Agilia Conference 2014

I attended Agilia conference in Brno. It was smaller conference but in general I was satisfied. Quality of speeches was variable. Keynotes were definitely excellent as usual. I got something from all other sessions even if some of them can be better. In general I had a good time and it has a value.

I am used to always write down some short sentences and ideas (kind of flashbacks) - more detailed ones are usually not needed because you can find this information online if you need it later. Short one should provoke you to think about it. So here it comes.

Moving away from the manufacturing metaphors - Dave Snowden

Opening keynote was amazing speech from Dave Snowden. It was very comprehensive and inspirational talk. Here are some ideas I pointed down.

  • You should know theory of cooking before you cook. But theory does not make you chef.
  • Software development as Interaction vs. Boxing
  • People are part of architecture
  • Exaptation describes a shift in the function of a trait during evolution. For example, a trait can evolve because it served one particular function, but subsequently it may come to serve another.
  • Co-Evolution - if something become pattern you cannot go back -> there is nothing like building on green field
  • Brain works in the way when the first found pattern is used, it is not necessary the best one. Only autistics always search for the best options. We are evolved to take decisions quickly. Users judge your system in the same way.

I see - Egon Suiridenko

Visualization is my favorite topic so I was expecting more from this session. It was mainly about basics how to demonstrate power of images to show data and ideas in effective way.

How to fight with technical debt - Robert Batůšek

Good theoretical talk about the problem each team is fighting with.

  • Technical debt = Is something you want to fix but nobody wants to pay for it.
  • How to deal with it:
    • Recognize
    • Collect
    • Plan
    • Reduce
  • Every item needs to have volunteer to fix it.
  • How to get approval of management?
    • Do not ask for approval
    • Demonstrate ROI
    • Sell it as something else (supportability, performance, reliability, etc.)
  • Prevent it!

Agile Project Management - Arie van Bennekum

Another excellent speech I really enjoyed.

  • Motivation for communication
    • Autonomy
    • Mastery
    • Purpose
  • Let it go = facilitate, enable, help, support, motivate. Do not control!
  • Agile managers take care about full deliveries among more teams
  • Help teams to stay focused
  • When we are in stress our pattern is to fall back and protect
  • A lot of things became Agile rituals -> you should always know why you are doing anything
  • We do Agile, every two weeks we are delivering lot of things which are not needed

Building software that matters - Francesko Degrassi

I have mixed feelings about this talk. To be honest I do not understand what was the message of it. It was presentation of success story but I missed more details, examples, etc. Too much theory according to me. In other hand I write down several interesting ideas.

  • When software is useless (does not deliver business value) who cares about quality?
  • Do not work for customer. Work with customer.
  • Backlog items become irrelevant. They change to often. Have road map instead.
  • Need vs. Solution proposal
  • The client will always find the way if he believes in the need to


GTD - Robert Chudy

It was very entertaining session and I enjoyed it. I am really going to read more about it and try it.

  • You need to capture everything what have your attention


Show me the money - Chris Braun

Very good talk about salaries and motivation on Agile Projects

  • Agile is about team work but salaries are about individuals
  • Do not look at salaries as cost
  • How much is enough?
  • If you want the best people you cannot pay average salaries
  • You should be always fair.
  • Do not promise anything regarding salaries. Do it now.
  • Fixed salaries
    • Salary is not motivator because it is certain
    • If you do not pay enough it can be a big demotivator
  • Variable
    • Money becomes motivation
    • “Do this and you will get that” makes people focus on “that”.
    • It is focused on control
    • Avoid it!
  • Bonuses
    • Celebrate success
    • Make it unexpected
    • Smaller and more often

Is Agile something you have to do or something you have to be? - Arie van Bennekum

It was again amazing start of the next day. Arie is an excellent speaker and this topic suits him.

