What do climbing rocks and writing code blocks have to do with one another? In this talk, I’ll discuss how rock climbing taught me better software development practices I learned when I was stuck between a rock and a code place. No harness and rope required!


Outline/Structure of the Talk

The Approach

Challenge: How to get started?

  • Strategy: 
    Whether it be climbing a route or coding a kata, there's way to approach a problem.
      • Rules of Thumb - Sandy Metz
      • Cookbook Recipes - Martin Fowler
      • Prioritisation for highest value 
      • MVP --> MLP (?) 
  • Mindset: 
    Problems are hard! New failures and continual failures can be demoralizing. Here's how I keep my mind on the task at hand.
      • Fail Fast - the benefits of knowing what doesn't work
      • make it work make it right make it fast/get to green
      • Keep Calm and Climb/Code On

Building Skills

Challenge: How to get better?

  • Practice

Fitness and skills help with climbing and coding practices. Here's how I learned to build up my experience.

    • Gemba - the real place
    • Fitness - broken windows theory/refactoring
    • Shu Ha Ri - learning from others
  • Measure

It can be frustrating to fall or to fail. But appropriately measuring improvement can help!

    • Tasks
    • Crux
    • Problems
    • Health

Continuous Improvement

Challenge: How to hone my craft?

  • Purpose and Passion
    If I like to do something, I'll naturally do more of it and in theory improve. The journey of finding what I like about climbing/coding and getting good at it.
      • Follow your bliss - Joseph Campbell
      • Kaizen
  • Exposure and Experimentation
    Advancing can be fast tracked by trying new things and learning from those adventures!
      • Spikes
      • When & how much/long?
  • People and Community
    Climbing and Coding can be solo or quite community oriented. Here's what I learned from others that helped myself and gave back.
      • Diversity - the differences between the genders
      • Pairing - Roles
      • Priming - Thinking Fast and Slow
      • "Matz is nice so we are nice"
      • Project Aristotle - Google

Learning Outcome

Learning anything new can be challenging! Sometimes helpful hints to better coding practices can be found in the world around us! Becoming a better rock climber helped me understand software development best practices. For those learning to code, my talk is intended to provide some rules of thumb to fall back on and lessons learned from my experiences. For mentors and more experienced coders, my talk can provide some ideas on how to empathize with new coders and provide some learning structures to use in their own coaching opportunities.

Target Audience

Ideal for new coders and mentors

schedule Submitted 4 years ago

  • Maurizio Mancini

    Maurizio Mancini / Martin Lapointe - How to Reboot your Agile Team: The Secret Sauce!

    60 Mins

    Why do so many organizations struggle to put in place mature Agile teams that can apply proper Agile principles and deliver awesome products? Some people will say, “Agile is hard” as an excuse to not do Agile or to become frAgile. Well we think we have developed the “Secret Sauce” to rebooting any Agile team that just doesn’t seem to be maturing and we want to share it with you!

    If you are thinking of scaling Agile across a large organization, then this talk is a must to attend to help ensure your teams have the right foundation. Organizations wanting to scale Agile must have a solid foundation of mature Agile teams who embrace the Agile values and have the right Agile mindset.

    Over the years, as we have done Agile transformations in different organizations, we have seen common patterns that keep repeating. The most common pattern we found in our experience is that teams are frAgile. Too many either pretend to be Agile or don’t even know Agile is not a methodology, so organizations question the value of using Agile.  Very often the confusion and frustration that comes with thinking that a team is Agile when they are not Agile, brings people right back to their old habits of command and control. Creating successful mature Agile teams is not sorcery, you need to discover the secret sauce!

