The Agile Enterprise Workshop by David West @ Agile India 2013 Conference

David West has been a software professional for forty years, most recently as a consultant/coach in Agile, Design, and Enterprise-IT Integration. He is the author of Object Thinking (Microsoft Press Professional) and has been a speaker at numerous conferences including SPLASH (new OOPSLA), Onward!, Agile, and various PLoPs. He has graduate degrees in Computer Science, Cultural Anthropology, and Cognitive Science along with an undergraduate education in Asian Philosophy.

Object Thinking

He believes in people, not technology or methodology. He has a wealth of experience in achieving systemic change and IT-Enterprise integration while significantly, reducing IT costs.

We are very privileged to present David’s workshop on ‘The Agile Enterprise‘ at Agile India 2013. His many years of experience will no doubt add immense value to the conference.

David West

We asked David some questions about his workshop. A key focus of the workshop will be about breaking down the silos that exist between IT and business.

Why is it important to break down silos that often exist between IT and business?

There are two important reasons. The first arises from the four agile values (originally XP values) – two of which, Communication and Feedback – mandate the free flow of information “in real time.” By real time, I mean the time frame in which the work is being done. There is nothing more frustrating than having to wait for a question and answer to go through channels, when a direct communication could resolve the issue and allow you to proceed with your work. If you look at all the agile practices, most of them are intended to enhance communications among the Whole Team.

The second reason is not as easy to see. We have known since the 1960s of the problem of “necessary interpretation.” An example: The business person articulates some needs and expectations – requirements – to the systems analyst. This is done using some kind of ‘formal’ model. The model cannot contain all of the understanding of the business person, tacit knowledge is omitted, for example. The system analyst must interpret the model, using her own mental language and translate the requirements into specifications, again omitting much of what she knows from her formal model. The programmer must, yet again interpret the specifications and translate into their mental language (which is a function of the particular programming language used) and write their code. This chain of interpretation and translation consistently generates software that bears only a partial resemblance to what was expected. The more links in the chain – the more silos you pass through – the greater the divergence.

In your experience, what makes it really hard to break down these silos?

Business, and to an even greater degree Software Engineering, are grounded in a philosophy of “scientific management.” This is a cultural phenomenon which means we are not even aware, usually, of why we do things the way we do. Scientific management principles focus on formality, constraint, and control. In communications this takes the form of establishing formal communication channels, defined formats for communication (formal models like UML), and limits on how many people any individual should manage and therefore communicate with. Add a strict hierarchy, and you get lots of silos. This is justified with arguments like, “you cannot have everyone talk to the CEO, she would not have the time to read and respond.” This entire culture of scientific management extends beyond the IT shop and the business and makes it extremely hard to change – even with awareness.

What will be the key take away for the workshop attendees?

Participants will leave with a simple and extremely powerful model of the enterprise; useful for integrating IT efforts with business objectives, mapping agile practices to the satisfaction of business needs – all while providing a foundation for leveraging IT to support an agile and innovative organization.

If you’re thinking of registering for this workshop, do remember that seats are limited. Book soon to avoid disappointment.

Playing Games for Fun and (Business) Profit workshop by Laurent Bossavit @ Agile India 2013 Conference

At Agile India 2013, in addition to the main conference, we will be hosting fourteen exclusive workshops, all by well known, expert agilists. This is an unique opportunity to learn from experts around the world.

Recently we interviewed Laurent Bossavit to get some insight into his rather different workshop – ‘Playing games for fun and profit‘.

Laurent Bossavit

Picture by Bam Thomas

Laurent Bossavit started of his career as a developer and was an “early adopter” of Agile. He was the recipient of the 2006 Gordon Pask award for contributions to Agile practice. Laurent is one of the people who has invested a lot in bringing agile to a wider know audience. He also wrote the book ‘The Leprechauns of Software Engineering‘.

The Leprechauns of Software Engineering

He now heads Institut Agile, a privately funded, independent entity whose missions include growing the Agile business ecosystem, creating stronger links between the business and research communities interested in Agile approaches, and providing stronger empirical evidence on the benefits and limitations of Agile practices.

During the interview, we asked the following questions to Laurent:

What triggered your interest in agile games?

Games, interactive workshops and project simulations have been part of the Agile thinking and teaching toolkit from the very beginning. My first experience was using the ExtremeHour format back in 2000, to teach a team, I had recently joined, the basics of Extreme Programming. I’ve never stopped using them since, in my training classes and in retrospectives for instance. Some of the core Agile practices, such as “Planning Poker“, also take the form of games. However, more recently a number of Agile folks have started seeing and using Agile games not just as teaching or coaching tools, but also as an integral part of the way teams can work together. For instance, they can be used to bring about better understanding and collaboration between Product Owners and developers on a team. These more recent developments reinforced my interest and made me look at our use of games in a new light.

