Category Archives: Agile

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! 😊

Impact Mapping Workshop & Agile 101 – How thin is thin?

We got to try out a new, shiny toy for our session today. It’s the latest product from Nureva called SPAN. A great tool for ideation and collaboration.


Here is a closeup of our working session.




Impact Mapping: Making a big impact with software products and projects


Lean Coffee @ Agile Ottawa

Last night I facilitated our first Lean Coffee meetup at Agile Ottawa. Thanks again to all who made it out, and to You.i TV for the venue, food & drinks! 🙂

We covered a lot of interesting topics:

  • How to sell executive sponsors on addressing technical debt?
  • How to transition slow adopters from waterfall to agile when others have moved on?
  • Wardley Maps – how they can be used to decide when to do Agile.
  • How to estimate user stories?
  • How to engage an overloaded Product Owner more with the team?
  • Adopting [agile] with non-agile clients.
  • Scrum & Continuous Delivery – are they compatible?

See the pictures below for key points covered.

We also had some great feedback on the session:

  • Interesting discussions (x6!)
  • Loved it, do it again (x4!)
  • Well moderated (aside: thanks! 🙂 )
  • Got a lot of good ideas

I’m already looking forward to our next Lean Coffee 🙂

Here are the pictures I took of our whiteboard:

Lean Coffee 2015-12-08Lean Coffee 2015-12-08








Lean Coffee 2015-12-08


Lean Coffee 2015-12-08

Lean Coffee 2015-12-08



















(note: cross-posted, original:

Gatineau-Ottawa Agile Tour 2015 schedule confirmed!

(voir la version française plus bas)

Hi all!

The Gatineau-Ottawa Agile Tour 2015 program has been confirmed!

We’ll have 2 great keynotes from Richard Sheridan and Gil Broza, as well as 4 tracks of 4 sessions each, with a variety of workshops, experience reports, and talks aimed at all levels from beginner to advanced. That’s a total of 16 sessions to choose from!

To see what we’ve got lined up for you, visit:

Lundi le 23 novembre
95$ pour l’admission générale
75$ par personne pour les inscriptions en groupe
30$ pour étudiants

There’ll be many experienced agile practitioners to talk to outside of the sessions, so it’s also a great place to bring your questions!

Hope to see you there!

Agile Ottawa


Chers amis et collègues !

L’horaire de la tournée Agile Gatineau Ottawa 2015 est maintenant finalisée !

Vous pourrez assister aux présentations de nos deux conférenciers principaux : Richard Sheridan et Gil Broza. Il y aura aussi 16 présentations incluant des, ateliers, retours d’expérience et discussions pour tous les niveaux.

Lundi le 23 novembre
95$ pour l’admission générale
75$ par personne pour les inscriptions en groupe
30$ pour étudiants

Il y aura aussi plusieurs praticiens Agile séniors disponibles pour répondre à vos questions sur place.

En espérant vous y voir!

Agile Ottawa

Secrets of Agile Success – Minutes From Our “Success Faire”

Once again, the Agile Ottawa community did not disappoint… The evening started with an engaging session on Core Protocols, facilitated by our own Ellen Grove.  Ellen covered the basics of Core Protocols and lead a very effective exercise where the group had the chance to try out the protocols on each other.

In the spirit of this, we moved on to exercising one of these protocols in more detail… the “Brag Protocol”.  Participants shared stories of Agile success, we promptly applauded and cheered on…  and we attempted to capture the source of these successful stories.

Without further ado… here are a few secrets for achieving Agile success captured from our meetup:

1. Allow the team to express their opinions in anonymity to help reveal the truth.

2. Bring a ball to standup. Rather than “follow order” throw the ball around to choose who speaks next… this can lead to interesting conversations and new interactions.

3. Need people to take the lead? As the team for volunteers, you’ll discover that (given the opportunity) people WILL step forward.

4. The antidote to despair on a project is empowerment. Start fixing problems.

5. If you keep sharing Agile stories and lessons with the team; over time, you will find that you are transforming people in great ways that you didn’t anticipate.

6. Formulating the project “requirements” as “problems”, allows creative ideas to come forth and empowers the team.

7. Mob programming is a great way to “gel” a new team together and build Agile skills. It’s also an effective way to solve problems.

8. Creating a safe place to work allows the team to make mistakes and grow.

9. Looking at a laundry list of a backlog? Turn that list sideways and narrow it down to the most important stories.  Creating a reasonable scope of work means more work gets done… and less time is spent talking about it.

10. Transforming a team’s physical space (e.g. take down those walls) creates opportunities for the team to share and work in new and more effective ways.

11. Create opportunities for teams to share their different experiences with each other… being able to visualize work is key to making this happen on a regular basis.

12. Confront those monsters! Often problems that appear impossible or extremely hard to fix can be resolved quickly by working openly and collaboratively.

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

Agile 101 Recap: What does a Scrum Master do?

Simon Bourk crafted a blog post to recap his very popular Agile 101 session at the last Agile Ottawa meeting.  Check it out.

(And if anyone knows how to reblog from non-WP to hosted WP blogs, we can obviously use the help – drop us a line!)