    In this talk, we will reveal our secrets on how to create a successful Agile-Scrum team in 5 sprints. Attendees will learn how we applied our secret sauce as we experimented with more than 30 teams and we refined the know-how. This recipe has proven to be successful in different organizations and teams delivering different types of products. Our Creative-Destruction approach goes through a human change process we labeled The Intervention Plan. The 5 steps are:

    • Step 1: Run in the rain
    • Step 2: Thunderstruck
    • Step 3: Cry over the M&M’s machine
    • Step 4: Open-up and look at the sun
    • Step 5: Removing the training wheels

    And by using these 5 steps, attendees will discover the 5th Agile value!

  • Jade Stephen

    Jade Stephen / Samantha Lightowler - From dysfunction to cross-function in 8,593 easy steps: Team building at the CBC

    60 Mins
    Case Study

    When it comes to scaling Agile, there is no one size fits all solution. Frameworks like Scrum and XP prescribe roles, events, artifacts, and rules that make it very clear how interaction should take place within a team. When we begin to add more teams to the mix, communication between teams becomes more complex. This complexity threatens to reduce our transparency and damage our culture. How can we share information, build our culture and work together, all while keeping with Agile values?

    During this session Sam Lightowler and Jade Stephen will take an in depth look at the successes and failures of CBC Digital Operations when it comes to cross-team collaboration and information sharing. We will discuss what meetings and techniques have helped us build a one-team-one-product mindset, a sense of community, and a culture of Collaboration, Learning and Improvement. We will also discuss what we have tried in the past and how learning from those experiments helped us evolve into the agile-friendly and unified team that we are today.

  • thomasjeffrey

    thomasjeffrey - Looking at Value through the Lens Of Cost Of Delay

    Agile By Design
    schedule 4 years ago
    Sold Out!
    90 Mins

    Approached from an agile perspective, delivering value looks very different than when thinking from a traditional mindset. During this interactive workshop, participants will gain hands on experience on applying critical concepts to estimating value in a way that also drives adoption of an agile mindset. This session is based on material that I have used on numerous occasions to help enterprise business leaders reshape the way they think about value. Participants will use the following practices when estimating the value of future work:

    1. Deliberate estimation of lead time ( your most precious resource) and delay time (your most toxic obstacle).
    2. How to move forward with imperfect information through the use of explicit assumptions required to approximate value.
    3. Using Cost Of Delay to put a price tag on time, creating an economic incentive to increase agility at the business level

    I will start the session by providing an overview of the power of focusing on lead time and delay time over efficiency and throughput. I'll show participants how to use concepts such as explicit commitment points and delivery points to measure business agility, and discuss sources of delay, and means to eliminate sources of delay.


    I will then discuss ways to quickly assess the value type and urgency profile of work, providing a means to quickly catalog the type of assumptions that require research and validation in order to conduct high quality conversation around the estimation of value.


    Session attendees will be given the chance to estimate the value of work through exploration of a business value assumption model. Ill go through some of the key factors to consider when estimating value, and how to quickly compare value across epics and features using the assumption model approach.


    The psychological factors that prevent people from estimating value will be discussed and participants will be coached through effective methods to overcome these factors including relative ranking, accuracy over precision, and explicit tracking and sharing of key assumptions.


    After this I will give an overview of how to frame value in terms of Cost Of Delay. Ill present the audience with a way to put a price on the countless queues our work tends to go through. I will then guide attendees to to quantify their value assumption model according to the amount of value lost over time. Participants will use techniques to estimate units of value according to the opportunity cost incurred when work is blocked or left waiting on a queue. I will also show the relationship between different urgency profiles and the severity of Cost Of Delay.  

    For the final part of the session, participants will rank a backlog of their own work through CD3.  Cost of Delay Divided by Duration takes COD and divides it delivery lead time to create a ranking mechanism that focuses teams on delivering the highest value in a given time period of time. I'll walk through how CD3 provides insight necessary to minimizing the impact of COD for a set of options, encouraging the breakdown of work into smaller batches, and prioritizing work essential to eliminating delay.


    This session will highly interactive, and give participants practical, hands on tools that can help the business think in terms of getting to value with agility, acting as a gateway practice for deeper adoption in the future.

