Monday, August 22, 2016

Agile2016 Things

BTW, have you watched "Stranger Things" yet? Amaze-balls!
I’ve had two great opportunities to learn and reflect this summer. The first was the Agile2016 Conference, and the second came 3 weeks later when I took my family on a beach vacation. Those two weeks have allowed me to mentally prepare for what happened today: I went from zero direct reports to four who, along with my technical lead that reports to our Director of Engineering, comprise the team that I will be leading in developing cloud-hosted solutions for Walmart’s brick-and-mortar stores. It will be my first time leading a team in my current capacity, much less leading one where the majority of the team members are brand new to both each other and the company itself. Here are some things I’ve decided to try with my new team.

I actually want to try a whole bunch of things that Jurgen introduced in his opening keynote, but this is the one I’m starting with. I’m working on mine now and, on Wednesday, my tech lead and I will present ours to the team. We’ll give them about a week, and then they’ll share theirs. I will keep mine up-to-date in a digital format that I can share with any other new team members that arrive in the future, as well as all of my friends here on the Internet.
I’ve joined the Slack team, followed them on Twitter, joined the Facebook group, and plan on getting involved with their open source repo on GitHub. I’m not sure what exactly I’m going to do with all this, but I’ve got the sticker on my laptop that reminds me everyday to Make People Awesome; Deliver Value Continuously; Make Safety a Prerequisite; and Experiment & Learn Rapidly. I’ll be re-watching Joshua’s mid-conference keynote when I share it with the team and perusing his slides for further hints and advice on how I can implement Modern Agility on my team.

The conversation in the Agile community has been trending more and more to value, but I most like the term that David Hussman used: impact. Before our team builds anything, we’ll define the impact it will have once it’s been delivered. We won’t work on things that don’t have impact, and we won’t call it done until we’ve validated whether or not the impact was made. 

4) Shorten Improvement Cycles
Following the conference, I had lunch with Woody Zuill of #NoEstimates and #MobProgramming fame. He talked about the process by which Mob Programming came into existence. He was trying to help the team learn how to identify what’s working and what’s not by holding short, daily retrospectives. By narrowing the timeframe for inspecting and adapting, the team could more easily pinpoint daily activities that were beneficial or not. As a software engineer, I see the daily retrospective as the algorithm that produced the solution of Mob Programming, and I want to see what kind of results it produces when I provide my team as the input to that algorithm.

Coming back full circle to Jurgen’s “Managing for Happiness” keynote, I want to use the Celebration Grid approach in our fortnightly retrospectives to highlight learning. I’ve grown accustomed to the “Fail Fast” language that permeates the Agile community, though I always use the Spotify language of “fail fast to learn fast to improve fast”. Well, if you fail fast but don’t learn from it then it’s not useful, so why not focus on the learning and not the failure?

Those are my five action items following a weeklong conference, a week of restful reflection, and challenge of leading a brand new team for the first time. If you attended #Agile2016, what were your takeaways? If you’ve ever been in a situation similar to mine, what advice do you have for me? I look forward to hearing from you!