2019 – November 22nd 


Imagine the future


2019 Schedule and slides

8:30 AM – 9:30 AM
KEYNOTE: Ester Derby
It may seem paradoxical that something small leads to something big.Yet this is the case .Big changes can feel like an existential threat and cause major disruption.Tiny changes, working obliquely, evolving towards a more desirable pattern may lack drama, but get you where you need to go.So how does this work ? The same way agile does, iteratively, incrementally, with learning as you go.I’ll share some small ideas that will add up to a big change in how you go about changing your organization.

9:45 – 10:30

201 - Your Proxy Is Killing Your Product (Part 1)

Dave Dame

Matthew Grierson

 * Note * This session is 90 minutes long and runs through the break into the next session.



A supported Product Owner has the power to prioritize. An empowered Product Owner has the power to say ‘No’!

The Product Owner is the most underutilized and unsupported role in large organizations that are trying to increase their speed to market. Product Owners are only business people playing a ‘weekend dad’ to the team or they are merely only writing requirements for the team.

Companies that are successful in delivering products to market empower the Product Owner. The Product Owner has one leg in Product Management and the other leg with the Scrum Team. The empowered Product Owner engages the business, customers, engineering, design, sales groups as stakeholders. They are empowered to optimize value by creating vision and context to enable teams to deliver products people want to buy and are technically sound to maintain and scale.

In this workshop, we will help you unleash this opportunity and guide you in understanding the role of an empowered Product Owner.

Outline/structure of the Session

20 Minutes – The Role of the Product Owner

10 Minutes – Stakeholder management tips and techniques

10 Minutes – overview of the Lean Canvas

40 – Minutes – Run/take up a Lean Canvas exercise with the participants

10 Minutes – Q&A

Learning Outcome

The role of the product owner

Stakeholder management techniques

The need for the product owner to be self-empowered to get a product and learning to speed up

Learn how to create/co-create using a Lean Canvas to allow you to iterate and kill ideas before you invest in getting this built or decide the minimal learning opportunity to decide if you need to invest further.

202 - A Personal Guide in Becoming More Agile

Becoming more Agile at the enterprise or team level can be complicated, messy, exhausting and largely out of your control (especially in a government context). 

So instead of fighting an uphill battle, come to this workshop and learn / experience approaches, mindsets and tools you can use every day to model the change you want to see in your workplace!

203 - Putting A Stamp On Agility Transformation Story at Innovapost

Presenters: Anik Dubreuil, President / CEO Innovapost & Jamie Cuthill, Head of Agile, Innovapost

Keywords: Transformation, Culture Change, Leadership, Agile at Scale

Abstract: How would a technology company that supports two major players in the Canadian delivery business (and a third company specializing in logistics) transform from a very serious Waterfall organization to one that embraces Agile principles and methodologies?

It was (is?) a daunting task complete with false starts, stumbles, tumbles and success stories. We would have gone nowhere without top down leadership. We needed the whole company to buy in – our culture had to change. We changed our business model and our facilities and bought a whole lot of white board paint and markers in the process.

In a lot of ways we are in the middle of our transformation, still developing how we will work and how our relationship with our business stakeholders will work. One thing is for certain, we are moving, iterating and uncovering better ways of developing software in order to satisfy our customers.

204 - Objectives and Key Results on the TripAdvisor Restaurants Team

SLIDES: GOAT-2019-Objectives-&-Key-Results-TripAdvisor-Jeremy-Biffis

TripAdvisor isn’t just a reviews site — under the hood there is a massive engineering effort with  hundreds of engineers working to deliver customized, dynamic travel recommendations for our 5 million users instantly.  TripAdvisor Restaurants has been a “startup”and is now one of the fastest growing teams in the company. We work hard to get great new features out to diners, helping them find the perfect dining experience both at home and abroad.  This talk is about how Restaurants is implementing an Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework to keep the handful of cross-functional Agile teams working towards our common goal. I’ll share how we got here, what we’ve learned, and where we’re headed.

This talk will cover;

  • How we define OKRs and how it has changed and grown with the team.
  • What is an effective Objective?  Key Results?
  • How do we break down our quarterly/yearly OKRs down to individual sprints?
  • This is Agile right? How do we change things?
  • Sounds really cool, but does it work?
  • What’s next?
209 - Agile Urban Myths
  • Knowledge Level:  Beginner. This session listed out most widely spread misunderstanding of Agile. We often hear that at organizations newly start the Agile Transformation. 


  • Take aways message: clarify misunderstanding of Agile and Scrum, epecially in terms of planning, documentation, regulatied environment, agile maturity, output vs outcome, scrum master role, manager role etc. 

          Urban Myth of Agile and Scrum:

  • Agile has no plan / no documentation
  • Our work is highly regulated, so we can not use Agile
  • We have Scrum Team, we are Agile
  • We use Scrum to let our teams move faster
  • Scrum Master is Agile Project Manager
  • There is no manager in Agile
  • Scrum has too many meetings, let’s use Kanban      


  • Interactive: 3, let people dote vote listed 7 topics, choose top 4, each topic will have 10 minutes – 5 minutes group disucssion in the room: is this statement correct? Why? Any example at your work place? – 5 minutes clarify the myth, explain why the statement is wrong. 


  • Need a white board or flip chart for dot voting
  • Speaker: Jason Shi and Aaron Spreng
  • No need a specific session time. Flexible.
  • Language of presentation: English
  • The default time slot: 45 minutes
210 - Split the Herd to Make Super Teams!
Becoming more Agile at the enterprise or team level can be complicated, messy, exhausting and largely out of your control (especially in a government context).

So instead of fighting an uphill battle, come to this workshop and learn / experience approaches, mindsets and tools you can use every day to model the change you want to see in your workplace!

211 - Competing With Speed (Continuous Delivery Explained)

Many organizations ask for continuous delivery and yet, it is one of the most misunderstood concepts in our industry.

