The Agile Community Needs to Embrace... Agile Thought Leaders at YOW! Australia 2011
The YOW! Australia Software Developer Conference is the premier software development conference in Australia and was held in Melbourne and Brisbane at the beginning of December 2011. The conference invites a diverse list of local and international speakers, many of whom are leaders in the Agile community. InfoQ had the opportunity to attend and took the opportunity of having such a large number of Agile speakers in one place to sit in on the sessions and ask them their thoughts on what is the most important thing that the Agile community needs to embrace in 2012 and beyond.
Mary Poppendieck, well known presenter and author of a number of Lean Software Development books presented a session on "Continuous Design" where she highlighted the need to question if we are developing the right thing. Her thoughts for the next year are:
We need to think bigger than software and be part of the whole problem. We need to stop talking about Agile in software terms and start talking about creating successful products that have a full cycle feedback loop to the customer experience. At its core, Agile has created a solid set of technical tools, but as history shows us, the processes come and go. Ultimately, you need to know why you are showing up to work in the morning.
Nigel Dalton, best known for his work with the digital business at Lonely Planet, is a partner at Luna Tractor and presented a session entitled "60 Years of Innovative and Agile Work Practices" which looked back at lessons we can learn from history in the lean and agile space. His thoughts are:
We need to get the developers not hating the "other" people, the "business". We need a holistic view and remember the truth is that team sizes are really 35-40 people, not a perfect size of 6. We need to know each other, talk to each other, look at boards and have conversations, and if we do we will have a leap forward in productivity.
Linda Rising, author of "Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas", presented a session called "Problem-Solving and Decision-Making in Software Development" where she shared a number a number of tips of getting the best out of our brains. She shared a number of thoughts:
Firstly, the testing wars continue around whether techniques like Test Driven Development (TDD) is testing or part of development. Secondly, continuous * (being continuous delivery through to continuous design) should continue to gain traction (but what is next is not clear). Finally, the next frontier is government (who are only just starting to seriously look at Agile) and how we deal with issues such as safety, mission critical systems and certification. Also, Agile has not made its way fully into enormous systems yet.
Jim Webber, Chief Scientist at Neo Technology and author of "REST In Practice" presented two sessions on "Highly Connected Data Models in NOSQL Stores" and "Domain-Driven Design for RESTful Systems". His thoughts are:
We need to strive for less ceremony as much of it is just demonstrating business value for the people paying the bills. We need to have less of the consulting-based agile, because engineering techniques are the best part of Agile.
Rebecca Wirfs-Brock, author and inventor of Responsibility-Driven Design, presented on "Why We Need Architects (and Architecture) on Agile Projects". Her thoughts on Agile looking forward are:
We need to be doing more to determine what works in different contexts such as small projects, large projects, greenfield projects and the like. Some of the practices and things we need to pay attention to are different. Also, we need to be doing more experiments and reporting on them and then changing how we work based on it. If we are doing practices the same way we were a year ago, then we are not being very Agile.
Joshua Kerievsky, founder of Industrial Logic and author of "Refactoring to Patterns", presented two sessions on "Lean Startup: Why It Rocks Far More Than Agile Development" and "The Limited Red Society". His views are:
The Lean Startup is a lot cooler than Agile, in my opinion, these days...and it can take you to a new level of agility. Agile does not clearly address if you a building the right thing. Lean Startup forces you to focus on the right metrics... it has taken a lot of what we have been doing in Agile and takes it much further.
We have been many years on the Agile journey and we need to remember that it is a long process and that we have to have the patience see it out. The key emerging practices are Continuous Delivery and Agile UX.
People need to think and stop the simplistic stuff. Lean is about maximising value with minimal waste. We need to do something that makes a difference and focus on systemic change. Ultimately, we need to think lean and be Agile.
It is clear from these thought leaders that there is still much continuous improvement required in a number of diverse areas in the Agile community. We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments on what the Agile community needs to embrace looking forward.