Speaker Abstracts

Max Keeler, Head of Global Operations, The Motley Fool: “A Fool’s Errand: Agile implementation and evolution at the Motley Fool”



AndreaChiou2BWAndrea Chiou, Agile Coach, Santeon:  “3 Techniques to Raise the Communication Bar on your Agile Team”

Project success =  f (listening, feedback, intentionality, practices).  To make your agile practices and processes come to fruition, you need to cultivate an environment that promotes listening, learning, inquisitiveness, intentionality and top notch feedback that everyone is comfortable with.

Agile projects succeed when there are frequent high-quality reinforcing feedback loops. I will share communication models based on Clean Language questions of David Grove and the Systemic Modelling techniques of Caitlin Walker that can greatly increase clarity, sense of purpose and listening skills within your team and collaborative endeavors.  These include: Clean Questions, Clean Feedback, and Clean Setup.

This is a hands-on, try it out, concrete practice session.


carlos Lopes2Carlos Lopez, Software Dude, Thoughtworks:  “Multiple Projects, Different Goals, One Thing in Common: The Codebase”

Are you developing new functionalities into branches? Have you ever experienced the pain of merging the changes into trunk?

The so called “merge hell” is one of the first and probably the most important smell tests that tells if you’ve been abusing  your source control manager branching capabilities and, most likely, hurting your productivity and your code quality as well. In order to move towards a continuous delivery approach, the practice of trunk based development suggests ways to avoid this type of issues like, among others, inconsistent feature sets, code that stays in an undeployable state for a long time, regressions introduced by semantic differences that arise during those joyful merging sessions, integration surprises with the other features, and the like.

Even if you are not a developer on your team you will benefit from the examples and techniques presented.


Damon PooleBWDamon Poole, Chief Agilist, Eliassen Group: “Riding the Agile Culture Shockwave”

If you are one of the people in your organization that is helping to increase the Agility of people, teams, or the organization overall, then you are a cultural change agent. According to Merriam-Webster’s, culture is “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization” and “a way of thinking behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization.” Agile brings a new set of attitudes, values, goals, beliefs, and practices; and a new way of thinking, behaving, and working.

In this highly interactive session, we will examine the kinds of cultural and behavioral changes that Agile can bring, the benefits of those changes, and the practices and techniques that can ease the inevitable culture clash. Participants will split up into small cross-functional groups which will go through a series of exercises to discover their current level of “Agile culture”, the many sub-cultures in an organization and their unique challenges, behavioral changes that lead to cultural change, and the opportunities that we all have to personally affect our organization’s culture.

One of the highlights of the workshop is a thought experiment called “the locked room” which gives participants an opportunity to see their organization’s culture in a new light, imagine a more Agile culture, and consider the changes required to move to that more Agile culture.


DanRawsthorne2BW Dan Rawsthorne, Senior Agile Coach, 3Back: “Scaling Scrum with Scrum”

Scrum is a very popular Agile Framework, but “out of the box” it is restricted to a single, co-located, Team working on a Single Product. Most situations are more complicated than that: multiple locations, multiple Products, multiple Teams, and so on.

I will introduce a few patterns (Well-Formed Team, Program Team, Workgroup, …) and show how they can be combined, using a few simple principles, to work in some quite complicated situations. I will also show how the two most popular scaling frameworks (SAFe and LeSS) can each be explained and improved by using these patterns.


DarrenHoevelBWDarren Hoevel, Agilist & President, Pliant Solutions: “Kicking off an Agile Product, Team and Culture”

As Agile sweeps through the industry at an amazing speed, organizations struggle with how to “transform” their culture and adapt their project execution in their new enterprise. Meanwhile, the business and IT struggle to understand what is expected from them as they enter new projects under the “Agile template”.

In this session, we will discuss how “setting the stage” for an Agile product, team and organization will help to level-set expectations and increase the probability of business value delivery by everyone involved. We will leverage standard project documentation, Agile best practices and facilitation games to emulate an Agile product kick-off. Our goal for this session will be to provide the group with an Agile kick-off “template” that will increase team buy-in and minimize team hurdles along your journey to happy customers.

DISCLAIMER: No magic fairy dust will be provided… just a compilation of tools for you to utilize as you feel fit.


JohnHughesBWJohn Hughes, Strategist & Agile Coach, Blackstone Technologies: “Testing Inside Your Timebox: Death to the Hardening Sprint”

Testing sprints? Hardening sprints? Why do so many of us have these and other ways to get around completing all our required testing inside our defined timeboxes? Isn’t our goal to produce deployable features at the end of every Sprint?

During our session, we will examine why it’s so hard to accomplish all necessary testing inside the iteration and show how to complete these tests within your timebox. Through interactive discussion and real world examples, we will provide insights on foreseeing, overcoming, and avoiding your hurdles and send you home with both long term methods and short term actions that will yield tangible results in achieving your goal.

Our session will:
• Illustrate the value of completing all of your testing inside your timebox
• Identify the challenges in completing all these tests in such as seemingly short period of time
• Discuss ideas and options to successfully overcome these challenges
• Explore how to enable your organization and environment for efficient, rapid testing
• Discuss real world examples of enablement and how we navigated the pain points of enabling testing processes that allow complete testing within an iteration
• Explore DevOpsSec and how achieving testing within your timebox is a precursor to DevOpsSec
• Provide short term tactics and actions to immediately improve your ability to complete your testing
• Allow you to voice your concerns and challenges and discuss potential solutions to these impediments

Most of us implement agile to reduce the time to deliver valuable working software and to increase the frequency of delivery with high quality through increased and earlier collaboration, shorter feedback loops, and reduced risk. While you can show improvement over Waterfall by performing typical agile methods, you cannot really live the dream without optimizing your agile execution.

