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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.


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