The Turku Agile Day 2010 was worth the visit, even if I was there only for the second day when the presentations were held. Hopefully someone with first hand experience will write about the workshops.
It was great to see another successful Turku Agile Day. Speakers were great, schedule was well managed, there was a lot to learn, and the conference dinner was very good (especially the atmosphere in the selected restaurant).
Like with most events for me, it started a little “slow”. I came to the venue, registered in and immediately found some familiar people. As usual, the first chats of the day are a bit light and no-one really seems to have readiness for more analytic discussion. I’ve felt the same in almost all events I’ve been in (half a dozen or so Agile ones), but like usual, around noon things started to change. People get “warmed up”, first presentations give something to talk about, and all that starts leading towards more and more interesting discussions. I have to say that the dinner really topped up this event really nicely. The discussions were very entertaining there, and very educational. I wish I could have such discussions with other trainers and Agilists on a more regular basis. 🙂
The presentations will be coming to conference website at some point, so I won’t repeat the details. Suffice it to say that there was a lot of variance between the presentations and all the ones I saw were very professional and entertaining. It’s great to see such high level of quality and substance even “in a relatively local event” (although it is certainly the second biggest Agile event in Finland :)). I really applaud the organizers, not only for attracting such good speakers, but also making the event highly available for local students who thus get access to world-class Agile presentations and info at a very affordable price and accessibility. If they take half of the advice to heart, and take it to work life with them, Turku will soon rival Helsinki as the Agile capital of Finland. I really wish the organizers find the strength to keep organizing these events.
I had a presentation in the event, too, later in the afternoon. I had chosen a topic that I think is quite important and which I don’t necessarily see enough in action. Too few SM’s (at least in my subjective evaluation) have the awareness and ability to train the customer and “sell” Agility effectively to their customers. Obviously, that’s not the only area in which we all certainly need improvement, but in order to get a shot at doing an Agile project, you need to get one first. I’ve uploaded the presentation here, but to summarize a few things, Scrum assumes that the ScrumMaster is capable of, and takes the responsibility for, training the customer in the use of Agility and helping that person be an effective PO. Scrum doesn’t assume that PO’s know their role in advance. They are expected to know the domain and market, and be able to use that information to continuously prioritize the work to be done for maximal business value. So in 99% of the cases they rely on SM’s for guidance.
On one sense, it’s a high bar. On another sense, unless meeting that bar, how can we assume that the projects will succeed, if the SM can’t coach the PO? Honestly, looking at some SM’s I’m not all too surprised that there are failed Scrum / Agile projects. Of course, learning these things takes time. Hopefully my notes will help SM’s in finding the right understanding, words and training capability to work as effective SM’s. I also hope that these people will find more support from other sources.
I will soon update this post with some sample presentation / training sets that can be used early on in the customer contact to create sufficient understanding for Agility in the customer organization and enable possible Agile sale. Until then, signing off,