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Highlights from being with Agile enthusiasts for two days (at Agile in the City, Bristol)

On the 3rd and 4th November 2016, I was fortunate enough to attend Agile in the City in Bristol at the M Shed, and what a great event it was.

Here are the top highlights for me.

1. What a great bunch of people Agile users are

Most of my Agile experience is with my team and it is a pleasure to create great things and deliver value with them every day. Outside of that, the rest of my experience up until this point has been mostly via social media and taking part in online communities.

Everyone at the conference was so friendly and willing to embrace the core values of Agile and teamwork. It was great to be among so many people who accept that we are continually learning, that it’s ok to make mistakes and that work shouldn’t feel like work; these are very much aligned with my values which is probably why I felt so much at home with them.

2. Focusing on higher quality upfront costs less in the long run

In a great talk by Allan Kelly, he discussed the fact that in the software industry cutting quality always costs more in the long run. He described “turning the dial down on quality” to gain speed is foolish. It actually slows you down, not speed you up.

I have seen this myself when the team have cut corners. The feature will be delivered and released quicker, but it is then so full of holes you need to clean them up in the next sprint.

3. The job of a UX professional is not to learn about users but to help the team learn about users

We heard from Mariana Morris about how she has been working to integrate UX into Agile teams and how that has paid off with better product quality and the teams being more user-centric.

She talked about the importance of visiting and observing users in their natural environment and on a visit to a client’s industrial site she took different members of the team including a developer with her. I thought that was a really great approach.

4. How just ten to fifteen minutes of play each day can help prevent depression

Portia Tung introduced Friday morning having us all on our feet doing a rapid “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes”. She explained the importance of play in our lives and had us reminiscing with our neighbours on our favourite toys as children. She told us how many people have forgotten how to play.

She also covered the importance of play at work with your colleagues. How it can help build more effective teams and ultimately better products. The biggest benefit though is the evidence that it can help prevent depression. That was a surprise and something that I’m sure was a big takeaway for a lot of people.

5. How a Polish software development company (Selleo) has created an amazing organisational culture we should all aspire to

Dariusz and what the team have achieved pretty much had me in awe. They have managed to create an organisation with very little hierarchy, self-managing teams and a bonus scheme where the peers choose who gets paid the bonus money, not the managers or CEO. Over £500,000 of bonuses given in 5 years, chosen by the staff using an in-house app for giving kudos to colleagues.

Even more impressive, that the company sees the importance of team happiness and gets everyone involved in selecting new employees. They place their emphasis on culture fit over skills. If someone lacks some skills but are a good culture fit, they offer a three-month mentoring program to help people acquire the skills before coming back for another test sitting with the team.

I told Dariusz afterwards if I lived in Poland I’d be banging on their door for a job!

These are just some of the highlights

These are just some highlights from the event and I haven’t done justice to all the other great talks.

Thank you to the event organisers [@agilecitybrs]( for a well run event.

Also, thank you to those that came along to my talk and either gave me feedback in person or on Twitter. It was great to hear your experiences and how it struck a chord with you.

I’m looking forward to future events and suggest if you are even remotely interested in Agile to watch out for one in your area.

A copy of my slides can be found below.

Posted in: Agile , Product Management and Ownership