You will leave this session armed with the right knowledge to improve delivery on your current project or start your new projects properly so that you or your clients can reap the benefits of efficient process and high-quality software capable of achieving continuous deployment of fully-tested code at the end of each iteration.


davidkaneBWDavid Kane, Agile Coach, Santeon“Making Movies and Software at the Speed of Thought”

Director Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, El Mariachi, Sin City) is an Agile Director. He enjoys making highly creative movies quickly and cheaply. His ambition is to make movies at the speed of thought. To achieve this goal, he works in small teams to develop the ideas, visualize them quickly, shoot the movie fast, and build the movie in layers.

This workshop will introduce Rodriguez’s approach to film making by screening several of his 10 minute flick school featurettes and we will explore how these techniques translate to Agile software development in a lively group discussion.


PhilipManketoBWPhillip Manketo, Senior Agile Coach, Eliassen Group: “Unlock the Power of Agile in Your Organization”

“More and more organizations are realizing the benefits of running projects using Scrum, XP, and/or Kanban at the individual team level. Unfortunately, the typically means that in a 12-24 business idea to production timeframe, the “Agile” part may only be a 1-3 month “construction” phase with rigid controls in place that all but eliminate most of the benefit of Agile.

 The root cause of this issue is that the whole organization is purpose-built to support and reinforce traditional methodologies while unintentionally impeding and discouraging the use of Agile methodologies. This is reflected in the organizational structure, physical location of people, the physical workplace, policies, procedures, governance, SDLC, contracts, vendors, belief systems, compensation, software tools, funding model, metrics, and more. A common belief is that all of these are set in stone and that Agile will need to fit in to this existing framework. As a result, many Agile adoptions eventually regress as the effort of working around the existing framework overwhelms the enthusiasm of the Agile evangelists.

Unlocking the full power of Agile requires an understanding that changing the status quo is a long-term, organization-wide, major initiative that will take significant resources to accomplish. Such an initiative will only be undertaken if the rewards are significantly greater than the cost. In this session, you will learn about the true barriers to Agile adoption; the surprising and significant financial benefits of organization-wide Agile transformation; and the Kotter Change Model, an approach for implementing major change management efforts.”


JohnSextro2BWJohn Sextro, Agile Expert & Coach, 9 Principles: “Coaching Affinity Estimation”

Most teams would rather work to deliver value to customers than spend time estimating stories.  In order to spend less time estimating and more time delivering value to the customer, many teams have adopted “Affinity Estimation”.  Using “Affinity Estimation” many teams have significantly reduced the time required to estimate and I have personally been involved in sessions that used to take 60 minutes and are now taking 15 minutes.  By using “Affinity Estimation” to compare new stories to real stories that were recently completed, teams are able to quickly and confidently provide an estimate without lengthy discussions and worries of the unknown.

The session will begin with a brief presentation highlighting everyday problems that coaches deal with when estimating stories.  Then, using volunteers from the audience, we will work through a series of exercises/games demonstrating the value of “Affinity Estimation” while teaching the audience and the volunteers how to coach these exercises for their own teams.



Linda Cook, Lead Agile Program Manager, International Credit

Doug Depew, Principle Agile Consultant, SolutionsIQ

“Taming the Agile Release Planning Beast”

Trying to figure out Agile Release Planning?  We’ve done it and we’ve done it well.  Twelve teams – done! Twenty teams – done! Forty teams – done!  If your organiztion needs to tackle the enterprise release planning beast, you should attend this session.  Whether you are struggling with planning a large agile release planning event or simply trying to figure out how to improve your current agile release planning events, this session will provide nuggets of learning from planning teams with hundreds of people spread around the globe.  Many organizations have tried to conduct enterprise agile release planning and gave up because they could not overcome some of the basic obstacles like who to invite, where to hold the event, and how to keep everyone engaged.

If you are trying to figure out how to coordinate two teams or dozens of teams, this session will provide insights into what works and what doesn’t.  You will gain expereince by practicing actual agile release planning exercises to help you prepare for your orgainzations next agile RP event.  The learning expereince starts with a presentation on the key steps to consider as you launch a large agile program.


Richard ChengBWRichard Cheng, Scrum Trainer & Principal Consultant, Excella: “Agile at the Office of Personnel Management: The USAJOBS Product Owner’s Perspective”

The USAJOBS program was a highly visible, time sensitive program, with potentially high government dollar value. To effectively execute the project, the USAJOBS program decided on an Agile approach and in this approach, government program managers were identified to be Agile Product Owners. This session features the experiences, thoughts, and challenges facing the Agile Product Owners on USAJOBS. Key thoughts from this session include:

1. The differences between Project Management and Product Management

2. Shifting from big up front planning to responsible up front planning combined with just in time planning

3. Managing Product Owner bandwidth expectations

4. The impact of Agile from a Product Owners view

The session is hosted by the former USAJOBS Product Owner along with an Agile Coach.  The session will explore Product Ownership and Agility on Federal Programs.


