Agility in the face of Perplexity

Gunther Verheyen

In February 2001, 17 software development leaders published the common ground to their views on software development in the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development”.

The Agile paradigm gradually started replacing the industrial way of thinking, and is more needed than ever, in and beyond software development. We need the Agile thinking and behavioral tools more than ever in our age of perplexity.

In 2013, my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” was published. I am currently creating a new book, about ‘Agile’. I disentangle the clew that ‘Agile’ turned into, to show the value and the originality of ‘Agile’. I have considered what Agile means to me, what it is that makes Agile work, what it is that makes Scrum work, and distill it into more substantive guidance based on the Prime Agile Tenets I identified.

‘Tis Better to be Effective Than Efficient

Kent McDonald

Better. Faster. Cheaper. Many organizations constantly seek the “best” practices that will deliver those characteristics. The fact that they continue to search indicates they haven’t found them yet.

It could be they are looking in the wrong place. Most efforts around achieving better, faster, cheaper center around becoming ultra efficient.

Effectiveness may just be the better target.

Join Kent McDonald to explore the difference between efficiency and effectiveness and learn three simple, yet powerful, techniques that he has found can help teams be more effective.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Build a shared understanding of the problem you are trying to solve
  • Establish clear guard rails for distributed decision making
  • Measure progress based on outcome, not output

Along the way he’ll share stories about how he has used these techniques and help you figure out when these techniques may work in your situation.

You may be able to get faster and cheaper with efficiency, but in order to get better outcomes, you need to be effective. This talk will show you how.

Evidence-Based Management and Metrics

Patricia Kong

At the core of all Agile approaches is the practice of inspection and adaptation. The same principles that work for software delivery can be applied to enterprise adoption of Agile practices, but it is easy for organizations to fall into a predictive, plan-driven approach to transforming their organizations.

In plan-driven approaches, Agile adoption is a goal in itself that misses the real point: improving business results. Plan-driven approaches also fail to transform teams and cultures by under-cutting self-organization and accountability for results.

Guiding Agile adoption by focusing on improving key measures enables teams and organizations to focus on areas where they need to improve, guiding them toward specific practices that can help them improve their results. This empowers teams, improves their ability to self-direct, and ultimately helps them to be accountable for results.

This session will provide anyone involved in bringing Agile approaches to their organization with insights into how they can use continuous measurement to help their organization to improve, incrementally and continuously.

The key measures discussed are focused on the value the organization delivers (customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, the product cost ratio, and revenue per employee), the time it takes the organization to deliver that value (cycle time, release stabilization time, and release frequency), and the ability for the organization to innovate (innovation rate, the installed version index, the usage index, and defects).

The purpose of using these measures is to help organizations focus on where they would like to improve, and what specific practices can they use to improve each of the measures. The measures and related practices can be used at a product, line of business, or organizational level.

Master of Ceremony GOAT 2017

Natasha D’Souza

She is a creative engineer who is passionate about helping people build and leverage technology in the most impactful way. She is the founder of Virtual EyeSee where she helps her clients with change and transformation related to technology or business processes.

A project that is near and dear to her heart is Zeely AdventuresTM an app to help special needs kids and adults learn emotions, develop their fine motor and visual perception skills.

She is an active member in her community and co-founder of an annual mobile bike rodeo called Pedal Play and a mentor to a high school robotics team.

When she has some spare time she likes to experiment with CNC machines and 3D printers.


What’s my MVP?

Ardita Karaj, Jeff

Are you having trouble finding a small Minimum Viable Product? You’ve heard about delivering in small, incremental releases, you’ve tried to chisel out a small slice out of the big product you have to deliver, but what you get is not viable and there’s no incremental thinking around releases. Why is this so?

Join Ardi and Cheezy for this session where they will give you some tips and tricks on how to create your first MVP and then look down the road for future ones. They will give some examples from their experiences and challenges when dealing with teams that believe MVP does not apply to them.

You will leave this session with some ideas on how to prepare the strategy for your MVPs, how to work with your team to find your small product that is viable and still delivers value, and understand how to organize your efforts to deliver the product incrementally.

