Popularly known as ‘Agile India Conference 2012’, the International Conference on Agile and Lean Methods organized in Bangalore last month had an overwhelming response. It was a three-day conference with seven parallel tracks comprising of sessions based on a collection of topics. These topics were presented by speakers from all over the world. Stalls with demos and exhibits from sponsors were also present.
At the ‘Agile India Conference 2012’, I found it very encouraging to see the vigor of all the seven track or stage producers, the dedication of speakers and the enthusiasm of attendees. The conference organizers had sent out the program schedule a week ahead of the conference and conducted a poll to understand the track preferences. The objective was to help all participants do some homework in identifying the right choices. The design and theme of all the seven tracks suited the conference very well.
We know single-track conferences; these are traditional conferences with only one choice of session at any point of time! Conferences with multiple tracks provide many choices to participants. Participants need to do their homework in identifying which tracks or sessions suit them and that is when the value for money is obtained.
In fact, one needs to be ‘Agile’ to adopt and get the most out of this design; let me explain this through my observation. Everyone needed to know their day’s schedule and preferences. “The Rule of Two Feet” (“If you are not learning or contributing to a session, it is your responsibility to find another session where you can contribute or learn”) was encouraged and followed and a vast majority of the participants planned their daily agendas in advance to get the most out of the conference. I am sure they attended the sessions of their choice and used “The Rule of Two Feet” in true spirit. A small percentage of attendees (this includes those who probably did not decide what to choose) must have exploited the “The Rule of Two Feet” until they decided what suits them.
I have observed this syndrome in software project teams too. Team members in agile projects start their day with daily stand-up and focus on daily activities. They have adequate clarity on their daily tasks and commitments. When there is a bottleneck that requires collaborative problem solving or help from other team members, they pause and move on to the next task. They plan daily and make course correction when necessary. As a result, they make progress on a daily basis.Team members know when to apply “The Rule of Two Feet” in order to maximize the value delivered.
This does not happen in traditional teams for obvious reasons. They do not do daily stand-ups and factors such as hidden assumptions, lack of clarity on task ownership, time lag in decision making, etc., results in delays. Team members in such projects do not take timely decisions to move from one task to another and instead, switch between tasks or spend too much time in a task because of lack of daily commitments. They fear collaboration and collective problem solving. They wait for someone to decide on their behalf and tell them what to do.
Remember? Fred Brooks wrote in his book ‘The Mythical Man Month’, “How does a project get to be a year late? One day at a time.”
Do you see value in Agile? Let us discuss.