Agile 2012 Conference Round-Up

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

The Agile 2012 conference took place recently in Grapevine, Texas. I have been attending these events and the earlier XP Agile Universe conferences since they first started, and each year they bring a useful checkpoint on the agile community and insights into emerging trends. This year was no exception; there were the usual overview presentations, how-to session and hands-on workshops showcasing lean, Kanban and agile techniques.

This year, however, there were some great presentations on the use of agile outside of IT and a couple of high profile “questioning agile” sessions that were a welcome addition. Questioning core practices is natural--and part of agile’s “reflect and adapt” cycle--and the day we stop trying to improve is when the approaches have become stale because the innovators and critical thinkers have moved on. The questioning sessions focused on the Scrum role of a single product owner, and the fixation on velocity. In the session “The Product Owner Role is a Stupid Idea”, Jeff Patton questioned the concept of attempting to channel all business requests through a single point of failure, bottleneck to communications, dedicated role.

Many teams are already using product owner teams or value teams to scale this constraint, and I expect we will see the trend continue. The product owner role was originally created …

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