I recently attended the ‘Agile in the City’ conference at the M Shed in Bristol. We follow an ‘agile’ model on our Moneyhub products suite, so we’re always interested in hearing and sharing thoughts with like-minded business people.
In the opening keynote "Herding cats: integrating techs & execs", independent agile consultant Katherine Kirk started by reminding us all that change is always inevitable so looking for a perfect solution to any problem is pointless. Instead, insight gives us the edge. A couple of points resonated with me and they were to first of all be mindful of intention. If intention is to be comfortable, it will lead to mediocre output and mono-cultural teams. Let your intention be to gain insight. And second of all, as delivery output speeds up from annually to monthly to daily to hourly, so does the amount of interactions - each delivery has a consequence.
The second session I attended was delivered by Lyndsay Prewer of Equal Experts and it was an experience report on how to facilitate product discovery with your client. Establishing context and trust beforehand is key to the start of the process. I liked his analogy of making sure to go “fast and wide like a fox, instead of slow and deep like a hedgehog” (referencing the Greek poet Archilochus’ theory that “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing"). And finally, once the system is mapped out, create small iterative slices to reach delivery as quickly as possible.
After lunch, I joined agile experts Sal Freudenberg, Karl Scotland and almost 40 other attendees to play the ‘Lego Flow’ game. The session was designed to let us try three different modes of delivery - batched, iterative and flow - to experience the benefits and frustrations of each.
On the second day of the conference, Portia Tung, an executive and business agile coach, addressed us with her keynote speech: "Unleash your play brain: play your way towards a happier adulthood". She challenged us to consider the opposite of ‘play’, and the good news is that it isn't ’work’! To warm us up, we went through a doodle exercise, which involved doodling for 20 seconds on a card, then passing it on to another attendee who would spend another 20 seconds improving it. It provided playful and surprising results and was a great ice breaker.
After lunch I ventured outside of my comfort zone and joined Paul Goddard for his 'Improvising with agile' session, which was a lot less scary than I initially thought. As he pointed out very early into the session, improvisation is not about being funny or clever. It's about helping each other to be creative and collaborate to learn more and tell better stories.
–Written by Elin Ahlberg, Product Owner
More information about the conference can be found here.
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