In early 2021 I was asked to give a talk about Agile to an MBA class from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto. I never published the slides online, but now that I’m more actively blogging again, I thought others might benefit from them. This talk included details of a large project I was a part of in the role of Agile Coach and reviewed different ideas around what real Agile was and the conditions and contexts needed for Agile to succeed.
The talk went through a client project I had worked on and included some photos to show a real example of what working with some of the ideas I talked about could look like. The story I told was of the ten months I spent as part of a large Salesforce project, where they were trying to create a new unified view of their clients across multiple lines of business. I was a part of the project from day one, and we used many different techniques to help plan the project, organize teams, and coordinate delivery. We used many practices on this project, including user story maps, domain modelling, program and team kanban boards, retrospectives, and monthly MVP testing. In the version of the slides I’m sharing here, I’ve kept the project-related slides but have removed the original images and replaced them with stock images.
My goal for the talk was to provide the audience with a different perspective on Agile than they would find in any book or article. The talk gave the students no answers or instructions; instead, I tried to introduce them to different ideas I thought were important for them to be aware of and help give them a better understanding of “real Agile” should they ever find themselves on an Agile team.
The key ideas I covered included the following:
- Comparing the conditions when Waterfall and Agile are appropriate
- The risks of applying the wrong method in the wrong context
- Comparing different interpretations of agile
- The importance of Agile principles
- Working incrementally and iteratively
- Learning from doing and the Agile cost of change curve
- Failure & learning cultures
- Effective teams and conditions
- Leadership and purpose
- Agile BS
I hoped the talk surprised the students and exposed them to ideas they may not have seen before. Crafting this talk was a good learning experience for me to focus on helping communicate the context where agile excels and the conditions necessary to support the right culture.