Agile Aliens…..we are all human!

November 12th, 2009

Do you feel sometimes that you are from a completely different planet and alienated from the rest of the team and business? Seemingly it’s not un-common, actually arguably the norm.

When you enter those legacy front doors of a new client, it’s probably like going to Senior School on the first day. As a Coach, Manager or indeed as any Agile specialist it can be nerve racking to say the least. Not only will you have all the eyes on you, but also everyone’s expecting something magical from you and NOW!


Agile Bulletin!

October 21st, 2009

So…. something a little lighter for this week.

The good news is that 2 of my team have now joined me in passing the Agile Project Leader Exam, following last week’s Agile Business Conference.

Building a foundation of knowledge, trust and understanding is key to any team and with their efforts they thoroughly deserve to have achieved their success.

This must make us the most qualified recruitment team in the Agile world.

Why not give us a call! 

The Agile Business Conference 2009

October 16th, 2009


Following the last few years of the Agile Business Conference, it was always going to be intriguing to see how this event was going to be different from previous years. Certainly Day 1 lived up to my hopes and expectations.  In years gone by I’d heard company after company pitch their bit, but………along came the end users and wow, a different take on Agile with a real world story to tell.

No more quoting from “The Good Book ! good-book.jpg


Between Nik Silver, Iain McKenna, Shaun Smith, Keith Sterling, Siamak Shams and Dave Putman the audience was speechless over the tales of success, failure and hope within their Agile stories. Not only did they talk honestly and freely about their experiences, but they talked at a level that all could understand and enjoy. Sometimes you find that speakers at these show’s are there taking an elitist stance of what they’ve done, not here!

Here it was good old fashioned honesty!

The organisers had made their mark in a difficult economic climate to surprise me with the quality on show for the two days.My personal amusement centred around:    pomodoro-technique.jpg

Even the questions were interesting and positively challenging to the speakers and panel. 

2 days well spent and thank you to the for organising the event.


Lean 2009 – What happened?

October 5th, 2009

Put simply, the RSA (The Strand) was a perfect setting for probably one of the most efficiently organised and content appropriate conferences I’ve been to in the last few years. Rather than identify who I saw and single the speakers out one by one, here’s an overview of what I heard.  

Thinking about this the day after, I personally saw the three days as a learning exercise about Lean and as a management training exercise to help me.  


Certainly the speakers were passionate and interesting in their presentations, all with a variety of takes, persuasions and ideas of incorporating Lean Methods. The emphasis on flow, systems and waste were a common theme, though all translated in different ways. The reliance on using the Toyota example as the big success was somewhat concerning, as it would have been good to hear about other and maybe smaller examples from the recent past in addition. 

Mind you the Lean Wave is only a ripple currently and this is new and evolving in theSector, maybe the natural progression away from Agile? 


Several of the phrases and comments I wrote down are still prominent in my mind: 

– Leaders don’t manage or direct.

– Focus on process, not people.

– Kanban boards visualise what’s going on.

– Management is not a dysfunctional role to be ignored.

– Management has to be as committed as the teams.

– Got to build trust.

– Management or Stewardship? of the process

– Lean = Business Driven Enterprise Agility.

– Are we entering a regime of “Test Driven Analysis”?

– If you incentivise workers, you’ll get less!

– Unpredictable not predictable, Unpredictable is preventable.

– Have you ever seen a 5yr business plan delivered that ends in failure at the end of the plan?

– Waste is man-made.

– Target’s make performance worse.

– Toyota is the starting point, not the Holy Grail. 

There are a lot of things to ponder in the above list and you’ll definitely have your own take and interpretation of the phraseology. Many of these conferences and presenters are accused of saying the same thing, not the Lean folk – They have their own ideas and views…… 

This idea is straight forward in my view………. 

“Eliminate waste, have a system /process that works, don’t rely on people or tools and keep it visual with lot’s of common sense” 

Certainly the large companies, industries, public sector could do a lot worse than study the Lean Concept.  

So in a year’s time will Lean be dominating the world? probably not – maybe in two years !   

Agile in the Public Sector – Feedback

September 23rd, 2009

 This was my first experience of the Public Sector from a conference perspective. Certainly my eyes were opened to the world of:

 – Opportunity

– Naivety

– Legacy mind sets

– Bureaucracy

– Lack of energy. 

Certainly whoever can truly, successfully deliver a genuine marketable Agile proposition of a major size, will absolutely be in a win-win situation. With the public spending cuts on their way, the world of the Big 5 Consulting Companies will be limited when you can engage a more flexible tier-2 consulting machine. All of the companies that presented have something to offer, albeit all with a different slant and angle. Actually most of them I think got it slightly wrong as they appeared to be going too deep for the level of understanding in the room. My personal favourite of the day was the Radtac presentation, which was uncomplicated and to the point. 

“If the project delivers on time and to cost and everyone’s happy” then maybe Agile is not right for you. But………. If it isn’t then start thinking Agile! 

There were several other phrase’s that stuck in my mind from the morning: 

1) “Best is the enemy of good”

2)  Agile is “The Art of the possible” 

In all, I think it was a worthwhile exercise and I would like to thank Alec from Unicom for his invitation to attend. 

Certainly the Public Sector could be compared to an oil tanker leaking oil. Firstly you need to try and stop the tanker, possibly turn it round to go in another direction and then try to work out where it’s leaking from and fix the leak! 

All food for thought.  

Agile in the Public Sector – Kensington

September 15th, 2009

Wednesday 16th September – Agile in the Public Sector – Kensington (London) 

I’m now confirmed to attend Agile in the Public Sector next Wednesday. Slightly sceptical to start with, I’m actually really looking forward to going. Having been to many refactored conferences over the years, this is something fresh and new. The next wave of growth I believe will come in two particular sectors: 

1) Public Sector / Government

2) Business Coaching, incorporating Agile & Lean. 

