Toronto Agile Conference 2020
Fri, Nov 6
Timezone: America/New_York (EDT)
Introductions - 15 mins
Division to Unification: My Personal Agile Journey - Scott Ambler - 60 mins
Break - 15 mins
Paul Tevis - Drafting a Leadership Vision: Enable Your Team to Achieve Breakthrough Results (by Changing Your Behavior)
"Leadership is the process of creating an environment in which people become empowered.”
– Jerry Weinberg
In the Agile world, leaders can struggle to provide clarity and direction for their teams. Particularly when they are expected to deliver breakthrough business results, leaders often do not see how to lead in an Agile way. They may waver between rigid command-and-control practices and a chaotic laissez-faire style. What these leaders need is a vision to steer them between the Scylla and Charybdis of these two approaches and empower their team.
In this interactive workshop, you will create a draft of a Leadership Vision. This tool clarifies what results leaders are steering towards. It also reveals the behaviors their teams need to exhibit to get there. Finally, it shows leaders how they need to change their own behaviors to adjust the team’s course. This provides a map to acting toward a new reality.
If you are a leader in an organization, you can use this workshop to draft your own Leadership Vision. (If not, you can draft one for a leader you work with.) You will get feedback on your vision to bring it into even sharper focus. You will leave the session with a plan for empowering your team to achieve the results your organization needs.
Sunny Dhillon - The Lost Leader: The Evolving Role of Managers in Agile
Next time you are in a conversation with your peers, you could ask them, what is the role of the manager in an Agile environment? They may say, the role of manager should transition into that of a servant leader. You may end up being none the wiser with that reply.
One of the best responses to that question we recall is, the role of the manager in an Agile environment is similar to that of a captain of an aircraft or ship, they support the performance of their crew and deal with emergencies if they arise.
Successful Agile needs an accumulation of many things. One building block is the establishment of leadership at multiple levels, managers are an essential part of this. In order to achieve this, the Agile manager must be aware of the various stances they could assume at the appropriate time, to provide the best support for their teams. This session introduces several stances and principle's aligned to each stance to help get you started in an interactive way and hands on approach.
Mike Edwards / Ashley Johnson - Inclusiveness is not merely a cease fire
Every truly agile team performs a dance as they explore the problem space. Through this dance we discover how to connect with each other and converge on solutions while navigating the puzzle of understanding the problem. As we do this we discover ...
- How to traverse our differences without becoming divisive?
- How to work within scrum, kanban, or other method of choice?
- How to tap into our innate human skills to connect and align?
- How we sometimes fail ... then pick ourselves up again.
The art of coming together as a team is a dance of connection, inclusion, and understanding. This is the heart of agility.
Join us to experientially explore answers to these questions:
- How do we connect, so we really click? How can we do it faster?
- When we haven't yet connected, what prevents us from feeling included?
- How can our inclusiveness accelerate our connection and amplify our agility?
- What can I do today to take responsibility for creating more inclusion, especially in our current virtual environments?
Note: You’re going to get 10x more out of this if you’re fluent with the responsibility process or at least go see the preparatory video that will be posted a couple weeks in advance.
Neil Peterson - The Efficiency Metric: Myth or Reality?
At Agile 2019 Jeff Sutherland introduced a metric to measure efficiency for agile stories. A cross-team comparable metric connected to efficiency would be an amazing achievement. But is this wonderful concept a myth or reality? Join Neil as we look at the results of tracking this metric for some agile teams over a year. Come with an open mind and let's review this experience!
Joel Tosi - Enter the Dojo - Growing DevOps, Agile, Practices that Stick
With so many changes coming to organizations - agile, devops, products, etc - how do you learn these new practices and apply them in your context with your constraint? Enter the dojo - an immersive, team based learning environment where teams come together to learn and apply new skills to their work.
Peter Maddison - Securing your pipes with a TACO
TACO is an acronym I use with clients to help them map controls from their software delivery pipelines to the organizational controls.
TACO stands for Traceability, Access, Compliance, and Operations.
The approach consists of a base list of 25 automatable controls that are documented and the control activity, artifacts and SOR identified. After mapping how these controls are handed we map them to the organizational controls and identify any gaps.
This model allows for the creation of opinionated pipelines and helps create a common understanding across teams as to what is required in order to be secure.
Taking a TACO approach can be considered a part of implementing a DevSecOps program and I’ve used this approach at multiple banks. I’ve given the base talk at three conferences and multiple times to internal teams. It helps build organizational confidence in the automation of software delivery.
