The Agile Talk on Agility

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 – 12:50 PM

So this is something that’s been doing the rounds at p&p for a while, Peter Provost and I have given this talk at Microsoft and Peter has taken it to TechEd and the p&p Summit. Peter says he got the idea from Brian Button and it evolved from there. In other words no credit here I’m simply the documentation guy.

I twittered about this to Gerry Kirk just now and then discovered that there isn’t a description of it anywhere easily available. The best I found was from one of the Summit attendees.

Anyway. The Agile Talk on Agility goes something like this…

How would you give an talk on agile using agile?

  1. Don’t prepare a deck beyond the title slide – that’s YAGNI (you ain’t going to need it) or BDUF (big design up front).
  2. Explain to the audience that it’s their talk and you’re going to break the hour down into ten minute time boxed iterations. The audience are your customer.
  3. Ask them to help you create and prioritize a backlog. Have them call out questions about agile and write them on a whiteboard or flip chart. Now you have your product backlog.
  4. Ask them to prioritize the questions with a vote of hands, pick the top most voted on 2-3 questions. This is iteration planning, you now have an iteration backlog.
  5. The speaker(s) then answer the questions (in order). Congratulations the team (you and your co-speakers) are now executing on iteration N.
  6. After ten minutes ask the audience if you answered the question(s). Any answered questions are crossed off the whiteboard/flipchart, unanswered questions remain on the backlog. That was your iteration review or demo.
  7. Ask the audience how this is working for them (Kent Beck’s favorite question). Is there anything they’d like to change or do better? In other words a retrospective.
  8. If you have time for more iterations then start iteration N+1 by going to step 4.

I’ve done this with Peter once and it’s a fun talk to do (note to self… do this again sometime). Having two speakers really helps as it’s easier to keep the momentum going. Usually the same sorts of questions come up so it’s not as intimidating as it sounds.

So… There you have it! The audience gets to see agile in action and (hopefully) get some specific questions answered in the process.

  1. 2 Responses to “The Agile Talk on Agility”

  2. When shall we do it again Ade? :)

    By Peter Provost on Jun 8, 2009

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  2. May 23, 2009: Kirk Thoughts » Weekly post (weekly)

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