Companies that haven’t experienced it see risk and disruption. Companies that have already invested in implementing it are looking for ways to get there faster. All the while, so much learning has taken place in the industry on what it is and how to get there. Our thoughts have evolved from the core meaning of it all the way to how to implement it in the different layers of an organization. If you see it as a tech-only problem, you are missing so many pieces of the puzzle.

Ardita and Cheezy have been working in the continuous delivery space since before it had a name. They bring a wealth of experiences and stories from the trenches where they are helping companies satisfy their customers, through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.


Ensure that you let us know:

  • What level of knowledge should attendees have before walking into your session:  Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Why is it that level.

This is an intermediate level presentation. Some of the concepts and practcies discussed here are considered more advanced and the attendee should already have a solid grasp on basic agile concepts.

  • What do you hope the attendees will learn from your session?  What will the take aways be?

Attendees will learn that many companies are pushing the traditional boundaries of agile and working to rapidly deliver software that is very customer focused. This should become the new goal (north star) for many teams on their agile journey.

  • How interactive will the presentation be? Degree of interactivity on a scale of 1 to 5.

This presentation is not very interactive. I would give it a 1.

  • Do you need a special setup? What do you need? Extra mikes, special table setup, white board, flip chart, wheel chair access, ?

Two presenters so we will need two microphones.

  • Will there be a co-presenter?

Yes. Ardita Karaj will be the co-presenter.

  • Do you need a specific session time. Earlier, Later or is there flexibility?

Any time works for us.

  • Language of presentation. We are open to, and welcome the possibility of some bilingual or French presentations.


  • The default time slot for a session is 45 minutes. There is a possibility to have a double time slot session lasting 90 minute .   A 90 minutes session will be an exception and will require the  selection committee to support and appreciate the value delivered by the longer presentation. 

We can work with either a 45 or 90 minute session with our materials. If a 90 minute is available then we can go into more details of the topics we plan to present.


212 - Make Meetings Make Sense (Even when You're NOT the Facilitator)

“We can’t make decisions or agree on priorities. So, we have the same meeting over and over. Literally, the same meeting.” If that could be said about your workplace, this interactive session is for you. 

Bad meetings are among the most common sources of workplace whining. Today, especially in software development and delivery, our work is too complex for one person to make all the decisions or know all the answers. Everyone’s contribution is needed. So, we have meetings. And some are a painful mix of frustration and boredom. 

When we’re the one hosting the meeting, there are lots of facilitation techniques we can employ to keep the discussion on track, on topic and on time so we can reach good decisions and plan effectively.  But what if it’s not our meeting? What can we do when we’re not in charge?

Inspired by several years of leading the workshop, Facilitation for the Agile Workplace, this talk draws on communication and facilitation techniques developed over a long career in business and tech. Join Sue in exploring some simple techniques you can use at your next meeting to make the experience better for you – and for others who attend. 

10:45 – 11:30

201 - Your Proxy Is Killing Your Product (Part 2)

Dave Dame

Matthew Grierson




A supported Product Owner has the power to prioritize. An empowered Product Owner has the power to say ‘No’!

The Product Owner is the most underutilized and unsupported role in large organizations that are trying to increase their speed to market. Product Owners are only business people playing a ‘weekend dad’ to the team or they are merely only writing requirements for the team.

Companies that are successful in delivering products to market empower the Product Owner. The Product Owner has one leg in Product Management and the other leg with the Scrum Team. The empowered Product Owner engages the business, customers, engineering, design, sales groups as stakeholders. They are empowered to optimize value by creating vision and context to enable teams to deliver products people want to buy and are technically sound to maintain and scale.

In this workshop, we will help you unleash this opportunity and guide you in understanding the role of an empowered Product Owner.

Outline/structure of the Session

20 Minutes – The Role of the Product Owner

10 Minutes – Stakeholder management tips and techniques

10 Minutes – overview of the Lean Canvas

40 – Minutes – Run/take up a Lean Canvas exercise with the participants

10 Minutes – Q&A

Learning Outcome

The role of the product owner

Stakeholder management techniques

The need for the product owner to be self-empowered to get a product and learning to speed up

Learn how to create/co-create using a Lean Canvas to allow you to iterate and kill ideas before you invest in getting this built or decide the minimal learning opportunity to decide if you need to invest further.

202 - Phoenix Payroll Catastrophe: Why Canada is Destined to Repeat it

If you listen closely, you might hear the faint echoes: “One solution to rule them all”, they said. “We’ll save millions”, they said. “We’ll launch the new system with just the push of a button” “A flick of a switch.” And some fool decided to name the new system Phoenix – it would “rise from the ashes” they said.

What happened? It’s been an unbelievable catastrophe!

Since the launch of Phoenix Payroll System:

  • 2 different Prime Ministers have held office.
  • 3 CIOs have served Government of Canada.
  • Billions spent.
  • Billions more to go (not to mention a decade of litigation).
  • The system *still* fails to deliver accurate payroll across the country.

The silver lining is knowing that all government officials understand that Phoenix is never going to work. They all agree it has failed.  (Since when has our government unanimously agreed on anything?!) They do agree on this.

The proof? They’ve tendered an NPP (Notice of Proposed Procurement) for what they’re calling the “next generation HR and pay solution”.

Will they abandon and replace Phoenix? Will they surgically overhaul Phoenix? Is a new mega-project underway?

In this session, we will examine the history of Phoenix, understand its current state, and – given what we know of the government’s track-record and recent policy changes – speculate whether the billions they’ll spend next will render any value for Canadians.

Practical themes will include: project charters versus product goals; “Agile Procurement” (Alex Binay’s term; former CIO of Government of Canada); phase-gating for the Treasury Board; Systemantics.

203 - Natural Misalignment or Opportunity? Changing Nature of Work

What’s keeping your CEO, CHRO and CIO up at night? The changing nature of work, growing scarcity of talent, emerging technologies and the demands in the Canadian market. Organizations are learning how to operate in our emerging “new world order”. Tried and tested business decision-making methods and HR practices are slow in delivering needed productivity and workforce outcomes required for a knowledge economy. Adaptability and flexibility are the names of the game and leaders are discovering how practices and methods from other disciplines like IT and design, can give the needed lift to build a more Agile business and workforce. 

