SimBlogging: Agile 2008 Toronto Visit

SimBlogging‘ offers a his and hers viewpoint where Pascal and Portia timebox-blog as a pair on the same topics simultaneously

Rough Guide to Toronto

We visit Darwin, one of my heroes, at the Royal Ontario Museum. The Casa Loma fairytale castle on the hill with its stunning library and conservatory put us in the right mood for some agile fairytales. Fred the friendly busdriver took us to the quaint, quiet rivertown of Niagara Falls so that we could buy bells in the Santa shop, where it’s christmas 364 days a year as they’re closed on christmas. The ‘Maid of the Mist’ is a natural thrill-ride: up close and personal with the power of the Niagara Falls you get extremely wet.

Agile 2008

Coming across ‘Bimbo Slides’ is really confusing: the slides look great, like a super-model, but the accompanying text doesn’t fit. Playing with the Leadership Legos, we experienced a few ‘Lego moments’, where you realize that someone else has lived some experience that we can never experience in the same way.

Chilling Out and Staying Cool

After Gino offered us an excellent improvised lunch, Portia thinks that all Belgian boys know how to cook, but she’s only seen 2 out of 5 million, so her conclusions may be premature. Our other Torontonian friend, Allison, told us 400 years of Canadian history in the time it takes to eat a Japanese lunch. We can share our passion for Agile by extending it in ways that were never envisioned (or intended) by the originators of Agile: test-first, paired, iterative and incremental, timeboxed clothes shopping. Consequently, we look sharp as we go out to dinner with Ben, Allison and Gino to discuss scary ideas in English with a funny French accent.

Looking into the Mirror

The “Mirror, Mirror on the wall… Why me?” session contained an agile retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to help the participants find actions to improve their collaborations and to be more aware of team composition. The Snow White Kanban cards we handed out to everyone we talked to where a hit: the dwarves sparked everybody’s imagination and the cards spread across the conference.

Les Neuf Cases aka The Nine Boxes

We subtitled the French-speaking “Neuf Cases” session in English to create the first and only bilingual session of the conference, so that participants learned to interview and improved their English/French skills; now that’s value for money! The preparation for the session, writing the subtitles in pair with bemused conference participants passing by, was almost as much fun as the session itself.

Value-Driven Presenters

As the conference went on, more and more people came up to us to talk about our games and to tell us how they had extended and used our games. Unfortunately, Vera couldn’t be here to share in the talks about the XP Game and to see how well the first tryout of our new “Business Value Game” went. In between all the talks and fun, there were some sessions that presented techniques that we will apply from now on, like the Conflict Resolution Diagram presented by Christian and Christoph or the 4.5 techniques to assign Business Value and prioritize out backlog presented by Mike.

To relax and reward ourselves for all the “hard work” and to keep the pace sustainable, we built in small treats and celebrations to the hectic touristic and conference schedule.