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Report on the Agile Leadership Conference in Nuremberg on 17/10/2017

Report on the Agile Leadership Conference in Nuremberg on 17/10/2017 28.11.2017 - Everyone is talking about agile working nowadays and many people are starting to question if it really works. If we consider the IT sector, and in particular software development, a noticeable trend has emerged which is leading away from the classic waterfall approach towards process models and frameworks (Scrum, Kanban, Extreme etc.).

Annual status reports published by Version One have clearly proven this using verifiable data. The impressions I have had and the experience I have amassed as a project manager trainer have also shown that many companies in which I train Classic project management are now becoming increasingly interested in knowing how they can become more agile. Furthermore, more and more participants from completely different backgrounds to software development are registering for my courses on Scrum, Kanban Extreme Programming.

The Agile Leadership conference has been run by the Nuremberg Initiative for Communication Economy (NIK) for a number of years and is focusing on exactly this subject – how can organisations become more agile in general? This is a subject that has interested me because in order for a project to be agile, it is necessary to have the opportunity to work in an agile way. If you are able to adopt agile working (using Scrum, for example) and are also motivated, it is very unhelpful if you find yourself stuck in a company or with a customer which are not able to engage at all with agile working, or can only do so on a superficial level. Digital transformation and more and more turbulence in the markets means that flexible and adaptable organisations are the order of the day. Being able to think and use agile working practices is required across the whole of the organisation in order to fully exploit the potential of agile working.

I had additional expectations of the conference because slide presentations – however creative they are – only give half the story as far as I am concerned. I can only get so much out of the usual flow charts or attractive, but impersonal, animations. I expect to see verifiable reports based on experience. My expectations were fulfilled by the conference, particularly during the workshops that I attended. How can agility be applied and become ingrained in a bank, or in a health insurance company, for example? A team moved over to agile working and was free to work on a project in an autonomous way. The project involved reorganising the branch of a bank in a customer focused way. The exercise intuitively resulted in the type of things that are also recommended in the literature written for agile teams: cross functionality means ensuring that all necessary professional skills are present; that there are short iteration cycles; that all members of the team are working on an equal footing and that a coach is available; visualising work progress and retrospectives were ingredients that ensured that project work could be carried out successfully.

Conclusion: many ideas, however, the recognition that it is generally not easy to change over to agile working and that the process can take time.
 
Dr. Hans Stromeyer

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