Agile with remote-teams

Ayesha Khan, Oleg Perejogin, Mark Walker

Many of us work in geographically dispersed teams and struggle with the inherent challenges of such teams. In software development these challenges also impact the agile development methodology we want to use. Over time at Macadamian we have established strategies that have helped our teams get better at being both agile and dispersed. In this session we will share these practical strategies with participants followed by some of our current difficulties and what we propose so far to resolve these.

Coaching and Facilitation Workshop

Caroline Sauve

As seasoned Agile gurus and practitionners – we may well encounter situations where individuals or teams will “get stuck” in their efforts to improve. Enter coaching and facilitation skills to support and help break through these tough problems collaboratively.

This workshop will establish and put into practice some of the core skills of a coaching stance – both one-on-one and in the context of a team.

Design thinking and Agile: Infinitely more powerful together

Dave Dame, Aaron Sampson

When Agile first came on the scene it was premised around putting the customer first. But, over the years its focus has evolved and the general perception of Agile today is that it’s mostly a tool for delivering software. Agile’s original focus was mainly on developers and testers, but it never really contemplated design thinking as a discipline. Design thinking, which has been around for decades but is only recently having its ‘moment in the sun’, compliments agile beautifully in that it focuses on trying to solve the right problems for the right people. Design thinking allows us to iterate and test assumptions before too much coding and production-readiness is done, which helps ensure the team is investing in the right things at every stage. It really provides a focus on innovating rather than simply burning down a backlog. In this talk we will discuss different ways to incorporate design thinking into the agile process. You will learn how to yield benefits from bringing these two practices together – most importantly how to best serve the users of the product or service you are delivering. At Scotiabank, we’ve been using these fantastic tools in combination for over a year. It is a journey, and although we haven’t completely solved everything yet, there are a lot of lessons we have learned that can be applied elsewhere.

Asking Over Telling: Using Humble Inquiry to Build Great Teams

Ellen Grove

More asking, less telling. As an agile leader, adopt the approach of humble enquiry to build relationships, increase trust and collaboration, and deal with the challenges of organizational transformations.

“Humble enquiry is the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.” – Edgar H. Schein

Working in an agile way asks us to rethink how we relate to each other as we tackle complex problems and challenge the traditional structures of our organizations. Humble enquiry – the art of asking instead of telling – is a critical skill for agilists who seek to improve collaboration and address difficult problems head on. Inspired by Edgar H. Schein’s book ‘Humble Enquiry, this workshop will teach you the fundamentals of how to do more asking and less telling. Through mini-lectures and interactive exercises, we’ll discuss the different types of questioning, consider the forces around and within us that inhibit our ability to ask instead of tell, and examine how this powerful technique can improve collaboration within agile teams as well as help to address some of the challenges of agile transformations.

Teams Want a Quick Game to Learn How to Deliver Value Faster

Gillian Lee

Agile helps you deliver value to customers faster. Good user stories allow you to capture, prioritize, communicate, and deliver on that value. In my experience, a major impediment to writing good user stories in the real world is a lack of example stories. Here is a set of games that incorporate 80 examples of good and bad user stories. The games are easy to learn, play, and teach and take just a few minutes. Come play and enjoy sharing them with your friends and co-workers!

Zero Defects – The Path to Agility


In today’s fast paced world, we in the Agile community have gotten better at organizing and prioritizing work. We have learned how to focus on high value and eliminate waste in our processes. And yet so much of Agile these days is focused on how we move work from an idea to production while ignoring or undervaluing how to build high quality working software. Our focus is on how to hold retrospectives, collaborate with product owners, and hold daily standups but very little attention has been paid to how we write and test code. This puts your business at risk.

Join Cheezy as he talks about how we often miss the target in our “Agile Implementations”. Instead, he will challenge us to focus on technical excellence as the true Path to Agility. His lightweight approach for teams to deliver software with Zero Defects strips most methodologies down to their bare essence. This allows teams to focus on what is really important – rapidly delivering working software to customers. If you’re ready to take the next step in your agile journey then you won’t want to miss this talk.

Agile, Continuous Delivery and DevOps on Qlik Sense Cloud

Jim Reed

Qlik is on a journey evolving from a monolithic enterprise product released three times per year, to a cloud first microservices based product deployed multiple times per day.

