Agile Tour Riga 2012 Report

Agile Tour Riga 2012 Report

I presented the post-lunch keynote session in Riga, Latvia for the Agile Tour RIga 2012 conference last Thursday. This is my overview of the conference in general.

Firstly, the people. I enjoyed the welcoming, friendly vibes from all the organisers, speakers and attendees alike. The venue – Hotel Islande – was a very grand and new hotel and conference centre. The conferencing seemed well-sorted, but other aspects such as break-out areas, a functioning bar, and general support for helping meaningful conversations happen failed to meet my needs.

The Morning Sessions

I found much to like in the opening keynote by Andrea ProvaglioThe Beating Heart of Agile“. He and I seem to be much on the same page on many matters, excepting perhaps why the Elves leave.

i spent the remainder of the morning in the Scrum Lego City Game run by Martin von Weissenberg. More on that in a separate post, later.

After a somewhat rushed lunch (the day’s schedule seemed to take on a life of its own) it was my turn.

My Session

Whilst being introduced – as an Organisational Psychotherapist – I noted the same low-level mirth (a.k.a. tittering, sniggering, or maybe nervous laughter) that I have remarked upon in a previous post. For me, this has ceased to be troublesome and has moved to being very intriguing. I’m sure it contains some deep truth, waiting to reveal itself.

The session itself was intended to be a “beginners'” introduction to Rightshifting, and as such several people expressed their satisfaction with the material.

I mentioned “Parrot Cages” once, but I think I got away with it.

[More soon]

You might like to take a look at the slides, or read more about the Marshall Model.

The Afternoon Sessions

I had wanted to listen to Piotr Burdylo, but the session was so packed that I opted for the session on Chef instead. This was probably a mistake as this was essentially an introduction to Chef, and having spent some months with Chef already, was looking for some insights into the Chef madness. In particular, I’d still like to understand the core design principles behind the tool. Are there any?

The closing keynote was by Matthias Skarin on “Continuous Improvement, Beyond Retrospectives”. Not exactly keynote material, I thought, but congruent nevertheless with my views on the role of experiment in finding improvements.

Due to my travel and the length of the conference day itself, I was sufficiently whacked to skip the post-conference party in favour of a quiet dinner with Mattias and Andre Heie Vik in the hotel. My apologies to anyone that had hoped for a chat in the evening.

Overall Impressions

Overall, I was impressed by the attentiveness of the audience and their eagerness to learn – as well as by the commitment of the speakers and organisers both. I also had the impression that the Latvia community is relatively isolated from the mainstream Agile community and the knowledge therein. A simple show of hands illustrated either a hesitancy to raise one’s hand, or a widespread unfamiliarity with what many in the global Agile community these days take as givens: Ackoff, Deming and Goldratt to name but a few.

The day as a whole also usefully reminded me just how many folks seem to be still struggling with the very basics of software development, things like programming , delivering the right thing, engaging people in their work, and so on.

Would I recommend you attend next year? Definitely. And one tip to make it even more useful: Do some homework before you go. I’d love to hear e.g. how many attendees had read one or more of the speakers’ blogs, looked at their Goodreads page or followed them on Twitter before coming along on the day?

– Bob

  1. Thanks for your report! I like how you relay the experience of relational flow, of meaningful connection.
    Looking forward to hear more about the Lego game.
    Why did the elves leave? (both reasons, please:-)
    I am glad that you perceive knowledge of Ackoff, Deming and Goldratt to be common in the agile community.
    My perception is less promising, and that may well be my biased perception. There’s always hope!

      • I had read the Steve Blank piece before. It makes an easy read, but not the whole story. Being a sometime Tolkien student, this is closer to my understanding:

        Translating this into an analogy for why senior and experienced engineers leave, I think it’s as much down to their “hearing the eternal call” to go and do something new as because they see the organisation changing around them (and have to pay for sodas).

        So I’d say the soda is like the (wakening) call of the sea bird as mentioned by Legolas. More a reminder of the Elves’ destiny than a cause of their leaving.

        Has this anything to do with rightshifting? Only a little, in that elves can be happy for a time in leafy glades (ad-hoc organisations) but eventually have to return across the sea to Valinor (synergistic orgs).

        – Bob

      • Thank you for elaborating on the concept of “leaving Middle Earth”, Bob. Steve Blank’s analogy is certainly effective and captivating, but on a deeper level I agree with your interpretation.



  2. Uldis said:

    Thanks for Your feedback as well as keynote presentation as I was one of the attendees.
    I think You are absolutely correct about lack of background knowledge – I have not heard about these guys before (but looking them up right now), so for me it is a gain.
    I guess there are still a lot of “agile work” to do in here 🙂

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