My findings from the 7th ACE! conference (Krakow, Poland).

They say that “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” So maybe I was ready, and ACE! appeared in the right moment to teach me a gazillion of things. Frankly, I can’t remember any other event that I finished with so many new pointers, new ideas, new things on my TODO list or inspiring quotes. I can’t possibly list them all here, but at least I will share some of them with you.

The order is pretty random. The quotes are not really quotes but close to it. 🙂 Some things were never mentioned directly, but I read them (imagined them?) somewhere “between the lines”.

  • Naomi Ceder – Antipatterns for Diversity
    • Impossible to see a problem when you belong to the privileged group.
    • If you are privileged you find ways to justify that you belong there
    • Compliments are often nicely wrapped up stereotypes.
  • Shu Ha Ri – mentioned all over the place
  • Experiments – yes, you should
    • be really crazy about it: Popcorn Flow by Claudio Perrone 
    • you experiment more, you learn more, you learn faster, you outsmart your competition etc.
    • reminds me of Mngmt 3.0 Celebration Grid (silly name, BTW)
    • You should know what you expect, how you decide whether it was a victory or a failure.
    • If you are not ashamed with your first release, it means you waited too long. Claudio Perrone
  • You and your team are parts of the system. Complaining about the system is stupid, you are part of it, you can affect it, so work towards changing it.
  • Causal Loop Diagram,  Current Reality Tree, Cynefin
  • You can copy solution, but not the context (AKA, “we are not Spotify!”). Yeah, read what others do, be inspired, but find your own solutions. Your context is different.
  • Mary Poppendieck is awesome. Can’t get enough of her lectures. 🙂
    • on a downside, her workshop wasn’t a workshop but the continuation of keynote lecture
  • The process often stands in the way of a passionate team. Forget the process. Let them work independently. They will do great.
  • The art of scrum mastering / agile coach is to disappear.
  • A team should have a mission. Easy to say when you work for NASA Moon program. But what about a team that works for normal business? How to create an exiting motto for such a team? Maybe start small, with something different. Try to find (together) some working principles, identify team values, list things the team won’t tolerate.
  • Sketchnoting is not for me. Yes, I learned that I can draw a happy guy and a tired lady, and even a grandpa with mustache, but how on earth could I use it to make notes? You gotta be kidding me! (But I will show my new skills to my kids, and I bet they will appreciate!)
  • Thing is really done when:
  • Real options – delay the commitment
  • Do not start working on a story until you know how to measure its impact.
  • Creators should be immediately connected with what they create.
  • Put your money where your mouth is. E.g. do you promote kanban boards? Fine, so where is yours?
    • …ouch! where is mine?
  • Teams should solve problems, not deliver features.
  • PO – build a hypothesis, team – build and experiment ASAP.
  • Deploy (technical) and release (marketing) are different things. Feature toggles help.
  • Constraints can be pretty helpful, they help you to do only important work. (That is why I limited the time to write this blog post.)
  • Peer coaching (peer-feedback, peer-to-peer review) should be separated from promotions, salaries etc.
  • Do’s and don’ts when you attend a conference
    • Coaching sessions are a must.
      • BTW. There were coaching sessions with some great coaches and not all were taken. I don’t understand it. You prefer to see a presentation when you can have a 1on1 conversation about your issues/problems/situation with some Guru?!
    • Open Space discussions are great. Especially when the owner is prepared.
    • Don’t take a laptop with you. Don’t bother with tweets. Be there, listen, talk. Pen & paper will be enough.
    • The food at ACE! is delicious. Prepare a box next time, take some cookies home. 😉
    • Talk with people. Talk with the speakers. Talk. They won’t bite you.
    • Write a blog post right after the event is finished. Otherwise you will never do it. (Yeah, I did it!)

During the Unexpected Meetup: 1st Open Space I had an opportunity to discuss the topic of changes with fellow Scrum Masters / Team Leads / Agile Coaches. Here are some notes (subjective and incomplete):

  • Books to read:
    • Our Iceberg Is Melting
    • More Fearless Change
  • You shouldn’t expect that your team will come with new change proposal every day. It will be rather your task to help them to discover that some changes are required and decide that they are worth the effort.
  • External experts can really make a difference. Somehow people from the same company are less credible (“No prophet is accepted in his own country’)
    • New hires – especially if they are seniors – are treated similarly to external experts. At least for some time.
  • Imposed changes are much less effective than grassroot changes.
  • No sense to order changes (e.g. “you will do the pair programming 100% of time starting today!”). Much better is to show the idea and let people use it at their own will.
    • Onboarding (especially with fresh devs) is a great time to inject some desirable behaviours.
  • A nice way to introduce a change is to run an experiment (e.g. “Let us do the pair programming 1 hour per day for 2 weeks. Then we decide whether we like it or not”.) Be prepared that people might not like the change. But this is fine.