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Agile Bootcamp #1 – To Fail To Plan is to Plan To Fail

When we were asked if we could help another organisation start on their journey to agile, I was keen to get involved. Partly because I thought it would be interesting to get to know a new organisation with a different culture, but also because of the challenge; helping a new team understand agile and be in a position to start developing in just 4 days was going to be interesting.

Ideally, we would have more time – my coach said he would usually expect 2 weeks for this kind of thing, with 2 or 3 coaches – but neither organisation was able to commit that amount of time or effort, so a more concise agenda was required.

We knew the start point was an Introduction To Agile Course with a range of follow on activities to get them started for real.

After several iterations, I came up with this set of things that I felt we would be able to achieve:

  • Introduction to Agile Course
  • Scrum Fundamentals
  • Agile In Practice (in depth practical sessions covering Build The Team, Understand the Work, The Product Backlog, Story Mapping, Release Planning, and Getting Started)
  • Project Inception Deck
  • 1-1 Coaching

Although there were a couple of ‘Introduction To Agile’ courses I could use, I wasn’t happy that any of them properly met the needs of this team, nor aligned with what I wanted to focus on. So I rewrote and restructured one of them with new exercises (that didn’t require bulky materials to take on a plane!) and a stronger focus on the values and principles.
The rest of the agenda was intended to consolidate the knowledge and help the team understand what makes agile different from traditional forms of systems development. I put together a combination of elements from the Inception Deck, Agile Chartering and User Story Mapping. This would help embed core agile concepts and result in a high-level product release plan and an initial Product Backlog.

By the time we left, I had a detailed plan of what we could do, plenty of supporting material and a suitcase nearing the maximum weight – post-it notes, sharpies and index cards turn out to be heavier than you think!

Because the Introduction course was brand new, we spent a few hours work on the plane going though it slide by slide, deciding who would present each section and working out the timing. This rehearsal was really useful, and I don’t think anyone would have guessed this would be the first time we had presented this course!

Of course, we didn’t stick to the plan. I never do. However, the thought and insight that went into the planning was critical to being able to adapt, re-plan and react during the week. The overall structure was similar – the main things that changed were the timings, the detail of some of the exercises and the ordering.

The next blog describes how the workshop went in practise, and details some of the techniques I used.