This presentation describes our approach to Agile, Continuous Delivery and DevOps on Qlik Sense Cloud. It discusses some of the impacts Continuous Delivery and DevOps have had on our Agile processes and shares some of what we’ve learned over the past two years developing Qlik Sense Cloud.

Scaling Quality by Building it in

Maurizio Mancini

According to the 11th annual State of Agile report by VersionOne, one of the top five reasons for adopting Agile is to “enhance software quality”. In spite of this aspiration, a common pattern in Agile rollouts is the failure to set quality goal improvements from the outset. It is often assumed that if you implement Agile/Scrum then quality will just take care of itself. As many organizations quickly discover, you cannot just “deploy Agile” and expect it to be the silver bullet for a software organizations’ quality issues. Why is this happening so frequently? Is it due to methodical deficiencies, unrealistic expectations, fundamental misunderstanding of Agile, lack of executive support, too much existing technical debt or all of the above?

If you are questioning whether your Agile rollout is really helping you deliver higher quality software, faster, then this talk is a must to attend. I will discuss the approach I have successfully used in a number of organizations which involves; identifying the necessary building blocks to establish a quality mindset in an organization, moving the organization to a test first mindset, helping the Product Management organization become more Agile, and finally setting the right level of test automation so that you can deliver quality software faster.

If you are serious about doing Agility at scale, you cannot realistically achieve that goal without ensuring that each team individually delivers quality, and in-turn whole projects/programs that incorporate outputs from the individual teams are delivering quality software. To successfully scale quality, you will need to follow the ‘blueprint’ provided in this presentation.

Agile Estimation: The battle between Points and Hours in a services agency world

Juan Silva

When you learn about agile practices, one of the most challenging concepts to grasp is Story Point Estimation. This is particularly true for service companies that normally bill clients by the hour.

On the one hand, they need to submit project proposals that are based on concrete time estimates.

Story points, on the other hand, are an abstract concept by design. They were born out of the needs of product companies with the purpose of having a better assessment of the amount of work involved in developing software units, regardless of how long each unit takes. This makes people struggle between using points and hours. You want to reap the benefits of point estimates, but you still want to keep things tied to time.

In this session, I will introduce the notion of point estimates, highlighting its advantages over hour estimation. Then I will explain one approach to doing point estimation in a professional services company. I will address common concern from various stakeholders from Project Management to Business Development, COOs and CEOs.

Not too minimal: UX research in a Government MVP

Lisa Fast

Lean UX research is essential to guide and validate what exactly is the ‘Minimum Viable’ to launch a Minimum Viable Product, especially in government.

In this talk, I’ll describe how user research insights helped us understand, design and launch Canada’s first online open-source regulatory consultation. The first research participant identified a significant hole in our assumptions – and predicted that we could miss the minimum viable mark. It helped us course-correct, and plan ahead for the next development iteration.

The other customer group was the government. We applied lean UX research techniques to understand the government analyst team’s journey and needs, and then to co-design with them as the analysis site MVP was developed, and as the commenter data flowed in.

I’ll describe how the insights from the research helped us meet the Minimum Viable mark for the government customers, understand how and why we missed the mark with the specialist customers and how you can apply lean UX research techniques to ensure you don’t iterate your way to a useless product.

That’s nice and you’re nice ‒ but I don’t care: Aligning service delivery to business requirements in the public sector

Ken McMillan

In the federal public service there is an air gap between the performance evaluation criteria applied to business leaders and the criteria applied to service providers.

As a consequence, even in situations where both the business and the service provider enjoy optimal relationships, the goals are not the same and may even be contradictory.

In a climate centered on Results and Delivery, leaders cannot expect results if they do not tackle this conflict.

The approaches proposed in this discussion align the service organization to the business. They promote mutual accountability by insisting on mutual performance alignment between the business and its services provider.

How I changed a team by doing “nothing”

Nancy Wu, Sriram Natesan

Are you struggling to implement change in your organization? Is your team resisting your influence? Does your team believe they are a high-performing, mature team, therefore do not need to change? Are you actively trying to bring about improvements without results?

If this is you, then you need to stop what you’re doing. Yes, stop everything and do ‘nothing’. This means stop pushing against the resistance, stop driving people onto the Agile bandwagon. Instead, influence your environment by telling stories, model the behaviours that you would like to see, and most importantly be real.