In this session, we hear how Agile methods, design thinking, people analytics and other methodologies familiar to the IT world are seeping into other areas of the business. Practices are shifting mind sets and providing leaders evidence for better-informed decisions. We will explore the evidence about why it’s so hard to move the needle and whether there is a natural misalignment of Agile Practices and traditional HR practices, and whether reasonable workarounds have been discovered.

This presentation will explore emerging changes in the Canadian market, and how business and HR teams are beginning to apply Agile and other methods to solve problems related to navigating the changing nature of work.

Hear research on, and case studies about, Canadian organizations who are applying alternative practices to reduce business risks related to their workforce;

Learn about the impact external market trends are having on work, the workplace, and the people practices in businesses;

Discover why agile practices matter, how it is being applied to change “human systems” in times of emerging change, and some considerations for People Practices in businesses when moving to an Agile approach; and

Some key take-aways?  what you can do to help accelerate and embed the required mind set change and behaviours in your personal and professional life.

204 - The Rise of Capabilities in a Time of Agile

Core to Agile ways of working are the concepts of cross-functional teams and collective ownership. As Agile teams uncover the power of those concepts and start to take off into the stratosphere of higher performance and awesome outcomes, they get pulled back to earth by Mike Cohn’s organizational gravity of existing roles and titles. If left unabated a focus on roles will destroy the agility of teams. There is only one key role on Agile teams – Team Member. A Team Member’s set of capabilities define who they are, not their title or role. This talk will share our view on the rise of capabilities over roles as the lynchpin of future agility.

Level of Knowledge: Beginner. Talks about common organizational structures and values that are relatable.

Learning takeaways:

  • Mechanistic vs. Organic? It’s a continuum not a choice
  • Organic organizations rely on capabilities, not roles & titles
  • People are not the problem, structures are – set people free
  • Organic organizations are not sci-fi, they exist here & now
209 - Customer Oriented IT Infrastructure Delivery using Agile
210 - This is Not your Average Retrospective: The Secret Sauce

While retrospectives are amazing, imagine if you could make continuous improvement happen every single day. Imagine being able to drive meaningful improvements in your organization that not only improve performance, but also transforms your culture.

In this workshop, you’ll learn techniques for running continuous improvement micro-experiments. These are short, fast test and learn loops that give you feedback in hours or days. You can use these techniques for personal improvement, and you can use them at the team and organizational level. These techniques are universally applicable. We’ve been using them with executives at Fortune 100 companies as well as teams and individuals at every level in those organizations. We’ve also been using them also with public sector organizations with the same positive impact.

As performance expectations in organizations rise, people need better ways to get things done. This is my preferred way of achieving that. It works for me and I hope it will work for you.

This is not your average retrospective. It’s akin to compound interest. A little improvement every day that at first feels invisible, but over weeks and months, the improvements you implement begin to multiply into visible, tangible outcomes that help you propel yourself and your team into a state of high performance.

Outline/Structure of the Workshop

Introduction and backdrop for continuous improvement. We will define continuous improvement in the context of experimentation and lay out the case for how biases are often the cause for derailing your efforts. 10 minutes

A continuous improvement framework is introduced with it’s key components which includes exercises at each step. This will include some real-life examples from experiences with other organizations, and my personal examples. The following steps help to populate an improvement canvas that the table teams will do as a group. 30 minutes total

  • The overarching moonshot or aspirational goal – this helps individuals and teams align on the direction they want to improve – Table team exercise – define your aspirational goal that fits within a 1-3 year timeframe (e.g. I want to be able to personally reduce the amount of time I spend in meetings and other non-productive activities by 30% in 12 months. Our challenge is to increase our team’s delivery throughput by a factor of 2 in 24 months.)
  • Current state understanding – knowing where you are and your current constraints – Table team exercise – Assess your current condition including constraints and opportunities
  • Measurable “next-step” improvement goals – this defines the next noticeable improvement you want to observe in the one to three month time frame – Table team exercise – Use a template
  • Constraints – identify the things that are preventing you from achieving the measurable next step, captured in specific and measurable terms and order those constraints ( between on and three constraints for the purposes of the workshop) – Table team exercise – develop your constraints and capture them on the canvas

With these elements framed, we will move into micro-experiment design that individuals and teams can run on themselves or in their work environment. We begin with a few experiments from my own experience we will use as scenarios to learn how to develop and execute experiments. 10 mins

Now we transition to a cycle of interactive learning and experiment design:

  • Describe how to define a micro-experiment which includes hypothesis development and expected outcomes – Table team exercise – design an experiment and share back with the room to get feedback and refine – depending on time we may be able to get through two cycles of experiment design – 15 mins

The coach-learner dynamic and the five coaching questions is covered next. Working in pairs in your organization makes the process more resilient, and as a team leader or coach for your team, understanding what questions to ask and how will make a positive impact on driving to the right outcomes. We will cover the five coaching questions and the process for making experimentation part of your daily routine, integrated with your day to day work, as opposed to treating this as a standalone activity. 15 mins

Summary and close with Q&A – 10 mins

NOTE: Session timing can be adjusted for talk or workshop

Learning Outcome

You’ll walk away with a simple, effective toolkit that will help you and your team get into a cycle of accelerated continuous improvement.

Target Audience

If you’re keen to learn techniques for driving continuous improvement outside of traditional retrospectives, this workshop is for you!

Prerequisites for Attendees

  • Bring your challenges and backlog of improvement ideas so that we can work directly on what’s important to you.


This topic has not been presented in a public forum in the past. However, I have presented this content to clients at the executive and senior management levels in several large Fortune 100 companies. 

211 - Fire QA to Lower Risk and Go Faster

A lot of agile transformations focus on bringing Business and IT together, but leave the waterfall QA processes, practices and tools the same due to fear. QA policies and practices are usually tied to compliance and governance needs so no one questions them and we end up stuck in a half-agile implementation that cannot go as fast as advertised.

