Agile in the Wilderness: How to Succeed When They Can't Spell Scrum

In this interactive and informal session, you will hear a story about how Agile led to the successful delivery of a large training program (in a non-IT environment) where Agile was completely unknown and unwelcome. You will learn how the Agile values and principles guided my decisions and behavior and contributed to success. We will discuss what I call "stealth Agile" which is applying the techniques and mindset without using the odd and intimidating vocabulary. You will hear how I implemented Scrum with my own team, but lightweight Agile with a soft touch for my management. Eventually I was able to influence the wider environment, gradually coaching them and teaching them Agile, resulting in a self-sustaining Agile team functioning reasonably well as a pod surrounded by waterfall approaches.

During this conversational session, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and share your own stories.

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Outline/structure of the Session

  • 2-minute Introduction
  • 3-minute explanation of how I was given the opportunity to apply Agile in a non-IT space in the Federal Government
  • 15-minute story explaining how the Agile values and principles guided my decisions and behavior
    • One team member quit at a critical time
    • My company lost the contract, then I won it back for them
    • A major staff shake-up was handled using Agile, with a successful outcome
    • The team eventually became self-sustaining and wholly Agile, in spite of a waterfall office around them
  • 10-minute small-group discussions for people to share their own stories of Agile outside of IT

Note: If no one has stories to share, we will pivot to discussing their future plans for Agile outside of IT, and/or to a Q&A about the relationship between Agile for software development and Agile for everything else.

  • 10-minutes group discussion summarizing key points brought up during the session, including:
    • How to use scrum and kanban without using any jargon
    • How to work with a product owner who doesn't know she is one
    • How to implement "stealth Agile" -- being true to the values and principles without being explicit about it
    • How to transition to being openly Agile
  • 5-minutes summary and wrap-up

Learning Outcome

At the end of this session, participants will have learned that Agile can be very useful and successful outside of an IT or software development environment.

Target Audience

Curious people outside of IT who want to learn how to get started with Agile; Experienced Agilists curious about how Agile can work "out there" away from software development



schedule Submitted 1 month ago

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  • George Dinwiddie
    By George Dinwiddie  ~  1 month ago
    reply Reply

    Hi, Lisa,

    The outline of your session is tantalizing, but the description doesn't give the attendees much idea of what the story will be about. Neither do the slides give the reviewers much idea to be about to assess the proposal.

    Also, what's your backup plan if attendees don't have their own stories to share?

     - George

    • Lisa Cooney
      By Lisa Cooney  ~  4 weeks ago
      reply Reply

      Regarding the slides - since this is a story, versus being information-sharing, the slides are less important and are mostly a backdrop. In other words, I don't have key points to make and key guidance to provide about specific topics that would lend themselves to slides. I intend for this to be more of a mind-opening conversation to help people think differently about (a) how Agile can be applied outside of IT or (b) how Agile is useful for non-IT environments. It will be as interactive and experiential as possible, and I will be flexible based upon who shows up and what specific questions/concerns they have, and their level of experience with Agile in the past.