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InfoQ Homepage Interviews Phil Brock & Rebecca Parsons on the State of the Agile Alliance

Phil Brock & Rebecca Parsons on the State of the Agile Alliance


1. [...] Rebecca and Phil, thank you very much for joining us today. Tell us a little bit about what has been happening with the Agile Alliance over the last year.

Shane's full question: Good day. This is Shane Hastie with InfoQ. We are here at Agile 2014 and I am talking to Rebecca Parsons and Phil Brock. Rebecca is the chair of the Agile Alliance and Phil is the managing director and the person who, on a day to day basis makes a lot of the work of the Alliance happen. Rebecca and Phil, thank you very much for joining us today. Tell us a little bit about what has been happening with the Agile Alliance over the last year.

Rebecca: Well, one of the values that we have as an Alliance in terms of our objectives is internationalization and we have been doing a lot of activity with a group in Brazil and on Sunday, we signed our official partnership agreement with the Agile Alliance Brazil and we will be working closely with them on their upcoming conference in Florianopolis, Brazil in November. So, that is something that I am personally quite excited about – getting more of an international flavor to what is happening with the Alliance. We also are seeing increased interest from our membership and increased activity. We had a record number of people expressing interest in serving on the board – over 50 people submitted applications and, in the past, we often had fewer than 10. So, I think this is demonstrating increased engagement with our members. We have seen an increase in program activity, which is one of the major ways the Alliance serves its membership and serves the broader Agile community. So, all in all, we have a lot of activity going on and a lot of excitement that is being generated on the work of the Alliance.


2. And Phil, in your position of making things happen on a day-to-day basis, what do you see?

Phil: Well, certainly an increase in activity and all these friends that Rebecca has mentioned. Many of the services that Agile Alliance delivers are delivered via the website – so things like content that is returned to the membership and the larger community from the programs that are being operated ends up flowing back to the membership via the site itself. And that activity has been heading upwards at a significant pace. So, overall, it has just gotten a lot busier in the last year.


3. What are some of the types of content that are on the website? Is this available for members only, for the public in general?

Phil: We have some of all of the above. We capture between 40 and 50 sessions at the North American conference, with video and those are posted on the Agile Alliance website. Some are behind the membership firewall, some are completely free for the click. We also have subscribers and those are people who simply give us an e-mail address and receive a newsletter and want to keep up with the Agile Alliance events and happening and what not. But additionally, we have things such as the new Experience Reports program, as an example. That is a program in which people in the industry are being mentored to tell their stories and we have gotten some fantastic results back from that and those Experience Reports are posted on the website. Those are free for anybody to go for the click.


4. Great. Thank you. Rebecca, can you tell us a little bit more about what is happening in Brazil?

Rebecca: Well, there was a group of individuals who have been putting on an Agile conference in Brazil for the last few years and we have been working with them. One of our board members is from Brazil and has been involved in putting on some of the Agile conferences in Brazil and in South America and we have entered into a partnership agreement with them to help support the broader Agile community, not just in Brazil, but ultimately, we feel, across all of South America. So, we began talking with them actually about a little over a year ago and trying to see what is the way we could structure our partnership agreement. It is not a franchised chapter – they are an independent organization and we have a partnership agreement with them and so we will be working together to extend the Agile message and bring content and awareness of Agile throughout Brazil and then into South America.


5. And is that going to happen with other geographies, other places?

Rebecca: That is our intention. We are seeing Brazil as the first example and we are trying to work out the kinks. Although we serve a global membership, we have been primarily focusing our activities in the past within North America. There are things like language issues - we are having to deal with figuring out how to present content in both Brazilian Portuguese as well as English - there are currency issues, different cultural aspects of how to put things on. So we are seeing Brazil as just the first example, but we do want to proceed slowly and make sure we have all of the kinks worked out before we start to look at other regions. But we certainly do intend to see if there are other places where we could continue to roll out this model.


6. Phil, again, in that operational area, what has this partnership meant to you?

Phil: Well, it has been an interesting process, certainly. We have been collaborating, as an example, on developing the conference website for the Brazilian conference in November. We are also now working on translating content that is on the higher-level pages in the Agile Alliance website into Brazilian Portuguese. We hope to roll out that additional language overlay in this next quarter.

Shane: So, you are really moving into that internalization.

Phil:The only way for us to work in Brazil is to offer content in Brazilian Portuguese. So, we are heading in that direction.


7. What other types of things is the Alliance doing now as well?

Phil: We have a different program that is starting this year or happening this year or that we are experimenting with and we are going to be sponsoring the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing that will be held this October in Phoenix and this is the first time that we have really gone into another event and tried to reach out to a different community. The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, as it implies, is very heavily geared towards women technologists, it is a general computing event and we are seeing what kind of outreach we can make within that community to see if we can encourage more people to get involved in the Agile Alliance and in our activities. So, it is an experiment. We shall see what happens.

Shane: Inspect and adapt.

Rebecca: Yes.


8. Great. If I can ask you both just to round things off, where is or should be the Agile Alliance going? What is the future?

Rebecca: We are looking to see how we can better serve the broad community. For many years the Alliance has really been focused on spreading the Agile message and for many years, most of that has been talking to people who have not yet been exposed to Agile or who are new to Agile and as Agile becomes more and more mainstream and accepted, now we have to start to think about what we do we do to not just introduce new people to Agile but to continue to evolve other roles or how do we start to advance the state of the art. Not just spreading the word, but are there additional things that we can be developing? I think the whole notion of continuous delivery, for example, is quite a logical extension of Agile methods into a new area. What does this mean to actually take it all the way through to deployment? So, I think there are many other topics that we can start to address as we continue to serve the new audience as well. So we are looking at what we can do to better serve members of our community that perhaps we are not providing content or activities for, at this point.

Phil: Those are all excellent points. I would add that especially with the content that is being returned to us now from the various programs, from the Agile North American Conference program as well as some of these other programs, we are digging much deeper than we used to and I think that via the Agile Alliance website we really now are becoming a repository of amazing educational content that does really dive deeper. Now, we know that Agile is being accepted or at least is known and practiced at least in some pseudo-way in many environments, but I think there are many adoptions of Agile that are adoptions really almost in name only and the core competencies that they really need to develop to add that business value, we are now actually providing those educational resources to make it happen.

Shane: Great. Rebecca, Philip, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us today and good luck with the future of the Agile Alliance.

Rebecca: Thank you.

Phil: Thank you, Shane. Thank you for having us.

Oct 16, 2014