Agile-Lean Ireland 2019

On 25th and 26th April, myself and three other Redgaters attended Agile-Lean Ireland 2019 at Croke Park in Dublin. ALI is a community-led conference that has grown rapidly from 50 people in 2017 to over 700 in 2019! It was a fantastic opportunity to hear from a diverse array of amazing speakers, and in order to help bring that knowledge back, I took along my trusty sketchnoting kit…


Day 1

The conference began with a keynote from Barry O’Reilly, who spoke about how we must all “unlearn” — letting go of once useful behaviours and mindsets — in order to succeed to today’s rapidly evolving world. It was a really eye-opening talk and I’d recommend anyone who’s interested in learning more to check out Barry’s new book “Unlearn” or his newly launched podcast of the same name.

“Why Great Leaders must UNLEARN to Succeed in Today’s Exponential World by Barry O'Reilly (Barry’s Twitter)

Next, John Cutler spoke about leaving the “feature factory” behind and moving towards a focus on value creation. This was another great session with lots of great insights and tips, some of which we’ve already started experimenting with on my team.

From Feature Factories to Value Creation Networks by John Cutler (John’s Twitter)

Next up, Emily Tate spoke about her experiences of getting product managers and engineering teams to work better together, as at the end of the day, it’s not about us, it’s about our users.

Better Together by Emily Tate (Emily’s Twitter)

The next session I attended was by Rob Meaney, and I enjoyed it so much I did a lightning talk on it as soon as I got back to Redgate HQ. He talked about how bad testing impacts everyone so we should be designing for “testability” and gave some great advice on how to do so.

Let’s Talk Testability by rob meaney (Rob’s Twitter)

Tim Herbig gave a really thought-provoking talk on why distributed teams are the future and gave some tips and tricks for how we can work better when just one member of our team is working remotely.

Go Home to Go Big by Tim Herbig (Tim’s Twitter)

I then went and put my UX hat on and listened to Felicity Neary give a crash course in how to prototype and how it’s a great way of quickly and cheaply answering questions about your product and users.

Ensure Success: Prototyping 101 by Felicity N (Felicity’s Twitter)

Day 1 was brought to a close with an insightful and often hilarious look back on 30 years in the software industry from Dan North. He gave several actionable bits of advice on topics such as learning, vulnerability, product development and leadership.

Deliberate Advice from an Accidental Career by Dan North (Dan’s Twitter)

Day 2

The opening keynote on the second day was given by Mary Poppendieck. She spoke about how we should no longer be focussing on “waste” (as we do when working in a lean manner) but instead concentrate on reducing the “frictions” that we come up against. These frictions included dissatisfied customers, disengaged contributors, inefficiencies and dependencies.

Friction: The Big Eight by Mary Poppendieck (Mary’s Twitter)

I then attended a session on “personal agility” by Peter Stevens, talking about how by using six simple questions you can focus on what’s important and getting things done.

Six Questions to Change Your Life by Peter Stevens (Peter’s Twitter)

Gary Fleming gave an excellent talk called “The Board Whisperer”. He explained how regardless of whether you use JIRA, Trello or just post-its on a whiteboard, your board is always trying to tell you things — you just have to be willing to listen. We’re already using a couple of suggestions he gave on my team.

The Board Whisperer by Gary Fleming (Gary’s Twitter)

Jean-Paul Bayley then pitted two juggernauts against each other, as Scrum and Kanban went head-to-head. He spoke about how it’s often beneficial to combine elements of both in order to develop unique approaches that work best for your team.

Scrum vs Kanban: Battle Royale or Save the World by Jean-Paul Bayley (JP’s Twitter)

Seamus Keogan then gave a great talk on coaching, with helpful tips around listening, asking powerful questions, learning your biases and breaking habits.

Coaching without Wings by Seamus Keogan (Seamus’ Twitter)

The final session I sketchnoted was by Nick Power, who explained how agile practices are useless if you have bad architecture and how they architect their software to enable small autonomous teams to be as agile as possible.

Architecting for Agility by Nick Power

Closing thoughts

ALI 2019 was my first agile conference and was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed, so I’d like to thank Redgate for giving me the opportunity to attend. I learnt so much about a wide range of topics and can’t wait to try out some new ideas over the coming months. If anyone is interested in learning more about any of the sessions I attended, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.