Without strong, self-sustaining agile teams, any change as a result of an agile transformation is very likely temporary
The program had a great mix of basics and opportunities to learn from thought leaders in Lean and Agile. I've really enjoyed both Keynotes. @MarkGraben widened our understanding of lean in healthcare, showing how lean manufacturing practices for process improvement are being adopted in the field of healthcare across the globe, from the UK to Canada and the US. One of the most lasting images Mark shared was a 'paper prototype' for a new children's hospital, providing the opportunity for all those working in the hospital to be involved. Mark has written up his account of the talk .
The following morning, @IanCulling, CTO with our partner VersionOne, and Paul @Culling, VP for Partnerships at VersionOne, talked about a Decade of Done. The learnings from over 10 years of agile product development. This talk is absolutely filled with information. If you've not caught this talk yet, then find the InfoQ recording, and watch it with a paper and pen at hand to write down each and every nugget. The twitter stream of @SDEConf was filled with insights picked up by the audience and there are many more besides. Takeaways? The 'discretionary' spending on people that is so definitely not discretionary, but essential to building engaged teams: Gadget budgets, growth budgets and showing respect for the development team through 20% time and hackathons.
As to my speaker slots, the first, a sweeping discussion on the importance of understanding what we are building, marrying lean startup with agile produce delivery, covered a number of key trends and topics I'm passionate about (see the slides). The importance of getting close to the customer, and ultimately validating what you are building before investing in a feature or idea in full. Key capabilities that the strongest, fastest growing companies understand and invest in today. Drawing on the practices of the Lean Startup, and mapping these to the 5 levels of agile planning, to understand where validation comes into the product definition process and how to go about it.
The second, a revisit to the core characteristics of powerful agile teams introduced the world to the Ringelmann Effect and social loafing - something we should all be aware of for the comedic value of calling it out when we see it :)
Seem to have hit the right tone with this talk, with a great, engaged audience and plenty of insight and questions. The conclusions touched on the ideal size for the team (smaller is better) and the difference between cross-functional and self-organizing teams. Finally, referencing an interesting HBR article on teamwork, we learned that high performing teams take effort to create - they don't magically appear.
And this is my Storify version here: http://storify.com/davesharrock/sdec13-winnipeg