During the talk, I’ll run through the different categories of controls, how they are implemented, what the purpose of them is, how to create robust feedback loops for controls such as SAST and how to handle long-running processes such as DAST.
Content is fairly high level but I can dig into specifics of each given area as questions arise.
Teri Christian - Plan to Win! Electronic Board Game - BETA test
The move away from traditional ways of working and thinking to digitalization leads to change in the way we work, learn and measure. It is important to understand how the digital economy has shifted our ways of working in a digital organization from strategy to execution.
Join us in game play where we will explore Digital Product Management and the Critical Success Factors, Events and Skills needed to create value flow to customers. The original Plan to Win! game was a physical board game. We have now converted it to an electronic game that can be played by any number of people at once all over the world. We would like to beta test this during a session at this conference.
Mark Levison - Retrospectives Gone Bad
Do you dread going to work? Are interruptions from outside making progress difficult? Is improvement almost nil? Sprint Retrospectives are the tool to help with all of these issues, but what if they elicit frustrated groans and reluctance or, worse, resentment within your team? Mark will share tips on how to change all that. Sadly, the retrospective is often the most misunderstood and abused element of Scrum even though it's the perfect opportunity to get the results you want by improving team communication, collaboration, and morale, which eventually leads to building better products that, in turn, make customers happier. Attendees will leave with a better understanding of the power (and fun!) of retrospectives, with activities and practical ideas of how to get out a boring rut and use them effectively.
Vanessa Humphreys - Remote work or under house arrest ?
The events of the last few months have seen the practice of remote work widespread. But in many cases, remote working has become more of an under house arrest feeling with ankle collar integrated.... let's see how we could avoid this and allow remote working to blossom.
Jorge Luis Castro Toribio - DevOps and SRE culture and practices as Center of Excellence
The talk is about designing, setting up and implementing center of excellence to build and mature DevOps and SRE engineering practices and foster its culture at large enterprise
Girish Khullar - UX Culture and Agile product innovation with Design Sprints
We are in the Experience economy today. The key differentiator in business success is the user experience ‘Wow factor’. However, such innovations won’t succeed unless we get the people behind it. The surest route to win their people is to involve them in the process of generating ideas. The danger is that the involvement of many people with different perspectives will create chaos and incoherence.
Organized innovative processes embrace focus and instill confidence. Most humans are driven by a fear of mistakes, so they focus more on preventing errors than on seizing opportunities. They opt for inaction rather than action when a choice risks failure. But there is no innovation without action—so psychological safety is essential. That’s what the application of “Design Sprints” does for us, each step of the Design sprint generates a clear output that the next activity converts to another output until the organization arrives at an implementable innovation.
Design Sprint creates an environment where an innovator lives the customer’s experience. This immersion in customer experience emerges thoughts for deeper insights. Design sprints connect immersion to the emergence in an amazing framework giving rise to an innovative solution build with employee engagement to meet customer expectations.
Jason Schreuder - Coaching with “Skin in the Game”: How to be an Effective Embedded Agile Coach
As an external agile coach consultant, for many years I was able to maintain a solid stance of neutrality and objectivity toward client challenges. Now, as an embedded, full-time agile coach, I play by a different set of rules. I strive to be a catalyst for change and challenge the status quo, but I still need to be mindful of internal politics in the interest of self-preservation. Having experienced agile coaching engagements as both an external consultant and an internal employee, I will share some of my insights. I will also explain how an internal coaching capability is vital to achieving enterprise agility.
Gino Marckx - Measuring outcomes ... or how to get meaningful metrics
"How well is your delivery team doing?" That seems like a straightforward question, but it is more complicated that it might sound at first. Do we know what it means to "do well" or is it one of those things that is different to everyone?
In this session we will discuss how we can meaningfully measure a teams output and what we can learn from the measurements. We will also touch on common pitfalls and provide insight in how to avoid them.
You will walk away with information on how to design metrics for your own purposes, and get started with some concrete examples to measure productivity of a delivery team. In short, you will have all the information to answer "how well your team is doing" meaningfully.
Lunch Break - 45 mins
Greg Pitcher / Chris Williams - Ever wondered what truly gives Agile momentum?
So many frameworks, So many rules, so much stuff to select, learn, and apply. Which framework should you choose? Which tools should you buy? Whose version is the right one?In the past ten years, there's been SO much study, research, and documentation about best practices that we may have lost sight of the mark. Doing our best work, making people awesome, and optimizing throughput of high-quality, high-value product hinges on a mere few, simple principles.Confusion ensues because no two organizations, products, or teams, are quite alike. Perhaps because we crave a one-size-fits-all solution, we end up with too many options and too much complexity in implementation.But to be supported and embraced, your initial approach needs to be simple. Forget the fancy stuff for a minute—let's make sure we've got our fundamentals down.
