Friday, October 16, 2009

2 Intense Days at Agile Open California

I spent the last 2 days at #AOCA, in Fort Mason (San Francisco, 15 blocks from home!). This is my second experience in open spaces and I love it. I think it is the most Agile format as it allows and promotes collaboration and communication in this endless game: your career.

I met wonderful people, like Pat from The Gap who told me how she was thinking of expanding the agile horizons in The Gap. Wait... Expand? I told her the impression that I got when I was there is that everything was already Agile (It is really impressing see a whole department doing Agile..). I also met Tom Looy from Tacit Knowledge and Joshua Kerievsky. They both had been in Florianopolis last week, where they told me had a great time (Joshua even told me that he would've gone to Buenos Aires, had he knew about it).

First day:

The first session I attend was about "Growing Agile" or how to implement Agile in bigger groups, far from the Agile sweet spot. We have a pretty big group in Axway, but some people talked about groups of 100 or 200 or even 500. Pretty amazing, ah? I introduced my question, which is how you maintain the technical coherence in such big groups but didn't get any good answer... Will keep asking!

The second session I attended was Kanban 101. I still really don't understand the difference with Scrum. I thought it was about not having iterations but they told me you could still have iteration and do kanban. They told me that it was about minimizing "work in progress", putting a maximun numbers of items in progress in each phase.

The third session I attended was about team trust. We talked about team trust (collaboration) within the team. We identified things that work well: Having a shared environment, build community, collective ownership, aligned goals, a good compensation system, fairness and freedom to agree and disagree. Among the factors that can hinder collaboration we identified: "your failure equals my success environments", contradictory values, lack of motivation, a non supportive environment and lack of genuine commitment. We ran out of time, but the facilitator wanted to talk about trust within the organization. Much of what Pat is trying to achieve. Very interesting.

The last session I attended on Thursday was about a training game for agile leaders. This game continued as the first session on friday. What I found interesting about this game is that the whole introduction of Agile is through a game that simulates an iteration, it calculates business value, it is timeboxed, etc. What I am trying to get at is that the introduction contains a lot of the philosophy behind Agile.

Second day:

The second session I attended was about Agile Visualization Tools. We went over the different graphs and diagrams that could be used. I knew most of them, but there was something that was mentioned that really caught my attention. A while ago, I sent an email to the scrumdevelopment list ( asking if there was another way of categorizing user stories. Well, it seems there is and is called "User Story Map". I will keep investigating this for sure because it seems something that could be really useful for us.

The third session I attended was about project chartering. Joshua and a coworker explained which are the most important components that should be agreed upon on a contract and the importance of agreeing on those things (

The last session I attended was about distributed agile. Challenges and tools were listed. It seems most of us are facing the same problems :-)

All in all, I enjoyed the conference a lot.

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