Saturday, August 18, 2007

More from Agile 2007

Heather's wrap-up from the Agile 20007 conference. Congratulations to her for what I hear was a terrific presentation. I really like Heather's concluding words. Sometimes we are so focused on our own internal issues that we forget to benchmark ourselves against the real world out there. What we might find routine the rest of the world considers innovation in action. Thanks Heather for reminding me how important it is to get out more.

"Day 2 was pretty uneventful, but I've had a lot of opportunity to talk with developers, IT managers and product owners about UCD. Its pretty cool that they're so interested. I am discovering that many of these people are seeking to establish UCD groups in their company.

One of the interesting things I learned about was from a Google session. He was suppose to be talking about how they were doing agile (which he eventually got to), but what caught my attention was their "fix it" days. Once or twice a quarter they will seize 5000 engineers (*pfft*) onto a problem or bug and fix it. This stuck me as an awesome idea. It takes some work to organize a "fix it" day, but i can imagine me & my own teammates organizing our efforts for one day and knocking out a lot of 'good intentions' small projects. I'm sure most teams could do something like this.

Day 3, my last day at Agile 2007 and our presentation day didn't turn out quiet like I imagined it. Andrew (my UCD mate presenting with me) wasn't able to make it, so I had to go solo. When it was time for our 30 minutes of "UCD is awesome" glory, I probably talked a little bit too fast at in the beginning, but I chilled out. Everyone stayed awake, people stopped emailing and doodling. AND I didn't even have to read a single slide. I think I connected to my audience. And people asked questions too! It kicked ass completely.

It dawns on me, when I get opportunities like this to speak with others in our industry I learn more where my strengths and weaknesses lie. These events are excellent to pick up new techniques to keep doing one's craft better. Even more cool though, where other teams are challenged to find a sweet spot to integrate real users into Agile development, our UCD team at Elsevier is trailblazing methods for integrating our practices into Agile development."

Heather Williams :: Elsevier UCD Philadelphia ::

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Guest blog from a single at Agile 2007

My friend and colleague, Heather Williams is attending this event in Washington DC. In fact together with Andrew Ferguson she is presenting an Experience Report there on Wednesday at 4 p.m. If you are there, please do stop by say hello and cheer loudly at appropriate moments.

Anyway, here is the first of Heather's guest contributions:

"Going to a conference as a single, especially when its not a conference in your own "domain" can be a bit intimidating. At least it was for me, as a UCDer (, when I checked in at Agile 2007. 

When I arrived late afternoon today I registered, strolled around and starting staking out the place, the people, the atmosphere. I crashed the last hour of my Shepherd's tutorial on prototyping & usability testing. That was neat. I got a chance to study the program in a more readable manner (the online program is seriously lacking in ease of readability). While I'm at Agile 2007 I'm doing my second ever conference presentation on Wednesday with colleague Andrew Ferguson ("The UCD Perspective: Before and After Agile" So I was able to scope out our room and get a feel for the crowd we're going to be talking with.

With the first day of a conference comes, of course, the grand opening social event. Tonight was a lovely candle light buffet service with soft TV sitcom music playing in the background. Being a single at a conference can be a little lonely also, especially when so many others arrive with their own network of classmates or colleagues. My network does not arrive for another day. So when the balloon artist asked me if I would like something I said, "Oh yeah, especially if it's big and I can wear it!" He made me a wonderful hat (! What a conversation piece that turned out to be! It's a sure way to help any fish out of water to make friends. I met scads of people and was even able to evangelize UCD mythology in an Agile environment.

Day one was not so bad, even as a single. Hum, I wonder what tomorrow will bring..."