Agile 101 Recap: Agile Values

At the 2013-2014 Agile Ottawa inaugural meeting, we tried something new that will continue through this season.  Before the main presentation each meetup, there will be an Agile 101 session focus on one Agile fundamentals topic.  These short talks are aimed at beginners hoping to learn the basics, or experienced pratictioners seeking to refresh their understanding.

On Sept 10th, Agile coach Simon Bourk talked about the Agile values and how they shape his work.  He followed up with a blog post about the discussion over here.

What Agile 101 topics are you interested in? Leave us suggestions in the comments!

Agile Ottawa Retrospective Followup Notes

Notes from Agile Ottawa Retrospective – these notes mostly come from memory. Under normally circumstances you wouldn’t publish notes from a retrospective however the group in attendance granted their permission.

The original plan for the Retrospective, included some activities that we decided not to run, when you’re facilitating a roomful of facilitators sometimes it just makes sense to go with the flow.

Checkin – “In a word or two what are your hopes for this Retrospective”

Two trends appeared How to improve our process over the coming year

  • Want to learn more about conducting retrospectives both in general and for a user group


  • For the venues that were provided (Adobe, You I Labs, Momentous and Bank St?)
  • For the food that has frequently appeared
  • There were several more but I didn’t take notes here.

Retrospective Timeline (see:

See attached pictures for some of the data we managed to generate. If we had more prep time as you would working with a team over a release you could generate **much** richer data (i.e. commit patterns, commit comments, build failures, …). Along with facts, we also spent time noting our emotions our the events.

Report out with Synthesis (small group work to find issues, with Report back to the whole)

To speed things along Glenn suggested we got to Dot Voting (6 votes a person). There was general consensus, so we gathered actionable items from the timeline into: Happy, Neutral and Unhappy columns. Sadly I didn’t think to take a picture of the lists.

We also skipped Circle of questions and went directly to discussion/SMART Goals. In theory we timeboxed each item to 10 minutes. In practice a roomful of facilitators needs practice timeboxing.

All notes in this section are heavily paraphrased please


Item #1 with 7 votes: Late/No Planning -> Late announcements -> Need to Improve Organization.


It was noted that our organization seems sporadic, i.e. we’re well organized for one event and for others we’re not at all organized. In particular there was no early May event and the Retrospective was organized very last minute.

SMART Goals:

– Use Pairs to Plan meetings – each meeting would have one pair who’re responsible for finding the venue, food, making announcements (Meetup, LinkedIn, Mailing Lists and Blog). But not for finding the topic/speaker.

– Have a Rolling Window of Events ~3 mths out so that we can better always be sure to have. There were two suggestions for make this list available either via Trello or Uservoice. This is something we need to have more discussion around. It was even suggested (by Jim L.) that we try maintaining a backlog a year out.

Item #2 Not enough Organizers – 6 votes


The problem might be not enough active organizers, especially by year end when we all seem to burn out at the same time. It was asked if “Use Pairs to Plan meetings” might alleviate this problem. In addition Glenn told us how that Agile New England spend time (15-30 minutes) every meeting to discussing organizational mechanics and administration. Glenn’s thesis is that increases the engagement of attendees.


We didn’t create a SMART Goal. Although I would like to propose one:

Contact the organizers of Agile New England and find out what they do.

Item #3 Too Man Events per month 2x month feels like alot – 5 votes


We discussed the history and different approaches of the two original groups. Since the majority of the people present were from the old “Downtown” crowd and only “Kanata/Scrum” person we agreed to skip the item.

Item #4 We like the different Agenda styles: speaker, group discussion etc.


Glenn mentioned Agile New England has an Agile 101 portion of every event. Again we didn’t create a SMART goal but I would like to propose:

Contact the organizers of Agile New England and find out what they do.

Item #5 Need to handle money $$$$


It was pointed out that we may need to handle money in the not distant future, i.e. money left from Agile Coach Camp etc. That would likely require we register as a not for profit.

The challenge is now is following through on these Goals

Slides from January 2012 – Agile Goes Way Beyond Software

Thanks again to Dan Murphy for his presentation last night!

Dan’s slides are now available for download (PDF 1.2 MB).

See you all on January 26th for Agile Thursday… details to follow.

January 2012 Meetup: Agile Goes Way Beyond Software

** NOTE ** This is the rescheduled November 2011 event that had to be canceled last minute

Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Time: Networking 6:00-6:30PM , Meeting 6:30-8:00PM

Location: The new Agile Tuesday location is Mercury Grove on 738A Bank St. between First & Second Ave.

RSVP: by not required, Free)

Agile Methods have been used for some time to develop software applications with a great deal of success, however, this presentation focuses on its application for infrastructure projects, IT project management, and service and product development initiatives.

Our speaker, Dan Murphy, has had considerable success using this approach within the Federal Government to develop new IT services as it relates to the development of IT Shared Services, and believes a more global enterprise approach is required making Agile a much more transformational element within the GC and other large public and private sector organizations.

Mr. Murphy, President of DJM Systems, is a leader in Government of Canada Information Technology strategy. While at Cisco Systems  in the late 1990’s he led the development of the “Shared Services” concept and pushed it into existence at the political level.

More recently, as an advisor  to the Senior ADM of  Transformation at Shared Services Canada, he has spearheaded the movement toward cloud computing in the Canadian Federal Government through the implementation of benchmarking programs, Agile implementation approaches and competitive marketing techniques.