It’s been two days of interesting talks and discussions at Agila Sverige 2009. These are some of my reflections from the event:
Bring back the simplicity
There was a lot of talk about bringing back simplicity as one of the cornerstones in agile development. XP was all about communication, simplicity, feedback and courage. Somehow the principle of using the simplest solution has been lost when we standardize on agile methods. Many of the talks were about simplicity, for example Johan talked about “Standards vs. Cargo cult“, Niklas talked about “Simplicity as means, opportunity as goal” and Marcus asked “Where did the simplest working solution go?”. All very good presentations. A somewhat related presentation was about allowing variation to facilitate evolution (variation + selection = evolution). The advice was to bring in some variation in each project and select the working solutions. When I think of it, that is usually how I work as well.
Kanban and Scrum
Another hot topic was Scrum and Kanban. Kanban is of course the new and trendy thing to talk about. Henrik gave a good talk where he managed to describe the similarities and differences in just 10 minutes. There were also some good presentations about how to apply Kanban and how Kanban and Scrum can be combined.
Is Scrum the new RUP?
I don’t remember who it was, but someone asked the question whether Scrum is the new RUP. The Agile movement was a reaction on stiff processes being forced down from upper management, but today we see the same thing happening with Scrum. Anna Herting for example described that to solve their problem with prioritizing maintenance activities they used Kanban, but still had to call it Scrum to satisfy the managers. In my view it is always bad to just apply a process methodology without thinking about what the needs are. You also want to continuously improve on the process and extend it with new ways of working. What you need is some principles to follow that will take you in the right direction and simple tools to choose from and use as inspiration.
People, Teams and how we behave
Many of the talks were about how to behave as responsible developers and how to create good team cultures. For example Åke made a talk about self-learning and asking good questions, asking them at the right time and asking lagom many questions. We also got the good advice from Jocke to promise behavior instead of results. He explained that promises are tools to gain trust, synchronize with people and create motivation. Chris talked about the different stages of learning. How you go from unconsciously incompetent -> consciously incompetent -> consciously competent -> unconsciously competent. The unconsciously incompetent needs inspiration while the unconsciously competent needs reflection. Lots of talk about creating openness and trust in teams, for example by establishing common team values.
All in all I had a great time. I really enjoyed the open and interactive format with Lightning Talks and Open Space sessions.