The Agile 2010 Business Theme

December 17, 2009 2 comments

Happy Holidays and welcome to the Agile 2010 Business Theme! This post provides our initial thoughts on the business theme and invites you to get involved as a stage sponsor, a submission reviewer, a presenter, or simply an interested conference participant. I’m Lowell Lindstrom and will be guiding the Business Theme as part of the program committee.

Agile approaches redefine the relationship between business people that need capability from their technology and the teams that provide that capability. Customer Collaboration, Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer, Business people and developers must work together are all parts of the Agile Manifesto.

We’re very excited to build on past stages that have focused on the business practices and implications of using Agile. In 2010, we expand the depth and breadth in this area. Business problems are solved in very different ways across industries and companies. It is difficult to establish common patterns that apply universally across difference organizations. The stages of our business theme will continue to explore these patterns.

The Business Theme will explore:
– how business participants of an agile project interact with the teams that create the products and services of the organization
– how agile changes the way the business identifies value and makes selections about products and features?
– how agile changes the relationship between your business and your customers, partners, and even competitors?

Our view of the business theme is focused on 5 areas and these will likely be our stages. The descriptions include some of the questions we hope are answered by the sessions:

1. Agile Product Management
As with many disciplines, agile techniques leverage our best practices, adapting them with short, empirical feedback loops. This track presents and explores: What best practices in product management are leveraged by agile teams? How have product management practices been adapted for agile? What new product management techniques have emerged from agile teams?

2. Expressing User Needs
Requirements frequently makes the top ten list of challenges that teams encounter. The agile community leverages stories as a robust way for communicating user needs to development teams. But we must know the story. How do we know what the users need? How do we capture it and communicate it?

3. Agile Project Management
Perhaps no topic generates more discussion and controversy at the moment than Agile Project Management. Is the community converging or diverging in this area? What impact do the various certifying organizations play in defining what APM is and should be? Isn’t it all about Leadership anyway?

4. Enterprise Improvement
Businesses always are trying to improve the way they work through better alignment to customers, improved efficiency, and faster time to market. An enterprise focus on agile enables a number of different approaches to improving business performance. Using Agile, Scrum, Lean, even CMMi in concert with agile are all proving to be effective mechanisms for business improvement.

5. Agile Business Transformation
Businesses of any size can transform their performance using agile techniques. Whether your goal is increment improvement or step function accelerated improvement, agile can provide that. In what ways has agile transformed businesses and how they operate, not just how they do projects or develop products? How have other groups leveraged the use of agile to improve sales, service, operations, accounting, and HR? How is the impact of agile measured?

We hope you will get involved in some way. Please contact me at bizprogram2010@agilealliance.org to get involved and with thoughts on the business theme.

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The Agile 2010 Leadership & Organization Theme

December 8, 2009 2 comments

Hello there! Just a note to discuss our preliminary thinking about the Leadership and Organizations theme for the Agile 2010 conference. I’m Pollyanna Pixton, one of the members of the conference’s program committee, responsible for this theme. I plan on sending you more news as it arrives!

Theme Description
Agile has been around for many years with amazing results. However, many organizations suffer under a old command and control leadership style. To create an environment where agile thrives takes a different kind of leadership – one that gives ownership and doesn’t take it back, that creates a culture of trust, that provides the tools and lets the team make the decisions and discover the solutions. This is the kind of leadership we need to lead agile. In this stage, we want to educate, present and share experiences about the tools that can help leaders lead.

But leadership is not the only factor in adopting and implementing agile principles and practices. It takes teams working together, within their team and with other teams. Some people say we don’t need it at all for successful agile teams. So, what do agile teams need? We want an agile organization and an agile enterprise, one that works together effectively using agile best practices, one that delivers the right products as markets are rapidly changing. We want coaches to help us

What kind of leadership do we need?

