Monday, March 21, 2011

Agile Winnipeg Inaugural Event - "Shorten the Distance"

It was pretty exciting for myself and the other organizers to see a packed room of over 60 people attend the first Winnipeg Agile User Group event on Thursday, March 10, 2011. After a quick meal from Homers and some furniture re-organization, we kicked off the event with a word from several of our sponsors. Wadood Ibrahim spoke on behalf of Protegra and recalled giving a presentation to the local PMI group 10 years ago about agile techniques that was not well received and was delighted by the turnaround of opinions and interest 10 years later.

For the main presentation, Doug Kok and I split the attendees into groups of about 15 people and led them through the ball point game. The ball point game is a simple and fun exercise that allows teams to think about process * people through team decision making and the power of reducing hand-offs. Here are a few images from the event:

Team 1 Discussing their strategy

The scores of the game. Notice the significant improvements from most teams. Team 3 forgot to count during the last iteration, but based upon the process they were using, I think they would have surpassed their estimate of 160

And, thanks to Doug - here is a brief video summary of the teams playing the game: 

So how does the ball point game relate to agile? In both the ball point game and in software development, improvements in speed can be gained in similar ways:
  • Focus on reducing hand-offs by having face-to-face conversations, dedicated teams, shortening the distance between a requirement and its implementation, a question and its answer, etc.
  • Stop frequently to determine how to go faster.
  • Measure your experiments through velocity and frequent feedback.
  • Value and encourage cross-functional, de-centralized, self-organizing teams.
Homework: To take this further, read the 12 principles in the Agile Manifesto and think about how each of the 12 could be re-stated as a way to reduce handoffs, or as shortening the distance between [A] and [B]. Also, to see how these ideas can work in the 'wild', read this case study on facebook.

To close the event, we held a short open Q&A session. Some of the questions we discussed were:
 1. Can you do agile without TDD (Test Driven Development)
 2. When/how do you do requirements?
 3. How do you control scope creep when you aren't defining the requirements up front?
Lively discussion continued over drinks at Triple Bs on Scurfield.

Based on the survey responses, the top 3 categories for future event topics were Agile Testing, Agile Adoption, and Agile Estimating.

Finally, on behalf of the organizers I would like to thank you for participating and thank the sponsors for allowing this event to occur. To register for future event notification, please click here.