Agile Australia 2012 – let them eat cake

Over 850 ‘Agilists’ have congregated in Melbourne for Agile Australia’s annual talk and vision fest.

Delegates were treated to an inspirational key note address from former Australian of the year Fiona Wood, Director, WA Burns Service.

Dr Wood shared her insights into how to make teams function at their highest frequency in times of critical need when blitzkrieg thought process of accuracy and mental clarity are paramount.

Her perspective from the world of emergency health, and the importance of cultivating strength and empowerment in the individual in order to create a higher functioning whole unit, crystallised many of the themes that emerged during Day 1’s sessions.

A key theme has been the emergence of Agile as a methodology and a tool for change agents, rather than it’s commonly held perspective as being merely a software platform tool.

As ThoughtWorks’  Marc Galbraith said in his AgileTrek – The Next Frontier session, Agile is now whole of business tool, a methodology that is now viable for business outside of the technology delivery space.

“What we find when working with non software teams that anything goes. There is no technical practice here, so anything goes in terms of innovation and innovation is what Agile is all about,” Galbraith said.

Fundamental to the Agile process is getting the correct team on board. “You have to get the team right does the team want to innovate or are they here for the ride?”

NBN Co’s Agile advocate Michael Bromley gave a highly engaging talk on how to hire the highest functioning Agilesque employee.

His tips come from instinctually gravitating to curious innovators that like to challenge, reinvent, make decisions quickly and take risks

“Courage is all about risks and doing that wisely, knowing when to take these risks. Not only does it take risks to make things better but also to say where you are doing it wrong,” he tipped.

Embracing failure and learning from it also emerged as a core theme. Several sessions riffed on the gifts that an epic fail can give a team, a project and a company.

ThoughtWorks UK consultant Tom Sulstan spoke of failure as not being in the release of a product and the world shrugs but failure is actually not having coping mechanisms when your thing fails.

In order to embrace the learnings from failure he suggested starting a culture of “fail cake”. “If you break something you have to bring cake to your desk…everyone comes to talk. No one can get angry when you have cake in your mouth.”

Failing passionately and doing so in order to succeed and then moving on, denotes the core of Agility.

“When you hire good people , hire them fast and pay them well. Give them context then get out of their way and let them do it. well. High performance people want that context and control and have the ability to fail or change on their own,” Bromley added.

See you tomorrow!
Agile Alien

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