Steve Pereira / Donald Phillips - Break Through Workflow Bottlenecks with Value Stream Mapping
Stop driving on the sidewalk!
In software development and delivery, it sometimes feels like we're perpetually stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle. Sometimes we can easily go around, and sometimes we can't see what's really holding us up. In our experience, many teams are barely peeking over the steering wheel! Our workshop is aimed at sharing a technique that will help you arrive at faster, safer, and happier - whether you're stuck in a ditch or cruising the highway.
This workshop will introduce a simple method you can use to discover, define and communicate risks and opportunities affecting your teams. Even better, you can use it regardless of what team, department or silo you find yourself in. We'll examine visual representations of valuable data you can use to have productive conversations, make confident decisions, and align towards making real progress.
- How to create a collaborative Value Stream Map
- How to use Value Stream Maps to find and diagnose workflow bottlenecks
- How to build actionable, data-driven maps that make the path clear to everyone
- How to use maps to target your improvement and automation efforts where you need them most
Tackle complexity, friction and waste in a few hours with a versatile and actionable mapping technique.
Not only will you see dramatically improved alignment and collaboration, but you can do it all remotely with free tools.
We'll show you how with the right map, you can be 20% better tomorrow.
Gunjan Syal - Workshop: Post-COVID Journey To Innovative Success
Before the pandemic, medium-to-large sized organizations approached transformations with a carefully crafted multi-year view. Businesses focused first on the development of a targeted end-state, and then it's delivery through the execution. This created a silo when developing the strategy vs. executing it. The pandemic is demanding a much higher degree of business agility due to unpredictability. Businesses must align the ever-changing customer needs with an ever-shrinking time-to-market. There is need to drive organizational transformations with an iterative mindset towards a scalable culture of innovation.
Through this workshop, I will share an approach to develop a transformation strategy, which can be pivoted to match the changes in market needs. I will also share the governance needed to scale the strategy at an enterprise level. I have developed this approach over the last year and have field tested it with the clients in three industries.
I will run the workshop in a highly engaged manner with the audience. The material will be supported by the latest industry data and mini case-studies from its practical application at the client firms. I will share a mix of theory (the approach) based on a practical world-view (data, market research) and direct practical application to delivery business agility (mini-case studies). The focus will be to provide audience with practical takeaways, which can be directly applied at their organizations. The end result for the audience will be a step-by-step approach towards developing highly-adaptable business models, as we settle down for a possible wave-2.
The audience level can be a mix of intermediate and advanced. I can adjust the delivery as needed, based on the audience engagement and reaction.
Dave Sharrock - What can we learn about our Agile Transformations from Wardley Maps
After over a decade of agile transformations, many organizations have several years experience of agile and are naturally looking for signs that the change is complete. Attention turns to the level of skill or maturity an organization needs in order to declare the transformation a success. As a result, models of agile maturity have emerged that promise to somehow measure how agile you are.
The good news is that agile, by definition, should be iteratively delivering value from the moment a transformation starts. Looking back, your ability to deliver has already changed immeasurably. You are already faster, more focussed, and delivering a product with higher quality. The bad news is that you have only just started your journey. Change itself has changed, as Gary Hamel said. What looks mature today will be table stakes tomorrow.
We will talk about what agile maturity looks like today, and where agile maturity will go in the future. We will learn how iterative value delivery is the price to pay to move along the experience curve. The more frequently you deliver value, the faster you move along the experience curve. By introducing a Wardley Maps in the context of business agility, you will be able to map out the path of your transformation, filling in any gaps that you may have, and beginning to understand what direction your transformation may take you in the future. Specifically, you can identify the drivers needed to reap the benefits along the way, rather than at some mythical end point. Business agility is not a destination but a continually evolving journey. Learn how to enjoy the journey rather than long for the destination.
Gil Broza - How Product Management Takes an Active Role in Technical Agility
Do you have Scrum/Kanban teams frequently releasing high-value, quality product updates? Unfortunately, such agility usually doesn’t last, with features starting to take longer to build, changes becoming riskier to make, and quality getting more difficult to maintain. This common situation – high cost of change, low safety – is often the result of low Technical Agility. The common solution? Lean on the developers to upgrade their “technical practices.” However, this solution rarely makes a lasting, noticeable difference, because what matters is how developers approach work, and that depends heavily on how product and management engage with them. In this session we’ll explore Technical Agility from a mindset standpoint, identify its influence on product management’s choices, and determine how all parties should engage with each other to achieve a level of Technical Agility that enables actual product and business Agility.
