Uncertainty and your Brain: Handling Risk in an Agile Environment

location_city Toronto schedule Nov 5th 01:00 - 02:00 PM EDT place 206 D people 28 Interested

Everything we do carries some amount of risk, from getting out of the bed in the morning to skydiving. Even writing software is risky! How do we handle those risks? Are common approaches to risk management still applicable in the Agile world?

If you've ever struggled with how to handle risk on an Agile program then come join us to see why our brains make is react in a mostly risk adverse way, what we can do about it, and how Agile specifically addresses many aspects of software risk. Also, we will look at how an Agile program can live in harmony with enterprise risk departments.


Outline/Structure of the Talk

Introduction 10 min

  • Live poll – brain myths
  • Cognitive Terms – basic terms and definitions including bias, heuristic, illusion, fallacy, paradox
  • Risk and your brain

Risk Concepts 10 min

  • What are common risks?
  • How do we approach software risk now? - transfer, avoid, reduce, alternative, accept.
  • Beware the dreaded black swan!

Why is your Brain Freaking Out? (including games and examples) 15 min

  • Risk Aversion - why do we avoid risks?
  • Risk Tolerant - the conditions in which we are willing to tolerate more risk
  • Risk Seeking - teenagers and thrill seekers, what's up with their brains?

How Does Agile Address Risk? (handling risk is built into Agile) 10 min

  • Agile as a risk management strategy
    • Early learning - cone of uncertainty
    • Prioritization - Pareto principle
    • Iteration - cost of delay
    • Feedback - short and rapid cycles

How to Handle Risk in Your Agile Program 10 min

  • Organizational structure and your context - do you have a risk management department?
  • Real world examples of integrating Agile + Risk and the pros/cons of each.
  • Three suggestions and how to run them: Pessimist Day, Triz, Black Hat

Conclusion and Q&A 5 min

  • Summary review to wrap it all up

Learning Outcome

Understand how our brain reacts to risk. Explore what we can do with Agile approaches to get more comfortable with risk. Suggest several agile approaches that your risk managers can live with.

Target Audience

Any team member, Scrum Master, Product Owner or other person who has struggled with risk management practices in software

Prerequisites for Attendees

A basic understanding of Agile is beneficial, including writing user stories and prioritizing backlogs. A detailed knowledge of risk management systems is not needed.


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