Here’s the secret: if you want to lower risk, raise quality, and increase the speed to deliver: fire your QA. All of them must go! Now we may have a serious conversation about how you should build healthy teams and programs that build quality in and rapidly deliver meaningful products.

212 - Somatic Coaching Experiment: Discomfort and Joy

Knowledge work calls upon our minds as it engages our intellectual capabilities to make the world a better place. Agility work seeks for us to intentionally connect our hearts to this practice: calling on us to celebrate our work and our peers (developing expressions of joy); challenging us to see ourselves “as we are” and to dig deeper to embrace change for the better (leaning into discomfort).

Every day our minds and hearts are developed; however, our practice ignores an integral part of our whole self – our bodies.

This session will invite participants to a guided somatic* practice in order to build insight and awareness. Specifically, our somatic practice will work with on two key ideas prevalent in any Agile practice: discomfort and joy.

Challenging us to engage non-judgmentally, the session proposes that our body can be a powerful teacher of Agility.

*Somatic – relating to the body, especially distinct from the mind

Learning Outcomes:

1. Understanding of somatic coaching line development.
2. Exploring discomfort somatically to better connect with elements that support its counterpart: resilience. How can we translate this into our work as agile coaches and leaders?
3. Exploring polarity, we will then explore joy somatically. Connecting with elements that attach themselves to our expressions of “joy”. How can we translate this into greater awareness of joy as it applies to our agile teams and organizations?

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
KEYNOTE: Bob Galen

GOAT 2019 – Building Our Future Self by Bob Galen

Building our Future Self

As Agile Practitioners, Product Owners, Scrum Masters, Leaders, and Coaches, we are often
focused externally, with an eye towards our teams or organization in our agile journeys. If we’re
properly agile focused, then we should be servant leaders for our team and others – right? Yes,
but with one large caveat…

In order to be truly effective, we need to be serving and building ourselves first! And a large
part of that service, is effectively building our capabilities and developing our own
unique brand.

Bob Galen has been relentlessly building his brand for several decades and will
share his thoughts, tips, and techniques toward personal brand-building. Beginning with the
why, you will understand the importance and value of building your brand and how this helps
you to envision your ideal future self.

Next, you will identify actionable and systematic steps towards developing your brand. This
includes things like learning, certifications, writing, public speaking, coaching and mentoring.
Your focus will be towards uncovering opportunities for doing as opposed to just talking.

It turns out that brand-building is hard work and this talk is just the beginning. But if you’re
willing to put in the effort, you’ll leave with a variety of ideas and a solid branding strategy &
roadmap that will guide you down your individual path to better branding.

1:45 PM – 2:30 PM

201 - Status Games for Product Owners

“For the Product Owner to succeed, the entire organization must respect his or her decisions.”

Targeting Product Owners, this session will explore status transactions and the role status plays in trust and respect. We’ll decode behaviours that affect status both positively and negatively. Using a series of improv games that promote reflection on status transactions, each participant will be given a safe space to try new approaches to flexing their status muscles.

You’ll walk away with a set of exercises to help you increase the respect your organizaton has for your decisions.

202 - Becoming Agile One Procurement at a Time!

Becoming Agile…one procurement at a time

As a strong supporter of Agile, Shared Services Canada (SSC) is using Agile to streamline its technology procurement on behalf of the Government of Canada.  Guylaine Carriere, Director of Procurement Modernization, will share how collaboration and working openly using Agile has allowed SSC to accelerate sometimes slow, bureaucratic public procurement processes to significantly improve buying outcomes for clients and businesses. 

SSC’s journey using Agile in its procurement centers around four key principles:

·         Problems are good!  They could be the seeds of synergy

·         Private sector partnerships – collaborate with and value the private sector

·         Evidence-based selection – make decision on results instead of narrative descriptions

·         Incremental deployment – Build a perpetual, scalable and evolving contract

Participants will benefit by hearing about the tools and processes SSC is developing and what the department has learned by approaching complex government IT procurement in an Agile way.  By seizing opportunities, starting small, producing results and iterating, SSC can build perpetual, scalable and evolving contracts that meet our client’s needs.

Whether participants are new to Agile, or are seasoned practitioners, this interactive session will show the benefits of using Agile to solve a complex government problem and provide opportunities for Agile expert attendees to provide their views on how we might improve the way we buy technology.   

At the end of the session, participants will be invited to provide their perspective on how procurement in the Government of Canada should/could be improved.

203 - An Agile Approach to Change Management

GOAT 2019-An Agile Approach to Change Management.NOV2019

Business agility is so much more than the organization’s IT shop adopting an agile delivery method. Business agility depends on three core capabilities: rapid delivery, strategic sensing, and customer rapport. As such it builds resilience to change as a strategic imperative and eventually it allows businesses to build a strategic advantage in driving change.

Investments in “agile” from an IT perspective will not increase business agility. So what does a company need in order to successfully drive change rather than react to it?

We’ll talk about how creating a resilient organization starts with rapid delivery and why many major organizations are turning their attention to less costly on-demand releases. We’ll look at how customer rapport is the new driver of operational efficiency, where not building something is invariably cheaper than optimizing the operational cost of building anything at all. And finally, we’ll discuss a little about how companies are building in strategic sensing capabilities. Discussed within the context of agile delivery, this talk will cover where an agile mindset can lead you beyond agile basics, and understand some of the opportunities that lie ahead.

Information for Program Team:

This talk is a combination of ideas and experiences, focussed on key principles for driving agile change supported by examples from many enterprise agile transformations. The slide set provided as a sample will be expanded to provide deeper experiential case studies and a deeper dive into the importance of both strategic sensing and customer interactions.

While this was originally intended as a talk, at Agile2018 I hope to be able to demonstrate strategic sensing in practice – including the use of an app to sense feedback from the audience throughout the conference. The app uses Dave Snowden’s sense-making technology to get a real-time measure of the audience experience. While the results will not be shown in real-time, the follow up will provide the results from the strategic sensing of the audience.

