Why I think that Agile Brazil 2013 was great

Hey friends,

Last week I was in Brasília attending this year’s Agile Brazil. The event had over 1000 participants and is now the biggest conference in South America. It was great to see so many people engaged in the discussions and sharing their experiences – besides technical subjects, there were many reports from people that are introducing agile in their companies or have the mission to transform a big organization and make it agile. There were also some hands-on sessions about facilitation techniques and even some live coding. Finally, some discussions about management gave me hope that there is someone out there thinking about it and looking for improvements to current methodologies.

What I liked the most about this event was the opportunity to meet more experienced people. I realized that there are many out there trying to do the same agile transformation as I am with my clients, and they have been trying it for way longer than me. I heard some stories that made me rethink many of my assumptions about why people work the way they do. It’s refreshing.

I started my participation on Tuesday, June 25th, facilitating a retrospectives workshop with Paulo Caroli. This was a full day hands-on session, where we presented different kinds of activities and the group of participants facilitated most of them. Counting energizers, check-in activities, data gathering and futurespectives, we ran 43 activities.

retro_workshop_activities

It was an amazing experience for me, and I was impressed with the group participation and all the discussions and suggestions. Everyone learned with each other, and our activities were just guidelines and drivers for great conversations. This was our first time giving the workshop with this format, and I’m looking forward to use the feedback we received to improve the next runs. By the way, thanks to everyone who was there, and also to Caelum which provided us a nice room!

workshop_roi

Now, talking about the sessions I atended.

Pat Kua started the event with a keynote about Unlocking Our Human Potential. Nice talk where he shared his previous experiences. Biggest conclusion I took is: people perform the best when they feel valuable and challenged. How to achieve this, however, is the topic for a complete different conversation.

After that I attended a talk about why is it hard to motivate people and what can we do about it. I had to leave midway through the talk because there was a very interesting one about to start: there is no agile without agile design, given by Eder Ignatowicz. Eder’s talk was by far the most entertaining I watched and probably the one I most relate to. He talked about how agile teams usually follow the motto “go ahead and make it work”, trying their best to make it work nicely, but usually don’t take a step back to ask themselves “Are we evolving this codebase in a sustainable way?”. Very well spoken and I liked the questions asked at the end. I strongly suggest people to watch this at other event if they ever have the chance.

Then Aniche talked about code metrics. Nothing new, but I liked the way he exposed the subject, specially considering that there were many people there that wanted to learn about it and maybe implement in their companies: you can’t say that a codebase is good only based on metrics; neither can you say that it is bad. They are just indicatives that you should pay attention to. In the next day, Aniche and Hugo Corbucci had a discussion about when to mock or not mock. Very interesting conversation to watch.

Speaking of interesting conversations, the guys from Lambda3 gave a very inspiring talk about organizational democracy, followed by Fabio Pereira talking about cognitive psychology in the agile context. Again, I strongly suggest anyone to watch these if they have the chance.

After that I was in the mood to watch more non-technical talks. Claudia Melo talked about the big secret to make an agile team successful and Paulo Caroli talked about seven ways to keep lead time under control. I’m suspect to say, since I work with them, but I believe that a lot of people in the event learned very useful stuff with them :)

In the last day, there were very good experience reports from people doing agile in different contexts (here and here). Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch them all because they were at the same time slot :(

Finally, Paulo and I gave our talk about one week inceptions, a mix of experience report and the proposal of a methodology that has been working well for us. We received very good feedback and had good participation; the crowd asked good questions at the end and the follow-up conversations were very interesting. I’m looking forward to give a talk on this topic again. Also, a brazilian version of ThoughtWorks Anthology is about to come out and we are putting up a chapter there about this subject, with many more details than we could share in a 50 minutes talk.

So, yeah, going to Agile Brazil this year turned out to be a great decision for me. Learned some stuff and met some amazing people. Giving the retrospectives workshop was definitely the best part of my trip, and I hope that we get more chances to apply it again. And, surely, I look forward for the next opportunities to meet more agilists and share our experiences.

If you were in doubt this year and ended up not going, reconsider the decision and go next year. I heard some rumors that is going to be in Floripa… :)

-TC