Agile 2014 Recap

Here is another guest blog from my co-author on the Introduction to Agile Methods textbook, Dr. Sondra Ashmore (@sondra1130).  This is her recap of the Agile 2014 Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Agile 2014 Recap

Sondra Ashmore participating in 3D Pair Programming Session.

Sondra Ashmore participating in 3D Pair Programming Session.

I think I have finally recovered from the excitement of Agile 2014 that took place in the fun and sun of Orlando, Florida this year.  I found it very invigorating to spend the week with nearly 2000 fellow Agile enthusiasts from around the world.

When I initially signed up for the conference, I decided to fill my schedule with a variety of different sessions from the wacky (Agile Karaoke) to the more traditional (Agile Enterprise – Are You Ready?) and finally some research sessions to satisfy my academic side.  I was glad I did because it helped me get a general feel for the current trends in Agile and forced me to look at my world in a new way.

 

So, you might ask, what were this year’s trends?  I’m sure you would get slightly different answers if you polled each attendee, but the reoccurring themes I continued to see were:

  • DevOps
  • Enterprise Agile
  • Agile @ Scale
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • UX
  • Overcoming Common Enterprise Agile Challenges
  • Creating Learning and Innovation Cultures

In addition to the themes above, the new SAFe 3.0 framework was announced and created some buzz.

In the spirit of trying something new, I decided to join a couple of the “Open Jams” that sounded interesting. An Open Jam basically consisted of people putting a topic on the scheduling board for a 30+ minute time slot. If the topic sounded intriguing to you, then you could just show up and chat with other interested parties.  The first one I attended focused on “Women in Agile”.  I met a fun mix of women from all over the world (including South America) and joined their Linkedin network so I could continue the conversation after the conference.  Next I tried the “Agile in Education” jam where I found myself surrounded by both Agile educators and students. I was able to hear about the books that professors were using in their classes and was given an opportunity to give a brief description of my own textbook, Introduction to Agile Methods.

I must confess that one of my biggest weaknesses is the offer of a signed book and this conference certainly did not disappoint on that front.  I received Ellen Gottesdiener and Mary Gorman’s Discover to Deliver as well as Lean UX: Applying Lean Principals to Improve User Experience by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden.  I attended sessions lead by both Mary and Jeff and I have no doubt that their books will be every bit as great as their talks.

I tried a sampling of other activities during my week that included checking out the Agile Alliance Lounge, strolling through the sponsors’ exhibits, and attending some of the evening events.  I successfully received all nine of the required signatures at the Theme Park Hopper event (securing signatures from vendors), but alas I did not win an iPad, flat screen TV, or gift card.  Hopefully I’ll get the chance to try my hand again next year, but in the meantime I’ll enjoy the free swag I received including the planning poker cards that my teams could use at the office.

As with any conference, the most valuable thing I walked away with was not just the learning, but also the connections I made with some very passionate Agilists.  Their stories and ideas have kept my imagination running wild.  I have tried out some of the ideas at work, such as a “Gratitude Tree” (an information radiator where people post words of appreciation) and I am putting many others in motion in the coming weeks.  I found a ton of new people to follow on Twitter so I can continue to get new ideas from this inspiring group.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that Agile 2014 was a wonderful experience.  You can follow me on Twitter at @sondra1130 to view pictures and key learning moments from the conference.  Agile 2015 will be in Washington D.C. and I certainly hope to be there!

 

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