2 great workshops on Nov. 22nd

Agile Ottawa does a few interesting workshops asides from their monthly Meetup and conference. This year we are happy to announce 2 great workshops on Nov. 22nd.

Collaborative Decision Making

This creative collaboration workshop provides tools that address such issues team alignment, task prioritization, and complex team processes.

Even high functioning teams occasionally have a hard time making decisions or coming up with creative ideas. There are times when the conversation seems to drag on long after a decision is reached. There are times when too many people are involved in the discussion or the wrong people involved. There are times when a team is not sure who’s the actual decision maker. And there are those times when team members just seem to be out of synch with each other.

The collaboration tools workshop and coaching from CTO2 helped us figure out how to work better together as a team and allowed us to solve in a matter of hours some issues we’d been struggling with for weeks,” says Logan LaHive, Belly Founder & CEO.

This workshop is designed to be truly experiential. Rather than discussing topics, teams are quickly introduced to a concept and then spend time working together using the techniques they’ve learned. As the workshop progresses, teams have an opportunity to utilize the tools they learned earlier in the workshop and see how these techniques can be used together in various ways. At the end of the workshop, teams will have addressed a number of different challenges that are common to all of our work lives.

Eventbrite - Collaborative Decision Making

Scaling Scrum Using the Nexus Framework

This workshop introduces Professional Scrum and how to scale a software development effort with three to nine Scrum teams. Through a set of exercises, you’ll get an insight into what working with a Nexus would look like. At the end of the workshop, you’ll be comfortable talking about the Nexus framework in your company and see how #ScaledScrumIsStillScrum.

There is some preparation needed for this course.

Eventbrite - Scaling Scrum Using The Nexus Framework

Both workshops need registration as space is very limited.


Sponsor Profile – Scrum Alliance

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Who is Manuel Gonzalez?

Manuel Gonzalez is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Scrum Alliance. He has more than 37 years of experience transforming organizations, Manuel “Manny” Gonzalez has proven himself to be a successful global strategic leader in both the nonprofit and corporate sectors in an international arena.

His strengths lie in transforming organizations into Agile performing environments. His experience in master planning and development includes the recreation of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium into the first and largest entertainment complex in the region — a $180 million project that attracts more than 2 million visitors per year.

Change management, mentoring others to excel, and scaling organizations are just a few of his passions. In order for any company to grow and be truly great, he believes the organization’s teams must demonstrate how they all work together to become one. Only when they are one can they strive for a common goal or purpose.

Scrum is the fastest growing, most popular Agile framework in the world. As CEO, Manny speaks around the globe to advocate for Scrum Alliance’s mission to transform the world of work by promoting widespread adoption and effective practices of Agile and Scrum.

Manny received his bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Oklahoma and his master’s in Business Administration from Oklahoma Christian University. Currently he serves on the board of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs and has served on numerous boards, including the Donald Woods Winnicott School in Mexico, the Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Hawaiian Falls Water Parks.

He recently moved to Denver, Colorado, with his wife and two daughters.

How Agile Can Help Companies in the Changing World of Work?

The world of work is changing. The command-and-control management style is no longer effective. Employees want more workplace flexibility as well as more input into company decisions. At the same time, technological advances, economic challenges, and consumer expectations require companies to pivot more quickly.

These can be difficult days for today’s CEOs, but they also offer incredible opportunities — if you’re open to a different mindset about the workplace.

In the entertainment industry, where I spent many years as a CEO of theme parks and zoos, I’ve seen the world of work change firsthand. Many of the problems I faced then are likely the same ones you’re encountering today. For me, the best way to solve those problems was by engaging employees. I did that by following the essence of the Agile Manifesto before I even knew what Agile was.

How can Agile impact Employee Engagement?

Agile is a grass-roots ideology that emerged from the software development industry in 2001. Since then it has been adopted globally by industries as varied as finance and marketing. At its core, it emphasizes the following values, as I interpret them:

  1. Individuals and interactions. Focus on the human side of the workforce, rather than looking at people as resources.
  2. Valuable product or service. Have a working product as the only measure of value for the consumers.
  3. Collaboration. The more collaboratively we create the product, the better it will be in the end. Collaboration is not just with employees, but with departments, stakeholders, consumers, distributors, and others.
  4. Responding to change. This supersedes following a long drawn-out plan.

