Real Life Agile – Where the Rubber hits the Road: An Open Space Event
With inputs from Michael Beal and Dan Tran
One can’t get too much of Agile. Like everything else in life, the more you learn, the better you get at it. The beauty lies in that you learn best from practising Agile, rather than reading about it.
Real Life Agile is an event where Agile enthusiasts gather and discuss everything Agile under the Sun. The topics could range from scaling Agile, being Agile across distributed teams, getting management buy-in, the most important practices to be implemented first and why, and so forth – in short, the application of Agile in real scenarios.
This is an Open Space event, which means the discussion topics are not pre-determined, they are decided as they come up, depending on what the participants desire at that instant, as long as it stays within the scope of Agile.
Real Life Agile Event at Irvine
In the Real Life Agile Event at Irvine, California on March 26, practising Agile developers and leaders assembled to share, and learn from, experiences and issues that are typically faced in the practical world of product development. The participants identified and prioritized a list of the nine most important topics that they wished to discuss. Then, for each of the three hour-long sessions, they self-organized into three topic-based discussion groups. Each topic was discussed with energy and enthusiasm. At the end of each session, the groups came up with the key points discussed and Action Items that could be applied to the real world, and shared them with the others.
Topics that came up for discussion within groups included:
- Getting started with Scrum.
- How to ensure quality in Agile.
- Fixed Scope, Rigid Compliance Issues.
- Succeeding when Customers / Management don’t understand Agile.
- What is your problem and why do you think Agile can help.
- How to incorporate detailed architecture design for large enterprise projects.
- Team issues: dealing with heroes, working with distributed teams and part-time members.
- Lean and Agile.
- Myths and misconceptions about Scrum.
Some of the interesting keypoints that came up in the discussions were:
- The importance of giving constant demos to stakeholders while the team is adapting to Agile.
- Celebrating failure as a lesson learned.
- Short timeframes do not essentially cause quality to drop, on the contrary it brings up the quality issues sooner.
- There is no “value” to Agile if it isn’t solving real problems.
- Knowing the problem’s root causes is more important than knowing the symptoms.
- Scrum is not a solution to all, nor is it a silver bullet or easy to implement, and does not imply no documentation, no quality / no testing.
- Ideally, a project should be sliced vertically rather than follow it horizontally. This will deliver the valuable feature to the client quicker than at the end.
- Deliver early functional software with long term delivery plan.
- Scrum helps expose problems quicker, by increasing visibility and leads to problem solving.
- Scrum encourages a continuous feedback loop for improvement.
Real issues were addressed to reveal real answers. Addressing the practical issues that were at the top of the participants list was met with such enthusiasm that the participants, strangers when they arrived, have set the wheels in motion to do it all again on a regular basis and to encourage their team members and other professionals to join them.
This event was organized by APLN Orange County with participation from volunteers. A Big Thanks to Craig Jones, Dan Tran and Mike Beal who helped to put the event together and was very involved in organizing and facilitating it.
Feedback from the attendees
a. Great to have people and friends are from the industry
b. Enjoy to engage with folks having varied experiences
c. We want more Open Space events
d. Open Space format is great
e. Love the discussions of how agile works
f. Diversity of participants from seasoned to newbies.
g. Will tell friends and colleagues about the Agile / Open Space events.
h. 3 session periods and the length was good.
i. Want more examples.
j. Want more pre-PPM discussion and business process application.
How can this event benefit you?
Real Life Agile – Open Space is not just another discussion forum. It is an event in which the participants self-organize, decide the route and the steer the discussion. The event brings together a cross-section of people with a wide range of experiences and expertise on Agile, keen to share their knowledge and learn more on how to apply best practices. It is the kind of gathering from which innovative ideas could spring. If you are looking to understand ways of implementing Agile in your organization or to improve the current framework, this event could be the answer. And if the enthusiasm of the participants in the March event is anything to go by, the upcoming Open Space Event on April 29th in Irvine is surely not to be missed!
More events addressing real issues while engaging the participants are already scheduled, starting with the April 7 APLN meeting, featuring a panel of leaders fielding audience questions about distributed development practices within an Agile framework.