Agile Turkey Summit 2017

Me & my colleague basically decided to attend Agile Greece and Agile Turkey, and then exchange opinions and knowledge gathered there. Big advantage of my trip was Dave Snowden’s keynote, whom I wanted to catch after the speech and bore to death with silly questions 🙂

Agile Turkey Itself

The conference (1-day conference, october 19th) kind of frustrated me, as 2/3rds of speeches were in Turkish, so I had to ditch my plan to attend certain events, and half of the time was roaming around the conference floor.

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Dear people who stand behind this huge event, Agile Turkey team, please make a note next to the speech, that it may be in Turkish next time 🙂 That would be awesome!

The awesome part of that was that English-speaking crowd (mostly invited speakers) were roaming around the vortex (as Kurt Bittner joked) as well. Noone occupied their attention (possibly because of the language barrier), so I’ve turned that into 2-3-hour-long interrogations!

The Bag ‘Shift Happens. Be Agile’ has a nice slogan, but poor quality 🙂 Lots of spam from sponsors and small notebook with the pen. Felt like I’m on my local UfaDevConf conference.

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Snowden’s Keynote

I’m so glad that I’ve attended to one of Dave Snowden’s speeches! He’s an amazing guy, I love his approach to not treat metholodogies and frameworks as silver bullets, I love how he merges anthropology with IT – and I share this approach wholeheatedly (given my specialization in Applied IT in Psychology).

Keynote was called COMPLEXITY, CULTURE AND CONFUSION. Snowden described cynefin model, which I find as an universally applicable framework for sense-making. My experience with cynefin emerged when we were trying to find an already-existing model of describing various projects we had at SkuVault with Ksenia. And guess what: it fits and describes how we firefight, develop new features, research/migrate/stuff bumps as a sequence of cause-effect perfectly (and I’ll write about that soon).

Key points:

  • Perception over mindset: I’m so agreeing with him, that mindset cannot be changed after it’s declared to be agile: you start with slow process and transparency improvement – and over the time the team becomes more agile. And only then the inner understanding of the business agility is fulfilled.
  • As soon as the company declares it’s now agile – it’s definitely the opposite (which is derived from the first bullet).
  • There’s a thin line between simple and chaotic systems in cynefin, and you may even not see if you’re already in chaos: it may be calm on the outside.
  • Work on company’s perception among the clients. Clients remember all past negative events you had. Interview the clients / market, and make sure you address the question: ‘what can we do so that clients don’t say this the next time’, instead of justificating your actions.
  • Company’s culture is to be inherited. There should be a knowledge sharing, when the creators transmit their values to the others, share both good and bad experiences over the course of the work.
  • Waterfall is not bad (thank god finally more and more people start telling that).
  • And yes, finally, SAFe and NEXUS stop being dynamic, when they scale up! And that’s the disconnection from the original Agility idea!

The latter part of me interacting torturing Snowden with questions on remote distributed teams with huge timezone difference, processes and estimations was indeed very satisfying! Lesson learned from almost every speaker I had time to chat with: SkuVault’s case is unique and you empirically find your own path of comfortable pace, workflow and communication.

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Mr. Snowden also shed some light on asynchronous conference calls they had back at IBM, which seems like a very interesting idea to try now.

Kurt Bittner of Scrum.org

Kurt Bittner was talking about ‘5 THINGS YOU NEED TO DO TO SCALE YOUR AGILE ADOPTION’ (http://www.summit.agileturkey.org/session/5-things-you-need-to-do-to-scale-your-agile-adoption/).

