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“This one time, at WordCamp…we talked about Agile.”

Date Posted: June 5, 2016

Marcelo Granados shared many quotable quotes during his presentation on Agile last Saturday at WordCamp Hamilton. “People communicating with other people is what makes Agile work” and “Plans are worthless. Planning is everything” were the two that sparked the most conversation.

Agile Talk at Wordcamp Hamilton

There is absolutely nothing to tie WordCamp to American Pie , that R-rated teenage romp from 1999 that made the phrase “This one time, at Band Camp” famous. But when it came to the title of this post, we just couldn’t help ourselves. Sorry.

WordCamp Hamilton was last weekend, selling out for the second year in a row. Human_Code was proud to sponsor the event, and a number of our team members showed up to learn, share and support the local WordPress community.

It was the second year on the WordCamp Hamilton organizing committee for our chief accessibility expert and #codewrangler, Adam Wills. He was impressed by the diversity of speakers—the topics, their appeal to developers and designers of all levels, and even the variety of places they call home (Hamilton, Whitby, Ottawa and Ann Arbor were all represented).

“Connecting with other agencies was a highlight,” Adam says. “I love the sense of community we have in Hamilton. It’s like, ‘You know some stuff, we know some stuff, let’s work together so we’re all successful.’”

Certified scrum master and Human_Code’s own champion of people over processes, Marcelo Granados, presented on the fit between the Agile product development philosophy and WordPress.

The crowd got particularly fired up during a discussion of planning. Marcelo quoted Jeff Sutherland, one of the creators of the Agile Manifesto, who said,

“Plans are worthless. Planning is everything.”

Most of the audience agreed with the statement. Adam tweeted it. “It’s so applicable,” he says. “In our last sprint we had this plan and the first thing we did was going to change the whole sprint. How were we going to adjust? It’s a reminder that things aren’t neat and tidy, and not to get upset about it.” Another attendee said the quote changed her perspective on the last-minute changes clients often bring to the table. She saw them now less as annoyances and more as something to be embraced.

Plans are worthless; planning is everything

But those who worked in government weren’t convinced. Fixed scopes and firm plans were the way things worked—how could that be changed? Marcelo was encouraging. “Even in those environments you can adopt other aspects of Agile,” he says. “You can work with small groups to get the answers you require to achieve your goals.”

In the end, Marcelo stressed that Agile is about people, not processes. Understanding the moods and motivations of the team is the only way to keep people engaged and able to produce high quality work.

“Everyone is looking for a recipe for Agile and my answer is always the same,” Marcelo says. “Stop looking for recipes and focus on understanding people. To be successful, you’ll need emotional intelligence.”

This is the reason face-to-face communication is so critical in Agile, Marcelo says—another contentious point for an audience that frequently does its work in virtual teams. “Yes, we can use tools like video conferencing,” Marcelo says. “But seeing people’s faces is a critical part of communication. It’s not just about the words we say, it’s what we look like when we say them.”

Implementing Agile means changing a mindset, Marcelo admits. “Agile is a lifestyle. You’re seeing a new truth—and that sometimes requires humility and a willingness to admit you’re doing things wrong.”

If you’re curious to learn more about Agile or would like to connect with a supportive community to help you adopt Agile in your work, the Hamilton Agile meetup is held monthly at Human_Code. If you’re interested in connecting with the local WordPress community, join the Hamilton WordPress meetup.


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