Conferences – a year in a few minutes

Over the last few months I have taken in several conferences, some Agile focused and some more IT focused.  Below I have captured the main trends and topics coming out of the community.

My favourite keynote of the year was by Linda Rising: and a youtube video here,

My thinking aligns alot with hers around the ineffectiveness of our approach to teaching and learning through doing and failing.

Below are a few of the main ideas/topics I have learnt from this year…..


Mindfulness – sharing stories of failure in teams to build trust and using time to encourage mindfulness techniques.  Makes teams feel safe and relaxed.

Interesting article: 

Practice mindfulness:


Management 3.0 and performance mgtThere is growing recognition that the traditional approach to Performance Management e.g. appraisals and reviews are ineffective and especially toxic to Agile teams. How can we experiment with alternatives and be team-centric and more aligned with Agile values. How, with the appropriate support, it is possible and desirable for Performance Management to become a team responsibility.

Jurgen Appelo: Managing for happiness: Don’t manage the people, manage the system around them,  as Deming famously said “A bad system beats a good person everytime”

If you haven’t heard of Maria Montessori or Lumiar Schooling (Ricardo Semler) then these are worth a read.

One of the speakers, Adam, works in a team that built:

Also if you haven’t read this, then I would strongly recommend:


Ecosystems and platforms – Particularly in the IT community ecosystems are now just as popular as digital, platforms and IoT.  Ecosystems are seen as a way to connect with vendors, customers and communities.  I still think we are a little confused between platforms, ecosystems and marketplaces and some of these words just feel like a way for a vendor to sell a solution.  It’s often interesting to compare and contrast the success of startups versus larger enterprises trying to innovate their business model.

An interesting read from an old boss of mine:


Cryptocurrency – Some really interesting research being carried out by Imperial College London, they built this visualisation of the blockchain showing chains being created live. I don’t pretend to fully understand the underlying tech but it does look pretty.  For those that are interested this is the story of how bitcoin was created:


The internet of things (IoT) –

I’ll just leave you with this: 

Love it or hate it the world of connected devices is here:

Cubic (a little like echo) –


Accounting for Agile – Where traditional cost and time accounting meets Agile fail fast and iteration and experimentation….starting to recognise that timesheeting individuals and seeing additional work (iteration) as maintenance and not adding new value is perhaps not effective for an agile environment.  Measuring individuals output and not teams effects effectiveness. Realisation that timesheets are not accurate, teams are mostly stable so we know how much they cost and we can measure the output and the value generated.  We can start to estimate the cost of delivering features as velocity and item size and team size/cost becomes stable (usually 5 sprints). Initial bugs can also be capex and after a period of opex new value within that feature set can then also become capex.

Start to have common sense conversations with your finance teams in the context of value creation.  Various methods can be used if estimates are required for spend or a budget can be assigned. Ensure for audit purposes that new features (and feature iteration) and bugs and tech debt etc is clearly defined in the work item tracking system.

This is also interesting talk on Agile accounting and GAAP, capitalizing costs and depreciating investments and how this impacts the bottom line is a growing area of discussion in Agile:


Research and cognitive bias – you’re in a bar and looking at the beer options, have a beer (£3) or premium beer (£4).  80% of people go for the premium option.  What if we add a third option? A really cheap beer for £1.80.  This time 80% purchased the normal beer.  By adding an option nobody wanted we changed behaviour.

Kat Matfield always does great talks in this area:


Kata – The technique of kata and kata boards has grown in popularity this year, we had a group present it at our Agile in Covent Garden meetup in February. The background to it is here: It helps focus behaviour on having a vision, a target condition and regularly experimenting with change towards the target condition. Also the importance of reviewing if you are close enough to the vision (definition of awesome).

Some other interesting related areas are the concept of Gemba (go to the place) and Toyotas A3 thinking:


Cost of delay – Some interesting discussions about how cost of delay can be used to aid decision making and prioritisation. A few interesting articles:

Urgency profiles: and COD and if you want to learn from the master:


Skills mapping – Something I first heard by Dan North the concept of understanding what skills the business needs versus skills your team has versus what skills your team wants to learn/teach.  Rather than dashing for outsourcing or recruitment how can we get the best out of the teams we have.  Nothing more amazing than learning something new that I’m interested in and being able to apply it to value creating change for our customers.

Dans talk (Skills mapping diagram at 40minutes)


FSGD (Frequent Small Good Decoupled) – encapsulated attributes of work should have to be successful.  Jon Terry from Leankit talks about the importance of deciding the differing importance between frequency, small, good and decoupled.  For them SAAS meant Frequency was critical but not at the expense of quality.  They talk about quality in 2 contexts, marketability (from customer perspective) and sustainability (from a technical excellence perspective, keeping customer in the long run i.e. cost, performance).

Technical standards were also introduced TLDR (tested, logged, documented and reviewed)

Youtube video:


I hope you will enjoy these topics too, if you want . to discuss any at length let me know 🙂


As a complete aside Schindlers Elevators, had never heard of them but when looking into IoT and connected cities they are trying to innovate.  Not only how devices connect to lifts, how marketing can be targeted based on mood (facial detection) but also how elevators can be ordered and customised in a more digital way.

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