4 Takeaways from Agile + DevOps East 2018 | TechWell

4 Takeaways from Agile + DevOps East 2018

Microphone on stage at a software conference

With a week full of sessions, tutorials, training classes, and events, the Agile + DevOps East software conference had plenty of takeaways. Here are four highlights.

The #NoEstimates Fishbowl

There’s a growing debate throughout the agile community about whether estimates are necessary for planning development work. Some feel estimates help software teams collaborate and drive conversations, while others think estimates are a waste of time and get in the way of best practices.

At Agile + DevOps East, a group of conference speakers engaged in a UX fishbowl discussion about #NoEstimates. Josh Anderson, Robert Pieper, Ryan Ripley, Johanna Rothman, Mary Thorn, and others chatted about their experiences with estimates and discussed some perceived challenges of not estimating.

The discussion revolved primarily around two questions: Are estimates the best way to encourage team collaboration and discussion? And can teams provide customers with enough information to earn their business without estimating?

At the end of the session, the group agreed on one thing: The debate will go on.

Find Your Ikigai

We’ve all heard the saying “If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.” In his lightning talk at Agile + DevOps East, Lee Eason encouraged delegates to take that a step further by finding their ikigai, a Japanese term meaning “a reason for being.”

As Lee explained, it’s the intersection of what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid to do. When you find the balance among all four elements, the energy you bring will inspire others and improve productivity.

The Barriers to Advancing Test Automation

As test automation improves, companies have started scaling their automation and testing continuously. Raj Subramanian suggests that the next step in testing’s evolution is autonomous testing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

In order to get there, however, software testing must address five major challenges:

  1. Skill set: It’s hard to get skilled testers
  2. Authoring: Testers don’t always use best practices of writing good automation
  3. Initialization: People fail to return the code to the initial state of the test
  4. Maintenance: It takes time to maintain tests because code is always changing
  5. Scale: You want to run more tests, more often

What if I’m the Problem?

Agile is all about self-directing teams, so where does that leave managers? How can they still add value? If the team doesn’t step up, is the manager to blame? In her Agile + DevOps East keynote, Tricia Broderick explored the leader’s role in self-organizing teams and offered strategies for how to lead high-performing teams.

First, ask yourself some tough questions. If you offer a recommendation, does the team hear it as a suggestion or an order? Do you take on work to help the team when they’re getting overwhelmed?

Tricia suggested that before focusing on what the team is or isn’t doing, leaders need to focus on what they can do to positively influence the team dynamic. She recommends empowering the team to collaborate, because we’re smarter together than we are individually.

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