 Gatineau Ottawa Agile Tour organizing committee

September 8, Experience report – Kanban

1. What’s an “Experience Report”?

A gathering where like-minded individuals share via short talks their success stories (or failure) and extract the source of that success (or failure).

2. How does this work?

Interested participants will be given the opportunity to give a short talk to share their Kanban (or Agile) tale…  tell us:

• What was the project or context of your idea?

• What were you hoping to do?

• When did you realize that your idea was working?

• What would you say was a the source of your success/failure?

3. If I go, what do I need to prepare?

We will again be counting on the Agile Ottawa crowd to create a safe space for sharing.  Bring your own story of success – big or small, we want them all! Come brag with us about how Agile helped transform your company, your project, your team and you! Who knows, maybe after a beer you’ll find the courage to share it with the group?

During the event… no live streaming, picture taking, blogging or tweeting unless the presenter gives the ok to do so. No third party success stories either… presenters must have been personally involved in the project they are showcasing.

And while we encourage you to prepare you own story, please don’t let that stop you from attending… if you want to come out and listen, that’s great!

Agile 101 – we’ll be talking about Metrics

Flash News!

Don’t miss the  Gatineau Ottawa Agile Tour on November 23.

This will be the last meetup of the year as October will be focused on organizing GOAT, November 23 will be the Agile conference, December is too soon after the Nov 23. January we’ll be away. In February we’ll talk about what’s going on with Agile through the world !

Agile Scaled Framework

Scaling agile methods is controversial topic in the community. Do we even know what it means? Does it make sense in our organization’s context?

This meetup will introduce four agile frameworks designed to scale, and then compare their features.

Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD)

Large Scale Scrum (LeSS)


Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

We will ask if they address: portfolio management, architecture, funding, compliance, multiple development methods, and other criteria.

Based on research, and the presenters’ experiences the results will create a comparison matrix that will be made available to all participants.

The meetup will allow ample time for discussion to share your experiences and opinions. We expect it to generate a healthy debate.

18:00 Networking, Games and Pizza.

18:30 Start of the Session

17:45 – Recap and Announcements

20:00 Retreat to local pub

March 10 – Business Value Game


Tuesday, March 10 2015 at 18:00


Microsoft Canada Co, 100 Queen Street, Suite 500, Ottawa, ON


18:00 Pizza

18:30 Business Value Game

20:00 End of Session / Game

Session Summary

Objectives: learn how to assign business value to projects and stories, prioritise andmake plans that bring value. Learn why and how to build and use a “Business ValueModel”. Learn how to teach the approach and techniques.

Contents:Agile teams want to deliver maximum business value. That’s easy if the OnsiteCustomer assigns business value to each story. But how does the Customer do that?How can you estimate business value?

How do you decide between stories? How do you decide between projects? How do you decide between clients?

This session gives you some simple business value estimation techniques that are”good enough” for everyday use. A Business Value Model helps you to prioritise efficiently and consistently, by making the important value drivers explicit.

The session is run as a game, where teams of salespeople have to make plans for their development team. The goal of the game is to deliver the highest possible business value, like in the XP Game. This game is a complement to the XP Game: how do these ‘business value points” on the XP Game story cards get chosen?

Each salesperson in the team represents one (or more) clients who will buy the team’s product IF their feature(s) is in the product. The team is going to have to make some tough decisions. The team is going to have to disappoint some clients, because the development team has a finite capacity.We provide the clients and their wishes. We provide a well-performing development team. We suggest the techniques to estimate business value. The rest is up to you.

Software Methodologies Experiment – The Marshmallow Challenge

This is a summary of this meetup held on May 13, 2014 at YouILab

Ellen, Glenn and Caroline started the night with Agile 101s on different software methodologies.

Once Glenn pulled out his outstanding explanation of Waterfall, Ellen made a swift introduction to Scrum followed by Caroline who gently disclosed the secret behind Kanban.

Once the pizzas were distributed, bellies were filled and our minds were settled we were ready for action. It also occurred to me once again; YouILabs had an amazing lunch area. Well disposed, properly lighten up with comfortable chairs all around different types of tables. Some of them were round tables, encouraging a neutral collaboration whereas others where rectangular. A very Agile space…

The concept of the night was to experiment with using different software methodologies by solving the Marshmallow Challenge. You can read more about The Marshmallow Challenge here.

Our Setup:

  • 5 persons per team
  • 3 Kanban Teams
  • 2 Scrum Teams
  • 2 Waterfall Teams

Each team was given a simplified version of Kanban, Scrum and Waterfall to help them solve the Marshmallow Challenge…

The Kanban team was given two practices: “Visualize Work” and “Limit WIP” as well as three principles to help guide their effort: “Start with what you know”; “Evolutionary change”; “Leadership at all levels”.

The Scrum Team had to identify a Product Owner, a Scrummaster and a development team and had to complete the challenge in 2 Sprints, 6 minutes each.

The Waterfall team had to decide of the design first then implement the design. The designers were different than the developers and they couldn’t talk to each other. Interestingly, one team had 3 designers / 2 developers and the other team had the opposite. Their marshmallow tower had to be identical as the design document produced by the designers.

While the 18 minutes were flying by I could see some team struggling with designs, communication and some of them were quickly fighting gravity. 4 teams out of 7 successfully made a standing tower with the marshmallow on top. They were in between 20 to 22 inches tall.

Unfortunately, one Scrum team and none of the Waterfall teams were able to make it in 18 min. Although their designs were fantastic, there was no free standing tower by the end of the challenge. The Scrum team tried to make such large step as their last increment; once the marshmallow was placed on top: the tower simply couldn’t stand…

Challenge completed, the teams completed a quick survey to get a sense of how well they performed as a team, as individuals and how well their methodology helped them to solve the problem. This created some good discussion with the group and generated a few “a-ha” moments. For instance, as we were leaving, a participant pointed out how the Waterfall teams seemed to rate their performance as individuals higher than the team’s performance… whereas the Scrum and Kanban team members rated their team performance higher than their individual performances on the challenge.  Hum… sound familiar… ?

Thanks to everyone who came out to play and shared in the experience of building marshmallow towers… Agile Ottawa is lucky to have such a lively group  of experimenters!  Looking forward to seeing you all again at our next event!!!

I think the night wouldn’t have this immense success without the support of our sponsors:

While Agile Pain Relief provided this delicious pizza, YouILabs provided a great meetup space. Thanks to Mark Levison (Agile Pain Relief), Andrew Emmons and Phil Green (YouILabs) for their help.

A few words on the upcoming Agile events:

  1. Signup quickly to an Agile 110 course with Agile Pain Relief at the beginning of June. More details can be found here 
  2. You will also find Agile Pain Relief as a sponsor of the upcoming Agile Coach Camp that will be held June 6-8, 2014 at the University of Guelph, Ontario.
  3. YouILabs is looking for Agilists to fill many different positions.
  4. Glenn and Ellen will host a Back of the Room Training on June 5-6 in Guelph.