  • thomasjeffrey

    thomasjeffrey - The Agile Ecosystem - Changing the way we think about Organizing to Deliver Value

    Agile By Design
    schedule 4 years ago
    Sold Out!
    90 Mins

    A key leadership responsibility in today’s enterprises is understanding how to create organizational structure that promotes agility. Most organizations think about their organizations as a hierarchy, with departments dedicated to specialist functions like marketing, finance, or IT. This hierarchy based model can make it very challenging  for knowledge workers to collaborate with each other to the extent necessary to deliver value. Especially when you consider today’s environment of constant change

    With agile becoming increasingly popular, the concept of creating structure based on cross functional self organizing teams is becoming increasingly popular. There are obvious advantages to this approach such as breaking down functional silos, moving employees closer to the customer, and motivating a diverse collection of specialist towards a common goal. Organizations often face challenges when moving from a hierarchical model to one based on agile teams, and they have encountered a number of very serious challenges. 

    Organizational designers often struggle with creating a model that is economically feasible,. The model does not always seem to lend itself to managing scarce expertise. A different type of siloing can occur, where discrete business functions or customer experience teams have very little integration with each other, this can cause crosscutting concerns to the organization to become forgotten, and create an overall loss of organizational cohesion. Team coordination and communication becomes a concern as agile deployment scales to larger and larger efforts.

    Over the last several years I have paid attention to how others are deploying agile at scale, as well as catalog my own experiences in helping customers with changing their team structure to improve agility. The results are a set of patterns that describe different ways teams can be designed to provide effective services their customers, and collaborate with each other. 

    During this session I want to provide participants with a chance to use a set of defined team service and team linking patterns to design an agile ecosystem;  a system of self-organizing, interdependent teams, a system that constantly evolve to organize around value. This session promises to be a hands on, in depth session where attendees will be able to develop a real world example of team organizational structure designed to improve agility in their context. I'll walk attendees through the steps necessary for designers to identify the teams and interactions required to deliver value as well as the the support structures required to enable those teams.


    Participants will build a real agile team ecosystem that covers the following steps: 

    • describing the services, clients, and capabilities of your teams, and organize them into higher order missions

    • Applying one or more team delivery patterns


    • Applying one or more team linking patterns

    During this session I will facilitate ecosystem design through the use of an agile ecosystem design toolkit. I will use the toolkit to describe the details of each pattern,  including when to use them and some of the benefits and trade-offs required.

  • Paul J. Heidema

    Paul J. Heidema / Wessam Nasser - The Being and Doing of Agile

    60 Mins

    Why do so many agile implementations fail? What can be done to improve our success?

    Agile has become a powerful phrase and cultural movement that is often misunderstood and poorly executed. Why, because Agile is seen as another project management tool. Nope. Agile is much more than a set of frameworks, practices, and tools. To get truly long-lasting results that affect the deep culture of an organization, leaders and coaches need to employ both the "Being and Doing" of agile for the greatest chance of success.

    The participants will go through a powerful exercise to see how willing and open they are to the Being of Agile which includes the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto.

    The Being and Doing of Agile Exercise

    Paul Heidema and Wessam Nasser will take the group through a simple and powerful exercise to identify how receptive and willing an organization is towards agile. With more than 10 combined years of helping teams, leaders, and organizations, Paul and Wessam can aid each participant to improve their chances of becoming truly agile.

    Both Paul and Wessam have facilitated this workshop at organizations and public events with positive feedback and energy.

  • Paul J. Heidema

    Paul J. Heidema / Mahima Kumar / Zack Muqtadir - Recruitment & Job Seeking in This New Agile World

    60 Mins

    In today's digital landscape, the quest to find talent is moving at a faster rate in this new agile movement. Which creates an interesting playing field for stakeholders such as technical recruiters, scrum masters, agile coaches, software DevOps and other cross-functional team members. Incumbents face critical decisions when it comes to addressing recruitment, the process, the pitfalls and end result.

