Agile By Example 2014 is over. Fortunately this year I didn't have to cancel in the very last moment, so in the end I was able to participate ;P I won't keep you hanging for long then - how was it? It was great :) I'll bring on some more details below, but ...

... it will be a review "with a twist". Why? For kicks & giggles, of course ;> So, please give a short round of applause for my Evil Twin - Mr. Corpo Enterprisesson who will pair with me for the sole purpose of writing this review ...

What's ABE?

ABE is the most renown Agile/Lean conference in Poland. This year's edition was already the 4th one. The main force that stays behind it is Agile Warsaw, BUT some other polish Agile communities contribute actively in making it happen as well. The conference itself is aimed to focus on the actual, practical real-life cases: Agilistas share their warstories & lessons learned. ABE is not strictly local - participants come mainly from Poland, but sessions are held in English and significant percentage of speakers come from abroad - this year orgs were able to attract very interesting world famous speakers like Mary Poppendieck & Bob Marshall.

Corpo Enterprisesson: Seems like a local gathering of hippies. How many CEOs have attended? CIOs? Who wrote about that? Gartner? Economist? Harvard Business Review? No-one! See? Bunch of hippies.

Where, what, how

This wasn't the most typical venue for a conference - Kino Wisła isn't big (actually, the screening rooms are more than big enough, it's the lobby that is clearly not big enough - it was most painful during lunchtime), but it's easy to reach & isolated enough (from non-participants) to avoid any kind of external interference.

Two main days of conference (I didn't participate in workshops) consisted of two parallel tracks, filled with 25-50 minutes long sessions. In theory, the tracks had leading topics, but I've barely noticed that. What I didn't like most was the fact that sessions were bundled in blocks - scheduled blocks were between blocks, not particular sessions: so if you decided to switch rooms after 1 talk, you were most likely landing in the middle of talk in another room. Me no likey.

Corpo Enterprisesson: I finally know why do they call this movement "lean" or "agile" - "thick", "stocky" or "stout" would take far too much place in the toilet or buffet queue ...

Day #1

Let's get to the meat - aka sessions. I'm not going to describe them all, just the most noticeable ones:

  1. To be honest, personally I feel far more love towards Lean/Kanban approach than Scrum or XP, so I was extremely that the keynote of Day #1 was presented by famous Mary Poppendieck (Tom was present, but not on stage). And I wasn't disappointed: I've expected a solid, well-thought, decently illustrated talk and that's what I got. Big plus.

  2. Tom Howlett's session about Continuous Improvement didn't rock my world, but I have to admit he had the best summary slides - seriously, he pinpointed the exact quintessence in a way that made me "a-ha" (no, I don't have this too often ;P).

  3. The pleasant surprise was Angel Medinilla - I didn't know who he is and my first impression was that he's just the master of auto-creation, but it seems that I was wrong: presentation was very energetic, had a great pace, proper ratio of humour & content. Nice job by "Crazy Spaniard" - crowd loved him.

  4. Allegro has pretty much invaded ABE14 - some talks were very good, some slightly worse, but TBH all were delivered with passion & presenters were able to back them up with some internal details, to make them more credible (& interesting for the audience). Speaking about particular sessions: I liked "A-B testing" one more than "feedback fudge" one.

Corpo Enterprisesson: I've learned a lot this day ...

  • you don't have to give people raise, just stuff them with sweets (Krówki!), they will be delighted
  • "self-organizing teams" is "Cosa Nostra" in Italian
  • the ultimate level of Scrum Mastering is mainly about zen & meditation, because there's clearly no other hope to get anything done

Day #2

  1. I respect Bob Marshall - his blog posts & opinions in social media are interesting, sometimes brilliant and in the least case: though-provoking, but I think his keynote for Day #2 was weak. I just didn't find anything interesting for me there. Shame. I felt equally disappointed after Henri Karhatsu's session about "#noestimates": content itself was not that bad, but the actual way it was presented was ... well ... simply boring.

  2. Another conf day, another talks straight from Allegro - Paweł Rzymkiewicz did a good job describing scrum-mastering at scale in Allegro. Even if (mind the "if"!) the reality depicted by Paweł has been somehow verbally "photoshopped" and in facts it's not that appealing as what was presented, their stuff is pretty impressive.

  3. Other good talks that day: Kate Terlecka about failing products, Marek Kirejczyk about LeSS and of course (last but not least) again Angel Medinilla - this time about Lean Startup in context of large Enterprise.

Corpo Enterprisesson: I'm confused:

  • We, in our Enterprise, are like Scrum Norris: we can do 6 months long sprints.
  • I don't really think they've got it right at Allegro. 25 Scrum Masters?! Don't they know there can be only 1 true master?

Summary

Good stuff. ABE 14 was a success in both most important aspects:

  • as a social event (damn, I've even met a collegue I haven't seen since 2003!)
  • as an opportunity to exchange knowledge & experience

What's more important, the event preserved its "by example" schema: majority of presentations were based solely on their teams' experience in RL scenarios. That's actually very good, because it's clear that Agile (as an approach to software development) is "getting out of garage" in Poland. There are more & more open talks about Agile scalability (with actual examples) & these practices get adopted by bigger & bigger companies (even by ones not from IT industry primarily).

See you all at #ABE15!