Prerequisite Knowledge:

Experience of agile at enterprise scale

Presentation History:

Presented by request at CMC (Canadian Association of Management Consultants) BC Chapter leadership breakfast in Q3 2017. The talk has also been accepted for SGCAN (Regional Scrum Gathering Toronto).

Ensure that you let us know:

  • What level of knowledge should attendees have before walking into your session:  Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Why is it that level.
    • Advanced – it lays the groundwork for agile maturity within an organization, including sensemaking for cultural change
  • What do you hope the attendees will learn from your session?  What will the take aways be?
    • Learn three critical success factors for any (agile) change initiative: rapid delivery, strategic sensing and customer interaction
    • Understand the difference between an agile delivery capability and business agilityDiscover how the concepts of anti-fragility apply to your business, and what you can take advantage of
    • Experience strategic sensing first hand and see how real-time sensing capabilities increase the success of change
  • How interactive will the presentation be? Degree of interactivity on a scale of 1 to 5.
    • 3
  • Do you need a special setup? What do you need? Extra mikes, special table setup, white board, flip chart, wheel chair access, ?
    • Rounds
  • Will there be a co-presenter?
    • none planned
  • Do you need a specific session time. Earlier, Later or is there flexibility?
    • n/a
  • Language of presentation. We are open to, and welcome the possibility of some bilingual or French presentations.
    • English
204 - Leading Transformations that Matter: Agility is Not the Point

SLIDES: Leading Transformations that Matter

What is the goal of an agile transformation? How do we define success? What changes? What stays the same? What assumptions have we made about why we need to transform and how we go about it? What if, in our consideration of these questions, we discover that agility isn’t the point, but something deeper? What if we’re focused on changing the wrong things first?

For the past several years, respondents to the State of Agile Survey have consistently identified their respective organizational culture as a major impediment to the adoption of agile practices. Accordingly, if we accept the well-established observation that culture follows structure, transformation efforts need to begin with re-examining our thinking about how we lead and manage organizations.

In this session, participants will engage in an idealized redesign exercise to examine the thinking and theory that shape transformations while revealing the changes that can be made by senior leadership in cooperation with their people that will encourage agile-like behaviours to emerge at all levels of the organization and improve the quality of their transformation efforts.


Establishing our Thesis for Transformations that Matter:

  • Agility is not the aim or purpose of an agile transformation
  • Agile transformations are not changing what matters most in an organization, eg. true cross-organization teamwork, joy in work, pride in workmanship for managers and staff alike
  • The prevailing theory of management and transformations limits their efficacy because they hold the most meaningful elements of the organization constant while changing how teams do their work.
  • Escaping this orbit requires transformation of the way we think about organizations and how they are led and managed.

Proposed Solutions to Our Thesis (30m)

  • Exercise: Vision Therapy Trip Report – Exploring the “Me” to “We” organizational culture continuum.
  • Ten meaningful changes to enable meaningful and purposeful transformation
  • Now what! Where to start!

Summary of Key Learning Points and Take-Aways (5m)

  • Review: Why is agility not the point of a transformation?
  • Review: What is the theory of the prevailing mode of management?
  • Review: What countervailing theory have we proposed to promote meaningful transformations?
  • Review: What is the “Me” to “We” organizational culture continuum?
  • Review: What is one thing that I can start doing tomorrow?

Attendee Knowledge Level:  Intermediate/Advanced

  • This session will be addressing some abstract ideas around agile and transformation which will draw upon their experiences. Beginners may be a bit bewildered.

Learning Objectives:

  • Why agile transformations clash with the culture that is created by the current mode of thinking around leadership and management of organizations and people.
  • Understanding the “Me” to “We” continuum of organizational culture.
  • Where to direct transformation efforts first to have the greatest impact throughout the organization, not just in software delivery departments and teams.
  • Options for improving the quality of leadership and management, irrespective of their role in the organization.
  • Why it may be better to help leadership and teams learn to improve together first before embarking on an agile transformation.
  • It’s ok if agility isn’t the point.

Interactivity: 3.5

  • Main feature of the session is an idealized redesign exercise (per Ackoff) for envisioning what conditions and structures best support a transformation and what needs to change first.

Co-Presenter: Robert Pragai

Language of Presentation: English

209 - How to Build a Time Machine

GOAT 20129 How to Build a Time Machine

A common impediment I hear when introducing Agile ways of working into an organization is “I don’t have time for…<fill in the blank with any Agile related practice>.” It’s a universal refrain from Agile neophyte managers and team members alike. It’s also a myth.

As Agile practitioners, one of our biggest challenges is getting people new to Agile to invest time in learning, practicing and supporting the new ways of working. Time that they don’t have because it’s all used up doing things the old way. The problem is especially wicked when it comes to managers. Are managers in your emerging Agile organization taking time with the Agile Teams? The role of managers in an Agile environment is still very much a work in progress. At the same time, management support is key to any major change initiative. How often have we heard “I’d like to visit the teams but I don’t have time”, “Sorry, my calendar is triple-booked” or something similar?

What if time wasn’t a non-renewable resource and zero-sum game? What if we could grow time?

This talk will explore:

  • Why does time get scarcer when introducing change? (5 mins)
  • Why is the scarcity especially wicked for management when moving to Agile ways? (5 mins)
  • How might we look at time differently? (10 mins)
  • Some simple tools that can help management and other stakeholders grow the time needed to support a different future. (20 mins)

The attendees will learn and experience ways to use the tools to mine for time. The takeaways will include:

  1. An appreciation of how the lack of time can thwart your Agile change initiatives.
  2. Experience using a couple of simple tools that you can introduce to your Agile stakeholders to create their own time machines. (Degree of interactivity = 2-3)


This talk is based on a recent blog post I wrote. See

210 - Self Forming Scrum Teams? Chaos or Harmony?

Has this ever happened to you at work?  One day you are happily working on a project, and the next day you and your colleagues are brought into a room, told that you are not necessarily working on your project any more, then are asked to self form onto one of four new teams for the next year or two. 