 

 

Later on, I sneaked out to him while he was listening to some old Van Halen stuff, and started to ask tricky questions:

  • How does Scrum work, when the team is distributed, when there’s a language barrier, when timezone difference is 9-10 hours? (>> scrum works, but that depends on how comfortable the team is overall with scrum and everyone’s got own approach, mixed with constraints that every organization has).
  • We recently worked on migrating a huge chunk of SkuVault to a new architecture and it was chaotic, is Scrum a good way to handle such? (>> R&D projects may work with Scrum pretty good, however in our case there’s no clear answer because using micro-sprints for 1 day and have a whole retro for that seems obscurely inefficient and redundant).
  • Politics (eww)… Skiing & Hiking in Colorado and generally in the world.. Does iPad Pro 12″ really allow you to do general work without bringing your laptop (for mail and notes yup).
  • Estimates – what does he think of them, do we even need them fully in scrum? (>> Kurt is not a fan of estimates. If you got a timerange – better give it (doing this myself all the time), and estimate is really needed only in times when you have to understand project phase length).
  • Overcertification, and is there really a problem with Scrum Master certification and poor performance of fresh certified practitioners, which devalues overall CSM / PSM badges? (>> gosh, this is a painful topic to discuss with scrum.org rep, right? 🙂 So the consensus was that SCM certification really only shows that you know the basics, it doesn’t tell anyone about your experience on the battlefield and definitely not something to rely on when forcing scrum 😉 So in a way, yes, certified people quality in scrum and process building may devalue certification perks… kinda…)

Kurt was not just helpful, he’s been my savior in the middle of turkish-only-speaking crowd 🙂 I thank him greatly for expanded answers, references to his experience and knowledge sharing!

Other interesting speeches and people

Simon Orell told an interesting story on his experience in applying Scrum (although modified) in building gas turbines (!) in Canada (BILLION DOLLAR AGILE: APPLYING SCRUM VALUES AND PRINCIPLES TO LARGE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS, ) – COOL!

Scott Ambler told about pragmatic way of looking at company transformation in his ‘THE DISCIPLINED AGILE ENTERPRISE‘ speech.

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Notes on Austrian Startup Scene

I’ve recently been to Vienna, and visited local Austrian Startups Stammtisch. It went by the number #31, so quite a consistent event going on for more than a year now. The event took place in Sektor5 co-working space (which I have to recommend, because it’s a really cool place with only eur 18 per day! You can feel the international vibe and all that kinds of stuff).

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Sektor 5 got a cool terrace 🙂

Some of the stuff learned:

  • Bureacracy. In order to open a traditional gmbh company, you may need to be patient and get a lot of papers and formalities. It can take up to 120 days.
  • Government support. However, the good side, is that the process of bureacracy is not that painful, as the govt. is on your side and supports businesses will to change the country to innovation-driven economy. Grant system is strong here (http://www.austrianstartups.com/grants/)
  • Hard to notice, when you’re from Russia, but Vienna is quite close to strongest european mainland startup hub: Berlin. An hour-flight only 🙂
  • English is embraced throughout the IT startups. So yaay!- Expats! However, you’re more welcomed, if you speak deutsch. And because socialistic mindset, a good Austrian professional is mostly more preferable, than a great expat 😉 And there are loads of cool pros in Austria.
  • Tons of sessions and meetups happen in Vienna, Salzburg and Graz. May keep you busy almost 100% of your time. There was a great atlassian event in Graz, that I wanted to attend, but didn’t. Sad.
  • Great startup (and established IT companies) scene! Some of the big startups from Austria include: Runtastic (surely you’ve heard about it), bikemap (great stuff, more route-oriented than strava), Shpock (my facebook is overloaded with it’s ads now), mySugr (basically an ecosystem of apps made for people with diabetes, by people with diabetes) and lots of others.
  • Vienna is extremely lovely!
  • Met great ppl from Austria, Ireland and Eastern Europe 😉
    • Hey to Odessa guys, who created a venture find and were searching for partners (Crop Inc),
    • Good day to you, devs from Romania and Hungary,
    • Hi to Robert from heysharing.com.

A lot of info, funds, grants, support and meetups can be found at AustrianStartups.com

Wish I had more time to dive into Austrian IT scene. This summer I’m visiting Berlin, and I’m sure I’ll be even more sad, cause I’ll have even less time than in Vienna.

Keep up the good work, Austria! Your IT health status is great 😉

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Cider is nice here too 🙂