On September 19th and 20th we* attended Agile Summit in Athens. Agile Summit is an international conference gathering world class speakers, agile experts & practitioners from around the world. Skroutz supports Agile Summit and last year’s conference was quite inspiring, so we decided to attend it again this year. here are our notes.
Applying the Heart of Agile
From Alistair Cockburn, Creator Heart of Agile
Alistair Cockburn is one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto (in 2001) and shared with us the principles of heart of agile. His point of view is that the whole idea of the Agile Manifesto is simple. But since 2001 Agile became more and more complicated, more things have been put on it. Agile became a complete industry. Heart of Agile says that we should go back to the essence, which is four words:
He didn’t go extensively through the framework, and prompted the audience to see his full presentation from a conference in Denmark. He described a framework for learning and mastering skills, called Shu Ha Ri and Kokoro, which is also explained in the video, so it’s highly recommended.
Innovation at scale
From Yariv Adan, Product Manager @Google
Yariv shared a few insights on how Google is enabling innovative products. His main focus was the 20% time projects, which is responsible for multiple products with more than 1B users like Gmail, Google Translate or Google News. Achieving and maintaining that in these highly competitive markets requires constant product & technology innovation. He shared his observations & principles through his 10+ years experience at Google about the process to generate them through TGIF meetings, and Google’s what makes a good manager research & continuously iterations . Some key points:
- Always focus on the User
- Launch & iterate, rather than perfection
- Ideas come from everywhere -> Share everything
- Empower people -> Data, not opinions
- Let people pursue Dream
Lessons from an ex-Project Manager turned Product Manager
From Emma Septon, Account Manager @ProdPad
Emma Septon talked about the principles and best practices she learned and applied in order to help her with the new role of the Product Manager making the transition from the Project Manager. Key Points:
- Customer should be on the centre. Typically the stakeholders and clients ask for a feature, not a solution. Listen to them to deeply understand their problems.
- Define the strategy and focus on it. Put it as the first priority and learn to say no to irrelevant requests. ‘Five whys’ technique will help to focus on the why’s and not on the how’s.
- Represent the plan in a way that can be understood by everyone in the business. A roadmap (now-next-later) will help in that direction, while a time-based project plan, like gantt chart might be more challenging since it may need to be redone many times.
- Find balance between focusing on strategy and day-to-day development involvement (which may be time consuming).
- Use Eisenhower matrix technique to define what is important and needs immediate action and what can be delegated or even eliminated.
- Focus on outcomes and not on outputs. Output is just about implementing a feature while outcome is about meeting the objectives; is a learning experience.
Empathy is a technical skill
From Andrea Goulet, CEO of Corgibytes
What is Empathy? Is it a feeling? Technicians can’t access empathy? Is just a high-level, touchy-feely fad? Nope. Andrea demonstrated how empathy is a crucial skill for developing software and focused on giving us practical and immediately actionable advice for making empathy a central focus of our daily development practice.
Andrea mentioned the differences between cognitive and mirrored empathy and how to exercise yourself in order to build a stronger empathy, for example:
- Start with a broad topic
- User the fewest number of words
- Avoid introducing words the speaker may not have heard
- Try not to say “I”
- Be supportive and present
- Resist the urge to demonstrate how smart you are
- Neutralize your reactions
Wrapping up, Agile Summit as one of the biggest agile conferences in Southern Europe was quite inspiring once again. The organisation of the conference was great as well as the talks. With so many interesting people to interact, learn and exchange experiences was clearly met our expectations. See you there next year! You are more than welcome to leave a comment.