Agile South Coast January 2019

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On Tuesday 8th January TeamUp Labs! (Brigitte Maenhout, Tom Fairweather and David Hackman) presented our first ever talk to an audience of eager Agile enthusiasts. We were lucky enough to be invited to the excellent Agile South Coast – Southampton Chapter where we gave a presentation and workshop on Example Mapping. Here is how our presenters felt it went.

How did you think it went?

Tom: I was really pleased with how it went. This was our first public talk, so we had a modest goal of not looking stupid. We were a little nervous beforehand but increased in confidence throughout the talk. The Agile South Coast audience were receptive, engaged and full of questions. Some of them were chomping at the bit to get their hands on our Example Mapping tool.

Brigitte: Well, one thing is for sure, I left the room with a BIG smile on my face and I felt exhausted, but at the same time super energised! The people at @AgileSouthCoast were such an enthusiastic and energetic audience, lots of participation and insightful questions! It was just amazing to see and experience. I truly hope they were able to see how passionate we are about what we can achieve with TeamUp Labs and that they enjoy using our tools.

I would love to go back there and hear the feedback of people who used our tool so we can improve it even more. In fact, thanks to Steven from @AgileSouthCoast it looks like we will to do a user forum session on our example mapping tool.

 What did you get out of it?

Brigitte: Energy! Lots of it 🙂 to get such a positive and welcoming reaction from people who are genuinely interested in exploring agile tools and mindset to improve their lives and the lives of the teams they are in, is a real motivating experience. It added to our momentum as a team.

David: I think we got some amazing feedback, not just on the tool or the technique but also on us as a team and how we presented. I also felt like the meet up validated that there is a need for tools that do we really help teams work together effectively and build the right thing.

 Were you nervous beforehand and how did you cope with that?

David: A little. This was our first time talking about TeamUp Labs and I really wanted to make sure we did a good job of explaining our tool and the technique so that the attendees found it valuable (which I think they did!). Before we started the talk I spoke to a few of the people who attend the ASC meetup regularly – they were really nice and welcoming, which helped  a lot to settle my nerves.

Tom: Yes, we were a little nervous. We played pool and chatted with the ASC members to relax before it started, but to be honest this didn’t work that well for me. My nerves dissipated throughout the talk.

 What was your most memorable moment?

Tom: I would have to say dropping three globs of pizza sauce down my shirt minutes before it was due to start. Luckily some water and lots of rubbing with paper towels made it not noticeable. Other than that, the interactive session was memorable for being chaotic with a very engaged audience.

Brigitte: There was this one person in the audience and he had been listening very attentively and at a certain he just said, with such enthusiasm and determination: “So, how can I had my hands on this tool?!” and that itself was so rewarding and a moment I am truly grateful for! 🙂

 What were your goals, and did you meet them?

Brigitte: Feedback! In the moment and of course inspire people to take a look at our tool and give us feedback later so we can continuously improve and really build a suite of tools which will improve the way we work and what we can achieve. A conductor for true creativity and collaboration!

Did we meet them? It’s too early to tell. We met some of them, we got valuable feedback in the sessions, we saw a glimpse of the inspiration and the days after quite a few new people signed up for our tool. So, now, the real measurement of our success will be if we can get feedback after people have used the tool. So, as you can see, quite a few of our acceptance criteria have been met!

Tom: Not look stupid, get feedback from agile enthusiasts, get some new people to try TeamUp Labs’ tool. Yes, we met these goals. There were about thirty people in the crowd, and we had a small bump of eight new users the following day and no doubt some more after that.

What would you do differently next time?

Brigitte: Well, it wasn’t perfect, there might have been some things we could have focused on more; or less, but I do find that there is beauty in imperfection, it’s the source of learning and progress.

