Agile Open Florida 2016 Report

Agile Open Florida is a conference organized by leaders and volunteers from the Agile Florida community who are passionate about building community and advancing all things Agile. Adam Sandman, whose company was also sponsoring Agile Open Florida 2016, has written his personal report about some of the sessions.

Author:
Adam Sandman, Inflectra Corporation, http://www.inflectra.com/

The 2016 Agile Open Florida conference in Orlando, FL was a welcome escape from the chill in DC, especially after a long and taxing 2016 election season. The event, co-sponsored by Inflectra, brought together the Agile community in Florida and showcased products and services offered by Inflectra, as well as its partner – OAT Solutions / Brazil. For those who could not make it to the conference, here is an official write up of the conference.

OpenSpace

Unlike more traditional conferences that feature keynote speakers and breakout sessions, the OpenSpace format of 2016 Agile Open Florida allowed for vastly more meaningful interaction between the participants. The central premise of this conference – that the real value is in the side conversations instead of the scripted presentations – was on-point and made those side conversations the main attraction. For a Sapient alumnus like myself, OpenSpace is not an entirely new concept, but a variant of Sapient’s “facilitated client workshops” called Fusions and RIPs.

Agile Open Florida

I found sessions on using agile in public schools, the role of testers and manual testing, and agile methodologies in hybrid hardware/software communities particularly stimulating. The key take-aways from these sessions were:

  • Testers vs. Agile: Testers felt like the agile movement was going to put them out of a job. At a recent Test Masters event in NYC that I attended, testers seemed to have a lot of anxiety about this. My recommendation? – Use approaches such as exploratory testing and session-based testing as ways to make the testers feel valuable and involved.
  • Testers & Automation: Having testers follow scripts of discrete clicks like robots is both pointless and inefficient. I recommend automating all repetitive testing and leaving the testers to explore and find things that their intuition leads them to.
  • Waterfall vs. Agile in Classrooms: You’ve noticed how schools used to teach kids in a very “waterfall” way, but with rise of Google classroom and Chromebooks, they are being encouraged to work in a more Agile way? My daughter is used to working in the cloud at school and at home, starting a draft, getting feedback and then iterating on the minimal viable product (MVP).
  • Hardware & Agile: We discussed how Kanban came from Toyota’s lean manufacturing process and that new factories are being designed to be reconfigurable and modular, with the different steps in the supply chain capable of being moved and changed on the fly. Hats Off, Toyota!

No Substitute for Inspiration

One area the conference organizers may wish to explore in the future is to invite in an inspirational opening speaker before the OpenSpace format takes over. At Agile2015 in DC last year, Jim Tamm spoke about using agile methods to better run a California city. If pursued, such a hybrid format will be the best of both worlds – combining the power of genuine inspiration with a human need for meaningful interaction via OpenSpace format. Further, by way of wrapping things up, the future conference organizers may consider giving attendees an open mic to talk about:
* The best 3 things they learned that day
* The most provocative idea they had heard
* The most unusual idea that they had heard

Overall, 2016 Agile Open Florida Conference was a success and a proof that Agile has entered the mainstream and is able to transform planning outside of software development.

About the author

Adam Sandman is a Director at Inflectra, a company that is dedicated to helping its customers effectively and affordably manage their software development lifecycle. Part of this article was originally published on https://www.inflectra.com/Ideas/Entry/409.aspx and is reproduced with permission from Inflectra.

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