Agile 2008 Report

I attended the Agile 2008 conference in Toronto Canada. This is a post to discuss what I saw and didn't see at the conference. I personally spoke to about 15% of the attendees.

What I did observe:
1. Toronto is a beautiful city; New York wishes it could be this nice.
2. Scrum is what the practitioners see as the most agile of methodologies. Two days of classes will make you a Scrum master. When scrum grows up it wants to be FDD.
3. XP has some good parts; but I see them as just good solid programming practices that Cheif Programmers teach and coach on a project.
4. Companies were looking for Agile for the Enterprsie; this is the overriding quest for businesses. Agile is seen as too risky for anything larger than a departmental project. Scrum has produced results for departmental projects.
5. There is a miss match between what the practitioners are offering and what businesses are wanting. Businesses want to gain productivity from Agile but are afraid of the lack of planning.
6. Process Control software sees the Agile world as supporting Scrum and XP. Hat tip to Microsoft, their visual team system just passed the $1 billion USD in revenue number. The microsoft people seem to get it more so than the pure players do. (this could be because the leading architect of the microsoft product is a former Togethersoft mentor.)

What I did not observe:
1. Very few businesses that are highly transactional were in attendance.. No money center banks, no aerospace, no medical device companies etc were in attendance. The current banking crisis in the USA might help explain some of this.
2. Domain modeling as a best practice for development. "Why model, we're agile?"
3. Planning the development to a detail necessary to avoid a daily stand up meeting. One speaker suggested that Friday standup meetings should be done in the voice of a Pirate to break up the boardrum of the daily standup. I see the benifits of FDD trumping stand up meetings.
4. Definition of done.

Overall these types of conferences are useful is spreading the brand of Agile. As much as some would like, Agile is no silver bullet. The conference presentations seemed to be dominated by practitioners and more at the micro level. The business people want an answer to how to make the enterprise agile. I see FDD as an answer to Agility for the Enterprise.