I had the pleasure of helping organise the Agile Tauranga 2017 conference held in….wait for it, Tauranga at the end of September. Agile Tauranga was an Agile Alliance initiative (https://www.agilealliance.org/agile-alliance-new-zealand/ ). The Alliance exists to create and sustain a nationwide community who actively advocate for the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto and part of their ‘evangelism’ of agile mindsets and practices stretched to bring 4 awesome speakers to the Bay.
The conference itself was split into 2 parts – talks in the morning and open space in the afternoon.
The talks were a wide mix from Shane Hastie's ‘The Foundation of Business Agility’, Leon Maritz's talk about changing the term technical debt to Technical Health (which I am going to do with customers from now on), Sandy Mamoli's ‘How the Olympics can make you a Better Person’ and Ant Boobier's ‘Lean UX and the language of change’.
All talks were engaging and all had ‘aha’ moments, but Sandy's talk, for me, was the most thought provoking. Sandy was a former Olympian at handball for Austria and her talk centred around team work and what makes a good team. The notion that it’s a good thing to be the worst player on a team – so that we can learn from everyone else and we work hard to improve, made sense. When we are the best player on a team, we should leave – so that we return to being the worst player on a team and start the learning process again. Whilst in no way am I the best player on my team at Cucumber, it made me think again about my career, my learning and review if I am learning everything I can – where I am.
The afternoon sessions were all open space – again topics that were raised were hugely varied and there was definitely something for everyone. There was some apprehension from the group to initially suggest topics, but in the end the topics that were held over 3 time slots provided value for all who attended. We had sessions from ‘What projects are suitable for Agile?’, ‘How do you prioritise and how do you knowvalue’ through ‘How do you get build & non-build to run together (dual track)’ and ‘How do you structure departments/organisations in order to deliver efficiently.’
One topic that was raised was ‘When do you give up on trying to create an agile culture’ which was voiced by a gentleman I know who has been trying to change (or even get discussions started about) the culture in his organisation. He has hit blockers at every turn and is wondering if it is worth the effort. As I was organising the event I could not stay at the session for long – and I hope that the gentleman in question left with some motivation to keep trying as I truly believe the effort is worth it even if he can effect only a small change.
We closed with a round up of one word from everyone about the conference and words like learning, communication, change etc came up, my word was knackered sorry!
I would like to thank the Agile Alliance for investing in Tauranga and the Bay, there is a huge appetite here to learn and grow our agility in business and feedback from the conference has been great. So some changes to make to improve for next year – but improve we will and hopefully will be back next year for Agile Tauranga 2018.
See slide decks from the event here:
- Language of Lean UX
- Shane Hastie - Foundations of Business Agility
- Technical Debt
- What I Learned from a Professional Sports Career
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