AgileCamp 2014 brought together people interested in applying Agile and Lean values, principles, and methods in their teams and organizations. These ways of working, which have gained visibility in the IT sector and manufacturing, draw on nimble practices that many small businesses would recognize. They also embody what is being learned about productive teamwork in today’s global business world. Benefits of Agile and Lean include enabling greater creativity, ability, and learning in individuals and teams, increasing flexibility and adaptability, and maximizing value for customers while reducing cost, risk, and time to market.
AgileCamp 2014 was again held at the Paypal HQ Town Hall complex in San Jose, California. The atmosphere was informal, with focus on learning, networking and play. This year's theme was “Transformation: Organization, Teams, and People” with six tracks that explored different aspects and benefits of Agile and Lean transformation:
- Enterprise Agility
- Agile Leadership
- Team Dynamics
- Lean Innovation
- Getting Things Done with Agile and Lean
- Agile Coaching and Learning
The AgileCamp website ( http://agilecamp.org/ ) notes: “AgileCamp attracts professionals from various disciplines and levels who are interested in Agile techniques and gather to listen, learn, discuss and teach practices that help businesses succeed. Moreover, a large majority of our attendees will be from technology companies such as eBay, PayPal, Yahoo!, Cisco, LinkedIn, StubHub, Ericsson, HP, Comcast, Twitter, Facebook, Salesforce, Symantec, Oracle, Visa, and many more.”
The 2013 and 2014 inaugural AgileCamps averaged approximately 200 attendess.
The Team Dynamics Track
We had the honor of chairing this AgileCamp track in 2014. Those who joined this track explored generative elements in creating and sustaining collaborative, high performing teams. These elements include how to:
- start teams with orientation to meaningful purpose,
- foster trust and grow relationships that lay the foundation for high productivity and innovation,
- align teams internally, with customers and business goals, and synergistically with other teams,
- establish commitment to needed action,
- iteratively create and work the plan to foster continuous learning and adaptation,
- achieve and maintain exceptional performance,
- renew or sunset the team.
These elements build into each other, are themselves iterative, and shape the character and productivity possible in all teams. Paying attention to each of these elements, and their dynamic interplay, can open the door to team effectiveness, individual satisfaction and growth, productivity, and bottom line gains. Organizations and networks that are applying Agile and Lean have the added advantage of flexibility and motivation in exercising these under-the-hood team performance elements.
Sessions in this track included:
1) How To Grow and Evolve With Agile Teams: Reports and Strategies from Successful Companies
Panel Discussion: Victoria Livschitz, CEO Qubell, Amir Gomroki, VP, Head Ericsson BNET DU IP and Broadband, Ericsson, Inc., Raymond Moffatt, lead North America Lean and Agile Coach, Ericsson, Inc., and Nicholas Muldoon, Agile Coach, Twitter.
How do top Agile companies foster the structures, leadership, culture and support that enable self-organizing teams to deliver their best? Fueled by audience and moderator questions, panelists dug into their experience and understanding to provide practical insights, examples, and tools for fostering effective teamwork in an Agile environment.
2) Boosting Collaboration and Performance in Teams
Presenters/Facilitators: Susan Berry and Randall Thomas, Aligned for Results, LLC with Thomas Sibbet, The Grove Consultants International
The Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model™ (TPM) offers a systems view and framework for developing team performance in an Agile environment. As you explore its seven stages, you may quickly recognize where your team stands, what is assisting or blocking its progress, and how to facilitate next steps. Using the Team Performance On-line System (TPOS) can enable members and coaches of distributed or virtual teams to reap these benefits as well. We shared about use of the TPM from with teams throughout the world, and Thomas presented a very valuable supporting tool, the Team Performance Online System (TPOS), which he helped develop.
Agile Improvisation Taster Workshop for Coaches and Teams
Presenters/Facilitators: David Chilcott, Outformations, Inc. and Owen Walker, InsideOut Improvisation
As David and Owen described this session" "What do successful Agile teams and theater improvisation groups have in common? Both rely on trust, transparency, and clear communication. Successful theater improvisers make strong choices without knowing the outcome, respond to circumstances that are constantly changing and collaborate with their partners to create an outcome that is wider than their own vision – all essential Agile qualities!
This workshop invites you to learn on your feet, working in pairs and small groups, engaging and reflecting on the skills and ideas you are practicing. As you make connections between Agile and improvisation, exercises will enable you to:
• listen and respond with greater acuity
• strengthen your ability to collaborate with others
• increase your comfort in working with uncertainty
• gain a greater sense of play in your work"
Retrospectives for Team Engagement and Continuous Learning
Presenter/Facilitator: Monica Yap, Solutions IQ
Paraphrasing Monica : The retrospective is one of the most important tools for an Agile team’s self-improvement. However you may have experienced a less than engaging retrospective – where the ScrumMaster (who is typing comments on-screen) asks each team member to give input on “What-went-well”, “What-didn’t”, and “What to focus on”, while team members are furtively performing others tasks on their own laptops.
This session demonstrated several scenarios and participatory ways to make retrospectives fun, interactive, and effective. Even with distributed teams, participatory methods can turn retrospectives into true learning and growth opportunities. Participants in this session teamed up to choose and experiment with retrospective exercises useful to their work situations.
The Previous Day
The previous day at AgileCamp 2014, Susan and Randy had the opportunity to presenti an interactive mini-workshop during the afternoon to introduce the Agile Facilitators Toolkit. Here is a brief description:
Agile wisdom tells us that simple rules and tools promote flexible and effective response in complex situations.
This experiential workshop introduced simple facilitation tools that can help achieve desired results and high productivity with groups in a range of settings, from team meetings to organizational change initiatives.
Participants had the opportunity to:
- Learn how to set up their meeting for success by
a) using OARRs (Outcomes, Agenda, Roles, and meeting Rules) to guide and propel the meeting toward its desired results, and
b) designing their meeting space for collaborative interaction & team focus;
- Consider the facilitator’s mindset and how this role differs from that of participants and leaders in the meeting, and from the role of Coach and Mentor;
- Experience collaborative activities and discussion designed to build trust, foster innovation, and develop shared commitment;
- Use questions, listening, and visual records to focus attention, encourage collaborative thinking, and document what the team has produced;
- Meet a model of team development that helps in applying facilitation methods to clarify results and engage participation in a range of organizational change initiatives and contexts.
The session ncluded handouts to reinforce understanding of and experience with workshop ideas and exercises.