Agile 2015 Conference Highlights: Saluting Enterprise Agility
I am just returning from a fantastic week at the 2015 Agile Alliance Agile conference held from August 3/7 just outside Washington D.C. and wanted to share some highlights with those who were unable to attend. This conference attracts international interest and was attended by over 2300 participants, including both experienced practitioners looking to refine their game, as well as novices seeking to join in and reap the powerful benefits of this mainstream set of values and principles that we call “agile”. As a title sponsor, VersionOne featured the latest innovations in its Enterprise Agile Platform to help enterprises succeed with scaling agile, our support for the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®), and new capabilities such as TeamSync™ for JIRA. The industry focus on DevOps continues, as do discussions on successfully navigating barriers to change and scaling successfully. VersionOne featured a unified DevOps solution showcasing demonstrations of the new ClearCode integration that enables an automated visual flow of change throughout the software cycle from discovery through final delivery. The VersionOne theme, “Enterprise Agility: Revolutionizing How Teams at All Levels Work Together,” echoed well with the conference sessions and discussions focusing on scaling agile across enterprises. At VersionOne, we know that revolutionary change, change that really matters, can only be achieved by people working together at all levels. Conference sessions and experience reports discussed keys to successful transformations, including the importance of executive support and addressing the underlying culture and the soft skills needed to succeed. Conversations at the VersionOne booth included Dean Leffingwell, the creator of the Scale Agile Framework® (SAFe®), sharing insights around scaling agile. Jeff Sutherland, Scrum co/originator, was also spotted sharing insights at the booth as well. VersionOne toasted 10 years of the State of Agile™ survey, the industry’s longest running survey, by serving champagne during the Wednesday evening vendor show. A very popular tribute, needless to say! And if you have not done so yet, please take a few minutes to participate in the State of Agile survey for this year (and you might win an Apple watch). Go to www.stateofagile.com VersionOne consultant, Susan Evans, gave an inspirational experience talk about following your beliefs to ensure your happiness and motivation at work. Write your own career user story with job satisfaction acceptance criteria. Are you in the right job? Do you love your job? Read her three/part blog on this topic. Steve Ropa, VersionOne consultant, presented “Agile Craftsmanship and Technical Excellence: How to Get There”. To change your organization, set an example of “this is what we do here”. Seek to become a mentor to others and to engage in continuous learning. Read his blog related to this topic. Also, Satish Thatte, another VersionOne Consultant, gave a light/hearted talk on “Scaling Agile Your Way,” based on his blog. Then, of course, there were evening festivities. The best party to be invited to was hosted by VersionOne at Bobby McKey’s Dueling Piano Bar featuring very talented musicians and songs we all knew and loved. A great time and lots of fun were had by all. No walking out early here! The conference party theme on Thursday evening was Super Heroes. Of course, the real heroes attending that night were those industry leaders who had the vision and the courage to guide their organizations and teams to a winning strategy focused on a culture of agility and lean principles. One of the sessions presented by Michael Hamman described agile (transformational) leadership as the ability to grow adaptive capability across all aspects of the organization. In another session, Doc Norton encouraged adopting an experimentation/oriented mindset by challenging assumptions, compliance, and fear of failure. In the closing keynote, James Tamm encouraged us to examine our own personal defensiveness as a way to overcome conflict and unhealthy cultural dynamics so we can move into an open, trusting, and collaborative culture. Not surprising given the venue, a number of session topics focused on agile in government, dispelling once and for all the myths that agile cannot be successfully applied in the government sector. The government sectors often face more ingrained cultural challenges to agile adoption than their commercial counterparts including:
- Federal policies that agencies are audited against and contractor relationships dictated by contractual requirements which address traditional and “waterfallish” approaches
- Earned value reporting and accounting driven by artifacts and activity versus outcome
- Contract competitions which stifle collaboration
- Command and control hierarchy that restrict flow of information and innovation
However this is changing and the fact is that many government agencies are overcoming these barriers and are realizing the benefits of agility. Coming from the government sector myself and knowing agile works, this success is near to my heart. And frankly, who should want to see this success more than taxpayers: a government delivering a continuous stream of value efficiently. To summarize key takeaways:
- Scrum is more than a set of process and activities; it is about the continuous delivery of value and getting things done.
- Large organizations across all industries are scaling agile across the entire enterprise and discussing how to optimize results.
- To streamline delivery cycle time and improve time to market, you must tackle DevOps and this is the new focus of improvement in many organizations.
- True agile transformation must address individuals and interactions, establishing a culture of trust and collaboration and alignment to vision and goals. This requires executive level commitment and action.
The closing keynote cited net income improvements of 755% between collaborative and adversarial work environments. We need to see more leadership willing to tackle these challenges and deliver. It is never too late. Whether you want to initiate an enterprise level agile transformation or just revitalize your practices, visit ttp://www.versionone.com/customer/success/ for information on getting started with our solution programs. Finally, mark your calendars for next year’s conference. It will take place from July 25 / July 29, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia, home base for the VersionOne family. It promises to be even bigger and better! Hope to see you there next year for another great learning opportunity and chance to reconnect with old friends and meet and connect with new associates who share your passion for enterprise agility.