Agile 2012 concludes this week and what a great event it was this year! As always, the conference is a time to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. It was an especially exciting time for me because my new book 30 Days to Better Agile debuted at the conference. It was great fun talking to people about the book and the ideas within it.
Over 600 people stopped by the CollabNet booth to say “hi” and to learn more about our products and services. Attendance this year was fantastic and there was a definite energy to the crowd that wasn’t as pronounced as last year. There was also great representation by a variety of companies, from government to Fortune 500 to small start-ups.
The sessions were just as varied. I presented “The Dirty Dozen: 12 Practices That Can Kill Your Agile Transformation”. The material, taken from my book, highlights “values conflicts” that can cause problems in agile implementations. When organizations try to simply change behaviors without changing the underlying values behind those behaviors, a disconnect occurs. Each person in the session evaluated the extent to which these values conflicts were affecting their organization. Then, as a group, we made an aggregate picture of both our level of agile adoption and also our level of challenge with the “Dirty Dozen”. The pictures to the left and below are of the aggregating exercise.
What I learned from this session is that there was a wide variety of both adoption level as well as challenge level within the attendees. While a few people identified their organization as nearing Transformation, there were quite a number that were in Exploration, just getting started with agile. Challenges with stakeholders and rewarding teams continue to be a struggle for many.
The session had good Q & A. One thing I really tried to emphasize is that, when trying to change someone’s behavior or attitude about agile practices, it is important to look for the “teachable moment”. This is the point, often with things are going badly, when people are open to hearing “There might be a better way to approach this.” Being able to recognize someone’s teachable moment has nothing to do with your rank in the organization but it has everything to do with having the courage to speak up at the right time. As I tried to impress upon the attendees, we all have far more influence over those around us than we sometimes realize. Being willing to use that influence in a compassionate but frank and honest way is often what it takes to get an organization to the next level of agile adoption.
So, all in all, the event was a great experience. Based on the feedback I heard from attendees, most people felt the same. So it wouldn’t surprise me if next year was even better!