It is situational. We have leading agile adoption, manifesting agile in the organization, creating cultures where agile thrives, coaching agile teams, and exploring new leadership styles that collaborates with agile teams to succeed. Leading has come to the attention of the community. Last year 40% of the evaluations came from the associated stages in this area. We need leaders to make sure all teams have what they need to succeed: the support of their ideas and practices, facilitating their goals and objectives, and protect the team as well as assisting teams in the development of their agile skills.

What do teams need?

An enterprise that can integrate with agile teams effectively and smoothly – end to end. This means an organization to add value to the team, not dampen their creativity and progress. Lean and kanban come to mind here. Teams need skills to deal collaboratively within their teams and outside of their teams to reach high performance levels. And, it is clear that agile coaching brings great benefit to teams and organizations as they implement agile. Teams need support from the organization and its leadership in becoming successful with agile.

Leadership is needed at all levels in the agile organization in many different forms: team-based, across the enterprise, in coaching, adopting agile, and in gaining customer interaction. Bring your experiences, your successes and your failures, and help us formulate and put into practice the kind of leadership styles needed for agile delivery. And talk about what leading in an agile manner means. Join us this year at Agile 2010 for this important topic!

Five Tracks in this Theme

The Leadership and Organizations Theme will be divided into

  • Agile Leadership and Cultures: What does it mean “Agile Leadership”? Is that leading in an agile manner based on agile principles? Or leading agile teams that are implementing agile practices? Actually, both!

Any why is this coupled with Agile Cultures? The culture is created by leadership, at all levels in the organization, creating a place for teams to thrive, be innovative, and deliver. If you think cultures can be created or changed without leadership, make your case in your submission!

  • Agile Organization and Enterprises: Pushing agile principles across the entire organization and life cycle of products and software.
  • Coaching Agile: What makes a good and effective agile coach.
  • Building High Performance Teams: What best practices can be put to work in teams to improve teamwork, market insight, productivity and effectiveness.
  • Agile Adoption: How does a team, division, and organization transition to agile.

What have I forgotten? Or left out? Let me know! Contact me at: leadprogram2010@agilealliance.org

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The Agile 2010 Technical Program Directions

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Hello, and welcome to what I hope will be the first in a series of blog posts between now and the conference this August. I’m Brian Button, the Technical Program Chair for Agile 2010. It’s my desire to bring in a strong technical program to the conference this  year, reminiscent of the early days of XP Universe.

Program Direction

I want all technically inclined people to feel like they are represented in this conference. This invitation spans several different dimensions:

  • Professional concentration: testers, developers, UI designers, UX designers, database specialists and every other group I didn’t mention,
  • Experience level: novice or new to agile, intermediate, and expert,
  • Domain: business systems, scientific and engineering systems, firmware and embedded systems, cloud computing, Java, .Net, Ruby, functional programming, etc.

If I’ve left your particular specialty or area off this list, I apologize – it is not meant to exclude you. There are too many different categories to list each one, but please be assured that you’re welcomed and encouraged to take part in the Agile 2010 technical program.

Interesting current trends

Getting a bit more specific, there are certain trends in the Agile world that deserve space at our conference. I’m thinking of the evolution of Test Driven Development towards a more Behavioral Driven style, the Craftsmanship movement, the move towards certification in different agile specialties, and different manners and methods of working as teams become larger and/or more distributed. Each of these trends is taking Agile in a new direction, different from where we have been in the past, and will serve to help shape our direction in the future. The Craftsmanship and certification movements, in particular, are going to play a particularly important role in shaping who and what we become over the next several years. I believe its important for us to have content around each of these topics.

Topic areas

These are some of the topic areas I’m considering for the Technical Program this year:

  • Agile Development Practices – focuses on the practices and skills that good Agile developers should have,
  • Agile Testing/Specification Practices – practices around manual and automated testing, including test automation/specification authoring frameworks,
  • Integrating the User – practices around integrating UX  and UI design into the agile world,
  • Agile Development in Large Scale Systems or Distributed Development -  how the practices change as the systems get larger or the team members become more distributed. This encompasses all roles, not just programming, but test, UX, etc.,
  • Team-Room Agile – values, principles, and practices that are specific to the development process for a single team,
  • New Frontiers in Agile Development – presentations and discussions around new and interesting tools, techniques, and practices across all roles.