By adopting these values, a company can spur employee engagement, in which employees are motivated, productive, and customer-focused. Studies have shown that employee engagement has a positive impact on the bottom line. Yet a recent article published by Gallup indicates that employee engagement in U.S. companies is stagnant at 32 percent.

During my tenure as CEO of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs and more recently as CEO of Scrum Alliance®, I’ve talked to hundreds of CEOs, many of whom run Fortune 500 companies. They cited problems with recruiting, retaining the best employees, and providing relevant professional development — all symptoms of poor employee engagement.

I believe Agile is the missing link that can help organizations boost employee engagement and navigate the changing world of work. Let me offer you two examples from my own experience.

Case Studies

Theme Park in Mexico City

I once worked for a company in mergers and acquisitions that purchased a financially distressed theme park in Mexico City. The park had 1 million in attendance, $10 million in revenue, and a negative cash flow of $5 million a year. It also had a poor safety record.

One of the first things I did to turn things around was support self-organized teams, a key Agile principle. When you do this, you work for your employees, rather than them working for you. It’s what I call the inverted pyramid.

Theme parks were the perfect place to adopt this concept. They’re like small cities, with retail outlets, food courts, mechanical devices, and streets. With 250 acres and 4,000 employees spread out across this theme park, it was impossible to micromanage staff.

Instead, I divided the theme park into regions with different areas, and within those areas, different teams. I told my teams what the mission was — to create a safe and enjoyable environment for our guests — and they had complete autonomy and authority to decide how to carry out that mission. My responsibility was to give them the resources, the structure, and the budget to help them succeed.

One of the other things I did was listen to my employees and understand their wants and needs. They wanted flexibility, but not in the way you might think. They wanted department rotations and free days in the park for their families, which was easy enough to accommodate.

My point is that the deeper you know your employees and their challenges, the better you can create an environment that helps them succeed. That will improve employee engagement and ultimately the bottom line. In two years, we saw attendance increase to 4 million and we had $56 million in revenue. In three years we flipped the negative cash flow to 41 percent EBITDA. The safety ranking went up as well.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The situation at the Columbus Zoo was similar to the Mexican theme park. It had less than 1 million in annual attendance, $20 million in revenue, and a negative cash flow of $3.5 million. What was different was the mission — wildlife conservation.

When I joined the Columbus Zoo as COO, employees thought I was the enemy because I wanted to create an entertainment complex with a water park, a theme park, and a golf course. The only way for me to achieve success was to create a model of engagement with employees. I did that through Agile principles.

First, I had to know what motivated my employees. At the Columbus Zoo, it was their love of animals. For example, they wanted to grow a wildlife conservation fund managed by a committee of their peers. They also wanted to ensure that any commercialization wouldn’t negatively affect the animals.

So I invited employees to planning meetings with concessions, included them in the budgetary process, and asked them to attend feedback sessions with guests. At each meeting, they were able to hear one side of the equation and also provide feedback. This collaboration created transparency and eventually trust.

Within eight months, we grew the wildlife conservation fund from $150,000 to $500,000. And in less than two years, we boosted attendance to 1.2 million annually, increased revenue to $50 million, and turned that negative cash flow into a net fund balance of a million dollars.

What Can You Do in the Changing World of Work?

First, you have to let go of control, just a little bit. The more you give your employees the freedom to self-organize and improve your product or service, the more you have control over the outcome.

You also need to deal with fear. Middle managers, for example, are often tasked with having their teams adopt Agile, and they’re afraid there’s no place for them in this new world of work. But that’s not true. Instead, they can become coaches who support and guide teams, provide resources, and remove impediments. That’s a very different mindset, but it is critical to success.

And you can learn about more Agile so that you’re fully informed. I suggest you do the following:

  • Attend a Scrum Alliance conference, even a session or two if you’re pressed for time. This will help you build relationships with other CEOs who are thinking about adopting Agile or have already done so.
  • Participate as a speaker at a conference to share your challenges. At these informal discussions, you’ll not only receive recommendations from the Agile community, but you’ll also help Agile proponents better understand the needs of your industry.
  • Read the Scrum Alliance magazine, AgileVox, to learn about trends, case studies, challenges, and solutions.