Mike Bowler - Retrospective Magic: Tips from neuroscience and psychology to improve your retros.
Are your retros running a bit flat? Need something to spice them up and make them more effective and also more interesting for your team? Join us as we walk through a collection of techniques from psychology and applied neuroscience to give your retros that edge you need.
You’ll walk away from this session with immediately applicable techniques that you can use right away.
Christine Frayda - Backlog Priority Games: activities to facilitate discussions with your stakeholders, online edition
This workshop encourages the participants to take the role of a stakeholder in small group priority discussions. We will sample three online games to prioritize items and compare and contrast them.
Naresh Jain - Contract Driven Development: The Death of Integration Hell
In a complex, interdependent eco-system, where each service is evolving rapidly, we typically end up with an Integration Hell .i.e. the myriad problems that occur when API integrations break down
- Provider and consumer integrations break when their understanding of the API endpoints are out of sync
- Working integrations break when the API developer makes a change without informing the consumer
- Development and testing slow down when the consumer depends on the provider API running in a staging environment:
- The network may be down
- The environment hosting the API may be down
- The staging API may crash, or may not even be started
- Development can be delayed if the staging API is not kept up-to-date
- API changes can come in at the last minute, resulting in breakage on the consumer side
- The provider API may break backward compatibility, resulting in breakage on the consumer
Instead, what if we could make the dependencies between the provider and consumers explicit in the form of executable contracts. These executable contracts provide a common, clear definition of their API endpoints. They give instantaneous feedback about accidental breakage to the teams so that they can work independently. These executable contracts are:
- Kept up-to-date and acts as a single source of truth
- Used for service virtualisation, keeping consumers in sync with the contract
- Run as tests against the provider API to validate it's request and response type definitions
- Tightly integrated with CI
- Capable of pinpointing any backwards-incompatible changes to the contract
This is Contract Driven Development, and it heralds the Death of Integration Hell.
Here's a sample contract:
This session will demonstrate all the key points of Contract Driven Development as implemented by the teams using an open-source tool called Qontract.
Break - 15 mins
Raj Mudhar - Using Kata to drive continuous improvement in your personal life, team and organization
While retrospectives are amazing, imagine if you could make continuous improvement happen every single day. Imagine being able to drive meaningful improvements in your organization that not only improve performance, but also transforms your culture.
In this workshop, you'll learn techniques for running continuous improvement micro-experiments. These are short, fast test and learn loops that give you feedback in hours or days. You can use these techniques for personal improvement, and you can use them at the team and organizational level. These techniques are universally applicable. We've been using them with executives at Fortune 100 companies, in the public sector as well as with teams and individuals at every level in those organizations. We've also been using them also with public sector organizations with the same positive impact.
This is not your average retrospective. It's akin to compound interest. A little improvement every day that at first feels invisible, but over weeks and months, the improvements you implement begin to multiply into visible, tangible outcomes that help you propel yourself and your team into a state of high performance.
Erkan Kadir / Brock Argue - Integrated Agile: How to gracefully manage the reality of agile mixed with waterfall in today's organizations
Agile mixed with Waterfall exists in every product development organization globally, yet current thinking teaches us to crusade for one approach at the expense of the other - an approach that creates unnecessary resistance and alienates people with different perspectives. The question is: How can we manage the reality of a mixed-methods environment while still receiving the intended benefits of both approaches? In this talk, Brock Argue and Erkan Kadir will introduce Integrated Agile, a groundbreaking and practical approach that leverages Polarity Thinking to manage the predictable dynamics between Agile and Waterfall while maximizing the upsides of both approaches.
Fernando Cuenca - Agile Dependencies: When "going cross-functional" is not an option
Small, cross-functional teams are the "bread & butter" of Agile environments. Amongst many advantages, they help remove delays introduced by dependencies between groups. Unfortunately, many organizations find it difficult to reorganize their teams to be cross-functional, and even when they do, it's practically impossible to remove all dependencies, leaving many teams in the need to find ways to orchestrate work across various groups that work using different processes.
This talk will explore the problem of intra-team dependencies, its impact in Customer flow, and practical strategies team-level leaders (as well as system-level leaders) can apply to help make the whole system more responsive, fit-for-purpose, and agile. In particular, the talk will describe Dynamic Reservation Systems, an advanced dependency management technique.
