What’s so funny ’bout Peace, Love and Understanding — Agile Singapore 2013

I was fortunate to be invited to the Agile Singapore conference, in November, to present a session titled “What’s so funny ’bout Peace, Love and Understanding?”. This may sound familiar to you from the song written by Nick Lowe and made popular by Elvis Costello.

I was also joined by Melbourne colleagues, Craig and Neil, who were also on the schedule. Neil was on the first leg of his #NoEstimates roadshow, that also took in Finland and The Netherlands. Craig was telling the good folks of Singapore about Management 3.0

My session was based around the search for understanding in different forms in agile projects, and in general. I started off with a few lyrics from the song:

“So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony? Sweet harmony.”

I chose to highlight this song and its lyrics, as it had triggered a thought process about how working together on teams on complex and wicked problems, is all about searching for understanding about how to move through an ever changing landscape, and how to understand each other, and the people that we are making our products for.

I  moved rapidly through topics such as Motivation, work as a co-operative game, how change can be supported, how Barcelona FC and other team sports can help us to understand understanding, and a few techniques that can help us to understand our customers.

Lastly, we played “The Vacation Game”, where pairs discussed where they would go on holiday together, then joining another pair to discuss the same topic, and so on. The ideas was to help people understand who else was in the room (by talking to them!), and to get them out of their seats.

The next time I deliver this talk, I think I would have the vacation game at the start, and then proceed with the rest of the slides. I would also concentrate on explaining some of the connections more carefully, such as why I used the song. In my mind, it all makes perfect sense, but if I’m jumping around from a song, to a football team, throwing in  a board game, and a statue of Bruce Lee along the way, then I think I could improve the way that I stitch it all together.


Agile Singapore’s photo of the conference speakers.

As for the conference itself, I found it to be a worthwhile experience. I’m not really a fan of the massive convention centre vibe, but putting that aside, there was a good variety of things going on. There was as much of a community feeling that there could be, considering the surroundings, with lots of  enthusiastic folks participating over the 2 days. I enjoyed talking to people in the Singapore agile scene, to get a gist of what has been going on there. I also had a chance to have a look around Singapore itself.

An added bonus is that I can now say that I’m an “international speaker”, and been on the bill with luminaries such as Kent Beck, David Hussman and Jim McCarthy. It was good to attend the Hussman session about story mapping to confirm that I’ve been on target with what I do with my clients, too.

Congratulations to the organisers, and I hope they go on to organise more successful events, in the future.

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