RolandCuellarBWRoland Cuellar, Agile & Lean Six Sigma Management Consultant: “IV&V for Federal Agile Programs: A Customer Experience Report”

Many federal government organizations have a requirement to perform independent verification and validation (IV&V) of software development projects for purposes of risk identification and compliance
As more federal agencies move towards agile, they will need to devise agile-appropriate methods for evaulating agile teams and contractors for process performance and project risk identification.  Traditional approaches to IV&V are heavily biased towards waterfall, gate reviews, and traditional SDLC artifacts and hence, do not work well within an agile environment.  The document-centric approach that has traditionally been used is inappropriate and ineffective for agile teams as it does not find the right risks and does not find them early enough in the development process.  Agile programs have their own process-specific risks and issues that need to be evaluated uniquely.

We, at DHS/CIS, have developed a unique, agile-appropriate IV&V model for a large agile transformation effort within DHS.  The model is used to discover process risks, design risks, code risks, and testing risks in real-time for agile teams.  The model serves as actionable and real-time feedback to teams, contractors, and federal managers that can be used for process improvement, vendor evaluation, and as a means to find and elevate delivery risks on agile projects.  Positive results, challenges, and recommendations related to the development, roll-out, and execution of this agile-appropriate IV&V model will  be shared.


shannonEwanBWShannon Ewan, Enterprise Agile Coach and Trainer & Leadership Coach, Co-Agility: “The Art of Facilitating Agility”

From an agile implementation perspective, emphasizing the art of facilitation is an incredibly powerful tool for creating a culture of collaboration, and then leveraging that culture as a springboard to organizational transformation.  With strong facilitators at the gateway between business and IT, within IT delivery teams, and at key intersection points within an organization, the challenges to achieving organizational agility diminish. Strong facilitators bring forth the wisdom of teams and provide a container for self-organization. Facilitation is the cornerstone of servant leadership.

The workshop will be a facilitated session, modeling a variety of group facilitation techniques. It will start using a technique called “simultaneous surveys” to get an idea of the group’s baseline definitions of facilitation, empowerment, and organizational agility. After 5 minutes of processing the outputs, participants will then engage in a modified “World Café” style exercise and use brainwriting to provide input on topics related to facilitating individual and team empowerment. This activity session close with a large group wrap-up, identifying key takeaways and open questions.

The remaining time will be used to present key facilitation concepts and illustrate the synergy between facilitation and empowered agile teams / organizations.


JudyNeherBWJudy Neher, Owner, Celerity Technical Services“Built in or Bolted On? Building Secure Systems with an Agile Team”

With security being a historically waterfall process, how do we address the security of our system or application as an agile team?

Through the lens of Scrum team members, we will examine the roles and responsibilities of individual team members to enable producing a secure product.

Developers, testers and systems engineers all have specific obligations regarding the security of their product, but must bring those to bear in a collaborative fashion.  We will take each of these roles individually and focus on how their individual skillsets coalesce together to build a secure system.



Kimberley Lewis Parsons, Leadership & Team Coach, Created for Greatness, LLC (left)

Carmen Sullo, Associate Coach, Created for Greatness, LLC (right)

“The Trust Impediment: Cultivating Organizational Trust for Tremendous Results”

Often times, trust is the silent impediment that impacts teams’ ability to be most effective in their performance and delivery of results. The trust impediment is often hidden because teams are hanging posters with trust as a team norm or organizations have trust listed as a core value; but, the missing link is the establishment and maintenance of a culture of organizational trust between all levels of the players in the agile structure.

Moving beyond the feeling or value of trust to the impact of it on behaviors and bottom-line at leadership and practitioner levels opens the door to resolving this barrier and increasing results. In this session we’ll explore the tangible expense of an organizational culture lacking trust and a solution for teams and leaders to move towards greater trust.


DanNeumann2Dan Neumann, Agile Coach, NeuManagement, LLC: “Principle-Centered Agility: Your Path to Better Options”

Do you want to have a high functioning Agile team? If so, this session is for you! We’re going beyond the rules of agile frameworks and learning to apply those principles to improve our teams and companies! The 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto capture the reasons we are able to deliver better software. This is the “why” for some of the rules behind Scrum and Kanban. The principles ought guide our decisions about practices, scaling, and solving tricky problems!

In this session, we will use the 12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto as our foundation. Then, we will  apply techniques such as Force Field Analysis to apply the principles to your challenges at work. Lastly, we will use principles of change management to make the change more likely to stick.

The outline for the session is:

  1. Explore the principles; which ones are present or absent in your environment?
  2. Introduce Force Field Analysis
  3. Use Force Field Analysis to explore what drives a specific behavior
  4. Use the Agile Principles to generate new options for tackling your team’s challenges
  5. Explore effective change management techniques

With these five activities, you will leave with a framework for change to apply when you return to work and continue on your agile journey.


ItamarGoldminz2Itamar Goldminz, Director, Product Operations, Opower: “Lean Scaling: From Lean Startup to Lean Enterprise”

Congratulations! You’ve found the right product-market fit, and it’s now time to scale your business. But growing your organization often means slower decision making, increased complexity, and higher chance for misalignment. How can you grow your business while staying lean? Learn five key lessons on how to use smart tooling and process to address these complicated growth challenges.


JoshuaSeckel2Joshua Seckel, Chief of Processes & Practices, US Custom & Immigration Services, “No Defects in a Government Setting?  What Does That Really Mean?”

