The last hurrah - final thoughts from Agile 2018

Clipboard with paper and pen on surface

This will be the final post from my time here at Agile 2018. It’s been a packed week yet in the same breath I only feel like I have scratched the surface of the content on offer. I want to end this little series by sharing a couple of thoughts from the last day, but also devote time to discussing the common themes I have seen from the conference.

Agile Alliance conference presentationI have been impressed by the range of talks and topics on offer, many of which are tackling issues much wider than software development. There have been talks given by practitioners, software vendors, agile coaches, consultants and executives but one thing which was posed today was would you go to gym session run by this gentleman?

I get the point. Practice what you preach, those who have experienced firsthand what they are talking about are best placed to teach others about it. But are they?

I am very much sat on the fence on this point but if I were to play devil’s advocate, would someone who has had less firsthand experience but seen those same types of activity in multiple scenarios have broader knowledge of a subject matter? And does it mean that if you haven’t done something, you are unable to teach someone else to do it? If we take the gentleman in the picture above, could he run a fitness class if he studied properly about how to run one? I don’t have an answer either way but it is an interesting question.

The second item I wanted to share from today is another interesting question, and a PMO one at that. How would you define your PMO? I was somewhat surprised at an agile event to find a session about PMOs (hence why I attended the session). The question though has three options to choose from;

  • Supporting - plays the role of servant leader offering guidance and advice
  • Controlling - takes a more controlling role usually in an environment which requires more compliance or governance
  • Directive - takes a direct role in the running of projects and product delivery.

Now no one answer is right but I really like the notion of the PMO defining and celebrating the way it operates. In more agile organiations, they need to take on more of that supportive role, offering guidance on best practices to adopt, align work with strategic intent and focus on outcomes and benefit delivery.

So, what about Agile 2018 as a whole?

With 19 concurrent sessions going on at any one moment, I will caveat the below with the statement that these are my takeaways from the 4 days. I am sure that if you were to ask someone else who had attended the conference, but went to different sessions, might have three very different takeaways from the below. What I am seeking to do is give an overview of three common themes that I saw across multiple sessions, in the keynotes presented and in conversations with other delegates.

  1. Agile still has an identity crisis; this might sound strange but in spending four days involved in the largest dedicated agile conference on the planet, I still see the term agile used to describe everything; frameworks, tools, techniques, organizational culture, mindsets and ways of working to name just a few. If the core agile community have no clear definition of what agile is, how can the rest of the organization? This leads me on to the second point...

  2. Agile at scale (and outside of IT) is growing; many sessions this week have shared ideas and experiences on how to expand the use of agile outside of the realm of IT. Many different approaches have been presented this week, to varying degrees of success, but of one thing I have no doubt. There is much value to be gained from scaling agile principles and core concepts outside of IT. The best way to achieve that is still up for debate!

  3. There is a shift of focus from outputs to outcomes; The final theme is something which came up time and time again throughout the week and something which is clear indicator of the growing maturity of agile and its recognition in the wider business. Many presenters talked of the importance of measuring outcomes and benefits over outputs. Simply being busy and delivering many features each sprint is not enough; the focus must be clearly on the value that those features are delivering to the customer.

So, that’s a wrap on this miniseries of posts from Agile 2018. I hope you’ve found them useful and that I have managed to give you a sense of what has been discussed this week.

Read other posts in this series

Agile Alliance 2018 - Day 1 recap

Agile Alliance 2018 - Day 2 recap

Agile Alliance 2018 - Day 3 recap

Current rating: 4.7 (3 ratings)


11 Aug 2018 Brian Phillips
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Thanks Tom
These are the main themes I have concerns about, so it is good to see you have outlined them here.
Agility is essential, but it covers much more that the specifics of agile delivery methods; so still a lot of confusion as we attempt to collectively clarify and work towards better outcomes.
12 Aug 2018 Falko Esser
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Looks like a great event!!! Thank you for the summary!
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