Some Observations From Agile 2010

A few quick observations on what we've seen at Agile 2010 this week:

  • Diversity. Agile 2009 attracted a diverse audience of developers, project managers, QA technicians, product managers, business analysts, and people in other roles. Agile 2010 is just as diverse, if not more so.
  • Upstream/downstream. Many of the best-attended sessions have covered the role of upstream and downstream groups in the Agile process. When I started with Agile, many development teams saw themselves as the value stream. If Agile 2010 is any indication, development teams have a more expansive, and therefore more realistic, view of what the value stream really entails.
  • Integration. The value stream, in this bigger sense, is one of many reasons why the tools vendors here are all talking about integration. No one assumes that a single tools vendor can provide everything (tasks, testing, builds, requirements, etc.). The tools within a single development team can be complex and diverse. Seen at the level of the value stream overall, the complexity and diversity increases by an order of magnitude. Tools need to find their niche and work well with their neighbors.
  • Serious games. I included a serious game in my session on Monday. By Wednesday, I had heard of several other games included in other sessions. Now that Agile is mainstream, people are looking beyond the process to improve the decision-making that improves the process.
  • Bigger thinking. At this conference, we're seeing a lot of Big Ideas that are not strictly Agile, but important to Agile's success. A great example is Israel Gat's observations on technical debt, something that every company should ponder seriously, whether they've adopted Agile or not.
  • The missing executive. Unfortunately, the one person missing from this conference is the executive. You can continue to make the same observations about the importance of executive sponsorship, but it's no good if you don't have a strategy for how to make that strategy work. Or, arguably, an executive committed enough to supporting Agile to show up and learn about it.

I'll have a lot more to say about the conference later, but I had a rare few minutes to dash off these thoughts before moving on to the next interesting conversation.