Thursday and Friday – Agile2019

So Thursday was all about getting outside of my comfort zone. Last year, I decided to attend one session that was on a topic that was completely different than what I usually read and learn about, and I found myself in Llewllyn Falco’s session.

I really enjoyed it, so this year, I choose Augmented Agile Delivery – Agile Behavior Meets Digital Engineering with David Norton.

David opened with setting the stage that there is more complexity than we can cognitively process, and that we need to continuously deliver in order to stay ahead. And, while digital is all around us, the world is analog, it flows all the time.

He shared the VUCA, Cynefin and Stacey Complesity models, and provided the following descriptions for the various Cynefin dimensions:

  1. Obvious – like a light switch, cause and effect is known and understood.
  2. Complicated – we understand it enough to reverse engineer it.
  3. Complex (where most of software development is) – will the tech work? Will customers buy it? Where agile makes the most sense.
  4. Chaos – the first priority is to “fix it.” He shared the stories of “tiger teams” and that most organizations were incentivizing forest fires. It’s not a bad place occasionally, but it’s fatiguing. We can also be on the edge of chaos.

He then shared information on how Digital Twins are all around us, and that they’re extremely helpful when building buildings. A digital twin can be created to better understand how the building will operate over its life – the cost, the impact on the environment, etc. This is more than the CAD approach, it helps also see how the model interacts with the environment. When the USS Gerald Ford was built, digital models were able to save $4 billion dollars in costs, and the digital model was also able to ensure that the ports that it traveled to could refuel/restock it.

Digital Twins demonstrate how we interact with each other. There are hundreds of digital twins. Flying here, we encouraged many digital twins at the airport and there was vast amounts of data collected.

He then covered Convergent and Divergent Thinking and described how Digital Twins can be the something in-between, and the ontology of understanding all the different things. All the Digital Twins are owned by different groups, and as the ontology grows, sometimes we need to break them into new systems.

He then talked about Model Based Systems Engineering and how it can be a controversial topic in the agile world. He shared that MBSE helps better determine the total cost of ownership and how the system will perform. That the old problem was that there was a gap between the model and reality, but now with the OMG and UML profiles, that gap can be closed and the models have more longevity.

Some questions to keep in mind when modeling:

  1. If the model is wrong, when will we learn?
  2. Can we refactor in a timely manner?
  3. Can we refactor without impacting other areas?
  4. What is the cost of refactoring?

He closed by sharing that models need to be tested early and we need to get feedback. We need to acknowledge and look at the greater good and how we work together, keeping in mind standards and non-functional requirements. He gave the example that standards, such as security standards, can be automated and embedded into the tool chain, and also recommended that with agile, we can more widely introduce BDD into design and architecture patterns.

I really appreciated the session, and then it was time for a few work calls and then lunch. After lunch, I sat in the Agile Alliance Lounge for folks to talk with me about Women in Agile.

Audacious Salon – Functioning Without Leaders

After lunch, I attended the Audacious Salon called “Functioning without Leaders.” I got there early because last year, the room filled up for one of the Salons, and I was bummed that I didn’t get in. I sat down, chatted with the person next to me, and noticed that there was a Bohm quote on the wall about whether or not society needs leaders.

The room started to fill up, and the door closed, which prompted me to look at my watch. I realized it was a minute after we were scheduled to start, and I said to my neighbor, “Maybe there isn’t a leader for this session.”

Well…there wasn’t.

The two part session for the Audacious Salon was an experiment for what a group of people would do if there wasn’t a leader of the conversation, no goal, no objective, no one driving the group to an outcome.

It’s hard to recap what the experience was like – you really had to be there. But, before the break and after the break were two different sessions. In the first session, there was quite a bit of tension, folks trying to add structure, folks jockeying, and in the second session, we all relaxed. Really appreciated the conversation and the “meta” discussions.

That evening because I wasn’t feeling well, I didn’t go to the conference party, but it looked like a lot of fun!

Agile Midway – Agile2019 Retrospective

On Friday, it was time to pack and check-out. For the Agile Midway, I decided to attend the Agile2019 Retrospective, where Dana Pylayeva facilitated a retro session using Liberating Structures. The retro was more focused on how we experienced it and what we would do with our knowledge after leaving, not feedback on the conference (there was a flip chart to collect feedback on that).

We learned the following Liberating Structures:

  • Mad Tea – where we self-organized into two circles (one inside the other with the inner circle facing the outer circle so that we had pairs), and spent one-minute answering a question that was on the screen with our partner, after each minute, we’d step to the right and have a new partner.
  • Triz – We listed out all the behaviors that would NOT lead to success on stickies and then reviewed in small groups (5-7).
  • 15% Solutions – We identified solutions where we had all that we needed to get started and then shared with someone we hadn’t met yet.

It was fun, and I liked learning new facilitation ideas.

After the retro, it was time to head to the airport. Bummed I’ll miss the Friday keynote, but I’ll watch it online. It was another great Agile conference, and I’m looking forward to next year!

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