We have heard a lot about no defects or zero defects, but is that reasonable or achievable in the government context?  How else can each sprint be deployable? Or how can you get to true flow with each story deployed to production?

This session will explore how to get to a no defects posture across all of the tests required in a government setting.

We will look at the various types of testing: Unit, Functional, Integration, Security, 508, System, User Acceptance, etc.  We will look at what defects mean and how (or if) they should be tracked; potential impediments from government organizations that may exist in reaching a no defect state of software delivery; and tools and techniques that can be used successfully in the government setting to address the impediments and achieve no defects in released software.


RajIndugula2Raj Indugula, Vice President, Technology, Lithespeed, “Guiding Principles & Enabling Practices”

Despite the belief that a shared context and collaboration drives quality, too often, software testers and quality professionals struggle to find their place within today’s integrated agile teams.  This session is a practitioner’s view of testing and testing practices within an iterative/incremental development environment.  We will begin with a discussion of some of the challenges of testing within an agile environment and delve into the guiding principles of Agile Testing and key enabling practices.  Agile Testing necessitates a change in mindset, and it is as much, if not more, about behavior, as it is about skills and tooling, all of which will be explored.


George Paci, Agile Coach, Santeon: “Keeping Planning Tools Out of Planning Meetings”

Agile planning tools started simple: index cards, markers, and a table or wall. On many projects, for many reasons, these old stalwarts have been supplemented (or even replaced) by software solutions: Rally, VersionOne, Jira Agile, Trello, Trac, Scrumy, and literally dozens more, even BaseCamp. These tools have undeniable advantages over cardboard and ink in some aspects, but they’re not superior in every situation.

This session will highlight the pitfalls of centering planning meetings around software tools—even the best ones, like [your ad here]—and make a badly-needed sales pitch for index cards on a wall (compensating for Oxford’s oddly anemic marketing effort). You’ll see how cards can make better use of your team’s time and brainpower, promote parallelism in meetings, and increase engagement by all participants.


DavidBulkin2David Bulkin, VP Training Services, LitheSpeed: “Build Righter Stuff with HDD (Hypothesis Driven Development), a.k.a., HDD is TDD for the Business”

With TDD (Test Driven Development) a coder writes a small test, and then just enough code to make the test pass, cleaning up the code along the way.  Imagine applying the same concepts to the business case.  Now stop imagining and use HDD (Hypothesis Driven Development) to test your business case and refactor it for success.

Our hands on session will cover the basics of ATDD (Acceptance Test Driven Development) and BDD (Behavior Driven Development) to specify by example, so all stakeholders get on the same conceptual page, developers build what the business really wants, and testers can prove it.  But building what we want it not enough, so we will go further and use HDD to validate, or invalidate, business outcomes, focusing us on value instead of on adherence to specification.

This is a hands on session, so come with pen, paper and a readiness to learn by doing!


MattPhillips2Matt Phillips, Director, Project Management, Appia, Inc.: “Cero a Cien: Creating Excellent Distributed Teams with Agile Principles & Values”

Building successful distributed delivery teams is a challenge. Leveraging the benefits of Agile methodologies is even harder. However, if you identify your vision of success, create a plan, and apply Agile principles and values, it is possible to create high-performaning, distributed Agile teams.

During this session, Matt, the Director of Project Management at Appia in Durham, and Jose Naranjo, a Team Lead with Velocity Partners in Colombia, share how they used Agile’s core principles and values as the foundation to build a successful nearshore team. Their experience report will show how to organize the teams, set up relevant working agreements and avoid the common “offshore/nearshore” pitfalls.

If you have participated in similar endeavors and did not see success, are currently working with distributed teams, or are about to embark on an initiative to build a new team, this presentation will provide a road map and useful strategy.


JeffNielsen2Jeff Nielsen, SVP Engineering, 3Pillar Global: “The Power of Commitments”

Doing what you say you will do, when you say you will do it, is one of the key ways to build a relationship of trust. Conversely, nothing erodes trust more quickly than a couple of missed deadlines or broken promises.

The ability to make and keep commitments is one of the hallmarks of a true Software Craftsman. Likewise, the most effective teams harness the power of commitment to forge strong and healthy partnerships with their customers. This is a surprisingly rare skill, but one that can be learned and improved.

In this session we’ll look at the different kinds of commitments we make as individuals and teams. We’ll distinguish between commitments and predictions. We’ll reflect on why we sometimes commit when we shouldn’t and vice versa. Most importantly, we’ll practice some crucial “commitment conversations.”


AmySilberbauer2Amy Silberbaur, Solution Architect, Enterprise Scaled Agile (SAFe), Strategic DevOps, IBM Rational: “Transforming How We Deliver Value: Agility at Scale”

Continuous delivery in software development allows us to deliver incrementally, get quick feedback, and react. A key enabler is the adoption of agile techniques and methods; key inhibitors in the enterprise are size, scale, and complexity. In particular, within large government organizations, teams face immense challenges in both the adoption of Agile and Lean principles but also scaling that adoption to an enterprise level.

The Rational ALM organization is a typical enterprise, and our teams have (mostly) adopted agile principles. But agility at enterprise scale is not the same as team-based agile development. Now we must coordinate work across multiple interdependent teams to deliver value, rather than focusing on developing a single product or application.

Amy Silberbauer shares her experience of adapting SAFe in an enterprise organization and describes the struggles, mistakes, and successes throughout that process. Amy identifies the key challenges, including the need to identify value, provide the right data for various audiences, and the inherent required culture shift. Learn how to avoid some common pitfalls as you and your own organization embark on this same transformation.


