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Learn, Un-Learn & Re-Learn: My Key Takeaways From Agile Vietnam Conference 2019

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On December 8th, I had the honour of attending and speaking at Agile Vietnam Conference 2019 in Hanoi. This was the second time I had spoken at this community-led conference and in both instances, I’ve had a great experience.

I had the pleasure of seeing Shane Hastie from ICAgile and InfoQ again, who delivered a great keynote on the topic of Edge of Agility. Shane reminded us that the operating model that will drive agile organisations in the near future is placing customers in the center of the organisation. Delighting the customer will be the norm; not generating profits. And if your organisation is not moving towards that right now, you might risk falling further behind.

Once all this becomes the norm, what then? The Edge of Agile will come when societies become Agile. This was the case illustrated by Dr. Rashina Hoda, as she described how New Zealand demonstrated agile values when responding to the country’s worst terror attack on 15 March 2019.

Agile Nation Values
1. People and Interactions over Protocols and Rules
2. Community collaboration over closed decision making
3. Policies and actions over speeches and promises
4. Responding to change over following the status quo

You can watch her talk on TEDx.

The second talk I attended was given by Giang Đào, whose insights tackled how to break away from the trap of having a negative mindset. Giang shone a light on the fact that the way we see reality is not the actual truth, but a perceived reality shaped by our senses combined with our pre-established belief system. Once we become aware of our own limitations and biases, we can start trying to see things as they are.

The third talk was given by a duo of coaches living in Vietnam, Chris Kruppa and Marco Passuello, and the topic was Agile Leadership. They presented 4 pillars of Agile Leadership: Adaptability, Integrity, Empathy, and Vulnerability, and how to use these pillars to guide our decision-making process.

After lunch, Doi Pham, one of the leads of Agile Vietnam, gave the second keynote about Agile transformations in Vietnam.

Next, a group from Japan, led by Jean-Baptiste Vasseur, shared a new Retrospective format with the attendees called Fun, Done, Learn. The full questions were:

1. How much the team is enjoying their work, and workplace (Fun)?
2. How much the team is learning, and improving (Learn)?
3. How much the team is able to deliver/get to Done (Done)?

Check out their original article on Medium.

They asked participants to engage in this retrospective style in the context of the conference. We brainstormed what we got done, what we learned, and what was fun about it. The activity itself was a lot of fun - I highly recommend you try this retrospective style with your teams.

Our team writing our Fun, Done, Learn stickies

My talk was the last talk of the day. The topic I chose was a favourite of mine: Demystifying Estimation. I had written about estimation before and after encountering more and more teams that still struggle on how to use (or not use) estimations on their work, I decided to create a talk about it.

In my talk, I deconstructed the concept of estimation, introduced a framework of how to present estimations as a range of dates with confidence levels — instead of a single date/deadline — how to use relative estimation and historical data to forecast future work, and sources of distractions.

Me with my Troublemaker’s hat.

I really enjoy attending and speaking at conferences. It’s a space for sharing and learning, but also networking. As described in this article, I’ve learned many new things, shared my experience with Estimation, and met many amazing agilists.

What else could you ask for?

A note on the current situation of the world

Conferences like these probably won’t happen for a while until the situation changes. But people are creative and rise to meet new challenges. I’m already seeing many remote conferences popping up everywhere, so knowledge sharing and networking opportunities are always going to be there - they will just look a little different.

I recently attended a knowledge sharing workshop about remote working: Suddenly Distributed, attended by several big names in the remote work industry: Lisette Sutherland, Mark Kilby, Judy Res, Steve McCann, Charles Humble, and the one and only Shane Hastie; facilitated by David Horowitz.

Knowledge sharing workshop, on a suddenly remote world

Stay connected, stay safe.

Andre Rubin Santos
Agilist, team-builder, trouble-maker