On September 21st, I had the honour to be the host of our first Agile open mic night, held in partnership with HPE.
At Radtac, we think that by being part of a community, we can all share ideas, challenges, and learn from each other. We’re focused on doing whatever we can to support the community and bring our contribution to it.
That is why it makes perfect sense to us to host an open mic-style Agile Meetup, where people would be encouraged to share ideas within a safe environment of friends and peers, whilst being enabled to grow and shine.
What I can tell you is that we were far from disappointed by the event.
Whilst we kicked off the evening with few people wishing to submit a talk, our brave speaker, Roy Mohamed, soon filled the room with energy by sharing his genius method for effectively dealing with time management.
Who would have thought that a glass board could be an unique tool? Roy’s captivating talk sparked interesting questions which naturally evolved into some powerful open discussions.
Armed with sticky notes, pens and sticky dots, participants were requested to identify topics that we could discuss. After a quick dot-voting exercise, we progressed through the topics. Once a topic, challenge or problem was released within the ‘Open Space’, insights began to emerge. It was great to see people having the courage to share experiences, cultivating an environment for learning.
Among a multitude of topics proposed, ‘Tactics to get Management buy-in to Agile’ was at the top of the backlog. After some time discussing the issue, we collaboratively brought a simple solution to the table. Instead of demanding buy-in to Agile, why not focus on the why? Why do we need to change, and what is it that needs to change? By focusing on the why, and addressing key problems, you can then discuss different methods and techniques. Only then should you consider using ‘the A word’!
Another thought-provoking topic was ‘Common points of traditional management and Agile’. The reasoning behind this topic was to point out that certain reports suggest the jury remains divided on whether Agile or Waterfall is more effective. This subject stimulated a variety of opinions, including the need to distinguish what you wish to achieve. For mechanistic tasks, a Waterfall approach may work, however, for non mechanistic tasks additional approaches would be favourable.
The conversation also spiralled a debate around the contrast between Leadership and Management styles which appears to be a trending topic. Only a few weeks ago, at the Agile Prague Conference, Andrea Provaglio passionately tackled this subject within his talk ‘Leading’. Wrapped in a cascade of interesting theories, Andrea made a clear distinction that management is about compliance, and leadership about engagement. The concluding factor was that engagement beats compliance! Andrea went on to use complexity thinking as an approach to take when exploring the meaning of Leadership. Some of the key takeaways from his talk can be found within the following illustration.
With a quick boost of beer and pizza, the conversations continued to flow.
One person wished to discuss ‘Agile Ceremony Fatigue’, and after some careful probing from the group, a lack of ‘trust’ was the underlying factor that resonated from the discussions. A reference was then made to the well-known Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose video by Dan Pink. You can find out how I have been inspired by these 3 words by reading my recent blog, Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose - The Key to Motivation?
At the close of the evening we held a short retrospective. By offering true transparency and openness, we collectively gathered improvements and suggestions for future events.
Some of the most helpful suggestions were:
- To consider new and innovative ways to build our community.
- To engage with Senior Managers for future events.
- To continue with Open discussions and conversations. Sharing real life experiences was really helpful.
- To incorporate a fun practical exercises during the session.
- To set a regular frequency for the Meet-ups.
My conclusion is that this was a really good first event, and I personally have enjoyed sharing ideas and challenges with the community. Also, I keenly look forward to our next event on the 15th of November.
A huge thank you to HPE for hosting our first event - we look forward to partnering up again in the new year.
To build on the success of this Meetup, and for those of you who fear heading South of the Midlands, we will be holding Agile Open Mic nights in Leeds and Newcastle in the future. Keep close to find out more on this topic.