The Bank of Canada is a crown corporation that is not known for having an appetite for unchartered territory. We have, nonetheless, decided that we would try to adopt the Agile mindset and move away from the more traditional waterfall methodology.  This decision had been endorsed by the higher levels of management and many initiatives were undertaken to achieve this shift of methodology.

Part of the agile mindset is to create strong teams: strong in their constitution and strong in their results. There are many ways in putting those teams together but one of the most extreme (we thought) is to have the team members self-select onto the teams they will join.  With much reflection and discussion, and lobbying from our agile coaches, we proceeded with a “self-selection” exercise to form teams. “Self-selection” is a team forming practice pioneered and popularized by Sandy Mamoli in New Zealand. It’s literally unheard of in North America. We decided to give it a try.

We’ll share with you the gory details, the positive and negatives, lessons learned, and general impressions.  Basically, we’ll let you know whether that immersion into the water was a belly flop or a precision executed dive with very little splash.


Our organization supports applications for a few departments and we decided about 2 years ago, to adopt more of an agile methodology to provide better value at a faster pace. As part of adopting agile principles, we debated really hard amongst the Management Team whether we wanted to put ourselves “at risk” by allowing the teams to self-select in teams based on a few specific rules.

After deciding to go “all-in”, we experienced a self-selection process with about 30 employees and have lived with the results for the last 18 months or so.

We will share with attendees the process that led us to decide to go with self-selection.  We will also share the “aftermath” from a staff and management perspective, as well as other takeaways.  This is all just in time for our next self-selection exercise.


No specific level of Agile knowledge required.  This is an opportunity to look at an extreme of how agile teams can be formed, given the work environment that dominates in the Gatineau-Ottawa region.

Our goal is to share and take any questions about our experience. There will likely be 2 presenters and no special set-up would be required at this moment.


  • Understand what some implications could be of a self-selection exercise.
  • The impact such an exercise has on the cohesion of resulting scrum teams.
  • Is self-selection for our organisation? And if so, how you could get started.
211 - Specification by Example: Why its Hard/Worth it and How to Start


Overview of the Session

  • Introduction and Agenda (5 mins)
  • What is Specification by Example? (10 mins)
    • Relation to the Agile Test Quadrants
    • Industry Adoption according to VersionOne State of Agile Survey
    • Driver for Cross-Functional Team Collaboration
  • Common Blockers to Successful Introduction of Specification by Example (5 mins)
  • Our success story using Specification by Example on our last project (15 mins)
    • Organized as a Timeline
    • Activities that helped our team
    • Resources used
  • Close  (5 mins)
    • Share our learnings
    • Share our resources with attendees
  • Q & A ( 5 mins)

Target Audience

  • Intermediate Agile Coaches and Agile Team Members (Product Owners, Testers, and Developers) who work on or with software development teams
  • This is not a beginner session as most teams require experience with Agile fundamentals before Specification by Example is appropirate

Learning Outcomes for Attendees

  • Attendees will learn what Specification by Example is and how it can help their teams
  • Attendees will be directed to the best resources to help them succeed in implementing Specification by Example

The session is a presentation delivered in English by two co-presenters. There is no real interactivity. We are expecting an engaged audience based on our telling of our success story: concrete details, conflict, etc.

We will need presentation equipment and 2 microphones. No requirement for a specific session time. A 45 time minute slot is appropriate.

We are not sure about the best track… please help us 🙂

Session Track

High Performance Teams

Experience level


Session Time Slot(s)


212 - 2 Minutes (or less) to Better Workshops and Meetings

It doesn’t take a lot of time to set the stage to improve participation in workshops and other team events – in less than 2 minutes you can energize and focus participants to help them succeed at the work they will be doing together.  In the same amount of time at the end of an event you can also help increase alignment and commitment to follow up. In this very interactive workshop we will explore why and how to start and close all kinds of meetings effectively and we’ll experiment with a number of activities that will accelerate learning and engagement.

What participants will take away:

You will leave this workshop with several quick activities that you can use to jumpstart events and closing to help reinforce alignment and commitment to action.


  • Starting off on the right foot: the importance of connections
  • Practical exercise: 4 connection activities > Debrief
  • Review: Doodle
  • Strong finishes: Closing with alignment and intent to create followup
  • Practical exercise: 2 types of conclusions
  • Review: How will you improve your meetings and workshops?

Notes for program team:

  • This is a session for anyone who attends meetings.
  • Room requirements: participants seated in groups at tables and chairs
  • A flip chart or whiteboard would be nice. There will be no slide presentation

2:45PM TO 3:30PM

201 - Deliver Less Software and Delight Your Clients

Overview of Session and why Attendees will be excited to hear about it: 

Why are development teams so busy?  Why can’t CIO’s deliver on all of their clients’ needs?

Product Owners/Clients frequently sign off on more features than are necessary, overloading themselves and Scrum teams, creating needless complexity as well as the challenges that come with it.  In some cases, 50% or more of features are never used after go-live.   At the same time, digital teams, budgets and capacity are strained and are not able to deliver all of the solutions that their clients need, in the timelines that they need them.  Even Agile/Scrum, as it is commonly practised today, cannot alone overcome this challenge.

Why is this?

Agile/Scrum is the best way to build features better and more quickly. But what if a significant percentage of those features address only symptoms, not causes, of the client’s business problems and don’t add value? Then are we just building the wrong thing faster?

A major cause is that many Product Owners/Clients start by go “shopping” for a wish-list of features instead of first unpacking the business problems that they need to solve.   With a clear statement of root-cause business problems to solve, or jobs to be done, systems thinkers have been able to identify which business problems can be solved by Digital, and which can be solved best by changes in business process, behaviours, mindsets and so on.

By first unpacking the core business problems to be solved by the product, and assessing which of them should be solved by the CIO versus which should be solved by the COO, increasingly clients and digital groups have been able to solve their key business problems while de-scoping requirements by 80% or more, and delivering that much faster, thus freeing up capacity for other valuable projects. 