I’d expect the two larger topics I mentioned above, certification and Craftsmanship, to be cross cutting concerns between a number of these topic areas – they seem to apply across many of them, so there is no specific topic area for them.

What you can do

All of this is preliminary. The program hasn’t been defined yet, the CFPs haven’t been issued yet, and this is all written in (virtual) pencil. If there is one thing Agile has taught us, it is that a team of people can create a better solution to a problem than any one person in isolation. Keeping that in mind, I welcome any feedback or suggestions that you readers may have these ideas. I promise to consider each of them carefully and give them appropriate weight as the program committee comes to decisions about what our content should include.

Additionally, I’d like people to consider the role they’d like to play in this year’s conference. I’m going to need several Stage Producers, who are the individuals responsible for reviewing, selecting, and scheduling the individual technical stages. I’m ultimately responsible for the overall technical program, but I’m going to rely heavily on my Stage Producers for the detailed selection process. And they are going to need reviewers, lots of reviewers. Last year, we had well over a thousand submissions to the conference, and we’re expecting even more this year. We’d like to have at least 9 reviewers per stage. More reviewers means more eyes on each submission, increasing the chances of quality submissions being noticed early. Whether you can volunteer to read a dozen submissions, or if you can be a review-god like at least one person last year and read all of them, we’d still appreciate and value your help.

Oh, yeah, we’re also going to need people to submit stuff, too! Start thinking hard about what you’d like to talk about, demonstrate, teach, or discuss this year. I’m looking for all kinds of content, but we especially want the deep stuff. Like Jim Newkirk has said in a previous posting, we want to provide a lot of content for our experts, so submissions at the deepest levels are going to receive an extra hard look.

Go with your passions, go with your interests, go with your experience, and submit something!

Contacting me with ideas, suggestions, opinions, criticisms…

If you have anything you’d like to say to me, or have me relay for you to the Program Committee, you can reach me at techprogram2010 at agilealliance.org . I’ll answer you as quickly as I can.

Thanks!!

— bab

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Agile 2010 Program Committee

November 25, 2009 2 comments

As I mentioned in the previous post the Agile 2010 program for the conference is organized around 3 collaborating communities, Business, Leadership & Organization, and Technical. To provide a clear focus for each area I have expanded the role of program chair for Agile 2010 to be a program committee. The following outstanding individuals have agreed to lead a specific area of the program for Agile 2010.

Business – Lowell Lindstrom
Lowell Lindstrom has been involved in developing and deploying software products for over nearly 25 years.  He was among the early pioneers in bringing agile software development services to the marketplace.  In 1999, as Vice President at Object Mentor, he developed partnerships with the leaders of the Extreme Programming movement, including Kent Beck, Ron Jeffries, and Martin Fowler to develop the ultimate agile learning experience.   He was the Organizing Chair of the first North American conference on agile software development (XP/Agile Universe) in 2001 and the Program Chair in 2004, where he was instrumental in unifying the two agile conferences.

Lowell developed the first commercially available course on the business side of agile software development.   He is a co-founder and former Director of the Agile Project Leadership Network (www.apln.org).  In late 2005, Lowell founded The Oobeya Group, which helps organizations successfully spread the successful use of agile techniques to all teams and functional areas.  He is published in the Cutter IT Journal, the Auerbach IS Management Handbook (8th ed.), and various conference proceedings.  He is a Certified ScrumMaster, Practitioner, and Trainer.

Leadership & Organization – Pollyanna Pixton
An international collaborative leadership expert, Pollyanna Pixton developed the models for collaboration and collaborative leadership through her thirty-eight years of working inside and consulting with corporations and organizations. She helps companies create workplaces where talent and innovation are unleashed—making them more productive, efficient, and profitable.

