I really enjoyed Agile 2009 this year. There are a lot of really smart people working on this space of learning to better ways to develop software and helping others to do it. Thanks to everyone who saw my presentation, Feeding the Agile Beast. I would be happy to send you a copy and a simple version of the Excel tool I’ve used to prioritize and scope work for Agile/Kanban development teams.
Alistair Cockburn, in his opening keynote, I am here to Bury Agile not to Praise it, pointed out that we more or less know how to develop software in small teams. Agile practices have, to some extent, been absorbed into the way that software is developed. What are we doing now is figuring out how to drive even more value from the enterprise from our ability to build software.
Here are some of the problems people are trying to solve that I found extremely interesting.
Agile Project Management. There were a number of talks on Agile Project Management. Mike Cottmeyer presented the Agile PMP. Jim Highsmith presented Agile Project Management. Thoughtworks sponsored a kick off meeting led by Jesse Fewell for PMI’s new PMIAgile Virtual Community. The event was attended by the CIO of PMI as well as Martin Fowler, Alistair Cockburn, Ward Cunningham, Jim Highsmith. It turns out that PMI has been doing Agile development for over two years on their internal IT projects. Agile isn’t just for the small team. With effective project management Agile projects can be coordinated across large distributed enterprises.
Agile Business Analysis. No, that isn’t an oxymoron. There were several presentations on using Business Value and Risk to prioritize and scope what goes into development teams. Chris Matts and Olav Maasen presented on Real Options. David Anderson presented on a Risk Management. Julian Evert presented a financial risk based option model to make decisions about what products to work on and what to invest in. These are practioners and coaches using advanced methods of prioritization to make sure the highest value items are getting put into the development teams.
Agile in the Enterprise. Agile is not just for small teams anymore. There were at least ten Enterprise Agile presentations including Dean Leffinwell’s Scaling Software Agility and Ahmed Sidky’s Pragmatically “Crossing the Chasm” from Project-level to Enterprise Adoption. Mike Cottmeyer and I had breakfast with Jim Highsmith to discuss our new book and he is involved in a 40,000 person Agile transition.
Kanban. Kanban is a hot topic this year. We gave out over 300 buttons and stickers at the Freshers Faire on Monday and the I Kanban and limitedwipsociety.org t-shirts were popular items. Chris Shinkle presented Kanban Adoption at Software Engineering Professionals (SEP). Chris has implemented Kanban almost 30 times and has consistently experienced success. There were a number of Open Jam events discussion the Pro’s and Con’s of Kanban including one by David Anderson applying Resource Liquidity. Despite a lack of clarity on many attendees part regarding Kanban – this approach to visible management, continuous process improvement, and establishing continuous flow has legs. David Anderson has an excellent new book coming out in the next six months or so that takes you from basic implementation all the way through advance improvement techniques.
Games as Learning. I wasn’t sure about this one. The Lean Lego Game, The Beer Game with Agile Teams, The Bottleneck Game, The Business Value Game, Agile Cross Culture with Games, The Distributed Agile Game, The Kanban Game, and The Agile Game all used games to rapidly get new and challenging concepts across. The ones by Pascal Van Cauwenberghe and Portia Tung were very well done. I think there will be more game playing and simulation as learning moving into organizations.
In general, the content of the presentations were good. The interaction with experts and practioners was priceless. Agile is clearly moving mainstream and into the Enterprise. New techniques and practices are being developed and practiced. There are some great new ideas being applied in the software development and product development arenas. As we get better at scaling and adoption and we learn to apply emerging development, management, and analysis techniques, we should expect to see great advances in productivity gains and the value created.