Elinor Slomba: A Connecticut Entrepreneur Reports from Agile India, Part Two

Elinor Slomba, founder of Arts Interstices and a frequent contributor to The Whiteboard, recently returned from participating in Agile India as a guest presenter. Her presentation, “Scrum of One,” drew on her work as an Agile coach for entrepreneurs in Connecticut and beyond. She sent us a dispatch last week on an Agile coaching workshop; today, she reflects on the conference as a whole.

You can follow Elinor on Twitter at @ArtsInt and learn more about her practice on the Arts Interstices website.

You might think that traveling eight thousand miles away with a ten-and-a-half hour time difference to share business concepts in a cross-cultural setting would be an exotic experience at the very least, and perhaps disorienting.

But at Agile India 2014, I felt right at home.

The conference, held in Bangalore, was a four-day affair. It covered a constellation of Agile and Lean development methods and approaches, including Scrum, XP, Kanban, and more, resulting in a rich transfer of knowledge and enthusiasm among practitioners.

Layers of activity included:

  • Case Studies and Experience Reports: In response to feedback from past years, Agile India 2014 included more intelligence gathered at ground-level where Agile projects have been successful and/or hard lessons have been learned.
  • Presentations and Demos: I can speak firsthand about two of the four tracks. Distributed Agile was a day of respectful candor, as common themes emerged regarding issues teams face all over the world. Enlightening moments included a live demo of Remote Pair Programming by Johannes Brodwall of Exilesoft, based in Norway, and his collaborator from Sri Lanka. My presentation, “Scrum of One,” fell on the Beyond Agile track. Slides are available on this Google doc.
  • Lightning Talks: Another option for sharing insight was the five-minute talk with no slides. People signed up to deliver these on site, lit by passionate perspectives. I had it in mind to test-drive a presentation I submitted to the Agile Alliance called “Think Before You Hack: A Cultural Anthropology Primer,” but in the end, there was just too darn much else going on—plus, it’s hard to distill it down to five minutes!
  • Agile Art: Yes, that’s right, art. At the suggestion of a member of my Chalkville team the Agile India conference featured an evening art-making project. I am grateful to the conference organizers for placing such a value on the arts, because it makes a profound statement about art’s power and efficacy for stimulating an agile mindset.
  • Paid workshops: I participated in “Coaching Agile Teams,” a workshop led by the co-founders of the Agile Coaching Institute. This was an intensely interactive three days of building fluency in skills related to team-building and designing alliances for positive work cultures. I reported on the workshop last week.

All in all, this was a fruitful trip. I look forward to developing the Scrum of One project further and implementing many of the ideas gathered at the conference. And I’m very happy to have opened new channels with Agile practitioners from around the world, including those who attended my presentation. Here are some of their responses:





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