Scan Agile 2013

Scan Agile came and went again.

As an organiser you always see and feel the event a bit differently than as a participant. We had a large and diverse group of people helping to make the event reality and though we had few chances to work together in a same place, most of the time we just collaborated online when ever we had small time slices to give for the project.

Part of the team working at Nitor offices

This year the tagline for the conference was: ”Scrum is a box. Agile is a box. We need to step outside the box to see it!” … and scaling or not scaling agile was a major theme in discussions, though not limited to only that. As the organising team had a diverse group of people from different backgrounds it was easy to understand that the program would also reflect that.

Telakka main hall

Venue this year was Telakka – as the first hotel which was selected to be the venue went bankrupt just a short time before the conference. Even though Telakka worked really nicely as the venue, next year will most likely be somewhere else. Definitely positive sides in Telakka were the cozy and intimate atmosphere – and the ability to scale the main hall to whatever size needed. As well as the ability to have really cost effective after party at the venue.

Thanks to the great lineup of sponsors we were able to provide good services for people to make the most out of the conference day: tea & coffee served throughout the day, tasty lunch and barista spot for special coffees.

Coffee art

I am proud that the program was so interesting, though as a organiser most of the time during the conference was spent doing something else than sitting down and listening presentations. It is good that all the presentations were recorded on video, so that we can catch up on sessions that we missed afterwards. Unfortunately workshops were not recorded, so there is no way to relive the experience of Aki’s intensive listening workshop, A3 problem solving session or the property based test driven development session. Had I been a participant – not an organiser – I would have decided to spend most of my time for that reason on those workshops!

The most inspiring, entertaining and also valuable output in the conference came from great discussions with other participants and speakers. For example even though I only saw some core parts of the Steve Freeman’s good presentation ( Test Driven development – that is not what we meant ) I had really enjoyable conversation with him afterwards.

Steve Freeman

I will provide better notes and thoughts from all the sessions after I have had time to watch them from recordings, but before that here are my thoughts based on what I saw and discussed with other people.

Dean Leffingwell: Be Agile. Scale Up. Stay Lean: Have More Fun

There were people smelling blood and waiting for Dean’s talk about Scaled Agile Framework just to be able to stomp on it in twitter and say something negative. However Dean made a lot of sense in his short talk and also related many familiar thoughts also about how two methodologists can’t agree.

The downside or what was left missing from the presentation was what Scaled Agile Framework is in practice and how people have changed their behaviour by adopting SAFe as the structure for collaborating with different levels of organisation.

But to get to there one must most likely study more and participate on a course to discuss the subject in more detail. And like some people commented, that could be a topic for a whole day.

Steve Freeman: Test-Driven Development: That’s not what we meant

Steve’s talk had some great soundbites and thoughts to refresh your thinking why you are doing the tests. I totally concur on some of the ideas of the talk, like how the tests should help you understand the domain and how the TDD part fits into larger picture ( see Henri’s capture: https://twitter.com/karhatsu/status/399830655150063616/photo/1 ).

Regarding the part about using tests to help to understand the domain I’ve discussed this multiple times with different people how for example in Spring Framework some modules have excellent tests that are not about testing functionality’s correctness or providing full code coverage – but showing how things actually work together.

Neil Killick: The Guessing Game: Alternatives to Agile Estimation

The much waited #noestimates session had very good and familiar insights how and why we miss the point with estimates – and what could be done to overcome it. As people commented, some suggestions and thoughts were what people should already be doing if they are doing agile the way it was meant.

But then again one of the points oh the #noestimates bohaa could be to break people out from their wrong thinking and study again what and why they should be doing something.

Neil Killick - No Estimates

Lightning talks

After lunch it was easy to choose which session to attend to. I wanted to participate the lightning talks session as we were running it as an experiment and I wanted to see it first hand how it went, and I wanted to be able to talk with the presenters after the session. Some of the presentations were also submitted as full length talks and presenters could have talked passionately even longer about theirs subjects.

Personally I think that it was a great thing to have the lightning talk session – and get so condensed information packages to participants in such a short time.

Menu of sessions was following:

Sami Lilja – A Case Against Scaling

Towo Toivola – Choosing metrics for a software development business

Ville Ruuskanen – Product Owners – Unicorns of Agile

Kirsi Korhonen and Eveliina Vuolli – Agile – what to scale and what not?

Sami’s talk was really good and focused to the idea that one should first know the right question to solve before scaling the efforts to solve it. Step outside the box.

Towo’s talk was a refreshing one. We haven’t seen too many presentations about measurements — and especially based on real experience. Would really like to see the longer version and hear more about the practicalities.

Ville’s session opened up a question or questions about the role of product owner — but not the answer. However we had good discussions about the subject during the Q&A-time.

Kirsi and Eveliina had produced a small play that provided the background to discuss agile transformation experiences from NSN in conversational form, just like those ideas could be discussed during a coaching session.

Measurements at F-secure

What to scale

Knud Poulsen: Jenkins assisted Code Reviews

This was – AFAIK – the only talk of the day with real scientific references for the facts stated on the stage. Knud had really, really good insights and thoughts about how to make code reviews better and how proper tooling could actually help developers do the right thing: use the right amount of time, warn if besides the changed class one should read also other related classes to make the right judgement about the change — and who would be the best persons to review the code.

Though current versions of tooling is not yet on that level, the future that Knud described looked promising.

During the last presentations I was already so tired that I was not able to follow any presentation properly and just needed to rest a bit. I had some kind of flue or virus the weekend before the conference and was feeling still a bit sick on Monday, so I was all and all a bit amazed that I had managed to stay focused and up for so long before needing to rest.

The end of the conference was a bit chaotic as the last presentation in the main hall ended earlier than other sessions and people were starting to head out before we got drinks and snacks on the table for the after party. I got called to do the closing words already while last sessions where still going on in smaller rooms — but was too tired to think about that at that moment any further.

But to be honest I am not sure whether anyone missed anything important if they did not see the closing words. It could be that it was much better experience to walk into the main hall, see all the drinks on the table, hear the music and just start to relax.

So.

Scan Agile 2013 was fun and I am already looking forward the next year.

If you want to become an organiser for the next year – please send email to organizers@scan-agile.org.

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