    Do you struggle to find a job in the agile world? Are you having a hard time recruiting people for your agile role? Are you confused on this new agile movement and how it affects your job seeking or recruitment efforts? Is recruitment ready for the agile movement? Are agile cross functional folks ready for recruitment and its challenges?

    Recruitment and Job Seeking in Agile

    We will take you through our experiences to help make sense of the agile world and how it affects you. Through our experience we will:

    • Discuss our learning of working with organizations looking to hire good people
    • Share insights into how recruiting is changing with the agile movement
    • Present our experience of job seeking for an agile role

    This session is based on plenty of experience of finding agile roles and helping others find agile roles. Paul Heidema is an experienced agile coach and transformation guide that has helped small to large organizations shift towards agile. Mahima Kumar is an experienced recruiter that specializes in finding scrum masters and agile coaches. Zack Muqtadir is an experienced startup leader that recently jumped into the agile world.

  • Paul J. Heidema

    Paul J. Heidema / Junbin Huang - Build Your Own Value Stream Map with Lean

    60 Mins

    Why do so many organizations get stuck in fixing local problems without solving organizational ones? How does a leader or team member see and understand the big picture? Do you struggle with helping your company or clients to understand the entire workflow to be able to make better decisions that can make huge improvements? Would you like a powerful visual tool to express the entire workstream to a large audience so that it is clear what areas need improvement?

    If so, then this is the workshop for you.

    Value Stream Map - Workshop Example

    Each participant will actively participate in learning about, designing your own, and consulting with others to learn the skill of creating effective and meaningful Value Stream Maps. This technique, which comes from Lean manufacturing and is closely connected to Agile, aids leaders and teams in seeing the big picture make meaningful and impactful changes that are both quantitative and qualitative. Let's learn a new skill within 60 minutes.

    Paul Heidema and Junbin Huang have worked in the Agile space for more than 10 years (combined) with a focus on helping teams and organizations to support and lead impactful change at the level of the organization and system.

    We employ powerful agile techniques to inspect the value stream as we build it. Then we improve and adjust to make it more clear. This will enable short cycles of execution and reflection to quickly improve the quality of the value stream map.

  • Pradeep Nadgir

    Pradeep Nadgir / Rachit Shankar - PLENT-A-GO: Exploring Enterprise Agile Transformation Using LEGO

    90 Mins


    Large organizations are facing continuous and increasing disruptions from both the startup space as well as their current competitors. Older business models, processes and tools can no longer keep pace with changing market conditions. While most organizations have identified these challenges and the need for the change to a more agile model, many of them face significant challenges in adopting agile in their organizations.

    In our experience, delivery execution using Agile is understood clearly. However, phases before execution, such as Ideation or Discovery, are a large black box and usually entails some form of waterfall thinking e.g. siloed inception phase.

    We would like to share our experiences exploring the black box of pre-execution work in enterprises using LEGO. Some of the key components that will be explored through this workshop are:

    • Team formation
    • Product roadmap & vision
    • Governance & Controls


    In this workshop we aim to provide a clear understanding of the process from ideation to execution. Throughout the workshop we will be constantly reinforcing fundamental agile concepts such as continuous improvement, fast feedback, and close collaboration between business & technology.

  • Louise Chiang

    Louise Chiang / Louise Chiang / Tara Murphy - Unlocking the power of networked teams: Making established organizations Agile

    60 Mins

    How do you break a hundred-year-old structure of established organizations and rebuild it? We’ve tried it and we’ve got some great stories and scars to share with you.

    Organizations today are largely structured and managed the same way they have been for a century. The structure is rooted in an efficiency model that seeks to neatly consolidate common resources into distinct functions. In a predictable world, such a model makes sense.

    The problem is our world has become unpredictable and continues to change at a rapid pace. We need to move away from traditional structures to unlock the potential within organizations. Small focused teams with air-cover, and real decision authority, will always be ‘faster to market’ than a heavily structured org model that requires approvals and validations at each step.