As I’m sure you’re aware, some of the largest companies, from Boeing and American Express to PayPal and IBM, use Agile. But the Agile movement is bigger than that. Scrum Alliance has seen a surge of college students getting certified, and some corporations are demanding that candidates for open positions have these certifications. Scrum Alliance itself has grown by 30 percent over the past three years, with certifications up 30 percent year over year.

Agile isn’t just a way for companies to adapt to change. Agile itself has been changing the world of work since it was first introduced, and will continue to do so for years to come.

Sponsor Profile – Pyxis Technologies


Can you tell us a little about your company?

Pyxis Technologies is specialized in software development. Driven by Agility for over 15 years now, Pyxis services its clients with a complete customized offer:

We carefully nurture the development of individuals to their full potential. We practice our craft and share our expertise with discipline, passion, and pleasure. We create simply brilliant software and organizational solutions that improve the lives of users and teams. We work so that our industry is exemplary and inspiring.

Our team consists of passionate and extraordinary people who contribute every day to make Pyxis a great family where everyone finds the space to flourish and create.

How is adopting an Agile approach beneficial?

Learn how to deliver increased value sooner with an incremental approach. Our Agile consultants help you achieve the real Agile benefits:

  • Increase delivery flow and velocity
  • Manage risks and changes during delivery
  • Eliminate cumbersome documentation and control
  • Stimulate team focus, discipline, and energy
  • Improve implementation capacity and quality in regards to client requirements
  • Improve considerably the delivery of priority value, which generates results more quickly

Financial benefits

  • Quick creation of value
  • Better ROI management
  • Possibility to start with a limited budget

Organizational benefits

  • Greater autonomy for developers
  • Better collaboration between teams
  • More inspirational leadership

Strategic benefits

  • Better overall risk management
  • Improved responsiveness to adjust the product to market realities
  • Emergence of an Agile corporate culture

Like all project management approaches, Agility has its share of difficulties. Agile approaches cause inevitable changes within an organization. Although adequate support facilitates change, some challenges will inevitably arise.

Our role is to help organizations face these challenges and succed in their Agile transformation.

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

It’s important to define a way to measure success and follow the Scrum Master’s development but it is more qualitative process than a quantitative one. Here are some examples of questions that can help define and mesure success:

  • Does the Scrum team have a shared vision?
  • Does the Scrum team have clear goals for its sprints?
  • Is the Scrum team happy to work on the project?
  • Did the Scrum team deliver the increment at the end of the sprint?
  • Is everybody satisfied and proud of what has been accomplished?
  • Did the Scrum team improve the way it works (delivered more value than previously)?
  • Is there a dashboard to communicate the status of the product?
  • Are the user stories of high quality?
  • Would the Scrum team want to work with the Scrum Master again?

How important is mapping out my value stream?

Let’s advance the simple hypothesis that what’s important when managing a project is the value concretely delivered. In a context of complexity and uncertainty, we try to continuously optimize the design of the solution (the plan) in accordance with this value.

But the plan can change. We validate the tangible benefits delivered along the way, even if we need to modify the solution according to the learnings. If changing the budget is a problem, keep it fixed and optimize the value. If the ratio value over budget declines, stop the project; but the idea is mainly to optimize the solution. It’s actually a state of mind. You have to put the teams in learning and innovation mode so they work toward solutions that generate the Maximum Instantaneous Discharge of value (MID), all along the execution.

The MID is an acronym used in hydrometry to represent the maximum instantaneous discharge of a river. If your organization, your operations, or your projects are value streams, what’s their maximum flow? What is the MID of your project, of your department? You know your budgets, the allocated person-days, but are you aiming at a MID? In fact, do you have a measurable target of the final value to be delivered? Would it be beneficial to measure the value flow by month or iteration and discuss it with your clients and between yourselves?

Adaptive valued-based management allows us to ask ourselves WHY we do things, what is the business purpose, the concrete value. A MID indicator, through an Agile Sunset graph, releases us from a determinist traditional management that assumes too strongly the hypothesis that a plan well thought of necessarily delivers its promises. This postulate is only applicable on simple and familiar grounds. When the situation is turbulent and complex, you need to react, reinterpret the constraints and opportunities, make adjustments and stick to the possible MID.

