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Live from Agile2017

We're here at Agile2017 in Orlando! Follow along this week as our Agile Coaches, Joshua Jack and Gervais Johnson, live blog and tweet the conference highlights. 

Live from Agile2017

08.10.2017 | 7:28 AM EST

Day three has come and gone at Agile2017. Over the past two days, there have been sessions, open jams, keynote speakers, special events, and more! But one of my favorite reasons for being at Agile2017 is the interaction with the attendees. Being a vendor means that we will interact with over 250 unique individuals each day, hearing their pain points, their experiences, and their successes as they traverse their Agile journey. 

After Bob and Tony’s awesome session on Holistic Agility, we were introduced to a couple of individuals from South Africa who took notes in a highly creative way. Instead of just making comments or scribbles that resemble words (that’s the way I take notes – it’s pretty terrible when you look back over your notes and say, “what in the world was I trying to capture!?!”) – they actually create a type of hand-drawn infographic that captures the topic and the information! It was awesome to have a chance to hear how these artists have journeyed geographically and philosophically to get to Agile2017.

Live from Agile2017

Yesterday, during both the booth time and the “Agile Extravagan-ZOO” (one of the several Agile2017 evening events for socializing) we met several other people representing organizations that have varied degrees of maturity in their Agile growth – from infancy to professional. One company sent over 40 people to Agile2017 showing their commitment to improving their ways of thinking, ways of working, and culture. Another company that provides online gaming services talked about their successes even with a single Agile Coach and over 600 in their IT DevSecOps teams. Yet another just wanted to talk and get some “quick wins” in areas that they needed that little nudge to gain momentum – something we are SO VERY EXCITED to be able to provide!

Lastly, I wanted to share a story of a conversation that we had at our MATRIX event on Tuesday night at Headwaters Lounge inside the Rosen Shingle Creek. We had somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 people visit us that night for conversation, good food, and good drinks! This one specific conversation was with a person who opened up about the challenges of getting teams to not only support, but drive automation. They are in an industry and have products that require automated testing to be successful (we all should believe this way!) but her team members struggled with the mandate sent down from leadership on the topic. For about 15 minutes we batted around several ideas from the technical side on how to get engagement. For each idea, we both had this feeling that there was something else, that the ideas just wouldn’t do it. After a while, we started shifting away from the technical and started talking about the organizational psychology of change. We started throwing around ideas of how we engage with people, how we can use visioncasting and storytelling to build excitement for an initiative, and how we can learn to encourage “amazing acts of courage and leadership” from those on our teams. This was the key! She looked at me and we both knew this was that “epiphany” moment when it simply takes showing our willingness as leaders to trust the solutioning ability of our teams and empower our teams to achieve tremendous outcomes!

Now we are headed into Day 4 – more opportunities to learn, to meet new people and form relationships, and use this highly-creative environment to move the Agile {r}evolution forward!

-Joshua (@joshuaajack)

08.08.2017 | 10:35 PM EST

Our second day at Agile2017 was exciting and eventful. We continue to meet many people representing various Agile Journey experiences. I have enjoyed meeting old friends like Dean Leffingwell, Bas Vodde, Scott Ambler, Lyssa Adkins, Tamsen Mitchell, Woody Zuill, and Alistair Cockburn.  

The most enjoyable and educational moment for me was the morning session titled Holistic Agile: Developing the Future Agile Company by Robert Woods and Tony Shawver. The idea that we need to move beyond IT Agile, or all about software, to business agility. We learned that we need to adjust the "side door" entry of IT Agile Transformation or Adoption to a more holistic company approach focusing on business domains and pain points. Moving from the Agile Manifesto where working software is the keystone to business value delivery principles as the keystone. This is the next Agile (r) Evolution, as it is not always about software or technology enablement. 

Live from Agile2017

Another session called Sensemaking Applications for Agile: Combining Quantitative and Qualitative Metrics by Daniel Walsh underscored the revolution of Agile into non-software domains. Using Cognitive Edge Sensemaking, from David Snowden of Cynefin fame, Daniel provided an example of how narratives and stories lead to agility responses and decisions. The indication was that ethnography is useful to incite deliberate mindset changes. 

The session called The Story of LeSS by Bas Vodde supported a primary focus of organization change to unlock the cross-functional feature team power, allowing for an experimental and adaptive organization. It seems the lightweight principles and guides can be used across the business areas of a company. Most of the discussion was on technical software implications, but LeSS is abstract, sufficient for pure business application.  