Recently a group reduced its requirements from over 500 pages to 111 pages – and implemented ahead of schedule and under-budget, delighting its client.

This session provides Product Owners, Clients, Digital Leaders, and Scrum Teams a unique opportunity to learn how Systems Thinking, Lean thinking and Agile principles can be combined to meet client requirements faster, and with less effort, by creating fewer, but better, requirements.

In exploring these issues through interactive exercises, participants can improve their approach to solving problems using technology and make better system-development investment decisions resulting in less software, but software that solves the right issues, delighting clients and freeing up Digital development capacity to provide more value.

Who Should Attend

  • Product Owners / Clients
  • Leaders of technology development groups
  • Systems Analysts, Business Architects
  • Scrum Teams

Attendee Level of Knowledge:

  • Basic understanding of Agile/Scrum

Attendee Take-Aways:

  1. Why Digital groups are so busy
  2. Why digital solutions are often over-delivered – the causes of “feature creep”
  3. The costs of over-delivery
  4. What to do about it:  Unpacking the business problems to be solved by the solution, as well as the problems to be solved by non-Digital means
  5. How to start identifying symptoms and root causes, and interrelationships between them
  6. Algorithmic vs Heuristic work – and how software can solve these very different types of problems.
  7. Three things you can do when you go back to the office



Jill Graves and Craig Szelestowski

202 - All the World's a Stage… For Our Future

GOAT2019-All The World’s a Stage.. For our Future

This talk will share the story of an IT Portfolio with the Bank of Canada and the journey that it has been on moving from traditional to Agile ways of working over the past 2 years.  As we reflect on our journey, we’ve realized that it aligns to Shakespeare’s Seven Stages of Life as outlined in the play As you Like It.  We’ve reached a crossroads in our journey where we are determining how to balance maintaining the benefits that we’ve realized with experimenting to build on the gains we’ve made.  In addition to sharing our own journey we will engage attendees in reflecting on their own transformations. Attendees can expect to walk away with:


  1. An appreciation for the possible elements of an Agile journey and how they evolve over time,
  2. How one organization adapted to the challenges encountered during their journey,
  3. Possible options that will help participants progress on their own journeys.
  4. This session is targeted at anyone who is attempting to solve business challenges by moving to Agile ways of working within their organization.


The session will be co-presented by a member of the initial guiding coalition as well as the Agile Coach supporting the journey

203 - Your Agile Leadership Journey: Leading People, Managing Paradoxes


When the people of an organization embark on their quest for increased agility, they are essentially begin working on the opposite side of a paradox that has been ignored. Often times, though as they take their journey, they begin experiencing the downside of now ignoring the the traditional, control-based approach and there is an outcry to revert. A dilemma is created.

What are these paradoxes? Well, the first four you encounter are described in the Agile Manifesto’s values. If one could have both sides of the “over” statements easily, we’d take them. Successfully maximizing the appropriate upsides of each side of these values while minimizing the downsides becomes a swinging pendulum to manage. This becomes key to leading others in your organization. If you are a manager, team leader, or executive trying help your organization get traction, then this session will provide some new insights into how to balance change with stability.

These four values are just the start of the paradoxes that will emerge as you take your journey. This workshop will help you use a technique called Polarity Management to help manage the upsides and downsides of this balancing act so that you can lead people effectively. Once out in the open, dilemmas created with a swing one way or another become easier to handle and perhaps can even be avoided.

Information for Program Team:

This workshop is designed to provide a problem-solving/systems thinking technique to help leaders understand and manage paradoxes that may emerge within their organization. I’ll also point out not every problem they encounter is a paradoxical dilemma. You can find out some basics on Polarity Management here: or

My current thinking for the flow of the workshop:

[5 min] Present: Welcome and open by describing what a paradox is

  • Opposites on a spectrum with upsides & downsides to each
  • What is not a paradox – something where there is no upside to an alternative
  • Why as leaders we should care – recognizing it’s not binary, binary swings cause churn; reducing churn helps people through the changes they will be making
  • Upsides and Downsides – these plus the spectrum form the Polarity Map
  • We’ll start with the Agile Manifesto’s values as our first set of paradoxes to explore

[12 min total] Exercise: Table groups work together to identify the paradox within one of the Manifesto’s values; the Value itself will constrain the spectrum and thus the space to be examined and thus the space to be explored more openly. I have the participants exploring the upsides of the left-hand of the value statement as the usually understand why they want agility. This also makes the downsides of the right easy to understand as that is what they want to get away from… Then I have them think some of the upsides they may lose by over emphasizing the left-side. Then finally downsides that can occur with over emphasis of the left.

Here’s a short, incomplete example: 
Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation; this is the spectrum. So an upside of the left – we have tested software being deployed regularly meeting business needs, one downside of the right would be taking too long to create a document and not getting a feature completed or inadequately tested. One upside of the right – having some documentation that describes the rationale of a programming or design choice made so that people know why the developer coded what he did. One downside of the left, the developer goes on vacation, the person he paired with gets hospitalized, and something that was developed 3 months ago needs to be changed due to new acceptance criteria. We end up redesigning the code, but went through all the prior choices with little insight from the prior effort.

I’m being somewhat conservative on my timing here as it may take a bit for people to get into the latter part in particular… My hope is that I actually end up with some extra time, so a longer Q&A session could occur at the end.

  • [1 min] flow of exercise and instructions
  • [2 min] Upsides of Left-hand side
  • [2 min] Downsides of Right-hand side
  • [2 min] Upsides of Right-hand side
  • [2 min] Downsides of Left-hand side
  • [2 min exercise slack time]

[8 min] Debrief ~2min/question

  • What did you learn?
  • What are some of the downsides of having the pendulum swing too far right? Examples?
  • Now how about too far left? Examples?
  • What antidotes to these downsides did we find in the opposite upsides?

[5 min] Present: Describe how organizations or groups/teams move through paradoxes from a Polarity Management viewpoint; downside problems become signals to add in some of the upsides of the opposite end of the paradox.

