If you have never been to the Agile Alliance conference in the USA, it is an extreme busy event. You will often find you want to be at five sessions at once. Cloning is not an option for registration.  If you didn’t make it this year, there were many video recordings and video interviews that will be released in the coming weeks. Some are available now.

So this may be a bit rough, but I will try to highlight some of the sessions at the Agile2015 conference that was held August 3-7, 2015 in Washington DC. I could only be there August 3-5. Also, I tend to focus on the following conference tracks: Coaching & Mentoring, Collaboration Culture and Teams, Enterprise Agile, Experience Reports, Leadership and Project, Program and Portfolio Management. Over the coming weeks, I’ll try to highlight what I attended each day, what I wish I attended, and things I hope to dig into more.

This will be a long post, but I’ll divide it into:
– Inspiration/Don’t miss it
– Key Concepts: this you should know as an agilist
– Emerging Ideas: newer concepts worth keeping an eye on

Let me know if these are useful. If you have your own notes, I’d welcome you adding them to the comments.

Now, here is what was interesting on the first day of Agile2015 …


Luke Hohman keynote – Awesome Superproblems
Can you solve wicked problems? This was a don’t miss keynote. The last couple of years, I’ve been skipping the keynotes because I know they are recorded and I can watch them later. Wish I caught this one live. Here is more about Luke’s keynote:


Things you should know within the agile community. These are sessions that you should be familiar with the concepts as they have been in the agile community for a while.

Drive: How we used Daniel Pink’s work to create a happier, more motivated workplace (David Mole)  Not just your standard overview, but talking about what did or didn’t work and where they are taking the concepts next
(slides on the Agile2015 site)

The Experimentation Mindset (Doc Norton) Doc does a great job of introducing the Dreyfus Model of Skills Acquisition and how it ties to Argyris’ Single and Double Loop Learning to form an experimentation mindset and move toward mastery.  (slides on the Agile2015 site)

Introduction to Agile Development Practice Basics for Everyone (not just Developers) (Tim Ottinger)  In his talk, Tim explains the mysteries of dealing with agile development. (slides on the Agile2015 site)

A (Story Map) is worth a thousand words (Elliot Susel) – great overview and a peek at some existing and new tools (slides on the Agile2015 site) Story mapping tools mentioned I’ve listed at https://www.diigo.com/outliner/6kxdif/Storymapping-tools?key=96hto07gn3

Your User Stories Are Too Big! (Chris Sims) In order to prepare work to fit within an iteration, teams must find a way to break down work. Chris shows 4 straightforward approaches to accomplish this breakdown often referred to as “story splitting”. (slides on the Agile2015 site)

Scaling Agile Projects to Programs: Networks of Autonomy, Collaboration and Exploration (Johanna Rothman) Scaling has received much attention in the agile community and Johanna has been writing about the challenges of scaling agile for some time. This presentation touches on some key concepts. (slides on the Agile2015 site)

How long will it take? Probabilistic forecasting for math mortals (Larry Maccherone)  In this talk, Larry provides a gradual introduction of probabilistic forecasting techniques like Monte Carlo simulation as a way to collaborate with management/stakeholders on expectations and estimates. (slides on the Agile2015 site)  There is also an Agile Alliance interview (15min).

Three Keys to Self-Direction and Leadership (Christopher Avery) – Christopher has influenced several people in the agile community to think about “responsibility” as a key concept to create leadership; look for his upcoming book (slides on the Agile2015 site).  There is also an 11min SIQ interview.

Tribal Leadership for Agile Teams (Steffan Surdek) – While Tribal Leadership is a new concept, it is starting to influencing some of the coaching and transformation approaches in the community. Steffan provides a good overview. (slides on the Agile2015 site)


Interesting new concepts to learn and follow; I’ll probably be adding some of these to my personal research backlog.  Happy to discuss these further.

Improvisssssing With Agile (Paul Goddard) Excellent session I attended looking at how to apply concepts of improvisation to help your team collaborate. I look forward to reading Paul’s book on the subject. (slides on the Agile2015 site).  See the SIQ interview (10min).

Diagnosing and Changing Stuck Patterns in Teams (Marsha Acker) In this talk, Marsha describes Kantor’s Structural Dynamics model of conversations and how it can show common patterns where teams get “stuck” in their communications.

Navigating the Complexity of Organizational Change (Jason Little, Declan Whelan) Based on Jason’s book, “Lean Change Management” (highly recommended), Jason and Declan took the audience through exercises to experience how change can be painful and maybe a bit easier.  I couldn’t make this one as it was full.  However, many great videos and resources available.

Six Rules for Change (Esther Derby)  Esther is one of the few taking a hard look at the challenges of changing organizations and collecting a diverse set of principles and practices to help navigate the complexities. (slides on the Agile2015 site)  Agile Alliance video interview (23min)  If you like this presentation, you might want to check out her Coaching Beyond the Teams course.

Scaling Agile: Patterns and Anti-patterns (Monica Yap, David Grabel)
Monica and David are collecting patterns for scaling and adoption to share via Creative Commons licensing at http://agilepatterns.org/ and http://scrumplop.org (slides on the Agile2015 site)

Leading in a complex world (Hendrik Esser) An interesting story of Ericsson applied Systems Thinking, Human System Dynamics and Complex Adaptive Systems theory to their 2000+ person agile transformation  (slides on the Agile2015 site)

Mentoring vs Coaching: Show Me the Difference (Lyssa Adkins)  Lyssa helped introduce the agile community to other forms of coaching through her book, Coaching Agile Teams. In this session, she demonstrated some of the differences between mentoring and coaching. (slides on the Agile2015 site)

Abuser Stories: Reduce Software Vulnerabilities by Thinking Like a Criminal (Judy Neher)  Judy has been coaching in the intelligence and security realms for the last several years and has some great ideas on how to adapt agile in this space.  I could not find her slides, but I’ll update this post when they are available.  There is a SIQ Video interview (8min).

Games Gone Wild (William Krebs)  Bill talks about how core elements of gaming concepts can improve teamwork, training, and innovation for you and your group. (slides on the Agile2015 site)

Thank God it’s Open Friday (Corinna Baldauf)  How can you have self-organized, regular innovation? This is one approach using Open Space Technology. (slides on the Agile2015 site)