If a team is running well with no obstacles, does the Scrum Master run out of things to do?

When a team takes ownership of the Scrum process, you might think that the task of the Scrum Master is completed, but it never really is. He can then turn to organizational barriers. After all, his role is both to contribute to the team’s success and that of the company as a whole.



Sponsor Profile – Agile Pain Relief

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

mark-levison-headshot-2Agile Pain Relief was founded by Mark Levison in 2009. Mark is a Certified Scrum Trainer who started using Agile in 2001, later introducing Cognos and IBM to Agile methods before starting Agile Pain Relief. Through Agile Pain Relief, Mark has introduced Agile methods to hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals through his courses, coaching, and consulting throughout Canada and the US. Mark actively blogs about Agile, the neuroscience of leadership, and other topics on Notes From a Tool User.

Agile Pain Relief is an Ottawa-based Agile training and consulting company providing certified Agile training, Agile business consulting, and team and leadership training.

What made you start your company?

Mark has over 20 years experience in software development industry. After first discovering Agile in 2001, Mark started using Agile methods to conquer the traditional waterfall projects so common within organizations. Eventually Mark became an internal Agile evangelist with his employer before founding Agile Pain Relief to bring the benefits of Agile methods to a wider audience.

What is the most fun aspect about your business? What is the hardest part…

Most fun: seeing the spark when people *get* Agile and how it can help them.

Worst: Getting on planes and being away from family.

What products/services does your company offer


Agile Pain Relief offers

Agile Pain Relief is pleased to be the GOAT 2016 Title Sponsor again this year & help support Ottawa’s Agile community.

Describe a typical day in your business

There is no typical day! Offering Agile training and consulting across Canada means a lot of travel. When not in the air Mark is conducting hands-on workshops to small groups (under 20 attendees) in private and public courses or dedicated consulting to help organizations bring Agile into their business processes.

When not travelling and conducting training, Mark is constantly working on improving courses based on feedback, writing about Agile and leadership topics on his blog and upcoming book, and developing new courses and material.

Role of management in Agile Transitions?

Lots—possible most—of the problems teams face are not at the team level: Management needs to help remove organization and structural impediments that are halting the teams’ ability to delivery value.

How do I scale Scrum to the enterprise?

You don’t scale Scrum to the enterprise: you de-scale the enterprise with Scrum. Divide the enterprise into smaller teams to be more effective. Scrum at the enterprise level needs to devolve responsibility from the centre to the edges of the systems and organization.

Monthly Meetup – Managing for Happiness with Jurgen Appelo

Jurgen Appelo a TED speaker, author and a past software menager will be in Ottawa for his book tour. We are very lucky to have him at our monthly meetup.

If you manage a team then this is for you.

Managing for Happiness with Jurgen Appelo







When – Thursday, October 20, 2016
Time – 6:00 PM
Where – Pythian Canada Office, 319 McRae Ave, Suite 700, Ottawa, ON


Sponsor update – October 2016

GOAT2016 sponsor update oct. 2016

We are growing our conference from 300 to 500 attendees! Thanks to these organizations for helping make this a reality.

We have 7 open spots open. They are

  • 2 Platinum
  • 1 Gold
  • 4 Silver

GOAT sponsor update Oct. 2016

If you are interested in being a sponsor take a look at our sponsorship package to see what best fits your needs and connect with us.

Sponsorship update

We are very excited to say that we have some sponsors! They are


Having said that we still have some sponsorship opportunities. We are looking to fill the following sponsorhip spots

  • 1 Title
  • 1 Premier
  • 2 Platinum
  • 1 Gold
  • 5 Silver

A sponsors for the Gatineau Ottawa Agile Tour (#GOAT2016), will have access to a specialized and influential audience to

● Increase your brand awareness

● Create product marketing opportunities

● Demonstrate your innovative management practices

● Create business opportunities

● Attract high quality talent

For further information, please contact the Gatineau / Ottawa Agile Tour 2016 Organizing

Committee at: sponsor at goagiletour dot ca