Triagile 2018 - Conference Notes

Yesterday I had a full day with an early meeting with a provider, then the drive to Raleigh for Triagile 2018.

This was my 3rd year attending and I was impressed with how attendance has grown. This year all the talks were more focused on Agile, being an Agilist, the Agile Journey and so on. Last year there was a lot of variety and I am assuming that the organizers were responding to feedback.

Due to my meeting, I missed the intro and the first 5 minutes of the Keynote.

Keynote: Gil Broza

Being a bit late I was standing for the keynote and didn’t take many notes. Gil set the tone for the day staying on topic with how an organization approaches Agile in the middle levels of the structure is what determines the outcome. My biggest take away is that becoming truly Agile with a big ‘A’ is more than just doing all the steps - it requires changing how the organization thinks in regards to nearly everything.

Ron Statt - The Intersection Of Agile And User Interface Design Examples And Practices For Success

This topic is front of mind for me right now. It is something we are struggling with. Fortunately, we are about to hire a Front End Developer and the conversations may get easier. Ron’s talk explored a 6-month timeline of his team at SAS working closely with designers through the creation of a greenfield software project.

My take away was to empower and encourage designers to keep initial working models and prototypes low-fidelity. This theme re-appeared during my 3rd session. I had forgotten about Design Thinking as a process and I want to dig into it more.

From the last bits of my notes:

What to do tomorrow
- Include the designer in your team tomorrow
- Adjust the iteration expectations ahead of time
- Use a parallel high-level track for greenfield/revolutionary design
- Use Design Thinking Research Spikes
- Demo with the end in mind

In summary, I will look for more talks by Ron Statt his style and presentation was good. He made me think about new things, and I feel like I will change how I approach design in projects in the future.

Tom Friend - Business Agility and Enterprise Innovation

I admit I attended this session because I enjoyed Tom’s talk last year. This was an iteration of that talk. Instead of focusing on content and methodology I sat back and enjoyed the talk, taking minimal notes.

What I came away with was how much variation in pitch he used in his voice, how much he moved around the room and how many times he referenced things back to the keynote. Assuming he did the same thing last year, it must have been effective, I came back for more.

One thing (and I heard this from another attendee as well), he was a bit heavy on keeping his logo, branding, and URL on every slide. If he returns next year I may attend his talk, but only if the topic/abstract is radically different from the previous years.

Elaine McVey and Eric Hannan - The Agilist Vs the Data Scientist

By far the most entertaining session of the day. Data Scientist Elain McVey presented to RTA last year and she rocked it. Joining up with Eric Hannan only upped the game.

Purposely presented in high school drama class style, Eric and Elaine performed a 3 act skit portraying the use of Agile practices within a Data Science workflow. It was cute. It was entertaining. It communicated the message well.

The takeaway I passed along to one of the analysts at work, was lightweight prototypes with no real data in them with the purpose of getting closer to what the end user wants in the analysis. The one pitfall is that you may not have the data to support what the end user wants. Elaine admitted that was the tricky part, and they had encountered the issue, but it is an easier conversation to have rather than doing a lot of work that nobody cares about.

Braz Brandt - Growing Agile Managers

Braz’s talk provoked a lot of introspection. Being in an organization in the middle of a pivot I am watching many of the dynamics he surfaced play out in real life.

A few weeks ago I pitched a teams structure similar to the one he illustrated. The department head found it interesting but went in another direction. I wonder if i would be more eloquent now.

I sent more photos of slides to coworkers from this talk than any of the others. They just hit home on several levels.

I’ll wait until he posts his slides to the Triagile site rather than include my photos.

Mathias Eifert - Iterative and Incremental -What’s the Difference and Why Should You Care

You will walk away with both a better understanding of one of the most important underlying principles of agility and immediately applicable insights for your daily work!

Mathias delivered as promised. I was glad my co-worked attended this talk with me, I was able to nudge him during various portions where noted what we do wrong. I wish this talk was on video, I want to watch it again.

I took away a lot of points from this talk. Notably that at work we are doing Agile-Scrum-Fall rather than Agile. But the one that I think I need to embrace was the final note I took.

Don’t look at Agile only as a way to deliver software, look at it as a way to manage risk.

Closing Session - WorldCafe workshop

The closing workshop was interesting, I hope it was intended for the participants more than the organizers. In brief, we were giving thought prompt questions, then needed to record them on flip chart paper. Then after a few minutes rotate to another table and work with a different group.

This workshop was a big confidence booster for me. I found I was speaking more, contributing more and prompting other people for answers more than those around me. Perhaps it was me filling a vacuum but it was good to be with other PM’s and being on point and feeling like I was contributing. Previously I have been a wallflower in workshops, this time I didn’t sit back.

Final Thoughts

The organizers have posted the slides from most of the talks in one place. I am still stunned how many conferences don’t do this.

I will probably attend next year. In preparing for this year’s conference I went through my notes from last year and found I did apply some of the things I learned there. My hat is off to Devin and the other organizers. As far as I could tell the whole thing went off without a hiccup.

At the conclusion of the conference, they had the live capture boards from every session posted in the lobby. I went through and read them all on my way out. A nice touch.

Written on April 6, 2018