JF (John Francis) Unson / Thoralf J Klatt - Accelerate Your Agility With Mobius Loop Outcomes
Have you ever been on a team, continually writing code and releasing features but feel lost? Or that you and your team don't know why you are doing what you're doing? Or how your contributions impact your company strategy?
Have you ever experienced coming up with a beautiful feature that separates you from your competitors and implemented it, and then find out later your customers haven't been using it at all?
Have your senior executives and company spoken about a new vision and initiatives, only to have it languish for months in never-ending discussions?
Most people start their Agile transformations to deliver very fast. However, a lot of transformations seem to get stuck on the outputs. Organizations typically celebrate success when their teams continually release by target dates. However, continually releasing to your customers by a date doesn't guarantee you're getting the right business outcomes for success. So how do you go from outputs to outcomes? Well, let us introduce you to Mobius Loop.
What is Mobius Loop? It's a radically simple way to get to the outcomes that matter. It acts as a navigator, creating a continuous flow of innovation from discovery to design, to delivery, using whatever Agile process or scaling method you happen to use.
In this interactive workshop, you'll be playing the Infinite Loop game. You will learn how to use Mobius to customize your own innovation and outcome delivery process. We will introduce to the Mobius Loop Navigator's key concepts through gameplay with one team winning a prize at the end. But more importantly, everyone will leave with a navigation tool that can enable teams and organizations to catapult themselves from peripheral outputs to successful customer outcomes and business impact.
Stephen Shedletzky - The Infinite Game: How to lead with an infinite mindset
We can't choose the game. We can't choose the rules. We can only choose how we play.
In finite games, like football or chess, the players are known, the rules are fixed, and the endpoint is clear. The winners and losers are easily identified.
In infinite games, like business or politics or life itself, the players come and go, the rules are changeable, and there is no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers in an infinite game; there is only ahead and behind.
The more we begin to understand the difference between finite and infinite games, the more we can see that infinite games are all around us. We will realize that many of the struggles that organizations face exist simply because their leaders are playing with a finite mindset in an infinite game. These organizations tend to lag behind in innovation, discretionary effort, morale and ultimately performance.
The leaders who embrace an infinite mindset, in stark contrast, build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Their people trust each other and their leaders. They have the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world, while their competitors fall by the wayside. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead the rest of us into the future.
The ability to adopt an infinite mindset is a prerequisite for any leader who aspires to leave their organization in better shape than they found it.
Michael Sahota - Hacking Organizational Design for High Performance
Many organizations are interested in upgrading their organizational design so that they can be more adaptable to meet emerging customer needs and thrive in the competitive business landscape. The common questions are what design or blueprint to use and how to transform the organization to the new structures? These questions and the mindset behind them are deadly blocks for high performance.
Organizations all over the world, in all kinds of industries have reached high performance. We have cracked the code on how to hack the organizational design to create high performance. The only way to create an adaptive emergent organization is to use an adaptive emergent process. We outline the key steps and shifts needed to initiate the evolution of high performance. These include a shift in the consciousness or mindset of the leadership to support the greater psychological safety needed to share decision making and run experiments. As a practical take-away, we offer the seven keys to Agile Transformation that can be applied at any stage of the journey to unlock success.
Martin Aziz - I can keep my promises! Product Management with Kanban
What should we work on now, later and never? When will it be ready? What is the status of our current commitments? Do our teams even have the capability and capacity to deliver on our promises to our customers? These are the challenges and risks that product managers need to manage on a daily basis. In this interactive session, we'll explore ways that Kanban can help you improve decision making, manage risk, improve transparency, and make promises you can keep.
Erin Randall - Better Questions, Better Connections, Better Community
If we were to ask most any person what they desire, I’m quite certain that community and connection would be among the most-answered responses. (That and winning the lottery.) But how do we get to genuine connection? One answer? Better questions.
As a coach, powerful questions are a foundational skill, one that I use every day, in service of every relationship. If we consider what questions are, the flippant, easy answer is that questions are how we seek information, seek knowledge. Yes, questions are those things, but in truth, they are so much more than that. A good question shows that someone is paying attention, they’re thinking about you, that they’re honoring your space in their circle. A good question shows care, interest, our dedication to maintaining that relationship. Good questions are the care and feeding of human connection.
This interactive talk (meaning that yes, you're going to practice what we talk about in this session) will help you to understand what a good question is, how they connect us to others, and how to use them. You'll leave knowing how to be a better servant-leader in your own relationships.
The ability to ask questions and to listen for the response is to be in service of a relationship. I created this talk to share this skill, to help you create the kind of community and connections that you desire in life.