Testing Assumptions at the Minimum Viable Conference

One of the few certainties about Agile 2021 is that it will be very different from past Agile20XX events. Moving Agile20xx online has required us to reconsider almost everything about how we design the event, so there are many experiments in flight. We’re working with new–rapidly evolving–virtual platforms and components. We’re changing up the schedule to make it more accessible to Agilists around the world. And we’ve adapted session formats and delivery to reflect how people engage with online content.

To test some of our assumptions and hypotheses about how Agile2021 will work, we hosted the Minimum Viable Conference on June 29th to exercise key features of the conference platform and to give attendees a taste of the great learning experiences that will be on offer.


Linda Rising and the Elephant Metaphor


The MVC opened with a keynote from Linda Rising on “How to Talk to the Elephant”. As is often the case with experiments, we ran into a technical glitch right from the start, which made it difficult for some of the audience to view the keynote. Fortunately, the complete recording is available online. And the ‘incident’ proved to be a very fruitful learning experience as we head into scaling up delivery for Agile2021 itself.

Linda’s talk deals with how to build relationships and encourage change when others are reluctant to try new ideas. She explains how to use many of the patterns identified in Fearless Change to create connections and trust when others don’t see things the same way you do. Don’t miss her story about how she overcame resistance to a proposed change by “listening them into agreeing with me”.

After a quick break, the MVC continued with 4 more sessions:



Courtney Shar and Iurii Ialtanskii shared experience reports about overcoming challenges as coaches in the field. Iurii’s report relates his tale of “Parallel Juggling while Coaching Multiple Teams” and share several lessons he learned along the way about how to manage himself as a coach. Courtney’s story “From Zero to (Metrics Driven) Hero” describes taking a solidly metric-driven approach to building a new team and helping them to reduce scope creep and improve flow.

In the Agile Exchange, the panel conversation explored the theme of “Empowering Women in Agile”. Nancy Gariché, Gitte Klitgaard, Faiza Yousuf, and Cheryl Hammond related their experiences in building community in different technical contexts. The panel shared ideas about how to encourage and support women in taking on leadership roles and addressing some of the systemic challenges faced by women (and other historically underrepresented groups) in tech.


Ken Pugh talking about business value


Ken Pugh’s practical talk “What’s It Worth? The Art of Determining and Tracking Business Value” shares techniques for establishing and maintaining a clear focus on delivering the most important features. The “Bang for the Buck” approach is really useful for teams struggling with prioritizing business-driven and technical backlog items to maximize return on investment.

Richard Kasperowski offered a great workshop on “Teaching Agile So It Sticks: Push Knowledge to Expertise”. Because of the highly interactive nature of the workshop, this session wasn’t recorded. Don’t miss Richard’s workshop Product Inception Canvas: How to Build the Right Thing at Agile2021.

Even if you missed the live event, you can still register and view the Minimum Viable Conference recorded sessions. And don’t forget to register for Agile2021, coming to you wherever you are from July 19-22.

This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They may not represent the opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.

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Ellen Grove

Based in Ottawa, Canada, Ellen has been working in software development for over 20 years, moving from software testing to user-centered design to managing development teams to Agile coaching and training. Ellen is an Agile Coach, trainer and facilitator who works with organizations of all sizes - from startups to multinationals - to help them find more effective ways of working based on Lean and Agile principles and practices. After many years of organizing and…

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