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Saturday, March 17, 2012

What's in the background of Matt's Blog?

Good question.  It's called "Multithreaded" and it was captured when I was in the Chicago O'Hare Airport in 2005 and is available under the Creative Commons license.

More from the "Abstrakt" set are available here.


iPad SketchUp - Finger Painting made less messy

When I got my iPad (third-hand generation one--work sponsored), I started exploring the possibilities of using it for drawing thanks to inspiration that I received from an artist friend of mine, Adolfo Isassi.  Both of these were done as "emergent" drawings.  In other words, I didn't know what I was getting myself into until I started to see it take shape in front of me.  That's actually something I tend to do regularly as my drawing/sketching tends to be a form of meditation or a way of keeping myself in motion while I take in information in forums such as presentations, conference calls, meetings, etc.  I used to get in trouble for this behavior when I was in class as a child, but I never stopped.  I wonder how many other people doodle/draw in this fashion....

Both of these were created using SketchUp and my finger was used as the stylus.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

AgileAustin Conference Pitfall! Theme

About a month ago, the AgileAustin Conference Team was discussing various ideas on themes for the conference.  Janelle Klein originally had some ideas around problems with trying to adopt "A"gile (as opposed to agile--more on that later).  Paraphrasing her idea, it would be framed as a conference on Agile Problems.  I thought that was a brilliant idea as we've seen so many challenges on so many levels over time.  However, the consensus from the conference team was that it may not be inclusive enough or have more of a negative focus.

So, I had a problem that needed fixing, and harkening back to the 1980's where the A-Team could solve anything, I decided to call upon that golden era with a single word that evokes memories of massive problems overcome and treasure gained, all under 2KB of RAM--"Pitfall!"

Here was my concept drawing that I doodled during the meeting:

I threw it up on the whiteboard to see what everyone thought.  A lot of folks in the room identified with it and really liked it.  We delved into the various aspects of what it meant, and we started tweaking the concept.  I originally wrote "For Use by Intermediate and Experienced Teams" but was swayed by folks who thought we could be more inclusive, so I wrote "For Use in Learning Agile Organizations." I realize I was trying to focus our conference on the "swingers" to focus our efforts in the conference.  However, when I heard how many were planning to attend that were very new to agile concepts, I changed my mind.  There will ALWAYS be pitfalls for new teams running into that brick wall or teams that had been swinging through the jungle for a while.

The theming is excellent--gold bars (e.g. technical debt reduction, cost-of-delay value measurement, exploiting variability for profit), brick walls ("doing" vs. "being" agile, queues, siloed knowledge, lack of transparency), logs (technical debt, not focusing on engineering principles, work-in-process, beauracratic processes), aligators, scorpions, pits...It's a rich area for metaphor to say the least.

We ended with a decision that this might not be appropriate for a main conference theme, but it could certainly work for one of the four conference tracks.  I'm happy with that, especially given my recent thoughts on the "Mix Tape" Open Space.

I'd love to hear what everyone else thinks here!

Oh, and here's a simulation of how I spent a great deal of time in the mid-1980s.


Friday, March 2, 2012

AgileAustin Conference 2012 - "Mix Tape" - Does anyone have Open Space experience?

There are some really exciting things happening with the conference planning and things are proceeding nicely.  I noticed however that the team had initially been struggling with some of the following challenges:
-          Should it be paid vs. free?
-          Should it be on a Friday or Saturday?
-          Should it be content tracks or Open Space / Unconference?
-          What should our theme or themes be?

It dawned on me that AND is often more helpful than OR, so I came up with a proposal (enclosed) for a Saturday Open Space that would be free for all conference participants.  It would also be free for anyone else who wanted to attend that was not a paid conference attendee J

The theme is “mix tape” (80’s lingo—it could be “mashup” 00’s lingo) where the goal would be to have every session be a mix of at least two (more = better) disciplines getting together to achieve agility.  These can be cross-functional, cross-organizational, etc.  The classic example is something like DevOps, but what about UX and QA, executives and individual contributors, technical writers and salesfolk, chip designers and product marketing folks?  It could also be a conference track in and of itself and the open space could riff off of that.  Think about it—one day of presentations/workshops, and the next day of engaged discussions. To me, this is a really exciting idea.

In my typical style, I have signed up to run this if no one else does.  However, seeing as I’ve never run an open space conference before it would be really nice if there was someone in the community who had the experience and wanted to partner with me in this effort. 

Please let me know if this strikes your fancy and you have some relevant experience in doing this type of thing.  As usual, we’ll have all the logistical support (room, food, sponsor, etc.) from AgileAustin.

Thanks everyone!