SaraHandel2Sara Handel, Principal Consultant, Business Intelligence Lead, Excella Consulting: “Why Ask Why? Try Agile BI”

Agile methodologies originated with and gained recognition from software development projects. With an enviable track record of success, more and more organizations are adopting Agile as the standard approach to managing all types of projects.

You rarely hear about the enviable track record of success managing Business Intelligence projects so you may find yourself thinking about using Agile on your next BI project. Once you decide to try Agile, it can be tough to know where to start. In this presentation, we will focus on the first major step in getting started: Assess the Current State.

Before you embark on implementing Agile, a crucial path to success starts with knowing where you are today and where you want Agile to take you. The group will identify what we think are the biggest BI challenges. We will go through a provisional maturity model to determine what questions to ask and will discuss how those challenges may or may not be addressed by taking steps to increase your organization’s Agile BI maturity.

At the innaugural DC Business Intelligentsia meetup, Fadi Stephan and I co-presented on this topic.


NayanHajratwala2Nayan Hajratwala, Lean/Agile Coach, Chikli Consulting: “Agile in the US Treasury’s Bureau of Fiscal Service”

Deliver working, bug-free software daily using Acceptance Test Driven Development, TDD, Continuous Integration, Automated Infrastructure and Cloud Based Deployments connected to Internal Data Centers. All of this in a regulated, siloed, schedule driven and extremely political environment. Add to this long release cycles, slow hardware procurements, technology review boards, and shared operations staff. Think it’s not possible?

Join Alyssa Riedl, Director at the Bureau of Fiscal Service and Nayan Hajratwala, Lean/Agile Coach as they discuss their experiences delivering a highly visible and valuable project based on Agile Principles and Practices where no one thought it was possible.


MattBadgley2Matt Badgley, Agile/Lean Coach, VersionOne: “Yes, Words Really Do Mean Things – Establishing a Shared Language”

During this conference, within the books we read, in our day-to-day lives — we use words as a means to negotiate, interact, express, and do. Words, whether written or spoken can play differently based on the people that exchange them. In the world we are living today, words are bantered so freely that they cause a war or unite a community or save a marriage or demoralize a team.

As we see today, the concepts of agile are permeating the enterprise and scaling out from the team to the program management office to the executing chambers. Words are often mis-used, mis-understood, and lead to bad behaviors.

In this session, we’ll explore words — the words we use everyday around software development. We’ll look at the impact of using the word Velocity and the ambiguity of the word Team and explore the impact of using the word Sprint.

To help solidify the learning of this workshop, we’ll use a couple brainstorming games including Graphic Jam and Visual Glossary (both Gamestorming techniques) to explore the words. Then we’ll use the collective experiences to either find better ways to explain our words or establish brand new ones. Our ultimate goal is to establish a way an organization can establish an ubiquitous language around the work they do.


AlexeiZheglov2Alexei Zheglov, Founder & Principal Consultant, Lean A-to-Z, Inc.: “Lead Time: What We Know About It and How It Can Help Forecast Your Projects”

The session is about just one metric, but a very important one – lead time.  Simply put, lead time is the time between the start of work and delivery.  And there is a catch: if the work has to wait in a queue or if we switch from it to work on something else, the clock keeps ticking until we deliver.  Lead time has proven to be a difficult metric to game.  Even when people try, they often end up delivering faster, with less delay – win-win.

We will look at examples of real-world lead time data for several different types of work from different companies.  We will discuss the very recent new insights into lead time distributions.  Those will then lead us to building useful probabilistic delivery forecast models for your process.  Building such models is surprisingly easy and takes surprisingly few data points.  The models, in turn, enable better decisions.

Are your ready to embrace the probabilistic approach?


BradPowell2Brad Powell, President/CEO, Axiaware: “It’s a Bit Like Dating”

When there is an existing relationship between an Agile service provider and their customer, a level of trust exists. The customer trusts that the provider will deliver. The provider trusts that the customer will be a good product owner. There is an openness that can only come with working together. It’s sort of like being married.

But what about providers and their customers/prospects that have no established relationship? Will the customer trust the provider to deliver on time and on budget? And what if the customer is not accustomed to using Agile? Will they trust you if you don’t have a detailed project plan extending for 12 months with an accompanying Gantt chart? Beginning any new customer/vendor relationship can be daunting. Add unfamiliarity with Agile into the mix and it may seem like a giant leap of faith.

So the big question is, how do you get to a state of trust and openness? How do you get to that married-like state?

The answer: you date first.


DaveChesebrough2Dave Chesebrough, President, Association for Enterprise Information: “Building the Agile Program Management Function: Lessons for the DSDM World”

DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method) is one of the original signers of the agile manifesto.  DSDM has quite successfully employed in the U.K. and Europe.  It is now seeing increased interest from US organizations such as General Motors, HRSA and even the White House. Compatible with other methodologies such as SCRUM, it provides a comprehensive approach that blends agile methods with program and project management.  It emphasizes strong collaboration between business and technical stakeholders, and enforces “whole of the program” approach that allows for definition of roles, deliverables and milestones that reflect the unique nature of a program. DSDM uses a lifecycle designed to take projects from statement of need to final solution, balancing interests of all stakeholders to deliver solutions that meet cost, schedule and quality objectives.