What are the advantages/benefits of using agile games as opposed to traditional methods like meetings?

Suppose you’re interested in getting a group’s best ideas on an important decision, such as which features to include or leave out of the next release of a software product or system. It’s often a lot of hard work convening and running a meeting for this kind of result: someone has to put a lot of effort into running the meeting, making sure everybody contributes their knowledge but nobody “takes over” the meeting, and so on. Even when meetings are run efficiently, people rarely like them – and so, sometimes, participants end up sabotaging them. With a “serious game” approach you don’t need to run things: you explain the rules and the objectives, stand back, and let the process unfold. If the game is well-designed, not only will you reach the intended outcome – a set of decisions – you will also have fully engaged participants who all contribute to the extent that they have creative ideas, and on top of that have fun and want to do it again!

What is the take away for the attendees from the workshop?

This is a completely hands-on experience; we’ll play a number of games, and during the debriefs we’ll discuss why and how they work in business settings. The idea is to come away with games that you can use immediately on getting back to work from the conference. Attending the workshop is a great way to get a first introduction to Agile games for people who are new to the topic, and maybe to discover some new games for people who are already experienced. There will be something for everyone!

If you’re thinking of registering for this workshop, do remember that seats are limited. Book soon to avoid disappointment.

Exclusive Workshops @ Agile India 2013 Conference

At the Agile India 2013 Conference, we are pleased to offer you 14 exclusive workshops.

The following three workshops should give you a feel for what we have in store:

The Fastest Learner Wins by Mary and Tom Poppendieck
No matter how large and successful a company is today, it’s long term survival is by no means guaranteed. Only a few large companies have been able to sustain growth over time by coming up with a steady stream of new disruptive businesses. How do they do it? More…

Honing Technical Practices To Realize Sustainable Agility by Venkat Subramaniam
Agile development is the new rage. Everyone is doing it. Organizations of various size and in different market have jumped on the bandwagon. They’re practicing various management approaches and are holding stand-ups. But, the key question is, are they succeeding with it? More…

Problem-Solving and Decision-Making in Software Development by Linda Rising
For those of us who struggle with complex problems for a living, unfortunately, don’t have time to keep up with the enormous amount of research in cognitive science that would help us be better thinkers and influencers. More…


Problem-Solving and Decision-Making in Software Development Workshop by Linda Rising @ Agile India 2013

The third workshop we are covering is ‘Problem-Solving and Decision-Making in Software Development‘ by Linda Rising.

Linda is well known for her book ‘Fearless change Patterns for Introducing New Idea‘. It is cited for providing proven techniques, formulated as patterns, for implementing change in teams and organizations. She is well respected for her work on patterns and their application in the workplace.

Linda has delivered keynotes at many agile conferences and is an internationally well-known speaker. We are really looking forward to her keynote at Agile India 2013 and also this particular workshop.

Linda Rising

This week we spent some time with Linda to get further information on her workshop and to discuss her keen interest in how the brain works.

What motivated you to do research in cognitive science?

When Mary Lynn and I were writing Fearless Change, one of our reviewers said that the reason the patterns worked was because they were based on influence strategies. I had heard of “influence” but didn’t realize it was a special area of study in “social” psychology – the psychology of group behavior. I started looking at the growing research in that field and it led to my current passion to follow advances in cognitive psychology. This field is making enormous headway and it has significant impact on the way we work. We need to pay attention.

Can you give us an example of the application of cognitive science in software development?

The most important news from this area is the disturbing finding that we are not rational thinkers. I have believed this nearly all my very long life so it is difficult for me to accept, even as I read the pretty clear evidence. Even smart people are not rational. And, it’s not that we are not rational some of the time. The message is that we struggle to apply rational approaches to any of our decisions. This turns our development process upside down. In the past we believed that customers were rational, fellow developers and testers were rational and that was how we communicated and made decisions. Seeing that we make decisions based on what is not only not rational but not available to us or anyone else, means that we can’t make assumptions about what others say or do.

Linda Rising QCon London

What is the take away for the attendees from the workshop?

It’s impossible to summarize all of the advances in cognitive science but I will try to hand attendees a list of practical tips that they can apply when they return to work. These tips will help them be better thinkers, better problem-solvers, and better able to influence others. I also hope to encourage all of the participants to become interested in this area. I can provide references to help them get started.

Who is the target audience for the workshop?

Anyone who works in any organization and must solve problems, make decisions, or convince others will benefit.

