Agile 2008 Conference – the experience

There were between 90 and120 sessions (types: talk, workshop, tutorial, demonstration, clinic, experience report, & other) each day of conference, and I had to scratch my head (a lot!) and think of what would be more interesting to go to.

It was not easy to decide, but had to do it based on the topic of my interest and common sense reasoning. Anyway, I went to some of the sessions and decided to post some of high-level interesting points in this blog:

Main Stage / Linda Rising presented “Who Do You Trust?” topic

As mentioned in her talk, “cognitive scientist say we are more productive when our behavior matches our hard-wiring.

One disturbing behavior we are hardwired to perform is to decide instantly who we trust, but we aren’t aware of what we are doing or why we are doing it. This hardwired evaluation often prevents us from working well with others.” – e.g. based on research study, a manager will “label” his/her employee to be in the “winner” or the “loser” group in less than three weeks, a decision that would be very difficult to undo.

Linda mentioned, “Labels mean, we lose all other dimensions of their talents” – http://www.lindarising.org/ – For some more examples, please refer to http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided/etc/view.html

Leadership / David Spann provided a tutorial titled “Developing Agile Leaders”

As part of his session, he asked us a question: “How a Great Team defined?” and mentioned five aspects of a great team; i.e.

  1. Insists on Commitment,
  2. Focuses on Results,
  3. Relies upon Trust,
  4. Assures Accountability and
  5. Engages Conflicts

He asked us to put them in a right order started with the most important one. Well, my answer wasn’t right; I ordered them as (1) Trust, (2) Commitment, (3) Accountability, (4) Conflicts, & (5) Results. Then, he convinced us on the right answer: (1) Trust, (2) Engages Conflicts, (3) Commitment, (4) Accountability, & (5) Results. He also talked about 8 of 22 preferred leadership behaviors (i.e. Conservative, *Innovative, *Technical, Self, *Strategic, Persuasive, Outgoing, *Excitement, Restraint, Structuring, Tactical, *Communication, *Delegation, Control, Feedback, Management Focus, Dominant, Production, Cooperation, *Consensual, Authority, and *Empathy) – at the end he reported of his session, his experience on a 2-year leadership roadmap.

Leadership & Teams / Kenji Hiranabe talked about “New Car Development in Toyota”

Based on his presentation, he met Mr. Katayama (Chief Engineer of Lexus/SC, IS, Altezza) to convince him of Agile development practices. He mentioned, that was a difficult job as Mr. Katayama did not trust Agile practices until he provided Accumulated test results for showing him the software grow (Seki’s 7 years repeating test report/history).

The other interesting workshop was “Test-Driven Development” presented by Gilles Mantel. In his workshop, we learned how to approach to a particular problem by defining new tests before finding the solution.

I missed the Mary Poppendieck session “Expanding Agile Horizons: The Five Dimensions Of Systems”, but by talking with people and learning through her website/books (e.g. Lean Software Development – An Agile Toolkit), surely it was a good one too. As far as I understand, she talked about “What do we want to do when we grow up? After all, a processes that does not change over time becomes rigid and eventually fade away!” She looked at five dimensions of systems (purpose, structure, integrity, life span, and results) and considered how to expand agile horizons along each one.

Alan Cooper presentation “The Wisdom of Experience” (the main part of the closing keynote) – the presentation is posted in http://www.cooper.com/journal/agile2008/with no audio, but complete slide notes; “The two agile stages” & “the two fragile stages” are very interesting categorizations.

Good news: In cooperation with Agile Alliance, InfoQ.com filmed 18 selected sessions (or maybe 22) from Agile2008. The first batch will be published the week of the 20th and the remaining once/week for 3 months following. (Try http://www.infoq.com/agile2008 or another useful link http://www.infoq.com/Agile) – I think, it would be great to watch and chat about some of them in Thursday’s meetings.

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