The last session was a delight, called Scaling Such Great Heights: Salesforce's 11 Year Agile Story by Tamsen Mitchell. The session culminated the attention on non-software concentrations for Agile. The continuous attention on harmonization of the Mindset, Roles/Practices, Culture, and Environment across the enterprise, based on Integral Agile and Agile EcoSystem Models, is the magic of Agile Transformation stickiness. It seems people forming great teams working to sustain delighted customers is the valued outcome.  

Live from Agile2017

We ended the day by hosting an event for some of the people we met Monday and Tuesday. We enjoyed spending quality time with people from all over the world discussing Agile and their unique experiences. I enjoyed catching up with people from companies where I was lucky to be a part of the beginnings of their Agile Journey. So many great stories and emotional connections, that I went to my room feeling gleefully content. 

-Gervais (gervaisjCAO)

08.08.2017 | 2:16 PM EST

Big thanks to @sketchingsm and @Doyle_Angie for creating amazing visuals of Robert Woods and Tony Shawver's presentation introducing the concept of Holistic Agile this morning! Play the video below for a quick walk-through of what holistic agility should look like in an organization. 

Agile needs to become broader than just IT - here's the time lapse video... @mindoverprocess @TonyWShawver @MATRIXResources #agile2017 pic.twitter.com/tVwZaSiOFw

— SketchingScrumMaster (@sketchingsm) August 8, 2017

 

08.07.2017 | 5:37 PM EST

It's Agile2017 time again! Woohoo! Everyone from developers and scrum masters and lowly vendors to the "stalwarts" of the Agile movement is here. Over the next week, we will listen to speakers talk about principles, application of agility, tools, systems, and even the new shiny stuff that is all around. But it tells me something about where we are headed as a "philosophy" when the first keynote speaker, David Marquet, doesn't speak of principles, tools, processes, or practices, but instead speaks of "leadership."

Leadership, Not Leaders

Leadership is not a group of people but rather it is 1) what we do each day to take responsibility for the work we do, 2) our attitude toward learning and improvement, and 3) our ability to use our skills in a way that best serves our colleagues and our end goal. The word "lead" is derived from a German word that means "to set a plumb line;" meaning that leadership is all about demonstrating for those around us what the good way is. In Agile, we move leadership solely out of hands of those "in charge" and into everyone's hands. We ask and (sorry for the word) demand that individuals and teams lead. So, when we talk about leadership being the key, we don't mean the managers, we mean building people to where they can be in possession of their own leadership! David Marquet, a former Naval Submarine Commander and now speaker, talked about how he got out of the "giving orders business." He required that his entire crew be leaders in their thinking; he created an environment where people wanted to be leaders in their work and where to improve to get there!

Live from Agile2017

Leading Leaders

When we take this leap to where leadership is now in the hands of those closest to the work, how we lead these individuals changes. They are no longer resources that are to be consumed, they are not simply "red workers" (again see David Marquet's work), and they are definitely not the bottom of the pyramid in the organizational chart. They are now the people getting the work done, learning and knowing the best way to execute, and are the ones who are driving the solutions! They are now leaders! Leading these folks just became harder at the same time it became easier! Our job, as leaders, moves from telling people what to do and now becomes focused on how we inspire, improve, and influence. It will require that leaders in this new revolution learn new skills. 

Leadership = Constant Improvement

In the book, The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership, the author speaks of how Toyota's culture is built around continuous and constant improvement and how even Sr. Leaders are required to learn new methods and improve old ones. In some cases at Toyota, a leader's growth was temporarily halted to return to the basics and learn a better way to do the simple things before moving up. Other cases required that leaders be moved around to different teams to learn new ways of leading without having authority. In all cases, leaders were expected to be able to provide an environment where everyone could grow and improve constantly. I will say this - in order for us to challenge our team members, we must start by challenging our thoughts in how we lead!

And so...

This is how we kick off Agile2017 - with a call to change the way we approach leadership, thinking, and work! It is a great reminder that leadership is at the core of agility and that in order to move into a new way of working, radical leadership is required! 

Look for more on the happenings of Agile2017 soon!

-Joshua (@joshuaajack)

 

08.07.2017 | 4:19 PM EST

Our first day was full of activity and connections. We are enjoying the fun and sharing throughout Agile2017.  

Many people have visited us at our MATRIX booth, maybe initially drawn to Plinko, but through many conversations we are observing a common thread. The commonality is that among different levels of Agile maturity within teams and organizations, everyone is still passionate with the intent to learn, continuously improve, and to share experiences with others. 

David Marquet, in true Navy lean boat form, started the event this morning with how leadership can adapt for the highly cognitive demands of today. How we can trust everyone to think, resulting in a quantum leap to hyper-performing teams. It seems through our intent, we all can be Servant-Leaders climbing our personal ladder of leadership maturity. I'm looking forward to what the rest of the week has to offer.

-Gervais (gervaisjCAO)

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