Pollyanna is a founding partner of Accelinnova, president of Evolutionary Systems, and director of the Institute for Collaborative Leadership. She speaks and writes on topics of creating cultures of trust, leading collaboration, and business ethics. Her models are found in the book she co-authored, Stand Back and Deliver: Accelerating Business Agility, (Addison Wesley Professional, July 2009).

She has been involved with the Agile Conferences, serving on the organizing committee for the first one-day conference in Salt Lake City. At the first four day conference, Pollyanna helped with the marketing and organized the ice breaker and the DJ for the closing dinner. In 2004, she chaired the Executive Summit and in 2005, chaired the APLN Leadership Summit in Minneapolis. She contributed and held sessions in 2006 and 2007. In 2008 she was the assistant chair for the Leadership Stage and in 2009 was the Chair of the Leadership Stage. For 2007-2009 she has managed the media sponsorships for the conference.

She co-founded the Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) and chaired Leadership Summits in London, Minneapolis, Richmond, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Dallas.

Technical – Brian Button
Brian Button is the VP of Engineering and Director of Agile Methods at Asynchrony Solutions, Inc., in St. Louis, MO, where he is responsible for training and mentoring both internal and external project teams in all things agile. Brian has been the Tutorial Chair for 3 XP/Agile Universe conferences, the leading voice for agile adoption in St. Louis since 2000, and is the founder of the St. Louis Extreme Programming Users Group. Before joining Asynchrony, Brian was a developer in the Microsoft‘s patterns & practices group, developing several application blocks and software factories. He also speaks at user groups and conferences about agile methods, test driven development, and other topics.

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Agile 2010 Program – 3 Collaborating Communities

November 23, 2009 1 comment

The Agile 2010 Program will be organized around three collaborating communities: Technical, Business, and Leadership & Organization.

At the end of the day, you have to deliver. The Technical portion of the program focuses on topics and activities that help agile team members deliver value through the things that they create. Be it programmers, testers, designers, and others who build software, this community will provide participants a range of sessions on how to do this better.

Stakeholders are constantly demanding more, faster and at less cost. The Business portion of the programs focuses on topics that help those who leverage the capabilities of agile teams to make their organizations thrive. Product Managers, Analysts, Business Partner and others business leaders can rapidly deliver new valuable products and solution to their stakeholders using agile. This community will present and explore practices and approaches to understand what’s valuable and how to interact with agile teams to make visions come into reality.

Let’s face it, agile is not easy, whether you are just starting or even when you are good at it. The Leadership & Organization portion of the program focuses on leaderships topics that are essential to continually thrive in the presence of complexity and change. Whether you are leading as part of the agile team, with stakeholders, or leading cultural change across an organization, this community will provide a range of sessions, challenging your view of work while providing tools and practices to more effectively lead to better results.

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Learn. Practice. Explore…

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

When the Agile Alliance offered me the task of conference chair earlier this year I was excited about this great opportunity. For many years I have been speaking, attending, and assisting in the selection of the program. Now I was going to get to lead the conference. One of the key things that I pitched to the committee during the selection process was more content for experienced practitioners. This leads me back to the title of this post. The metaphor for this year’s conference describes stages of learning. For those of you who are familiar with the Japanese martial arts this is referred to as Shu Ha Ri. These stages describe a path from learning to mastery. It is my goal and the goal of the Program Committee that the program that we put together for Agile 2010 will provide something compelling for each stage of learning.

In the coming weeks I will be providing more information about the conference, the program committee and ways for people to get involved in the conference. You can also follow us on twitter @agile2010.

If you have questions or would like to get involved please contact Jim Newkirk at chair2010@agilealliance.org.

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Agile 2010 Conference

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

The conference in 2010 will be held on August 9-13th in Nashville, Tennessee at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center (http://www.gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-opryland/index.html).

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