    Based on our experience with Agile transformations and our research in human capital trends, we have developed a forward-looking perspective on how to make established organizations Agile.

    We want to share our perspective and provide examples of where we’ve applied it, along with our observations and learnings.

  • Paul J. Heidema

    Paul J. Heidema - Vital Behaviours of Successful Scrum Masters and How to Make Them Stick

    90 Mins

    Agile failure is most felt by Scrum Masters. Why do so many fail to properly support their teams? Why do so many fail to inspire meaningful change in the level of leadership? Why do so many fail to guide transformation in their organisations?

    In this workshop, we will harness the knowledge and experience of the participants! 

    Influencer Book

    Because everyone can contribute to the learning of the entire group. It will dynamic, full or energy, and joyful - woohoo!

    Who can benefit the most from the session and the power of harnessing the group?

    • Scrum Masters that are struggling to do this role well
    • Leaders that are not seeing the results needed for an effective Scrum team through a weak/unskilled Scrum Master
    • Agile coaches that are coaching Scrum Masters without meaningful or consistent results
    • Project managers trying to make the transition to becoming a successful Scrum Master

    This workshop will use concepts and the model from the book "Influencer"

    Prepare to work together to co-discover the Scrum Master vital behaviours!

    Many people are taking on the mantle of Scrum Masters across agile teams around the world. Unfortunately, many of them have come from more traditional work structures that don't develop effective Scrum Masters. There is a misconception about the purpose of a Scrum Master. Often the Scrum Master becomes the facilitator or the project manager. This has to stop. Effective leaders, agile coaches, and Scrum Masters take advantage of vital behaviours in supporting scrum masters or by building mastery within these behaviours.

    Influencer - the model

    During this workshop, participants will go through a series of exercises to identify the purpose of a Scrum Master, how we can measure success, identify potential vital behaviours, learn from others to determine the vital behaviours, and then create a sound influence strategy to enable effective Scrum Masters and the work that they do. This workshop will use concepts and the model from the book "Influencer" (by Joseph Grenny et all) which details the three (3) keys to a successful change initiative and uses the six (6)  sources of influence.

    Prepare to work together to co-discover the Scrum Master vital behaviours!

  • Andrew Larosa

    Andrew Larosa - An Engine for Change - coaching leaders

    Andrew Larosa
    Andrew Larosa
    Agile by Design
    schedule 4 years ago
    Sold Out!
    60 Mins

    How do you scale agile across an IT organization with 10,000+ people and hundreds of teams? Over the last several years, many large organizations have made their attempt at transforming their IT groups into "agile" teams. I want to use this opportunity to share my experiences and the latest approach to tackling massive Agile transformations.

    Too often, teams ask for agile coaching without knowing what agile means. Here are a couple of quotes from email questions I received recently, "A project that we are just embarking on has the potential to be done in Agile", or, "Could you please guide me through the Certification process for Agile. I have a few projects underway that will be managed under Agile methodology."

    Usually, there are many definitions of agile when working with large organizations. I find that I am spending most of my time dispelling myths rather than getting to high-value coaching. I will share 3 tactics for jump-starting a large agile transformation:

    1. The Missionaries - focus on creating some really good examples for the rest of the organization to reference and use as the example for success
    2. Foundational Understanding - possibly the hardest tactic; focus on widespread education with a goal to create the same language when we talk about Agile, Lean, Scrum, Kanban, etc.
    3. Leader (and team) Coaching - by far the most important tactic; agile coaches must transcend team coaching and build a sustainable and scalable coaching approach by transferring their own coaching capabilities to the organization’s leaders to make a large agile transformation stick.

    It might sound crazy or unreasonable to create coaches out of leaders. But that's not the point. The objective is to build agile coaching capability in these leaders. This will benefit the greatest number of teams and increase the likelihood of widespread agile adoption. No leader will be perfect.