For 4 days, some 2,500 people are attending Agile2019, the largest conference on Agile in the world in Washington DC. Organized by the Agile Alliance, attendees have the difficult task of choosing from more than 260 sessions on a wide variety of topics, from development to coaching through leadership and learning.
As in the previous years, Netmind is a sponsor for the event and can vouch for the diversity here. We have talked with many people working in companies of all sizes and sectors, immersed in processes of agile transformation.
The first day began with Christina Hartkainen and Phil Brock, Conference Chair and Managing Director of Agile Alliance respectively, welcoming attendees and thanking both volunteers and sponsors for their collaboration.
Keynote: How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction
Chris Bailey was responsible for opening the conference. Author of the sales success Hyperfocus: How to be More Productive in a World of Distraction, he shared his experiences trying to find what make us more productive.
He drew from experiments that he conducted such as his “lazy experiment”: for a week, he did not do any physical exercise, ate junk food, watched 2+ hours of television daily, and barely showere… all while trying to be productive at the same time. As expected, it was very productive. By eliminating energy sources, he discovered that his attention span was also affected. Energy and attention move together like a tandem, with vital cycles of peak and low energy.
Another of his experiments to be as bored as possible for 1 month. For this, he dedicated himself (for example) to reading the terms and conditions of iTunes, to wait waiting for Air Canada Customer Service, counting the number of 0’s in Pi, or staring at a clock. Thrilling! But thanks to this, he concluded that distraction is not the enemy of focus, it’s over-stimulation.
Productivity is the combination of time availability, energy level, and attention span. If we are able to focus our attention by avoiding unnecessary over-stimulation, understanding our vital cycles of energy, and carrying out the appropriate tasks based on these levels, we can increase our efficiency.
He finished with some tips to get the most out of the conferences. A very good Keynote to start the week!
Workshop: Continuous Learning at Work
It is really difficult to choose between 20 different talks, although the level of the speakers at Agile2019 increases the chances of success. Since Netmind’s motto is #AlwaysLearning, I opted for the Continuous Learning at Work workshop by Cara Turner. In this workshop we discussed the challenges of adopting a learning culture, why it is important, and how to create a peer learning environment in an organization.
The session was dynamic. Working at tables, we created several infographics to illustrate concepts such as David Kolb’s Learning Cycle, based on the belief that learning with authentic understanding (deep learning) occurs thanks to the sequence: Experience -> Reflection -> Abstraction -> Active Testing.
We referred to how neuroscience helps us learn through play, from the whitepaper Learning through play: a review of the evidence, published by The LEGO Foundation. According to this whitepaper, the factors that most stimulate the brain are through experiences that are joyful, meaningful, actively engaging, iterative, and socially interactive.
The content of the session reminded me a lot of Training from the BACK of the Room and our NextB Methodology. I look forward to applying what I learned in this session to my own course development and training.
Talk: The Road to Business Agility
Netmind is a SAFe Silver Partner, and for 6 years we have been working with this frame of reference to scale agile and pursue business agility. Listening to the news of SAFe first hand from its creator, Dean Leffingwell, is always an opportunity to learn.
Dean focused on the reasons why we use a framework and the importance of the moment we are living. Citing Mik Kersten, author of the book Project to Product, those who manage to master the delivery of large-scale software will define the economic scenario of the 21st century. We are in the transition of the 5th technological revolution, and companies that continue to differentiate IT from Business are not yet ready for the digital era.
SAFe is moving from being an IT-focused scaling framework to being a business agility framework. One of the novelties for this 2019 is the emphasis on Design Thinking for continuous product exploration.
Workshop: Collaboration in Agile. Brain-based learning
The last session of the day was a workshop facilitated by Mehmet Baha on collaboration in agile environments based on neuroeducation. Once again, emphasis was placed on Training from the BACK of the Room being one of the pillars for all professionals working in this field.
Some interesting ideas to improve the success of an agile transformation and foster a culture of learning in organizations include: creating opportunities to foster friendly relations between employees, allow temporary rotations in other departments, and ensure that everyone understands why the transformation necessary.
Icebreaker Conference Party
To end the day, nothing better than a party where to meet other attendees and visit other sponsor booths. #Agile2019 could not have started better!