links for my agilenorth 2010 session

At AgileNorth last week I was asked at the last minute to fill a vacancy left by a speaker who couldn’t make it. I cobbled together a session about “flow”, one of the underlying principles of Lean Thinking, and therefore also of agile software development. Here are a few links to materials and references I should have given at the time:

  • My slides are now up on slideshare. Sorry, there are no notes.
  • I talked a lot about The Goal by Eli Goldratt; this book is pure genius, and a must-read for anyone interested in improving the productivity of their organisation.
  • We discussed the idea that the flow of value through an organisation is limited by exactly one constraint. A wonderfully simple illustration of this can be found in Kevin Fox’s short Blue Light story. Well worth a read.
  • I talked a lot about Kent Beck’s paper Continuous Deployment Immersion, which I mistakenly titled “You’d Have to be Crazy to Try This”. I think this is a really cool idea — not because you need to deploy each line of code separately, but because you need to be good at deploying and good at slicing your market offering thinly.
  • I mentioned various practices of eXtreme Programming, including YAGNI, OnsiteCustomer, FrequentReleases and ContinuousIntegration; all of these are needed as you attempt to increase the flow of value by reducing your development batch size.
  • I mentioned MMFs — “Minimum Marketable Feature-sets” — as being one way to work with the market to define your smaller batches.
  • I mentioned that one of the key difficulties in reducing the software batch size is the acceptance and understanding of emergent design.

I talked about a lot of stuff; please let me know if I’ve missed anything important here.

I’ve also set up an agilenorth2010 tag on to collate the online materials from all the other speakers, as I find them. Please tag anything you find that’s relevant from the day, so it’s all in one place.

AgileNorth 08

If you’re in the UK this November you’ll be very welcome at this year’s AgileNorth 1-day conference. There’s always a very interesting mix of agile experts and newbies, and it’s a great opportunity to network for those of us based in the Greater Manchester area. It’s November 13th at UCLan, the University of Central Lancashire in Preston.

This year I’ve dropped out of the organising committee (which will probably help make this event better than ever :). I will be running a session though — a think-tank on the topic of “Do project managers have a role in agile software development?“. If you have an opinion on that, or if you want to know what others think, please do come along!

the next AgileNorth event

Sketchy information is beginning to emerge about a new half-day AgileNorth event that’s scheduled for a Saturday around the end of April. It will be free to attend, it will be hosted at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, UK, and it will feature sessions on “agile methods”.

If it turns out to be on April 26th, perhaps one or more of the attendees could turn up to the naked agilists event that evening and describe the highlights…?

AgileNorth ’07 programme announced

The full conference programme for AgileNorth ’07 is now available.

This year’s conference promises to be our best yet, and has attracted an international cast of speakers from leading agile organisations including Thoughtworks and the DSDM Consortium. The programme is packed with sessions on “business” and “technical” aspects of agile software development, together with keynotes, plenary sessions and plenty of opportunities to socialise with like-minded people. The whole event emphasises delegate participation, and is the key networking opportunity for agile newcomers and experts in the Manchester area.

So come on down to the Palace Hotel, Manchester on November 29th and be part of your local agile community!

For full details, and to register, visit

3rd AgileNorth conference, 29-nov-07

an07 logo

For this year’s AgileNorth 1-day conference we’re moving to a new venue – the Palace Hotel in the centre of Manchester. We’re putting the finishing touches to the programme this week, and we’ve managed to keep the delegate rate frozen at 95 GBP, an absolute bargain!

This year’s event will feature session tracks on “business” and “technical” aspects of agile software development, together with keynotes, plenary sessions and plenty of networking opportunities. If you’re in the North of England and you’re interested in agile, AgileNorth ’07 is the place to be!

For details of the event visit And join our mailing list to hear further announcements, including details of the full conference programme as they become available.

first agile skypecast a great success

The first joint AgileScotland / AgileNorth mini-conference via skypecast happened last night (April 16th) and was a great success! We had 12-15 attendees for the whole two hours, and we were entertained by seven short and very varied sessions, four of which were supported by “slides” via HTML.

Aspects I liked:

  • Some sessions provided visuals by means of HTML “slides” hosted by Paul Wilson; this was a good format, easily accessible to all, and helped to overcome the lack of other visual cues.
  • The presenters put their photo on their first slide, which really helped me visualise who was speaking.
  • Having a number of very short sessions made for a lively and varied evening.
  • Leigh Mullin did a great job of chairing the evening’s activities, and sent encouraging chat messages to the presenters during our sessions.
  • Everyone put themselves on mute during the presentations; the levels of discipline and courtesy were extremely high.
  • During and after each session the group sent questions over Skype chat to the speaker, which the speaker could field as he wished; I kept mine in a queue and answered them at the end, but others did differently, and both approaches worked well.
  • Charles Weir opened his session up as a discussion, and that worked surprisingly well too.

Some areas in which we might learn from the experience:

  • Some speakers (me in particular) took a lot longer than their advertised time; next time it might be worth trying fixed-size 5-minute slots, plus 5-minutes for discussion, and rigorously enforcing that timetable.
  • Two hours is a long time, particularly when one has no non-verbal feedback; perhaps 90 minutes would be long enough.
  • It was hard to follow those speakers who hadn’t provided visuals; we should probably make them mandatory.
  • During the planning stages we had floated the idea of holding open some kind of chat room, but in the end we relied solely on one-to-one chat messages; in future it might be beneficial to enable all attendees to see the questions being asked.

(You can read other attendees’ comments on our mailing list – NakedAgilists)

Overall this was a very enjoyable evening, and I’m very much looking forward to our next one. Hats off to Clarke, Adrian, Paul and Leigh for brilliant organisation.

agilenorth / agilescotland skypecast tomorrow

Tomorrow night sees the very first joint AgileScotland / AgileNorth mini-conference via skypecast! We have almost a dozen short 2-10 minute presentations in a packed 90-minutes – including my retelling of a testing dilemma and developing a sense of urgency from this blog. See the NakedAgilists Yahoo group for joining instructions.