This was the very first time that we did this presentation and I got so much out of it. Even the moments of perceived chaos where we got so much audience participation that it was a bit overwhelming (in a ‘this is awesome!’ way) and I could have done perhaps a better job facilitating. I was just taken in by the moment by how much people wanted to participate, I ended up enjoying the energy and embracing the chaos. so, for next time, we’ll have to figure out a way to keep the energy but just streamline it a bit better. So, we will tweak the presentation going forward, based on the knowledge that we gained, but if I could go back in time to this presentation, I wouldn’t change a thing.

David: I think we could refine our workshop to make it easier for larger groups to participate and feel heard. I also think we will get more polished in our delivery of the talk the more we do it, so I’m looking forward to the next opportunity!

If you’d like to find out more about Example Mapping please go to our home page or read some of our blog posts. If you’re interested in finding out more about Agile South Coast they post their upcoming events here. I’m sure they’d be delighted if you went to one of their events, and I’m also positive you’d learn something useful!

As always, you can keep up to date with TeamUp Labs by following us @TeamUpLabs on twitter.

Exaptation: The Power of the Pivot

I first heard the term Exaptation at Agile Tour London 2018. It wasn’t a term I was aware of before, but it piqued my interest during Liz Keogh’s opening talk. In simple terms Exaptation is making use of something in a way other than the initial intention or design for use. I’d like to talk about a few good examples of Exaptation in this post.

One of the most powerful natural examples of Exaptation is bird flight. Feathers were not originally intended for flight, instead their purpose was heat regulation and attraction of the opposite sex for reproductive purposes. Flight was a by-product of the fact that they had wings, but it is (in most cases, barring Ostriches etc.) now the characteristic that is quintessential to the concept of a bird.

Technology, too, has seen significant examples of Exaptation throughout the years. The rockets used by NASA (Werner Von Braun’s V2 rocket) to allow humankind to breach the barrier of making orbit was due to the exaptation of the technology of the rocket. The explosive power of the first ICBM was transformed to enable Space flight instead of enhancing a nation’s firepower. A weapon of war’s purpose was completely altered to allow the Global civilization to a take step forward and look up to the stars, instead of each other’s borders. On a slightly lighter note, LSD was never intended to be a recreation drug and its psychotropic properties were only found 5 years after it’s initial synthesize.

In Software as well, there are strong examples of companies pivoting because they create something that becomes so essential, it must become the entire focus of their operations. A fantastic example is the all reaching Social Media platform Twitter. Twitter was formed out of a podcast Publishing house called Odeo, and the tool itself was more about internal messaging. When the team realised the power of their code, they pivoted away from the crowded Podcast industry and are now a household name.

Slack also came from a company focussed on a completely distinct vertical. At the time the company behind Slack were working on a browser based MMO. They built a set of tools around this MMO to help their admins and their community managers work with their users. This tool became SLACK (Searchable Log of All Knowledge and Conversation). The MMO that Tiny Speck were working on was called Glitch. How many people know about that game compared to the success that Slack has enjoyed since?

Exaptation doesn’t just come from a failing company though, it can also occur in extremely successful ones. In gaming, Valve pivoted from making games to selling them through Steam. This developer was one of the highest regarded in the industry and had just released the critically acclaimed Half Life 2. Rather than continue to make this series, Valve pivoted and decided they could be more successful selling games and owning the PC ecommerce space. They do still of course make games, but it would be hard to argue that this is their purpose anymore.

Here, at TeamUp Labs, our goal is to make tools that improve your ability to build valuable software as a team. Our first tool, the Example Mapping tool, has been well received and we have received a lot of feedback. We’re continuing to enhance the functionality with focus on splitting and drag and drop in the UI, but we’d love to hear what you need to make it as helpful as possible in the use cases you have. I’ve personally used it for Feature Kick Offs, and other members of the team have used it for SWOT analysis amongst other things, but we recognise the tool will be used in ways beyond our original intentions, and we’d love to hear more about how you, our users, have exapted it!

Thanks for reading. As always, you can get in touch with us directly @TeamUpLabs. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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