Some past talks by Linda:

Honing Technical Practices To Realize Sustainable Agility Workshop by Venkat Subramaniam @ Agile India 2013

This is the second in the series of posts that we will be doing for workshops taking place at Agile India 2013. The next workshop we are focusing on is “Honing Technical Practices To Realize Sustainable Agility” by Venkat Subramaniam.

Venkat is founder of Agile Developer, Inc. and has trained and mentored thousands of software developers in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia. He is also an award-winning author and has written several books including: ‘NET Gotchas’ and ‘Practices of an Agile Developer’ (winner of 2007 Jolt Productivity Award). He is a regular invited speaker at several international conferences.

Venkat Subramaniam

We feel quite privileged to have him present several talks and also this workshop at Agile India 2013. He was one of the favorite speakers at Agile India 2012 based on the feedback we received. Also his video from Agile Inida 2012, was the most viewed video online.

While Venkat was traveling around the world attending conferences, we stole some of his time and asked him a few questions about his workshop.

What’s the take away for the attendees from the workshop?

Learning practical technical practices to sustain and succeed with agile development.

Agile development is really feedback driving development. Many organization and teams are really excited and focused on succeeding with agile development. They have aggressively adopted various management practices. While this is good and essential, it is not sufficient.

In addition to receiving feedback, the team has to respond quickly and effectively to the feedback received. In addition to right intentions, the team needs to have the technical ability to respond to change. It is hard to be agile if our code sucks. Having high quality code and quickly running automated tests, can help respond to those feedback and keep the response cycle running smooth.

Management practices (and the management support) are like the left wheels of a car. Technical practices (and the support from programmers and testers) are like the right wheels of a car. For a stable sustainable progress these wheels have to be aligned.

Programmers serious about improving their technical skills to support agile development on their projects or for the companies will benefit from this workshop. They will learn specific skills that have impact on their ability to respond to change and support their teams. They will learn how to create lightweight, evolutionary design, how to recognize and evaluate such design, to refactor code, write useful unit tests, create effective mocks, and how to practically create continuous integration feedback loops.

I invite programmers to bring their computers, roll up their sleeves, pair up with fellow practitioners, get their hands dirty with code and design, and hone their technical skills through this workshop. There is very little theory in this workshop, its all about learning by doing.

What are some of the main topics covered in the workshop?

  • Agile development and sustainability
  • Cost of technical practices
  • Driving design using automated tests
  • Evolutionary architecture
  • How to make good use of mocks to aid unit testing?
  • How and when to refactor code?
  • Practicals of continuous integration

Are there specific tools or languages that you plan to focus on?

There is strong influence of programming languages and automated tools in this workshop. However, programmers have the flexibility to use the language they’re most comfortable with or relevant to their work. I can comfortably program in about 8 languages, which includes the main stream languages, so should be able to assist the programmers with specific questions and also compare and contrast approaches based on language influences.

Who’s the workshop intended for?

Programmers passionate and genuinely interested in improving their technical skills to support their organization’s agile development efforts.

Links to some talks/presentations by Venkat:

Agile India 2013 – Attendees Profile (as of Nov 8th)

At this point, 400 delegates have registered for Agile India 2013 Conference in less than 3 weeks.

Looking at the delegates who’ve registered so far, we have represenation from the following companies:

  • Aconex
  • Alcatel Lucent
  • Alliance Global Services
  • Allscripts India Pvt. Ltd
  • Aricent Technologies
  • BNP Paribas India Solutions
  • Cognizant Technology Solutions
  • Direction Software Solution
  • eGain Communications
  • Enteleki Technology Solutions
  • Envestnet, India
  • GembaTech
  • HCL
  • HCL Technologies
  • Huawei Technologies
  • Independent Consultant
  • InMobi
  • InRhythm
  • Inteamo
  • Intergraph Consulting Pvt. Ltd.
  • John Deere India Private Limited
  • MSCI
  • Multunus Software
  • Ostrya Labs
  • Pitney Bowes Software
  • Rotary International Infotech Pvt. Ltd.
  • S.i. Systems
  • SAP Labs India Pvt. Ltd.
  • Shop Smart Inc/
  • Societe Generale
  • Software Artisan
  • SymphonyTeleca Corporation
  • Synerzip Softech India Pvt. Ltd.
  • Tata Consultancy Services
  • TenXperts Technologies
  • Thomson Reuters
  • ThoughtWorks Technologies India Pvt. Ltd.
  • Yahoo India Pvt Ltd

And their roles:

