I like waking up late on a Sunday morning and learning that I just broke my last record of waking up late by a few more minutes! This adventure was waiting to be repeated this weekend too, but some Agile enthusiasts here in NCR had some other ideas.
I came to know about the “Agile NCR 2010” conference a few days ago only, and succumbed to the idea of learning something new in my new area of interest: Agile and Scrum.
The event was organized at Ansal Institute of Technology, Gurgaon. Traveling from Noida all the way to Gurgaon is not among easiest of the things to do in this part of the country; but hey, I am now a veteran in that area, having a few years of experience achieving this glorious feat everyday.
The sessions were being run in 3 parallel streams in 3 halls on the floor. The themes were “Agile Adoption and Challenges”, “Agile for Newbies and Post Agile” and “Workshops and Open Space”.
It was nice to listen to Serge from Xebia at the outset. He set the tempo of the event with his energetic and motivating words. Following him, Hedwig from Ericsson presented “11 ways to screw up agile”. It was a great presentation, which pin-pointed almost all the problems one could face in Agile journey. I could feel his pain when he talked about the difference in site agility while transferring the projects from a site to the other.
After tea it was time to make a choice among 3 sessions . “BDD and UADD”? huh, what does it mean buddy? I asked my fellow agilist. We started making our wild guesses. Some of the guesses were quite interesting, but too naughty to qualify for a mention here :). So, I was there in this session that actually had some areas very interesting and new to me. By the way, the acronyms expanded to “Behavior Driven Development” and “User Acceptance Driven Development”. I regret having skipped “Agile team smells” presented by Anurag from Xebia. I was told he is a very good speaker, but I failed to resist myself from knowing what BDD and UADD expand to. Never mind, I can compensate this loss using rest of the day wisely, I told myself.
Next discussion was taken by Serge, so I had to attend it. He explained how to slice and in-scope the user stories so that the maximum business value is targeted in each sprint. A nice hands-on experience further helped grasping the concept. For this, I had to sacrifice the parallel running Sriram’s session on “antipatterns”, which I later learned was tried to be hacked by some participants. Sriram is a nice and prolific chap, very good at explaining and executing the XP concepts. The team in my office, including me, was impressed by his training on TDD and re-factoring which we attended a few weeks back.
Lunch time, and lo: the cafeteria was swamped by the participants. I somehow succeeded in breaking into the middle of the queue. We should (and most of us do) appreciate this flexibility of human queues compared to software queues.
The most interesting session of the day, I thought, glancing at the agenda for the next presentation “What made Paul a great product owner”. The speaker was an Agile coach, who explained the responsibilities of a PO by examples. I could not subscribe to a few points in his presentation, but an effective presentation otherwise.
Next session was on distributed Agile, arranged over skype. Low bandwidth forced the organizers to switch from skype to a mobile phone. To me, it was the best exhibition of pathetic state of bandwidth services in our country and ever decreasing mobile phone tariffs at the same time.
Next topic, “Agile in Indian context” was interesting to me, because I had prepared a presentation for this event on the same topic but missed the submission deadline by a few days. It was an open house for all. It was further interesting to see some participants feel offended and countering with full thrust when commented about “Indian Culture”.
Update(2010-07-28): Siddharta, the host, did really good work by compiling the mind map of this discussion here.
Does the Indian culture provide the best conditions for Agile implementation? I have a really nice incident to relate with this: I had a workshop in Sweden a few days ago, where the group of people consisted of Indian and Swedish background. Both the groups were asked to brainstorm and come up with 5 top values of their culture/society. Not surprisingly, Indian group came up with values like “Respect”, “Family”, “Job security”, but the Swedish group declared “Health”, “Freedom” and “Professionalism” the most important ones. No prize to guess which of these groups would be “GoodAgile”.
Update (2010-07-29): This blog presents a very relevant and candid account from one of the active Agilist. I just hope that he did not write this blog entry after having 3 beers 😉 .