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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

AgileEE 2010

AgileEE

Another conference became past so it is a time to write down some impressions. It was my first time on AgileEE so I guess it will be a fresh look. No comparisons to last year’s event at least.

Speakers and sessions

First of all, Jurgen rocks. I mean he really rocks. And now, since he decided to go on his own, you can just hire him. I have no problems with pointing the presentation I liked most at AgileEE. I hope to see Jurgen speaking in Krakow on AgileCE 2011.

Another great session was the one from Paul Klipp. I know Paul as he’s living and working in Krakow but I didn’t expect such a great presentation on a very difficult subject which is selling agile. What a shame Paul is not going accept public speaking gigs for a while.

Then there were opening keynotes from Henrik Kniberg and Mary Poppendieck, which were exactly what you could have expected from them – very professional, on topic presentations showing authors’ knowledge and experience. However I can’t say I was stunned by either one. When you’re one of thought leaders the bar is set high.

For me personally these would be sessions to remember. There was more of good stuff of course but generally I can’t say there was anyone else who impressed me that much. But after all, even if you take a thing or two from a presentation it is time well invested and at least a few more presentations qualify into this category.

Networking

Networking is something I attend conferences for. Not for epiphanies, but to talk with people who I can learn from. To exchange experience and meet people who I wouldn’t meet otherwise. And in terms of networking AgileEE worked like expected.

I spent quite a long time discussing building software with Mary Poppendieck. Now, I admit I have some problems with Mary’s presentations. They’re always a bit too definitive for me. Do this and don’t do that. Follow this practice and never touch another. Even with a stick. That’s not what I call “exchanging experiences.”

And then, when you talk with Mary over a glass of beer some magic happens – there’s no more “do this, do that” approach and the discussion is really open-minded with a lot of common sense applied to it. I expected more of an orthodox stance from her basing on her presentations. Well, that was a surprise and a very nice one. Now I’m going to chase Mary every time she’s around without her slides at hand.

I also spent long time talking with Michael Dubakov and folks from his company – TargetProcess. The only thing I may say is I’m looking forward for another meeting with Michael soon. If you have a chance, find Michael and his colleagues. They definitely know what they’re doing and have a lot to share.

But the best part was left at the very end. I decided to come back from Kiev by car with guys from Pragmatists and Mateusz Srebrny. Despite long journey and long hours spent waiting on the border it was the best discussion on software development I had for a long, long time. Thank you guys and count me in for the next trip. I wouldn’t exchange this uncomfortable journey for a flight even if an aircraft took me directly from my sofa and landed just at the conference place.

Organization

The event was organized well. I’m not a huge fan of the venue, but it’s not the venue I attended the conference for. I could add a few cold advices about coffee and wifi coverage (both were a scarce resource), but again it wasn’t an event for coffee drinkers or wifi junkies, even though we all are one of those.

And then I appreciate how much work organizers of AgileCE put into dealing with coffee and internet access and got no proper praise for that. You see? The glass is half full.

My session

I had a presentation on AgileEE and the subject won’t surprise you at all – Kanban. To be completely honest I’m not happy with my session. I think people were looking for something a bit different but that’s a subject for another story.

Then I’ve heard that my slides sucked. Point taken. The good thing is, despite leaving a lot of time for questions I filled all that time and even more, which is a pretty good sign after all. Anyway I have a list of things to improve by the next of my Kanban presentations, so thank everyone for feedback I already got.

If you happened to be on my Kanban session please rate the presentation on SpeakerRate or leave a comment under the post.

And if you’re curious to see my crappy slides, here they are.

Summary

Well, the shortest possible summary: see you there next year. The time in Kiev definitely wasn’t wasted. Alex along with the rest of organizers did a good job.

in: kanban, project management, software business

5 comments… add one

  • Parallel Project Management Training October 14, 2010, 5:07 am

    Agile is a new area for me. This was a useful post as a statrting point to find other references on the web. I know linday scott at http://www.arraspeople.co.uk/camel-blog/ is looking for a guiest blogger for Agile. May be worth getting in touch

  • Michał Paluchowski October 25, 2010, 4:29 am

    I wouldn’t say your slides “sucked”. They were worlds-apart better then the text-filled slideument monsters produced by so many speakers. Only main points with little distractions.

    But I do have to say they were too simplistic this way. You need to have some graphics – images supporting your points. People can analyze images much faster than text and, if chosen right, they’ll connect well with what your saying and carve all the related information into memory. Variating the font-size and text placement would’t hurt either.

    I did like your slides about managers, a few posts ago. Plenty of images, little text.

  • Pawel Brodzinski October 25, 2010, 4:43 am

    I don’t think they sucked either, but that is what I’ve heard from people who were at my session, so I’m not going to argue.

    Anyway I won’t try the same idea again. Actually I’m torn between not using slides at all and using pictures heavily.

    I see slides as more of a distracter during presentation, but at the same time as material for future use for those who haven’t been on the session. For the former slide is needed only as long as it makes the point (which means pretty rarely). For the latter bullet points aren’t that bad; usually better than lots of pictures and few words.

    Anyway, I should upload the effect of another version of my approach to slides soon as I had a session on leadership a couple of days ago.

  • Michał Paluchowski October 25, 2010, 7:15 am

    Have you seen/read Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen? The blog is great but the books are even better. These should help you with your dilemmas. http://www.presentationzen.com/

  • Pawel Brodzinski October 25, 2010, 7:50 am

    In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice they’re not.

    I know the theory, but I sometimes I find it hard to apply it in practice. But well, that’s what we do – trial and error, all the time. Isn’t it failure, which we learn the most of?

    This is by the way a great example to embrace failure post: I’ve learned way more from one worse-than-expected performance than from a lot of theory I knew.

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