The Agile PMO is the instantiation of these methods in an organization as a center of expertise and excellence. It can execute agile programs as well as develop and grow this capability within the organization, equipping others to follow agile principles within the confines and context of corporate or agency governance.

 Dave Chesebrough is also facilitating the Panel Discussion: “Considerations for Agile Adoption at the Team, Project, and Organizational Levels”

KatySaulpaugh2Katy Saulpaugh, Senior Consultant, Excella Consulting: “Agile Pushback: Change is Hard.  Changing to Agile is Harder.”

Adopting Agile enables an organization or team to fundamentally change their operating ethos, empower team members and improve project outcomes – and yet those advocating that organization change to Agile are repeatedly confronted with “Agile pushback,” because it “will be too hard,” or say, because “it has always been done this way.”

How can you use Change Management to help organizations embrace change and make successful Agile adoption?  The key to overcoming the Agile pushback and successfully adopting Agile is the intentional engagement of the 4Cs of Change management – Coaching, Commitment Culture and Communication.

  • COACHING: Using change management as a tool to deepen relationships that help you and the organization leads understand the steeped organizational concerns. This will simultaneously address the core concerns and pushback and while formulating Agile champions.
  • COMMITMENT: Engaging the team will increase commitment to the shift to Agile through a clearly defined mutual understanding of the opportunity of Agile.
  • CULTURE: Aversion to organization change of any size is often rooted in individual concern — using change management to provide the organization that the change will not be easy but the outcomes will benefit reduce the self-concern and helping the culture understand the4 Agile will empower the culture
  • COMMUNICATION: Agile implementation, like Change Management, is based on intentional communication that clearly articulates roles and expectations – eliminating waste and inefficiency.

Katy Saulpaugh shares her experience, successes and challenges when helping government and nongovernment organizations eliminate Agile pushback and increase Agile adoption. Katy will share case studies from both the public and private sector providing attendees with concepts, methods and change management tools that defeat Agile pushback and easily transfer to a current project or a future Agile adoption.


MaxSaperstone2Max Saperstone,  Senior Consultant: Test Automation, Coveros: “Implementing Effective Testing for Behavior Driven Development Using Cucumber-JVM”

Behavior Driven Development allows for high level, plain English tests to be written, and to describe and exercise a system. Unfortunately it is difficult to have these tests encompass all interfaces of a software system, and to reuse them in multiple scenarios. Specifying these tests to run at different levels and times without duplicating work is non-trivial, and frequently produces lots of rework.

This presentation will focus on Cucumber to provide a robust framework for BDD, but any BDD framework can easily be substituting following guidelines and practices covered in this talk. This is not your typical Cucumber tutorial. We will mostly be focusing on how to utilize Cucumber’s flexible structure in combination with the Java language how to write singular tests to run over multiple testing interfaces. This framework will build on the Cucumber basics to provide a generic model that also builds on the standard reports, giving additional information for debugging and traceability purposes. Test runners and inputs will also be discussed, to understand how to create more dynamic testing scenarios.


ValerieSantillo3Valerie Santillo, Agile Coach, Blue Agility: “The Role of a Leader in an Agile Organization”

We hear a lot about leaders who don’t “get” Agile and the impact they have on Agile adoption but, what is the role of a leader in an Agile Organization?

Agile requires a great deal of change in the way we approach, manage and execute delivery. And, while a great deal has been put in place to educate and support team members, Scrum Masters and Product Owners, there isn’t a great deal available to those outside of teams – especially leaders.  This discussion will present a description of an Agile leader for consideration and the results from two organizations:  One who applied the learning, and one who did not.


ScottRichardson2Scott Richardson, Business-Focused IT Executive, Agile Champion, Transformation Leader, Capital One: “Achieving Enduring Agile Success in Large Organizations”

Achieving lasting success with Agile in a large organization, division, or enterprise can be a challenge given many competing demands on priorities, budget, and mind-share.  Corporate culture and interests at different levels in the organization can also make it difficult to retain the early advantages that Agile brings.  How can leaders throughout an organization ensure that Agile is adopted organization-wide and that these benefits will endure?

In this talk we will share the experiences of a large and rapid adoption of Agile at the enterprise scale in corporate America.  With focus primarily on executive and senior leadership levels, we will identify specific Agile transformation methods that worked successfully in bringing about stunningly rapid Agile adoption across a large enterprise-wide IT organization, and we will contrast these with less successful management techniques that did not achieve the same results.  You will leave with a clear understanding of the critical elements that senior leaders and Agile sponsors can employ to achieve breakthrough Agile adoption and enduring value in your organization.


RolandBacklin2Roland Backlin, Senior Hansoft Coach, Hansoft AB: “What is Business Value to Alice and Bob?”

Every metric is not relevant in every context. Aggregating data and adding transparency is not the same thing as clarity and comprehension. Misunderstanding data using a reasonably intelligent brain – inevitably leads to the false conclusions.The way metrics are currently used unfortunately in too many cases fit the description above; they do not evolve, they carry a high cost and they cause flawed decisions. So what are our options? Can agile concepts provide the tools that lead to the right conclusions?

Alice and Bob need metrics that are relevant and motivating. Management need those metrics translated to that universal management level unit: $. Experiences from the field and conclusions from our customers’ practices.


