dan blog pic 1Just in time to wrap up the year, the Austin Agile community joined together for AgilePalooza Austin, the first event in the series to come to the Texas capital city.

Despite the near-freezing temperatures, a large crowd flocked into the AT&T Conference Center for workshops, discussions and knowledge sharing.

The day’s chill quickly subsided when Davisbase’s Russ Fletcher took the stage. He brought agile’s challenges down to a real-world level by sharing his own experiences managing his (very large) family using agile mindsets and methods. His talk, titled: “The Agile Dilemma – How Disruption May Come to the Ultimate Disruptive Influence” caused attendees to pause and broaden their thinking about both practicing agile and how they should continually reevaluate if there’s a better way.

After the keynote, the day split into 2 tracks: Planning Agile and Practicing Agile.

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David Hussman (a.k.a. The Dude), DevJam’s Software Anthropologist and Coach, kicked things off in the Practicing Agile track with: “Producing Product Developers.” His unique, captivating, down-

Meanwhile, next door, the Planning Agile track got underway with Damon Poole from Eliassen Group. He delivered: “Unlock the Power of Agile in Your Organization.” If you thought that agile’s impact should only be felt within a development organization, Damon shared a very compelling argument against this notion. All areas of an organization typically struggle with ‘too many things happening at once’. Agile development’s ability to clarify ‘definition of done’ and institute an accelerated software delivery model (among other things) bring business value.to-earth style had everyone learning, laughing and marveling at how developers can truly flip their role and responsibility on their head.

Lunchtime gave attendees a short respite, but then things quickly segued into a success story from Sabre’s Architect John Sigler and a VersionOne product demonstration. VersionOne’s Agile Coach Mike McLaughlin demonstrated how an agile project management tool can be valuable to all members of an agile team (developers, testers, PMO, executives). Visibility, transparency, predictability, collaboration – some of the core themes of agile development – can be brought to the forefront with the use of an Agile ALM platform like VersionOne.

After lunch, The Practicing Agile track restarted with LeadingAgile’s Jann Thomas: “Begin with the End In Mind: Continuous Integration for the Rest of Us.” Jann spoke of the recent past to highlight how Healthcare.gov should have been introduced to the public. What mistakes were made, and how could they have been avoided?

Jann then broke the crowd into groups, encouraging them to self-assess where their teams were with some key technical practices (Build Management, CI, Release Management, and more). The exercises clarified and shed light on some action items that were previously unknown.

Mike McLaughlin shared his presentation titled: “Tales of Agile Adoption and Transformation.” He made the important distinction between adoption and agile transformation, and gave some concrete examples of companies that were struggling, but found some efficiency and improvements from agile development practices.

The Planning track ended with Dave Sharrock from Agile 42. Dave’s talk, “Herding Cats! The Art of Agile Portfolio Management,” showed how teams can push away from herding, while embracing flocking. Think birds — not cats, he said. His stressed three important points to cement the metaphor:

  1. Focus on the Whole
  2. Deliver as Fast as Possible
  3. Make Progress Visible

The day concluded with a ‘Fishbowl’ Q-and-A panel. If you think traditional ‘executive’ question-and-answer panels cause you to get sleepy, get on board with a Fish Bowl panel; it completely eliminated the barriers between ‘experts’ and ‘audience.’

Thank you, Austin, for a fun event!

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