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Coaching, Leading, and the Experience Design

August 27, 2009

Day four at Agile 2009 was the last day for regular sessions. My morning started off with Coaching Self-Organizing Teams by Joseph Pelrine. This workshop was very interactive, and was littered with activities that Joseph was hoping would get us self-organizing ourselves. He proposed a number of hypotheses and defined five different states of a team’s flow using a cooking metaphor.

  • Burning
  • Cooking
  • Cooling
  • Gelling
  • Solidifying

In order to move teams to the ideal “cooking” state, you need to control the amount of “heat” that you apply. Apply too much and your team will “burn” out. Don’t apply enough and they team will “cool”, and maybe start to turn into a “gel” where they become very constrained. Using his ABIDE principle he identified things you can do to control the heat, thus initiating change.

I went into Min-Gu Lee’s session on Executive Leadership Challenges for Agile Adoption with fairly high expectations. Unfortunately it geared itself towards the government sector or huge organizations riddled with bureaucratic overhead. Many of the things he mentioned could be applied or at least thought about in smaller companies, but I think most of it could be considered common sense.

I wanted to get as much information as I could on making feature teams function properly so I took in Andre Frank’s session Feature Teams – Collaboratively Building Products from Ready to Done. He gave an experience talk on how his company LiquidNet moved their Scrum teams down the feature team path. I think the title was a little bit misleading since the focus was more on the Scrum process they put together with little discussion around how they overcame challenges associated with feature teams.

Declan Whelan from my old stomping grounds of Guelph, Ontario gave an interesting talk, Learning is the Key to Agile Success: Building a Learning Culture on Your Agile Team. I was eager to see how Point2’s approach to creating this environment correlated with his findings. A lot of what he presented could be considered “touchy-feely”, or as Declan put it “all “rainbows and flowers”, but everything he said made sense.

Not getting into the details of the “rainbows and flowers”, he did speak of changes we made to facilitate this at Point2. Such things included changing the work environment, setting up workshops or study groups, implementing an e-forum, and making it a recurring process. He also recommended a number of books with one catching my attention called The Fifth Discipline by Peter M. Senge.

The day was wrapped up with a banquet where they revealed an iPhone application that was built during the LiveAid sessions over the week (in which Ryan had a hand in). The application provides a way to make donations to Mano a Mano International, a charity for “creating partnerships with impoverished Bolivian communities that improve health and increase economic well-being.”

The keynote by Jared M. Spool titled The Dawning of the Age of Experience was awesome. The industry examples he used around Netflix, Apple, and Southwest Airlines made everything he said so clear. By the end of his talk it was obvious that all companies need an experience design to, “not build crap.”

That wrapped up Agile 2009 in Chicago, Illinois and I think I can speak for all of the Point2 crew that the experience was incredible. It was great to be around so many great minds in the software development industry and participate in the discussions they ignited. I came here with a goal of learning as much as I could from other attendees while passing on my experiences to others. I think I can leave Chicago feeling I did that.

By Hemant J. Naidu

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  1. August 28, 2009 at 12:05 AM

    Buy that book.

  2. Rick Bos
    August 31, 2009 at 7:12 AM

    Maybe I can persuade someone here at Co-operators to send some of us to one of these.

    • August 31, 2009 at 8:03 AM

      It’s definitely worth it, Rick. Lots of good stuff that you can start applying right away.

  1. October 16, 2009 at 1:41 PM
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