First of all I do have to say that organizers did a superb job with AgileJKL! Even though the event was free, it was as professional and well organized as many paid agile events – and even better — there was real joy and fun in the air…. And free snacks!
I really liked the theme and program of the event – as it was clearly focused more towards making agile work in the organization and about making an impact to the business. We have seen these similar themes also in ScanAgile — and I assume that also in future events — which for me is a signal that people feel the pains of agile adoption and start to be more experienced and interested to look at the larger picture that affects our work and success.
Yes you can still fail in the marketplace even though you have your TDD straightjacket on, most beautiful kanban board ever, superb continuous integration and use purely functional languages.
Do things right and do the right thing.
But back to the subject, AgileJKL event.
Presentations and presenters were good. Below are some of my thoughts about the presentations.
Keynote: Agile Beyond the Hype! – What You Really Need to Know Before You Jump In
Vasco Duarte is a superb guy: funny, friendly and almost always smiling and making jokes. And he is not afraid to laugh at himself either. So he is an all around good guy and also very good presenter.
Based on his own experiences Vasco can tell a very compelling story on pitfalls of agile adoption and share a good collection on pointers on what you will eventually come against with when your agile team or teams start to interact with other parts of the organisation.
Of course slides do not do justice to Vasco’s stories and ability to deliver points in entertaining way, but they can be a reference point to compare your own experiences and journey against to.
It was brilliant to have Vasco’s presentation as the first one as it created the stage for every other presentation. Vasco set the stage and opened up day’s major questions: what happens outside the scrum, what are team and organizational boundaries in work, how do we align different teams and silos towards common goals and how do we know that the common goal is the right goal.
Naturally Vasco had great soundbites that were echoed in the twitter instantly.
Beyond Scrum: Building Agile Organizations
Mika Korhonen and Ville Törmälä were talking about really, really important topic and the promise of the talk was really good. Among others they cited Daniel Pink’s model behind motivation ( autonomy, mastery, and purpose ) and talked about the responsibility of managers and leaders on creating environment, where right kind of interaction happen and people succeed.
In many ways this was a feel good session of the day, talking about creativity and bringing fun back to the workplace.They also remembered to bring out the point to study the core values and ideas of scrum and agile, which is always an important point to remember.
As it was, the talk was another wakeup call about the importance and effects of the organization and the social system to any agile adaptation and transition. That moving towards more agile organization is not just about following a recipe.
The one thing I would have liked to see more is more concrete insights and experiences on interventions into the organization, but even as it was the talk was interesting and thought provoking, including also interesting commentary on twitter.
Does Your Customer Feel Delighted?
Roman Smirak had a really good talk and discussion about Tieto’s lean transformation. The value for me was actually in discussions and how he shared his own experiences on how lean workshops had helped people in different silos and functions to understand and see their role in the value stream and together work to eliminate root causes of some of their problems.
Though we all might have our own experiences of Tieto and know many jokes where Tieto is a punchline or part of the punchline, it was great to meet Roman and other persons from Tieto — and hear how they are trying to this kind of transformation on a very large scale. So definitely a good session, especially as the timing was done perfectly to allow long time for discussions.
System’s Conditions – Why Operational Delivery Is Not Always Enough?
Hermanni Hyytiälä’s talk was great introduction into the themes of systems thinking and why it matters. Theme continued topics discussed in other talks, but provided a little different viewpoint to the subject.
The system perspective gives us the possibility to understand that the blame game inside the organization is useless, as there is the possibility that how the organization works as a system — mandates the conditions in which individuals and teams are almost bound to fail. Therefore fixing teams might not change the end results, whereas changes to the system could have huge results.
Though systems thinking is not the only tool to try to learn and try to understand how organizations work, it can be illuminating and good thinking tool for many situations.
I also enjoyed greatly discussions after and before the talk with Hermanni and Marko Taipale about the subject – as we discussed also the problems of applying and introducing these ideas into organizations. Good stuff and great conversations. I only wish that Hermanni would be located closer to Helsinki, so that it would be easier to have a lunch or coffee together and continue these discussions later on.
Marko Taipale could do these customer development talks even in his sleep, but still he manages to get the energy and enthusiasm to talk about the subject almost like it would be the first time. What I like about Marko’s presentations and content is the fact that besides just talking about the models and theory someone has written, he actually talks also about real experience and application of those ideas in real life.
Golden nuggets of his presentation were for me definitely in the part where he discussed a real life case on how to apply business model canvas to find and validate a new business to an existing company. That is the good stuff!
And naturally Marko had some really good soundbites too, which were also echoed to the twitter. My favorite was ”Lean startup in Finland is like teenage sex. Everyone is talking about it, few have done it” ( paraphrased – but the idea is the same ).
I also had the pleasure of flying back to Helsinki on the same flight, so we had some additional time to talk and share ideas.
Conclusions and wrapup?
AgileJKL was a great success and organizers can be proud of their achievement.
The event was a great example of what a small dedicated team of people can do – and hopefully it was just an ignition to many more new events and happenings in the Jyväskylä region. I was so happy to see that the event was packed with people and during breaks there was lot’s of interesting discussions and collaboration going on.
Thank you guys and gals for creating AgileJKL-event!