This talk illustrates a different approach to initiate change. Attendees will walk away with a list of pragmatic techniques to influence teams.

Building a Continuous Deployment Pipeline from Scratch

Nayan Hajratwala

Confused about Continuous Integration vs Delivery vs Deployment? Not sure how to take the next step towards Continuous Deployment?

In this session, Nayan will remove the confusion around the “Continuous” terms. He’ll then show you how to go from Commit to Production with no manual steps, while remaining confident that your production system remains stable. We will do this with a variety of open source tools — from traditional build & integration tools to modern deployment environments & monitoring. You’ll leave the session inspired and ready to build your own Continuous Deployment Pipeline when you get back to work.

Strategic Portfolio Management With Kanban

Nicolas Mercier, Frédéric Paquet

Portfolio management is a key aspect of organizational performance. The ability to visualize upcoming projects, projects in progress, the process of value creation, the dependencies, the ability to share a common vision and to throttle the work in progress based on organizational capacity are all contributing elements to the effectiveness of an organization.

Unfortunately, the shared vision of a portfolio is too often buried in a tool shared with too few people and does not help the organization build a global and cohesive plan of action.

But when we think about it… Value chain, limiting work in progress, transparency, flow… have you ever thought about using Kanban for portfolio management? Seems like a great idea!

Create alignment around what delivers value to your end-users, use cadence to move forward, help shape a new organizational culture, support innovation, continuous improvement, and leadership and unite people around a shared mission, that is what Kanban at the strategic level can bring.

Lean Digital Marketing Workshop

Marie-Andrée Roger

The Lean Digital Marketing workshop, inspired by the principles of Lean Startup, Effectuation, Agile Project Management and user-centered value-driven philosophy, lets you discover the fundamentals of digital marketing through experimentation and collaborative work.

In this playful experience, participants alternately plan and execute specific actions to reach their goal in a real case study where they must test their assumptions. The Lean Digital Marketing game is an innovative and interactive experience that will give you the tools to better adapt to the continuous changes of today’s marketing.

The Lean Digital Marketing Game participated in WAQ17, the largest French-language digital event in North America, as one of the masterclasses, and at HEC innovation workshops.

Continuous Creativity

Mark Levison

Creativity is traditionally though of as a solo activity, but many human endeavors leverage the creative power of groups. Agile uses group creativity to produce better products in shorter times. How do we support, enable and enhance the creative abilities of our teams? There are many ways to redefine the work environment for greater creativity. Many of them have been discovered through experience, experimentation and accident. Modern neuroscience suggests to us some guidelines for deliberately designing conditions to enhance creativity by explaining how our brains work, learn, integrate and create.

Creativity can manifest in several ways: creation of something new, refinement of something that exists and problem solving. We will present a summary of the literature that describes and demonstrates how creativity can be enhanced by providing a safe, nurturing environment, enhancing group interactions, pacing activities that utilize different sensory modes and trusting in the power of subconscious integration.

Large scale Agile transformation in government: Field report

Richard Martin, Jean-René Rousseau

As Agile continues to scale among organizations of all types (including governement agencies), challenges are now not only at teams or projects level but are more and more encountered at the portfolio management level. To significantly improve end-to-end global delivery model and to inject effective responsiveness into strategic and operational programs, organizations need to reinvent governance by shifting organizational KPIs from variance surveillance to real business value creation. Horizontal business processes (such as planning, reporting and budgeting) must be cohesive with this shift as their influence and impacts go far beyond scrum/kanban floor-team execution mechanisms. How should we organize and manage such a transformation? Where should we start? How should we deal with existing processes and management paradigms that are far from being Agile?

This conference will provide numerous references and pointers from a successful large scale Agile government transformation. The two speakers are senior agile coaches passionated for real change and for long lasting improvement. All together Jean-René and Richard combine more than 20 years of Agile experience and have helped many organizations improve their performance with agile principles and practices.

It is intended for executives, managers and everyone leading and applying changes in the organization.

