Agile in the City – Bristol: Day One Takeaways

I really enjoyed the Agile in the City London conference earlier this year so when a local version of the event was advertised I knew I had to be there. And so last week I attended day one of the Agile in the City Bristol.

We never stop learning and events like these are important  in refreshing and building knowledge and also learning from others’ mistakes and successes. I definitely gained a lot by attending the conference but here are my top takeaways of ideas which I’m planning to explore further in near future:

Collaboration is needed to design a truly amazing product. With mediocre collaboration comes a mediocre product. So how can we ensure that we collaborate in a way that brings new insights and is inclusive?

Katherine Kirk talked about the need for inclusive collaboration – including people that are different from us and listening to them with an open mind. Getting similar people to work on a product the chances are high that the product will be bland and safe. We need to understand that different types of thinking are OK and find ways in which to support them so that everyone can flourish.  I’ve already had a look at the Inclusive Collaboration Experiments book that Sal Freudenberg and Katherine Kirk have written and felt really inspired to try out some of the activities described there.

John Clapham talked about biases and group thinking. Again, I found his talk really fascinating and will definitely be looking into biases further. To get the best and innovative ideas from our teams we need to understand how to best work with biases and how can we overcome them. I have heard of the six thinking hats method in the past – but now I’m really convinced of its value!

Talking about collaboration Katherine Kirk reminded us not to forget about collaboration fatigue. Sometimes people might have enough of collaborating and talking – especially if they don’t see it as a productive activity. I believe it is important to spot signs if your team or individuals are suffering from collaboration fatigue and explore what can be done about it.

Another topic close to my heart is organisational culture. Matt Jukes (from DEFRA) talked about his experience at the Office for National Statistics and his lessons learnt from his time there. I liked the idea of introducing company culture as a bottom up approach – working with teams to come up with their values and then trying to introduce it across the company, revisiting it when needed. I agree with Matt saying “Culture is not something that is imposed – it emerges.” Also inspired by Matt I will be sending everyone back to have a look at agile principles!

Participating in Agile in the City Bristol was great for getting some new ideas, challenging my thinking and also it was just nice to feel part of an awesome community! Having said that, I might be biased as I won a competition from one of the vendors by guessing how much sweets there were in a jar (there were 297 and my estimation was 280  in case you’re wondering) and won myself some amazon vouchers. So not sure if any other conference will beat that!

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