DanLeFebvre2Dan LeFebvre, Executive & Agile Coach, FreeStanding Agility: “Great Teams Deliver!  How to Get Them Started on the Right Foot”

Have you ever been on a great team? I hope so. If not, have you ever witnessed a great team? How did it feel? Did you ever wonder if great teams can be encouraged? Are there methods for helping teams gel more quickly? Why should you care? Well it turns out the “secret sauce” of delivering great products is a great team. There is nothing like the productivity, energy, and innovation of such a team. Many studies show that a great team will deliver even in the most challenging circumstances.

For teams to truly form from a group of individuals, they need to establish trust, learn how to work together, and share a common goal. This session will show you how to help teams form through a collection of of activities and games that enable team members to learn about themselves, to learn about the work, and to learn about the process framework being adopted. Your teams will gel more quickly, produce value faster, and energize the team members.

In this session you will participate in various games and activities that help teams form. This will give you a feel for how the games are played and how to facilitate them. Give your teams the best chance to move from forming through performing as quickly as possible.



Brian Barr, CEO, AgileTrailblazers (left)

Naeem Hussain, Founder & COO, AgileTrailblazers (right):
“Hop On To the Release Orientation Trolley”

This session will cover the WHAT, WHY, and HOW of release orientation:

  1. What does it mean to be a release-oriented organization?
  2. Why should you move to release orientation?
  3. How do you make the shift to become a release-oriented organization?

WHAT: Project oriented organizations focus entirely on getting a related set of intent packaged into a container called a project and seeing that entire container move through from requirements generation to software release. Release-orientated organizations are singularly focused on continuously getting releases out the door that maximize business value delivery without being constrained to only releasing related business intent in the portfolio. To achieve the continuous release of software systems, organizations must apply lean thinking and principles to every aspect of their delivery frameworks and minimize the overhead associated with making releases with high quality. In this portion of the session, we will cover:

  • Agile organizational design and resource allocation to ensure maximum flow of shippable product to the release
  • Agile portfolio management, funding, and approval approach geared towards agile organizational design, smaller, incremental business intent approval and prioritization. Moving towards a mindset of customer value delivery in shorter iterations vs. delivering full projects. Moving away from large project funding towards capacity funding.
  • Lean configuration management and branching strategies focused on continuous releases
  • Automation strategies for a continuous integration, deployment, and testing model to allow scaling of a Release-Oriented organization
  • Fixed release schedules that provide a known cadence to delivery within groupings of business value streams
  • Lean, real-time architectural governance for new and significantly enhanced systems
  • The importance of holding and prioritizing retrospectives at both the team and release levels.
  • Creation of key Release-Oriented teams to provide the “glue” for the release and provide agile change management, software packaging and release

WHY: Release-orientation gets the entire organization to focus on the most important reason we exist as software developers – maximizing business value delivery through frequent, quality software releases. Moving the organization towards release-orienting thinking provides an invaluable lens for wise organizational decision making. In this portion of the session, we will cover:

  • Examples of decisions made when release-oriented vs. project-oriented
  • Key benefits realized when you have moved towards release-orientation
  • Enablement for scaling of agile frameworks when release-oriented
  • Release-orientation budgeting reduces organizational churn for resource allocation

HOW: The move from project-orientation to release-orientation is both a mindset shift as well as a framework practice change. For too many years, we as software developers, IT shops, and businesses have been successful delivering projects. In this portion of the session, we will cover:

How to sell the organization on the benefits of release-orientation

How to transform your company from its current organizational design to a structure that supports release-orientation – How to make release-orientation a long-lived, self-sustaining aspect of your software delivery framework.

Q & A: The session will finish with a brief questions and answers section.


CraegStrong2Craeg K. Strong, CTO, Savant Financial Technologies, Inc. d/b/a Ariel Partners: “How Much Testing is Enough for Software That Can Condemn A Man to Death?  Traceability in an Agile Federal Government Agency Context”

Using tools like TDD and ATDD, Agile provides the means to be confident that your brand new software is well tested– even for life critical situations such as criminal justice software.  But hold on a minute!  It is a rare mission critical system that is built completely from scratch.  There are always legacy components your team didn’t build or doesn’t control.  Maybe the previous contractor built it– but now they are gone and it is your problem.  How can you be certain that everything functions properly in such a situation?  How much testing is enough?  How can you know whether a system has been tested?  These are the questions that standards such as CMMI and PMBOK seek to answer with traceability.

The debate about traceability has been raging for a long time, with passionate advocates on both sides of the argument.   Projects following traditional waterfall methods, and projects that conform to PMBOK or CMMI standards often create and maintain a requirements traceability matrix, or RTM, a document that traces “shall” requirements to functional capabilities and testcases.  Some Agilists argue that the RTM is rarely consulted in practice, so the significant efforts required to maintain such a document are “waste.”  Others point out that agile practices such as TDD provide all the traceability that may be needed. This talk will explore the underlying reasons why traceability may be important and worthwhile in many Federal government contexts, and review exciting new technologies that may provide an “agile answer” to this conundrum.


Aaron Pava, Chief Culture Officer, CivicActions: “Agile Gov Playbook: Dissecting the New White House TechFAR Handbook”

The White House recently created a new Government Digital Services group to deliver “customer-focused government through smarter IT.” As part of this announcement the Office of Management and Budget released the “Digital Services Playbook” and an accompanying “TechFAR Handbook for Procuring Digital Services Using Agile Processes” to make it easier for agencies to procure and implement agile.
In this session, we’ll review the TechFAR handbook objectives, key components and recommendations for getting agile adopted in your agency.