Why we got rid of SCRUM to become agile again

Ron Ijack

Agile is not about doing scrum, kanban, lean or any other flavour of the process. An organization cannot be “doing” agile, they must “be” agile. They must believe in and understand the agile principles. After going through a successful agile transformation and running scrum for 3 years we realized that it’s just not working for us anymore. The team was suffering from scrum fatigue. It felt like there was a sprint planning, stand up or retrospective meeting happening all the time. We decided to take a hard look at how we were working and turn it on its head. We looked at all the different agile options such as scrum, kanban, lean, xp, etc and decided to take the best part from all of these instead of sticking with one approach. This session will take you through our journey and share what worked for us that could also work in your organization

Agile in Finance

Sriram Natesan, Athavan Thulakanathan

CFOs in today’s digital economy are looking to invest significant capital on data driven initiatives to deliver strategic analysis to business partners. However this is often reprioritized due to regulatory requirements.

This session is about a large European Bank successfully delivering a large regulatory transformation program using an agile approach. Driven by Finance & Risk groups and enabled by technology, incremental business value was delivered to Finance and Risk stakeholders.

The key challenges faced required an approach to handle evolving regulatory requirements, integration of new technology assets to automate business requirements and an aggressive timeline enforced by the regulator.

The successful delivery was largely due to business foresight to maneuver around typical IT challenges and instead adopt an approach using agile principles that put delivering business value over fixed scope. Through this approach, the clients were able to deliver the solution that addressed the immediate needs but this also position them to leverage for future regulations.

This talk will elucidate the backdrop, challenges that posed the business, the agile approach, culture and mindset that was adopted, and the resulting outcomes.

If you have thought of or thinking of adopting Agile mindset in a non-IT environment, this is the session for you. In this session we will share some techniques we developed and hiccups that we managed along the way.

By the end of this session, you will likely have gained some valuable insights that you can take back to your Organization and adopt agile principles and practices in areas outside of IT.

Strengthening Shared Team Values Through the Four Rules of Simple Design

Stacey Vetzal

Over the past few years, I’ve found incredible flexibility in building my technical coaching practice around the “Four Rules of Simple Design”, originally penned by Kent Beck back in the ‘90s.

The Four “Rules” have resonated with many developers over the years, and have a wonderful lack of specificity. These tiny pearls of wisdom are so simple and flexible that they have caused many an argument. They have even been called generative – that is we can derive many of our practices and small-scale architecture by extrapolating on them.

As such, they provide fertile grounds for growing consensus on the thousands of decisions your team should be making together.

  1. Tests Pass – How does your team test the code you deliver, and at what level(s) of abstraction will you decide to test?
  2. Express Intent – How does your team arrive and socialize common understanding so that the intent in your code is always clear to every team member?
  3. Don’t Repeat Yourself – What strategies do you use to ensure your team knows what behaviour is present in your code, and how to leverage it without duplication?
  4. Small – What dimensions will you measure so that you continue to derive the maximum level of value from a minimal amount of code?

Code that follows these rules has a natural agility. Tests give us confidence to make change. Clear intent helps us find what needs to change. No duplication means we make the change only once. Small means we aren’t getting lost on our way to making the change, and allows us to make more meaningful change with less effort.

Your Brain On Estimates

Wayne Hetherington

Have you ever found yourself saying, “Estimating is HARD”, “These estimates are WAY off”, or “Who estimated THIS??!?” These reactions are all too common. Ever wonder why?

This workshop will take you on a journey through your brain where you will discover some of the cognitive biases that behavioral psychologists have found to affect our ability to estimate. We will look at 3 different estimation techniques and examine the factors that make each more/less successful. Practice sessions will highlight pitfalls you need to be aware of in your next estimating session.

Come prepared to have fun participating in revealing interactive exercises. Learn practical techniques for effective estimating that will help you choose the best approach for your team/project.

Congratulations! You are now a Product Owner

Andrea Kvasnica

How big is the difference between waterfall, agile, or a hybrid project management framework? It’s BIG!

Our company went through an agile transformation at about this time last year, and we quickly realized that we had our work cut out for us.

The change affected the whole company, whether it was the development team, clients, finance, etc. It affected our internal processes, project work, even the tools we used to run our projects.

We had a lot to figure out, and at the top of the list was our new roles.

I want to share the process and challenges our company had gone through, in selecting who will play what role. We started as Project Managers and Technical leads, and transformed to Product Owners, and Scrum Masters.

This talk will break down our starting point and transformation, as well as our challenges, experiments, and lots and lots of fumbles. But all to end at great lessons learned, and solid teams.