Agile Academy Meetup: A is for Agile, the start of something good!

MeetupAgile AcademyIt’s that time of year where you start to clear the decks for the next year, and, in amongst a bunch of files on my hard disk, I found my notes from the Agile Academy Meetup from April 2010 in Brisbane, which I thought had been long lost to binary heaven.

At this meetup, Phil Abernathy presented an introductory agile session entitled “A is for Agile, the start of something good!” He had some good some refreshing points, and some of my notes from the session are here:

  • why change – better, faster, cheaper – key driver, but customers have always wanted this even before the Global Financial Crisis
  • RAD – “the good old days”
  • agile is evolutionary – developed over time from RAD, XP, Scrum, etc…
  • pendulum swing from waterfall to agile is a bad approach
  • agile is made up of values and principles plus technology, social and management practices
  • values and principles are not enough, so the only way to implement these are practices – social, technology and management
  • being accountable is a key value, but gets harder as agile teams work closely together, so you also need courage, respect & honesty as well
  • wisdom of the crowd is always better than the best person in the group
  • simplicity is the most difficult principle to implement – humans always want more detail
  • self organization does not mean no leadership – it means even more leadership
  • if you get kickoff of your project wrong, it will always go wrong (regardless of waterfall or agile)
  • agile successful in non-software development projects – biggest demand in Suncorp is from the business
  • benefits linked to outcomes which are linked to features which are then linked to stories
  • agile is different to RAD because we don’t prototype, we build… iteratively
  • in agile we don’t write documentation until we have shared understanding, but there is a discipline to the amount and the need to refactor
  • issues with agile adoption are usually on the IT side of the fence, once the business have seen it they will be the biggest supporters

Phil then answered some questions from the audience:

  • PRINCE2 now has a large agile component to it – is no different because agile sits on top of it – agile has rigour and will work with any project management method
  • governance – heartbeat of the steering commitee must be the same heartbeat as that of the project
  • selling agile – you need troaching – training and coaching together, it’s a change management journey
  • don’t expect a successful agile project to sell agile in the organisation, you will get resistance – need to manage transition from pilot to scaling, need buy-in to the pilot to avoid this
  • where do you put agile artefacts when you don’t have walls – mobile whiteboards, walls, a company in San Francisco just got seed funding for agile walls
  • do not recommend using a tool over tangible materials
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