  • These can either be managed or unmanaged, with a preference towards managed
  • Constant learning through these movements

[8 min] Exercise: Table groups identify –

  • [ 1 min] Instructions
  • [3 min] When a downside on the right or left was experienced; what were the signal(s) that was (were) experienced.
  • [3 min] Identify actions to take based on those signals that move you to the upside proactively and smoothly.
  • [1 min exercise slack time]


[Remainder] Debrief & Closing

  • What did you learn about signals you can look for..? How can you use them?
  • What are some other paradoxes people see?
  • [1 min] Jot down to yourself one thing you will do differently based on what you learned.
  • What questions do you have

A much longer version of this session was given at Agile2019. This has been tailored to fit into a 45 minute timebox.

For a room set-up, I prefer to have rounds of 6-10 people so that they can work together.

Prerequisite Knowledge:

While no specific prerequisite knowledge is required, it is helpful if the attendees have had moments of struggle trying to get the right balance between the left and right side of the value statements of the Manifesto or in putting the principles actually in practice. This workshop is targeted at people trying to lead/help others implement these in their context.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Recognizing the paradoxes within an organization’s Agile Journey
  • Applying the Polarity Management technique to understand and manage them effectively
  • Understanding how to depict your paradox using a Polarity Map


This is a link to the slides used for Agile2019: 

204 - Kanban in The Land of Scrum: Choose Your Own Scrumban Story

GOAT 2019 scrumban-Part 1 of 2 Pages 1-19

GOAT 2019 scrumban-Part 2 of 2 Pages 20-49

Kanban is often described as something you layer “on top” of your existing process in order to stimulate improvement. So, what would that look like if your existing process is Scrum?

The term “Scrumban” has been used to describe this kind of combination, but it’s much more than simply “Scrum with WIP limits”. It’s not about picking and choosing “the best of both”, but the full application of the Kanban Method to a challenged Scrum implementation, to help it move beyond what’s currently causing it to stall.

Kanban is “a way of seeing”; in this session we will “see” Scrum through the lens of Kanban, and explore how those insights can be used to re-ignite the inspect-&-adapt cycle to create a highly customized process that is better suited for your particular context.

Session Track

High Performance Teams

Experience level


Session Time Slot(s)




209 - The Golden Hammer of Transformation: Culture

Culture eats change for its breakfast! How many times have you discovered it? Have you noticed any indicators of it? How many times have you blamed the culture? Isn’t culture presented on what people do, say, and act?

Studies tell us that people are of good nature. Most people (99% to be exact) do what they believe is right. They don’t intend to resist change. They even are willing to help, and maybe they don’t know how. They genuinely want to see the transformation becomes successful. They are resourceful as well. One might ask, how come there are many catastrophic stories when it comes to organizational transformation? Have you heard the famous quote, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”?

Could it be that we are not looking at transformations with the right perspective? Could it be that we only have, and use a hammer? Maybe we have different types of it, and we don’t even notice? If the above interests you, please join us. Let us share our experiences, and how we moved away from using the “hammer” within organizations.

210 - Be a Dynamic Resilient Team

In today’s fast faced, rapidly changing world, teams are continually experiencing change, working on complex problems with high uncertainty, and are expected to be high performing and to deliver value. How might teams be dynamic and resilient in facing this challenge? Come explore, in this experiential and interactive session, practices to enable teams to shift from “be high performing” to “be dynamic and resilient”.

Learning outcomes:

  • Path towards psychological safety

How team leads and team members create psychological safety for each other? How psychological safety is foundational for learning and resiliency?

  • Learning continuously to be dynamic

Shifting perspective on learning to continuously micro-learning and deliberately developmental learning, and in applying it.

  • Be present to enable resiliency

Mindfulness practice to be present and being present is a pathway to growing resiliency.

Level of knowledge attendees have before walking into our session: Beginner. The session is targeted for team members and those leading teams (Scrum Master, Leads, Project Manager).

Presenters professional biographies:

Ann-Marie Kong serves as a Co-active Agile coach, mentor, trainer, facilitator, creative catalyst, avid learner, volunteer and community grower with expertise empowering people and teams to be awesome in co-creating and delivering value early and often by centring herself, growing synergistic partnerships and applying Agile approaches to achieve business outcomes. She is passionate about enabling leaders to transform to become 21st leaders. She presented previously at MindCamp (, Waterloo Agile Lean P2P and Women In Security.

Ana Lobo has worked with software development teams for more than 15 years across different industries, countries and roles. She has a strong passion for activity-based learning, fostering team collaboration, and building learning communities. Ana is a Scrum Master and co-founder of Women in a Lean and Agile in Toronto. She can be found at the next Play4Agile or MindCamp gathering. Connect with Ana on LinkedIn or Goodreads.

211 - Non-Techies Guide to Agile Engineering Practices
212 - Change my View: Moral Foundations Theory and You

Anyone who doesn’t agree with me is wrong and not just wrong, but morally repugnant and evil.

What do you think? Is it really likely that everyone that disagrees with you is somehow a monster? Or perhaps it’s something else…

Over the last few years we’ve seen a lot of viewpoint polarization. But why does this happen? And what does this tell us about our approaches to Agile?

In this session we’ll look at Moral Foundations Theory and how what we value and hold dear can influence our views on an issue.

We’ll also play a game developed at the Agile Games conference based on this framework that will challenge you to take yourself out of your normal comfort zone and see the world from another perspective.

The session will begin with an overview of Moral Foundations Theory and examining the work of Jonathan Haidt.

We’ll then examine how those moral foundations affect political views and consider how those foundations may affect our approaches to Agile and what this means for the organizations we work with.

We’ll then play an exercise that randomly assigns players a moral foundation to debate from and an issue for them to discuss so that they can experience what it is like to approach issues from a different moral perspective.

An understanding of Moral Foundations Theory
Understanding how it influences our style of communication
How we may need to adjust our approach based on our audience
How to understand each other better by understanding those that hold different values

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