Lessons Learned at the Agile Dev, Better Software & DevOps West Conference | TechWell

Lessons Learned at the Agile Dev, Better Software & DevOps West Conference

People attending a talk at the Agile Dev, Better Software & DevOps West conference

In early June I attended TechWell's Agile Dev, Better Software & DevOps West conference at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. It’s a weeklong event, and one could easily spend a week in Caesars without ever leaving.

I started off with training on Sunday and Monday, instructing a class on the Foundations of DevOps. We had some great discussions, and as usual, I learned a lot from the students.

Instead of taking advantage of the half- and full-day tutorials on Tuesday, I enjoyed a day off with my wife. But on Wednesday, the conference and Expo were in full swing. I had volunteered to run Lean Coffee during breakfast. We never got around to running an actual Lean Coffee, but we did have some interesting conversations around topics the attendees wanted to discuss.

Then it was right into the conference's opening keynote, "Use DevOps Principles to Transform Culture," with Ashley Hunsberger. She presented her experiences interning at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and there were a lot of great parallels between the adoption of car safety and the evolution of software testing.

Later in the morning, I went to some of the DevOps sessions. Derek Ashmore gave a great talk on "Managing Microservices Using Terraform, Docker, and the Cloud." It was an introduction to microservices for some of the audience, but I enjoyed the examples of using Terraform to deliver infrastructure as code.

After lunch, I got to listen to Cheryl Hammond present "One Metric to Rule Them All: Effectively Measure Your Teams Without Subjugating Them." She cautioned, "When you are collecting metrics, remember why. It is to change behavior, not for the sake of measuring." Cheryl's suggestion to have teams use metrics in their retrospectives to see if experiments and changes had positive effects is a great idea.

Then I got to hear Tim Guay present "Proving Out Your DevOps Pipeline Using a Minimum Viable Product," which had some great ideas about working on a minimum viable pipeline, focusing on simplicity as "the art of maximizing the work not done."

Thursday started early with Lean Coffee again. We still never got the process going, but we had some great discussions regarding the impediments to changing organizational culture.

The morning keynote, “Collaborative Curiosity,” used a bold approach. Faye Thompson and Ryan Ripley took questions from Twitter and the audience and addressed them on the fly. One of my favorite takeaways was, "When you deliver frequently, you build confidence, so the when-will-it-be-done questions tend to go away." Also, their suggestion for evaluating Scrum teams by asking them to teach you Scrum to see what it means to them is an excellent diagnostic that I think I'll have to use in the future.

I took a break to prepare my own session, "A Definition of Done for DevSecOps." I thought my presentation went well, and one attendee even stopped by the Expo later to let me know how much she enjoyed it. (Thanks, Nancy!)

I closed out Thursday by attending Rachel Burger's talk, "I, Project Manager: Meet the Future of AI Software Delivery." I have no experience with artificial intelligence, and Rachel did an excellent job of explaining the differences between AI and machine learning and how AI could be used to help development teams get feedback and set goals.

Before I flew home on Friday, I crashed the bonus Agile Leadership Summit. Dan Craig and Dave McMunn presented "For Lasting Change, Take an Agile Approach to Your Agile Transformation!" about their experiences driving agile transformation at Fannie Mae. They spoke of the good and bad ideas they had, the mistakes they made, and the things that worked well. It was a great way to wrap up my conference.

I'm looking forward to learning more at Agile + DevOps East in Orlando in November.

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