Notes from Agile2012

By: David Hawks | Oct 11, 2012 |  Article

Last month I attended the Agile2012 Conference, where the core themes were Agile Organization Transformation and thoughts challenging the effectiveness of the currently defined Product Owner role.

Agile Organization Transformation

  • We are failing at agile adoption 3 out of 5 times – Sahota
  • Do you have a deliberate plan on how you are going to change the organizational culture? – Sahota
  • The only thing of real importance that leader sod is to create and manage culture – Edgar Schein
  • Culture = how do we do things around here to succeed – Sahota
  • Read more: The Reengineering Alternative: A Plan for Making Your Current Culture Work by William E. Schneider
agile organization chart
  • Lots of talk about Being Agile vs. Doing Agile
    • Doing – Process, Tools, Instructions, Ceremonies
    • Being – Values, team reaction, understanding, adaptability, leadership everywhere, failure is ok
  • Wait until there is friction before you define new roles or processes
  • Navy seals have teams of 4 and some argue for 5, but everyone agrees 6+ is too much as it creates to  much communication overhead
  • Bad interactions pack 5x the wallop of good interactions
  • Bad is stronger than good. Bad behavior is stronger, longer-lasting, more contagious and more difficult to stop than good
  • Spiral Dynamics was an interesting tool to use when trying to measure team maturity
  • Jurgen Appelo How to Change the World

Product Owner Role Change?

  • Most companies are drowning in a sea of opportunity – Rubin
  • Interesting dimensions that affect what type of PO and process work – Patton
    • Are your users internal or external?
    • Do your users have control over the use of your product?
  • Velocity isn’t a measure of value. The outcome is where we need to measure if we are delivering value. Are we changing the world?  – Patton
  • Found a Jeff Patton presentation where he talked about the Underpants gnomes. He is now one of my new favorite thought leaders.
  • What if the PO role was defined as a servant to the team to help facilitate bringing the customer perspective closer to the team? – Patton
  • MVPe = minimal viable product experiment. Smallest viable experiment to validate a product hypothesis – Patton
  • We need to be focused on learning about outcomes – Patton
  • David Hussman
    • The product backlog is too much about delivery and not discovery
    • The Product Owner is structured as a singular failure which needs to be distributed
    • We need a group of people speaking with one voice
    • Stories often miss the real value
    • Focus on User-centered user experiences over user stories and product backlog
    • Once you are not bad at delivering, then you need to start focusing on delivering the right thing
    • Discovering through mapping
      • Name the goal
      • List a few examples (simple complex)
      • Walk a day in the life of each activity
      • Back up and resell the experience
    • The problem is that documentation isn’t read. It doesn’t allow us to get interaction and discovery
    • Can everyone on the team tell the story?
    • Leave the map whole. The map gets you discovery and then you create the delivery stories underneath which may duplicate.
    • Story maps show examples
    • Examples are a type of test
    • Story maps can drive testing
    • A test would be one scenario of a path through the story map
    • Story maps foster product thinking, product learning (MVP) thin sliced product discovery
    • Pragmatic bookshelf Videos $50 for 6 hours of content
    • When you are unclear, say ” can you give me an example?”


  • Played a great game where you start a story and each person in the circle adds to it
    • 1st round you start your statement with “yes, but”
    • 2nd round – “yes, and”
    • 3rd round – “yes, and because of that”
    • Try it and see which one takes the team into a very negative place and which one creates a much more positive and constructive discussion
  • High trust companies outperform low trust companies by 300% – Pixton



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