AgileYork: Hello community

Yesterday evening I attended my first, and the second ever, AgileYork meetup.

agileyork logo

We are a group of Agile advocates who’d like to share and help others develop the values and principles of the Agile manifesto in themselves. Welcoming beginners and those already experimenting with this new way of working who want to learn more.

Our vision is to help individuals and teams make their working lives better. By improving the way we learn, share and communicate with others.

So did it live up to the above mantra, and more importantly, did it make for an enjoyable and interesting couple of hours? I’d say so yes.

Upon arrival at this month’s venue (it’d been many years since I’d last been in Cross Keys, and blimey, they’ve done a good job with the renovations) I proceeded to buy myself a beverage and wander in to the back room to see what awaited me.

Surprisingly my prominent (ha) Twitter presence had preceded me. Meaning I was greeted by name and welcomed like an old friend. Which was lovely.

Comparisons with the current POTUS were somewhat less so.

Once the small back room had filled with excitable folk, Mr AgileYork – Tony Richards, welcomed us all by giving a quick introduction to AgileYork. Pointing out the list of intended discussion topics the group had composed during the debut meet up last month.

Then it was time for the opening talk.

It came from Gwen Thompson (a Business Analyst at CPP) and was titled ‘Being Agile without knowing it’.

agileyork gwen
Photo by Tony Richards

She shared her experiences with translating the Kanban and sprint planning methodology in to her real life by using a Trello board to manage and plan a house move.

Subliminally teaching her husband Agile techniques and managing the family by distributing tasks without them knowing they were being project managed.

I genuinely found this interesting as not only have we, the ICT team in City Of York Council, been using Trello for our projects for some time now, I also have a board I share with my fiancé where we’re organising our wedding. So many similarities. Apart from the grooming, that sounds a little odd.

After a brief Q&A we broke for an intermission. Diving back in to networking with the other folks in the room (or just those sat on the same table as the case tended to be).

During this break a small selection of food (bread, sausages, crisps…) came out to satisfy the ravenous crowd.

agileyork group
Photo by Daniel Woolfson


Following the food it was time for the second talk of the evening from Steve Carter (a senior member of the product development team at ETAS), titled ‘A whistle-stop tour of product development flow’.

agileyork steve
Photo by Tony Richards

This talk was largely based on what seemed like one of Mister Carter’s favourite books; ‘Product Development Flow’ by Donald Reinersten.

Using ice-cream as examples, he briefly explained a couple of the key aspects of flow;

Such as queues and working on too much at once (release lots together and some of it’ll melt), continuous feedback to maintain traction, and a whole host more.

A lot of information to take in (especially after loading up on carbs moments earlier) but each example and practice were all very valid and important points.

He was pretty adamant the book is essential reading for anyone involved in product development so I may need to add it to the list.

agileyork book

Once Steve had fielded his post talk questions, ranging from dealing with projects with more than one Product Manager, to his thoughts on altering one of his slides to one of a child vomiting (in truth it would be a more impactful metaphor), we had a quick wrap up talk from Tony.

Anonymous feedback (on the venue, speakers, and any future topics not yet mentioned) was requested with cards and Sharpies spread across the tables.

Then, I believe, the discussions and networking continued in to the early hours.

Or at least I presume this is what happened. After leaving my feedback I bode my new contacts farewell and departed homewards.

Thanks once again to both Tony and Daniel for organising and taking the initiative to create a group bringing together the Agile practicing community in York.

The next event is Wednesday 19th July so maybe see you then!

Matt Stroud, Business Analyst, @matticusstroud

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