It will be intriguing to see who turns up, attitudes that turn up and most importantly how open to a new way of working are the notorious Waterfall managers in Government. If I was one of these managers I would be looking at this as a winning ticket to future, providing I can lead the change. Government spending will have to change, services budget will have to decrease and the traditional consulting companies will have to be more and more accountable for their actions.

If the person(s) within government can embrace new ideas and change the way of working their projects, everyone is in a win-win situation – except for the big legacy consulting companies. Next week I’ll be adding some pictures, comments and summaries as to how it all went. If you know anyone in the Public Sector / Government world, please point them to the show. 

Back soon.
The Agile Voice.

Conference Season

September 4th, 2009

It’s that time of year again – Conference Season.

During the late summer and early Autumn period, there are many topical conferences that everyone can choose to attend. As in years gone by we always tried to support, attend and sponsor events where possible.  

This year is no different…….. Over the last 3 years the Agile Voice has been a key sponsor of the Agile Business Conference, in particular helping the conference organisers with the ideas, content and information surrounding who to invite as key note speakers for instance. This year is no different, three of the key notes sessions are down to the Agile Voice and the success of the relationship built between all parties over the last few years. The cost of the event has been lowered to attract a broader audience in these challenging times. Certainly with a more relevant current content this year, you will get to hear the real battles and war stories of large scale Agile enablements and transformations. It could be the best Agile Business Conference yet. 

New to the scene this is the first ever UK Lean Conference, organised by my good friends Indigoblue. This very current and topical Lean subject is being showcased by the leading Lean Practitioners from around the world. From talking to the many people I come across on a daily basis, this is going be some event over the three days. The word Agile has seemingly become a word that everyone is able to hide behind, rather than back in those early years it was a word of intrigue and power. With the Lean bandwagon rolling, this conference in my opinion, can propel Lean as to being the next real option, to replace the slightly mistrusted, diluted Agile ways around us. I’ve detailed below the show addresses, read and enjoy. Don’t forget to sign up. 

The conference, which will be held over two and a half days from 27 through to 29 September brings together the leading innovators, practitioners, and influential thought leaders in Lean software management.The Lean and Kanban 2009 event was created to drive further progress in software development by providing a unique opportunity to share best practices and innovation within the growing community of software engineers, managers, and executives adopting Lean and Kanban systems. It provides a unique opportunity to meet with and learn directly from industry luminaries and practitioners from around the world. 

Driving Success in Adversity


If being Agile is going to make a difference to you, your projects and your organisation, we’d like you to join us at this year’s conference.   
What’s more, we’re announcing a new Agile price for the event as well as introducing some revolutionary new elements to this year’s proceedings. The conference will be held on 13th October and the morning of 14th October

Groundhog Agile

April 21st, 2009

There seems to be clear evidence that many agile teams and projects hit a wall in terms of energy and keeping everything alive. Many of the Mentors I speak to are successful at enabling the initiative, but how do teams and projects move on once the enablement has occurred.  Is it the case that Agile projects can only last say 6 months before they burn out, or become Groundhog Agile environments? 

Seemingly, this is what happens once the Agile Project has lost its dynamic focus. The businesses have tolerated the Agile way for months on end, now they see no difference from the previous method. Slowly day after day the stand up, retrospective, and planning games are becoming just the norm. All of a sudden it’s become Groundhog Agile, day after day the same old thing happens. The energy has been lost, the motivations and desire have evaporated, now the team are looking for a new way, a reinvention of direction.  In many projects the Agile Mentors are finished and walk away within the year, who picks up the reigns to continue the energy levels?  

 I’ve had the pleasure to work with many Agile teams over the last 10 years each with a unique method and direction. The one thing they have all had is a variety of different ways to energize the team and the teams’ environment. Having seen the Groundhog film recently, in my mind, after 6 months the projects fall into a Groundhog way of working. Who has the answer? 


A new business venture.

April 21st, 2009

A friend of mine had just launched the beta version of his new online appointment booking system and he has asked for a little help in getting the word out to small businesses (hence this post). He is asking for small businesses to sign up, help test the application and provide a little feedback to guide further development. Take a look at  If you’d like to know a little more, the service is a simple way to take bookings online and provides both automatic reminders via SMS and email to eliminate missed appointments. Rather than requiring you to buy software or pay a monthly fee, you just pay a few pence for each appointment that you choose to accept. See 

Agile Conferences – Is there a future for them?

March 18th, 2009

Having participated in the Agile Conference scene for the past 5 years, it’s remarkable how things have changed. Last week I went along to the QCon show in London and to be honest was left feeling quite let down. It seems to me that there is a real void of fresh ideas, challenging speak and volatile discussions.  

Maybe a re-factored and faster version of Waterfall is the current acceptable norm, compared to the available hardcore Agile element out there. Friends of mine have said that they will be avoiding the whole conference scene, as there’s only so many ways you can talk about planning boards and story cards without it being repetitive and most of this was probably presented 5yrs ago.

Has Agile reached its peak in terms fresh ideas, or have the conference folk run out of ideas ? Well, I don’t believe it is merely a lack of  ideas……’s the level of interest, attendance, participation of the large corporate. (You can probably guess who.) These big flag waving companies come along and take the ideas from the smaller individual companies and simply generalise the ideas as processes and standards – All of a sudden we have Corporate Agile! 

I’ve taken the baton and have given myself the mission of pushing and pulling the right people into presenting at the Agile Business Conference in October 2009. Should the powers that be at these shows support the corporate invasion,  then I may well organise a conference for Agile people myself and continue with those that care…….. 

Come on, let’s hear your thoughts.