IMG_00000292Yesterday I attended the Agile Open Space Toronto 2013 event. Once again I’m blown away by the community which comes together for these sessions! There’s the regular attendees I’m always happy to connect with such as Michael Sohota, Dale Simpson, Gino Markx, Declan Whelan and many more! Then there’s all of the OpenSpace newbies. Don’t downplay your contribution to such events as I believe it’s your voices which introduce new thoughts and ideas! You are what make open spaces amazing!

There are so many things I took away from the day making it nearly impossible to summarize here. Some of the most notable are:

No Estimates!  Chris Chapman asked the provocative question of why we bother to estimate (see Chris’s blog for more background). To give credit Chris referred to the work of Woody Zuill who has explored this question in some detail. I have some reading and thinking to do as I think Woody and Chris might be onto something here. This is an area I’ve been wrestling with recently as I see the amount of waste and subsequent illusion created by all the effort put into creating ‘accurate’ estimates. The constraint making it difficult to make this leap is legacy organizations. These organizations are built around planning and governance processes requiring the use of estimates. So how do we shift away from the poor practices? Certainly lots to think about!

Start every project red!!  One of the most popular ways of flagging the status of a project is the use of red, yellow and green indicators. Most organizations start a project green until they prove there is a problem. Andrew Annett (one of my Leanintuit colleagues) asked what would happen if we started all projects red. I love the idea!! The whole point of being red is to flag we have risk and don’t have a plan. Doesn’t that accurately describe the start of a project? To move to yellow, then green a project needs to learn and mitigate the biggest risks. Unfortunately where this idea falls down is in organizations where red is associated with bad things, long political discussions, and finding the guilty. Definitely more to think about on this one as well!

What coaching does an Agile Coach need? Sue Johnston led a discussion on Agile Coaching. There was lots of great discussion around the circle. For me the highlight was when Bonita Gionet said she was trying to see the difference between project managers and agile coaches. Bonita I couldn’t agree more, and this is likely why your projects are successful!  I think Sue planted an expert in the crowd who really helped by writing up post-its to visualize the nine things a coach is responsible for:

  • Establish & maintaining trust relationshipsIMG_00000285
  • Perceiving, affirming, expanding client potential
  • Engaged listening
  • Processing in the present
  • Expressing
  • Clarifying
  • Helping client set & keep clear intentions
  • Inviting possibility
  • Help create & use supportive systems & structures

Once again lots to think about and pursue further.

Discussions all around!  Then there’s all the things I learned by talking to great people all day long! I love hearing different perspectives and experiences. The untapped potential is incredible when bringing together a group such as this. I only wish there was some way to bottle up all the knowledge and creativity so we can tap into it anytime!

Thanks to the sponsors and organizers who make such an event possible! This was the third occurrence of this event I’ve attended and it’s great to see such growth and interest! Your hard work is paying off and you should be proud of that!

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