WynDevanterWyn Van Devanter, Senior Developer, Excella Consulting: “A Thin Automation Framework for Managable Automated Acceptance Testing”

Automated Acceptance Tests (AAT) can provide huge value, and can automate time-consuming tasks like regression testing, but aren’t easy to scale.  Have you tried implementing them only to abandon them later?  Are they fragile?  Do they give a lot of false positives?  Do they take more time to write than the value you’re getting out of them?  These are common problems with automated acceptance testing, but there are ways to mitigate these issues.

One great way is to create a very thin automation framework that helps you write the tests faster while reducing the fragility.  Wyn will walk through writing a thin automation framework, illustrating a test-driven approach that yields a framework appropriate for the software being tested.  The resulting tests are very clean and readable, and they become faster and faster to write as the framework evolves.  He will use C# and Selenium but the concepts are applicable to other languages and browser automation frameworks.  He will also illustrate simple approaches that reduce the fragility and maintenance costs of the tests.  Participants will come away knowing how to get started on an automation framework that will be easy to understand and maintain, and that should scale as much as needed.


ShawnFaunceShawn Faunce, Senior Lead Technologist, Booz Allen Hamilton: “Engaging a Product Owner on a Government Contract: Challenges and Solutions”

Great systems require active, capable Product Owners.  Functional innovation is not possible without their commitment and involvement in the project.  Too often in government contracting, the Product Owner is an Absentee Owner.  Agile Development teams often seek out tools and techniques to create great systems, however too frequently what is holding them back is the lack of an engaged Product Owner. Teams in this situation must face the elephant in the room if they desire to build a system that brings positive change in efficiency, productivity, quality, usefulness, and adoption.  This talk shares solutions I have used for challenges I see again and again on government contracts.

The talk begins with some introductory material on the problem, its causes, what I mean by functional innovation, and why this is required to build great systems.  I describe four challenges with Product Owner engagement that are not unique to government contracting, but that I see recurring on projects: committing staff, procurement practices, role ambiguity, and absentee ownership.


MichaelHarrisMichael Harris, President & CEO, David Consulting Group: “Introducing Agile to a PRINCE2 Environment in UK City Government”

In early 2014, Mike Harris took on an agile training and coaching engagement for a small team with a big project – building a new website for the mayor and Assembly of major city in the UK.  This short case study will describe the context, the challenges, the successes and the failures of the engagement. Mike will explain the easy and difficult aspects of working within a traditional project management framework, PRINCE2.

Attendees should leave with an appreciation of how pragmatism and the goodwill of the participants can start to overcome the barriers to entry that apply in the government situation where rigid traditional project management is in place and actual development is assumed to be outsourced.


JasonTiceJason Tice, Agile Coach, Asynchrony: “The Last Responsible Moment LEGO Game”

Agile and Lean principles call for teams to delay decisions and activities until the “last responsible moment” so as to minimize rework and waste.  While this sounds good in concept, sometimes teams fall victim to waiting until it is “too late” to make a decision or get started on a needed activity resulting in missed opportunities and/or down-to-the-wire heroic efforts to meet a deadline.

This workshop entails a competitive LEGO simulation where participants will divide into small teams, each team will be given the same simple LEGO build challenge, and then each team will be able to conduct their own experiments as to when the “last responsible moment” really is.  Following the LEGO build challenge, participants will engage in a debrief to discuss the outcome of the challenge, identify factors that helped to successfully identify the last responsible moment, establish linkages between the LEGO simulation and agile software development activities, and of course congratulate the winners of the challenge.  During the debrief, participants will complete a debrief worksheet to reinforce key learnings and takeaways from the simulation that they will be able to take with them from the session.  Best of all, this is a LEGO session, so you will get to play with LEGO and fun will be had by all!


FAdiStephan3Fadi Stephan, CST & Agile Coach, Excella Consulting: “Techniques for Keeping Distributed Retrospectives Effective & Fun”

Are you working in a distributed team and feel like your retrospectives are failing to deliver meaningful results? Are you spending less and less time on them? Are your retrospectives becoming boring dull and uninspiring?

Retrospectives are a key mechanism for continuous improvement. This is especially true with non-collocated teams that deal with additional impediments and barriers due to communication difficulties. Come to this session to reverse this trend and learn new tools and techniques to conduct distributed team wide retrospectives that keep everyone engaged and result in effective discussion and follow-up action items and continuous improvement.

Panel Discussion

“Considerations for Agile Adoption at the Team, Project, and Organizational Levels”

Change is hard. For any organization, team, or individual, the ability to change is difficult even when the desire for the change exists. Some studies have revealed that even when people know they need to change, even at the risk of their lives, it is still difficult to adopt new practices and behaviors.  Knowing this, what are organizations and project teams doing to make agile adoption easier and how are they supporting the teams and the individual new to this way of developing software products and systems?

Through a roundtable discussion with representatives from industry, academia, and government, we will share with you our experiences with Agile on Federal government projects and programs, the challenges we faced, lessons learned, and different activities we performed as we went through an agile transition. The intent is that our experiences will provide you with ideas that you can take back to your organization and teams to support your agile journey.

The panelists will share their experiences in bringing agile to their own organizations as well to their government clients.

Panelists include Dr. Suzette Johnson, Northrop-Grumman Agile Practice Lead and Robin Yeman, Lockheed Martin.