Agile Business Conference 2010 – A Quick Roundup

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Agile Business Conference 2010.I had an enjoyable couple of days at the Agile Business Conference in London last week.

Day 1 was pretty intense…

The opening keynote was called ‘The World is Agile‘. First we heard from David Norton from Gartner. He was a very good speaker and it was an interesting talk. I thought it was interesting how he compared real life with project management methods, for example he said “you don’t need a gantt chart to go to the shops, or to get to the conference. The fact is, we are agile by nature”. He was followed by Simon Buck, a Programme Manager at Symbian and Nokia. They scaled agile to an impressive size, rolling it out across over 1,000 engineers and 100 Scrum teams!

Then I went to a workshop run by John Stevenson about How to Build a Kanban board. I think the concept of post-it notes on a whiteboard to organise anything is really interesting and in my experience it really works! It was also good to hear from John about the concept of work-in-progress limits and to see an example in practice as people piled post-it notes onto the whiteboard and tried to clear them at different speeds! A while ago I wrote quite a comprehensive blog post on this concept, which you can see here: Work-In-Play Limits.

Next up (after lunch) was my keynote presentation, which I called “IPC Media, The Naked Truth!“. It was a case study on IPC’s implementation of agile and how we’d used it to transform our digital division that handles all the web development for IPC’s many iconic brands. I got lots of positive feedback so I think it went okay. It was 60 minutes long. I’d hoped to leave time for questions but unfortunately I finished on the dot! Never mind, after that session I had a long queue of people asking me questions 121, which showed a lot of interest and I was really pleased to do.

As a result of that, I missed the next session, which meant I had to go straight into my next presentation. I presented 10 Key Principles of Agile as one of the education sessions. In this session I presented the slides that I sell here on my blog. This was about 40 minutes and I had a chance to answer a few questions too. These slides are really aimed at people who are new to agile and want a better understanding of the key principles that underly all agile methods. Either that or they’re for people who want to present the principles to others, perhaps as a way to build awareness before their implementation of agile.

Lastly on Day 1, I went to a presentation called “How to Develop Your Leadership Gift” by Christopher Avery. I’ve seen Christopher speak before – he’s a very good speaker and an author on the subjects of leadership and teamwork – two subjects that are both very close to my heart!

In the evening, I attended the UK’s first ever Agile Awards, organised by Connections Agile Services. It turned out to be an eventful evening. First of all, I was pleased to present the award for Best Agile Team as it was sponsored by IPC Media. The award went to the Pearson Education Coaching Team. Next, I won the award for Most Valuable Agile Player in the UK – amazingly! And then I only went and won a raffle prize too! I won a lovely hamper of wine from Fortnum & Mason – nice one!

Day 2, I’m pleased to say, was a lot more relaxing and every bit as enjoyable…

The morning keynote was from Andrew Scotland and was called “What Does Enterprise Agility Really Mean?“. Andrew has used agile development methods for large change programmes and it was interesting to hear how he has dovetailed agile delivery with a traditional PMO (Programme Management Office) function in large organisations.

Next, I went to a really interesting workshop called “Building a Culture of Trust” run by Rachel Davies (agile blogger, coach, author, trainer and former Board member of the Agile Alliance) and Sallyann Freudenberg (agile coach, trainer, and academic researcher). They were both excellent and it was a really interactive session thinking about what builds trust and what hinders it, and thinking of some of the tools and techniques that can be used to help teams. Since teamwork and trust are at the heart of agile methods, I thought this was really useful and a fascinating topic.

The afternoon keynote was called “Agile from the Trenches – A Case Study” and was delivered by Stuart Mitchell and Nima Kaveh from HSBC. They managed to deliver a £5m greenfield project using agile methods at HSBC for the very first time – that’s quite a way to start! This was a very practical session and I’m sure would have helped many people in the audience to get an insight into what it really takes to run an agile project.

Lastly, I went to a session called “Story Mapping” by Serge Beaumont (agile coach and consultant). Serge ran a really interesting interactive workshop that helped people to see how they could link Business Vision, to Product Vision, to a Release Plan and ultimately to a Sprint Plan. He also showed a very simple but effective technique for prioritising user stories so that a product could be fully functional, whilst not necessary being fully featured until all iterations are completed.

And that was it – an action packed couple of days! I thought it was an incredibly interesting and enjoyable couple of days and I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did.