It’s at the start of the third day to Agile 2009, and I wanted to write up some notes from the conference before I start to fill my head with more ideas from the third day. It’s definitely going to be a slow start to the day, not because the program isn’t interesting, but rather since I’ve had a few hours sleep.

Yesterday was a full day and full in the sense of many wonderful things to think about. Alistair Cockburn kicked off the morning with a keynote titled, “I Come to Bury Agile, Not to Praise It“. Let’s be clear here (Cockburn emphasised this at least three times) as this will no doubt be misinterpreted by people over time: This session was not saying that agile was dead and useless. Rather, that agile has become an everyday part of life, no longer controversial and proven to be good and practical. After all, it’s been around for at least a decade now. Cockburn used the metaphor of an iceberg (agile) melting and forming part of the ocean.

If you get a chance to catch Cockburn speak, I cannot recommend him highly enough. Rather dramatically, he walked on stage following a fellow playing bag pipelines, only to perform a Shakespearen soliloquy completely memorised without notes. Very impressive! I’ll agree with some critics that I don’t think that what Cockburn had to say was controversial, yet that doesn’t automatically make it a bad thing. Cockburn articulates ideas really well, and formed a great story linking what items are essential for software development in the 21st century. On top of this is his great presentation and speaker skills, something very admirable indeed. I also appreciate his humbleness and openness to encouraging others. For example, it’s easy for someone like him to just talk about the work that he does yet he didn’t have any hesitation talking about what interesting work other people were doing, naming them explicitly on stage (something many other people in his position doesn’t do). He really knew the content in the slides, even at the end asking for to jump to content by slide number to bring up diagrams for questions. I also appreciated the fact that he didn’t jump through a generic set of slides, skipping bits that weren’t relevant and spending more time on others. That shows that he at least put thought into how the presentation was going to run for.

After the keynote, another Alistair, this time my great co-presenter, Alistair Jones and I presented our session titled, “Top ten secret weapons for performance testing in an agile environment“. Yes, looking back at it, a bit of a mouthful. We were both really happy with how it went given that the room was almost full and we had lots of questions, both during and after. Admittedly I think 45 minutes was a tight squeeze, however the program’s alternative of 90 minutes would have been far too long to talk for. Thanks to all the people that came along and we’ll be posting the content online somewhere in the near future.

At lunch, I dropped into the Programming with the stars session in the other tower, a fun place to watch different styles of how people approach and present a problem. Well done to all the participants as it takes a lot of courage to step up on stage and put yourself in front of the audience.

Later that day, I went along to the session titled, “What (Else) Can Agile Learn from Complexity?” by Jurgen Appelo that I found pretty interesting only because I’ve been reading more about complexity and chaos and how it applies to everyday life. Pretty heavy technical and term driven presentation yet very helpful for me to see how other people view it applying to software.

This session followed on with the Lean Lego Game by some colleagues, Francisco and Danilo. It’s a great experiential simulation that teaches the concepts of lean that I highly recommend everyone try. In fact, the only pitfall for their session was the fact that too many people turned up, making it difficult for two people to facilitate such a workshop.

Last night (and following through to early this morning) ThoughtWorks hosted an Agile Open Office and helped launch the Agile and PMI initiative to bring those two communities together. If you’re interested working with the PMI, they’re looking for agilistas to meet with a local PMI branch all around the world. I met some really fascinating people and far too many topics to even cover in this time.