Conference Agile Spain 2022

My CAS2022 summary. The Conference Agile Spain 2022 has been celebrated in the north west of Spain, in the city of A Coruña. This year the event has gather around 800 agilists after the pandemic. The key speakers this year had a very complementary approach sharing ideas about scaling agile with LeSS by Bas Vodde, creating a company by Carmen Vidal (Paradigma) and organizing teams by the one and only Manuel Pais and his famous and inspiring book Team Topologies.

There were a lot of talks and workshops during the two days (from the 10th of November to the 11th). I’m not trying to summarize thoroughly the talks I attended, but I want just to share in this article some of the ideas that shock me the most or that gave me food for thought. Obviously this is just a little piece of the puzzle since there were 6 talks and workshops going on at the same time almost during the two days.

It all started with some ideas from Bas Vodde who shared an overview on how LeSS might help software teams. Bas explained the differences between asynchronous and synchronous dependencies. The first type is the one to avoid, and the second type is the one to potentiate, to maximize, meaning you will increase collaboration among teams. I personally see complicated that a few teams might be able to evolve the same product altogether indistinctly, especially if the load grows and grows. Things like cognitive load might be key here and just allowing all the teams to “touch” all the parts of the product, don’t necessarily warranties they will all be able to evolve them arbitrary. Even though some teams might be able to take advantage of using this scaled framework, they will use the motto: “More with LeSS”, for some other teams, where they don’t need to scale their way of working and they just need to increase collaboration and reduce dependencies with other teams, they might be using the motto “less is more”.

Bas also said a little bit about the opportunities of using a unique code repository.

Raquel Gavilán gave a very interesting talk about culture. One of the interesting ideas to see was that there’s no such a thing as good or bad culture, better or worst culture, there are aligned or misaligned cultures based on the companies objectives, mission and purpose. She also talked about the Schneider Model to measure a company’s culture, which is particular interesting for example to evaluate an agile culture using frameworks like Scrum, Kanban or XP, having every of those some particularities about the model dimensions: command, competence, cultivation (innovation) and collaboration.

During Raquel’s talk.

From Juan Piaggio’s talk I took the idea to evaluate how much dedication are we allocating to initiatives (or objectives if we see it from an OKR perspective). There’s no such a global formula for all organizations, but it might make sense to define something specific for your case and evaluate it further from there. Basically we should see we are dedicating our best efforts to the most importan objectives. It was also inspiring the idea to use the hypothesis under the key results when using OKRs, to basically increase dedication when we see we’re having a benefit return of a first delivery. A good point was to see there’s the possibility to categorize your investments, basically all the time and effort we spend can go to for Product Strategy, Product Increments (improvements, changes, …), Technology and Big Bets (innovation, …).

Sylvia Rausch gave a very dynamic and fun talk about agile in Marketing. Talks like this are the fuel we need to keep on going as agilists. It was very inspiring to see how they have made agile their own way of working, even for their daily life.

Manuel Pais was the keynote for the second day and he totally met the expectations. With his talk he gave an interesting summary on how to apply some principles from Team Topologies to daily work and team interactions.

Opening of Manuel’s talk.

I had the chance to ask him about cognitive load after the talk and when it’s a good moment to start thinking on reorganizing a team. Obviously there’s not a common answer for all the cases but you should communicate with the team and put them in a safe environment to find a solution to reduce cognitive load, maybe by creating two teams or other scenarios. What it is important though is to keep in mind the team will tend generally to assume the responsibility even when we’re overpassing the cognitive load boundary of that team.

Very thankful with Manuel Pais.

Apart from that, Manuel also shared that for business agility it is essential to organize the teams and the organization based on value streams. A direct consequence to that is to focus on user needs (we even might say UX) and therefore there’s a necessity to set the environment in a way that we can easily and quickly course-correct (adapt).

It is insightful to see all the different elements that Manuel identifies to define the Teams Topologies. Basically he highlights: fast flow, team cognitive load, team interactions, rapid feedback and organization evolution. However, first things first, he advices that the identification of your company’s value streams is the first step to start defining the topology.

Some books recommended by Manuel during his talk are:

To wrap up, the event organization was brilliant and I thank from here the staff for their great work. Keep it up!

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