  • Agile is way of approaching things. It is way of living
  • Agile is serving the business by being adaptive
  • True agile is exploring
  • Agile is about interaction - it never works without that
  • Reasons to fail
    • Does not deliver business need (value)
    • Poor quality
    • Population is trying to avoid it
    • Maintenance
    • Time and budget
  • If you do not estimate you do not know how much you are over budget
  • Typical problems
    1. SMART objectives are missing
    2. There is no selection process (Bring new ideas - you do not want to miss them. But then select these which fits your objectives)
    3. No end users participation
      • No validation (of objectives)
      • No verification (of solutions)
  • When you want something you never had you have to do something you have never done
  • Take out the fear from clod water -> yes, it is not ready, but we would like to see it to get your feedback
  • Use common language
  • End users: "I do understand we need architecture but I do not care about it. Show me the value."
  • (Agile -> Fragile) <- No involvement
  • Coaching: Messi is the best football player on the world but he trains 5 days per week under some coach
  • Most effective communication is two people in front of the one whiteboard



Creating High Performing Teams in Agile Context - Luis Goncalves

Actual topic served in very good way. And yes, it was also fun!

  • Is it enough to create A-Team?
  • Give people opportunity to contribute and something magic always happens
  • Performance reviews are bullshit
    • Are not effective in 82%
    • Are not successful in 90%
    • We want to have agile adaptive way of working but we have at least six months long performance review periods
  • We cannot lie each other
  • Mountain exercise (one of the biggest outcomes from conference for me)
    • As a person you have values. Everybody knows what he believes in. Even after university.


Agile is Dead - Haran Rasalingam

Interesting speech about the fact that people are disengaged from their work.

  • Average level of disengagement
    • USA - 70%
    • Europe - 86%
    • CZ - 92%
  • Agile needs more care
  • Games provides people deep human needs which they miss in daily life using following principles
    • Goals
    • Rules
    • Feedback
    • Voluntary participation
  • Every day life is too easy
  • To change behavior you need to change connected believes and values


No estimation - Dav Tsal Sela

Unplanned session about estimations. I do not agree with Dav in many things but it was nice conversation and source of different point of view.

  • Burndowns are depressive
  • Transparency is better than commitment
  • Stupidity of someone equals the distance between you and him
  • Senior roles hate new things because they are new


Learn to sketch to agility - Dav Tsal Sela

Workshop of funny drawing to demonstrate agile principles. It was fun, I like it. But I prefer to have such entertainments at conference evenings, not during the main time.

Here is the page about it.


Understanding unspoken customer needs - Darrell Mann

I was disappointed by this speech. It was all about TRIZ and application to IT but it was whole too theoretical without clear vision and context. In the end of the session I was confused - I got the main idea but that is all. Unspoken customer needs - I did not hear to much about that during this session.

  • 98% innovations failed
  • (Optimization = improving rules) vs. (Innovations = breaking rules)
  • If there is a problem somebody probably already solved it
  • A person may have ten years experience but it can be one year of experience repeated ten times


Make Impacts, Not Software - Gojko Adzic

The best for last. Gojko is phenomenon and one of the best speakers according to me. As expected this was the best speech of whole conference.

  • Business ideas are different than technical specifications = ppts vs. backlogs
  • Bug tracking tools are places where bugs go before they are forgotten
  • Most of the metrics are negative
  • Zero bug count metric tells nothing
  • People measure what is easy to be measured but not what is important
  • Measuring only velocity is useless - you cannot judge if it is good or bad
  • You cannot predict because a lot of things are not connected with software
    • Local
    • Time
    • Human
  • Adaptive planning - turn everything to opportunity
  • Analysis without more options are useless because the solution is already chosen
  • Roadmap is map of roads
    • Where I am going?
    • When I know it there are many options how to get there. Choose one based on analysis.
    • GPS is marriage saver
  • User Story
    • Business part - but they can already do it somehow. So what is the impact and how we can measure it?
    • We have no information to judge if delivery was success or fail in the end
    • Acceptance criteria should be the measure of behavior change
  • Which impacts are good for big picture
  • Linear backlogs are very risky - you have no options
  • Core rules
    • People knows why they are here
    • Focus on impact
    • Team decides based on immediate and direct feedback
    • Everyone cares


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