AgileDC is the largest Agile community organized event in the Washington, DC metro area. For more than a decade, this one-day regional conference has brought together thought leaders and practitioners from government, not-for-profits, and private industry alike. AgileDC attracts more than 600 attendees to enjoy networking opportunities and their choice of up to 10 simultaneous sessions.
One of the key advantages of Agile over plan-driven approaches is that an Agile mindset acknowledges our ever-diminishing ability to usefully predict the future and focuses our efforts on managing change instead of trying to suppress it. This “new reality” has become pervasive enough to drive its own buzz word – VUCA, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity. But beyond the hype lies a truth that Agile leaders need to understand and embrace – that certain problems really do respond differently to our attempts to manage and solve them. Why does this matter? Because problem contexts that defy straightforward cause-and-effect expectations significantly impact productivity while simultaneously presenting much higher risks to success. Even worse, applying leadership approaches that aren’t matched to the problem context dramatically increases the danger of catastrophic failure.
In this session, we’ll examine how the Cynefin framework helps us make sense of what kinds of problems we’re dealing with and how we should approach them. We will then look at ten ways in which Agile frameworks, approaches and technical practices help us manage or even reduce complexity and one where they fall short. You will walk away with a deeper understanding of how - and why - the things we do as agilists increase stability and reduce risks for our teams.
Have you tidied up your personal life with Marie Kondo and are now wondering how to achieve the same effect in your work life? Do you have the feeling that the most valuable product backlog items (PBIs) are getting lost under a mountain of old stories, bugs, and tasks? Maybe you know a change is needed, but feel completely overwhelmed about where to start? If so, join us to learn how to make your product better through the life changing magic of tidying up your backlog.
We’ll start by exploring the costs of a large, cluttered product backlog and share a short quiz you can use to gauge the current state of your own backlog. Next, we’ll cover how we’ve adapted the KonMari method and introduce five easy steps you can take to get started in your tidying process. We'll share real-life examples along the way, calling out potential pitfalls to avoid (don’t become a storage expert!), and illustrating how story mapping may be the magical backlog equivalent to Kondo’s “vertical folding” technique. By the end of the session, you’ll know the specific next steps to take so that you too can realize the many benefits of a tidied-up product backlog: improved visibility, increased self-organization, and easier decision-making.
In this session, you’ll learn about one team’s struggle to improve collaboration and how they sought to shorten cycle time by carefully crafting an experiment with an Andon Cord. The Andon Cord is a Toyota innovation designed to empower front-line employees to recognize issues, initiate a stoppage of work, and work together as a team to quickly identify a path forward. The emergency cable strung above assembly lines became a symbol of the Toyota Way, and has widely been copied throughout the auto industry and beyond.
You’ll be introduced to metrics that show a surprising correlation between collaboration through Andon Cord pulls and Cycle Time!
Imagine you are asked to sit in on a team’s sprint review and retrospective. The team has been having difficulty forming and the Scrum Master has asked you to observe the team dynamics during these two sessions. Are you simply going to watch what’s going on or is there more you can do? Perhaps you are seeing interactions and team dynamics at play without truly realizing what you are observing. And when you do observe, are you injecting your own biases into those observations? Observation is a powerful tool, but one which we may not take advantage of to its true potential. After all, what exactly should we be observing, anyway?
By learning how to expand our observational skills in a non-biased and non-judgmental manner, we can gain a deeper understanding of team dynamics and interactions allowing us to offer more meaningful and impactful support, coaching, and empathy. Because there are many observational aspects that pass us by, the best way to become more observant is through deliberate practice. So, let’s practice together with a group exercise in a fun and safe setting!
In this highly interactive workshop, we’ll start by sharing tools and tips to make you a better observer. Then we’ll ask for a small group of volunteers (“builders”) to be observed performing a brief task. The remaining attendees will practice applying the observation techniques, and, after the builders finish, will share their observations in small groups. We’ll conclude with a full-group debrief and discussion of the key takeaways and opportunities to improve our effectiveness and observations.
If you’re looking for new ways to connect with your team, to enhance your agilist toolkit, or simply participate in an informative and interactive workshop, this session is for you!
Your organization is doing Agile, which great, but what does that really mean? Perhaps they are implementing Scrum, or Kanban, or one of the other Agile methods, but are they really being Agile? Does it feel like you are you are doing Scrum, but you’re team isn’t really Agile? There's difference between doing Agile and being Agile and this session explores that concept.
In this session, we’ll understand what Agile really means and how that relates to the way we implement our Agile methods within our organizations. We'll identify how we effectively use the Manifesto value points so that we can maximize the value of our products while still ensuring that we have quality and governance built into our process. This session will also explore the use of Agile principles to guide our strategic and day to day decisions.
This sessions is great not only for beginners, but for anyone who wants to get past simply implementing Scrum or Kanban by the book, but really understand how to use Agile values and principles to build better products and organizations.
Rather than engaging in an intense modernization effort followed by years of minimal maintenance, a better alternative often is modernizing a system continuously, balancing operations, maintenance, and renovation. Ideally you can improve, update, and upgrade the software system one piece at a time while it continues to operate, avoiding feature freezes and scary cut-overs.
There are always trade-offs to be made, but some approaches better fit IT systems with long-lived missions. At a certain point, a whole-sale rewrite is the best option for replacing stale, decaying software before it leads to major headaches and eventual catastrophe. Big rewrites have big risks and big failures, however. Because of the stability and enduring mandates of some software systems, long-term investments in IT systems pay off and give room for smart maintenance strategies.
The Agile Manifesto doesn't explicitly talk about what changes in management should happen and neither do the approaches. In fact, sometimes we hear the exact opposite from teams - "What do we need managers for..?" or perhaps "Can't they just get rid of all the impediments we have?"
As a former manager and now as a coach, I find the words Servant Leadership sometimes doesn't resonate. It actually only paints part of the picture anyway. What we want are ways to enrich management so that they can do more for the organization and its teams. Let's discover what some of this enrichment might be.
Do you feel like Agile Scaling has become a goal rather than the means to an end for your organization? To determine where you stand on the Scaling spectrum, ask yourself a few soul-searching questions: Why do we need to scale? Is this the right time for us to scale? If you’ve checked these boxes, you may wonder “where do I go from here?”
This talk will focus on 3 areas that emerged as common themes throughout my experience working on government Agile Scaling projects and ultimately influenced the trajectory of each agency's scaling journey:
- Communicate vision consistently
- Focus on your people genuinely
- Create your own path intentionally
I've seen successes and some struggles with Agile Scaling efforts in government agencies. Regardless of the agency acronym or the frameworks used, these key elements shaped their scaling outcomes.
Come learn how our 3 teams, operating in a LeSS-style scaled model, experimented with a NoEstimates approach to development work and then adopted that as our way of working for a year in the Federal government. Included in our story is a switch to Kanban, returning to Scrum, scaling down to two teams, and eventually returning to pointing work. It has been a remarkable journey that I'm excited to share!
Have you ever worked with a Business Analyst (BA)? Is what a BA does on an agile project much different from what is done on a waterfall project? All analysts bring excellent communication, collaboration, and trust to their work on project teams. During this session we’ll review the roles a BA can play, a BA's responsibility on the development team, and the skills a good BA possesses. For fun, lets also talk about why an Analyst is part of the 3 Amigos and the complexity of communication channels. Generally speaking, let’s discuss how BAs participate in an agile project’s success and I’ll share some stories about my experience going from waterfall to agile, how I’ve interacted with the PO, and important things I think an Analyst should be involved in.