  • Agile and Lean Coach
  • Agile Coach
  • Agile Coach/Scrum Master
  • Agile Project Manager
  • Architect
  • CEO
  • Co-Founder and CEO
  • Code Junkie
  • Code Monkey
  • Consultant
  • Development Manager
  • Director
  • Director-Quality
  • Engineer 2
  • Engineering – Director
  • Engineering Lead
  • Engineering Manager
  • EVP & CTO
  • Executive Manager
  • General Manager
  • General Manager – Quality
  • Head of Engineering
  • Head of Project Management
  • Lead Executive Quality
  • Manager
  • Product Owner
  • Product Owner/Technical Lead
  • Program Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Senior Consultant
  • Senior Manager
  • Senior Manager – Consulting
  • Senior Manager-Technical Group head
  • Senior Manager, Agile Coach
  • Senior Project Manager
  • Senior Software Engineer
  • Software Architect
  • Software Artisan
  • Software Developer (Embedded System)
  • Sr. Associate
  • Sr Engineer
  • Sr. Manager
  • Sr. Manager – Projects
  • Sr. Project Manager
  • Sr. Quality Manager
  • Sr. Software Engineer1
  • Sr. Vice President
  • Team Lead
  • Technologist
  • VP Solutions

Add Attendees Info Later: Agile India 2013 Registration System New Feature

In my experience, people/companies would like to register for the conference early-on, to take advantage of the early-bird discounts. However they might not be sure who (which employee) will be available and can attend the conference. So most end up waiting till the end to book their seats.

This feels broken! It’s not good for the participants nor for the conference organizers.

To avoid this problem, we’ve introduced a new feature in the Agile India 2013 Registration System, which lets you register for the conference by just specifying the number of seats. You can defer adding the exact attendees’ details till 1 month before the conference.

Add Attendees Info Later

Also you can always edit the attendees info, up-till 1 month before the conference.

(We need 1 month’s lead time to get the conference t-shirts, badges and other logistics in place.)

The Fastest Learner Wins Workshop by Mary and Tom Poppendieck @ Agile India 2013

We have a number of exciting workshops that are taking place during Agile India 2013 conference. One of the workshops that we are really excited about is ‘The Fastest Learner Wins‘ by Mary and Tom Poppendieck on March 1st 2013.

Both Mary and Tom are well known writers and speakers and probably need no introduction. Mary will be soon launching her new book ‘The Lean Mindset’ and will be sharing her some of her learnings during the course of this workshop.

Mary and Tom Poppendieck

We recently caught up with Mary and Tom and asked them a few questions to get a deeper understanding of what their workshop is about.

What does the title of your workshop ‘The Fastest Learner Wins’ mean?

Speed matters. Learning matters. Design matters. Speed, learning, and design – correctly balanced – are unbeatable.

Once upon a time, a company could hold on to its markets by doing what it had always done well. But today, a small group of smart people with a good idea can start up a new business anywhere in the world; they can leverage the internet and cloud computing to enter a market with a minimum amount of capital in a surprisingly short time. At first, these small upstarts are not seen as a threat by companies already in the market. But over time, the successful newcomers learn quickly and surprisingly often they have taken over whole markets with better, faster, cheaper offerings. The incumbents, caught in their successful past, usually find it’s too late to react.

What are the main ingredients that allow large companies to be able to sustain growth over time?

The average lifespan of a successful US company is about 15 years – much shorter than a career. This amazing fact might cause you to ask yourself: How can my company thrive over the long term? The answer is: Expect change and adapt to it. Our current organizations are strongly incentivized to continue doing whatever they have been doing in the past. But as companies grow large and the world changes, the only real path to sustained growth is innovation. The most innovative companies have learned to change their focus:

  • From productivity to impact
  • From predictability to experimentation
  • From scalability to decentralization
  • From making money to making a difference

What will be the key take away for the workshop attendees?

Attendees will learn strategies for improving their companies in the areas of:

1. Innovation

In a world where natural disasters and economic shocks have become routine, only the fast and flexible survive. Wise organizations devolve decision-making to the people who deliver value, sparking initiative and fostering innovation.

2. Design

If there is one thing we know, it’s that the consumer experience matters. Savvy organizations focus on the whole product and care deeply about the consumer experience. They balance empathy with data to deliver the WOW factor.

3. Learning

It is difficult for companies to innovate at the pace and scale of the market. Learning organizations run lots of experiments and keep what works. They leverage disciplined speed, system-level feedback, and validated learning.

4. Mastery

Great organizations set out to make a difference. They seek challenge rather than predictability. They foster effort over entitlement, mastery over success. They are disciplined, determined, and honest. And they keep on getting better.

Target Audience for workshop:

Managers, team leads, product owners, product managers, coaches – anyone who would like to rethink how to create winning products.

Some past talks by Mary:

2011 Agile and Beyond Conference – Opening Keynote – Mary Poppendieck
Competing on the basis of speed

Please do remember seats for this workshop are limited so book soon to avoid disappointment.

Please use #AgileIndia2013 twitter hashtag to spread the word.