Welcome Travelers

A few months ago I was driving home after work, and the Indigo Girls song “Closer to Fine” came on the radio. Being of an age to have been the audience when that song came out, I cranked it up and sang along.

There’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
Closer I am to fine

(It’s just not the same if you don’t write it out fi-hi-i-i-ine, is it.)

“It’s a journey, not a destination” is a common description of agility practices as well as of life itself. There is no spot on the board marked “Winner”, no point at which we have learned all there is to learn about even a single methodology. Our paths are necessarily crooked — we try things, learn things, change course, meet other people and bounce off them or travel alongside for a while. Often, the more open we are to the unexpected, the more we find ourselves learning.

This Community Space area on the site is an experiment. It will (I hope) be a place where many of us can share the questions we encounter as humans who also happen to be agile practitioners, as fellows in a journey. A way for us to find support and learn from one another, to make connections. No definitives, but a breadth of personal experience to engage with as we navigate our own paths.

Like many others I have met in the agile sphere, I found my way to it late and through an indirect path. An academic background in medieval literature and history turned into a decades-long career in technical writing for software before I indulged my growing curiosity about this “Scrum” I kept hearing about. Three years later, I am regularly delighted and humbled by how much there is to learn. I’ve met dozens of people who inspire me daily with their creativity and dedication.

I look forward to sharing and learning with you.

Women In Agile, Open Space, and Boats Oh My!

By April Jefferson

Magic and joyful exhaustion linger in the air as I am finally able to put sharpie to sticky note on my thoughts on the inaugural unconference, Women In Agile Open.

Authentically, I believed that the answer to the invitation would bring the right people. So much so, that as each ticket was sold we celebrated their pending arrival. Then I arrived on the boat expecting the unexpected.

The opening circle is where we affirmed whoever was there are the right people. They united and began stitching their stories together. Stories made of vulnerability, courage and curiosity, that anchored on inclusion from the seen and unseen forms of diversity in the space.

The theme of “Unlocking Potential Together” spoke to newbies and veterans and we moved beyond agendaless quickly. The space began to overflow with offerings. Many paired and merged their offerings together. The sessions around them were organic and void of ego, as each naturally nourished connection, often while in a circle.

Throughout the experience holding space felt organic as I adapted to the energy, experimented within constraints and nourished safety. Observing the openness, collaborations, and formation of connections felt amazing.

This open space was different than all the rest. Why we gathered became our anthem. All seemed to naturally embrace the principles and rule of open space as apart of their mindset. The energy felt authentic and deep, each person resolving to take their own path in their experience.

A natural crescendo occurred, when it was over it was over. And yet I was changed. I beamed and my soul shouted from the exuberation of our guests, from the touches put in place and experiences they had. Women shared the impact of the experience, the connections, gratitude for one another, and their future intentions.

Women In Agile Open came to be from my desire to create a space where women could empower other women, bring to the surface talents within, share learnings with one another, discover collaborators, inspire future speakers, foster allies, and build community.

My vision and intentions manifested. I am honored to be apart of the journey that so many said would forever cement in their life story.

April Jefferson, Women In Agile Open Chairwoman

Women in Agile and Open Space: A match made in … Cleveland?

By Nicole Derr

Photo Credit: April Jefferson

It was an unseasonably sunny and warm Saturday morning in October when a diverse collection of 40 women and allies met for the first ever Women In Agile Open on the banks of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland. We arrived from locations as far afield as Seattle, Washington D.C., and Florida, and as near as across town. We all turned up to discuss issues related to the theme “Unlocking Potential Together”.

The Open Space format turned out to be a perfect match for the organic, collaborative, and   supportive nature of the women in attendance. Each attendee had the opportunity to lead sessions, which provided a rich and varied collection of topics and conversations.

We contemplated a wide range of topics, including “Retrospective Sharing”, “How to Define a High Performing Team”, “Something Other than Sorry”, “Language Matters”, “Unmasking Imposter Syndrome”, “Rapport Mapping”, “Agile Meets Primary Education”, and “My Culture is Messing with my Agile Success”. We also played two collaboration games, and made plans to revamp a quiet Women in Agile chapter in Atlanta and begin a new chapter in Cleveland. Not bad for two days’ effort!

The venue couldn’t have been more inspiring. Who wouldn’t be in their best frame of mind on a literal boat? Modern, bright, and open meeting spaces, both inside and outside, provided a waterfront backdrop that definitely aided the relaxed and friendly feel of the event. If you sat quietly for a moment (which attendees were often invited to do), you could even feel the waves gently lapping at the boat. It was like a vacation … with 40 of your best girlfriends. Of course, the food, including brunch and high tea, and social events, including a happy hour, karaoke at a nightclub, and wine, dinner, and dancing on a sunset cruise, might have also contributed to the vacation effect.

In the closing ceremony, attendees were asked to reflect on the past two days and share their thoughts. Overwhelmingly, attendees expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn from, and be supported by, others who “look like them”. Old connections were rekindled and new connections were formed. It was unanimous that Women in Agile Open should become an annual event. We’re already looking forward to next year!

Photo Credit: Gagan Marwaha

Have An Espresso and A Smile–A recap of the ATX WiA Lean Espresso Session at Keep Austin Agile 2019

By Sydney Markle

“I haven’t seen you in years!” the woman yelled out as she embraced her friend. They beamed at each other as we started our round table discussion on how Agile can be used anywhere. 

Moments like this are what make the Austin Chapter of Women in Agile standout. At the recent Keep Austin Agile 2019 conference, Kate Kolchier, Taylor Frank, Erin Randall, Mindy Honcoop and Syd Markle hosted a hands-on open discussion called Lean Espresso.  

Much like a Lean Coffee, where participants determine the agenda, we ran 5 concurrent conversations:

  • Professions
  • Games
  • Soft Skills that Pay the Bills
  • Agile Anywhere
  • Tips and Tools

Participants spent two minutes brainstorming what they wanted to discuss each topic, and a lively discussion followed for 8-10 minutes. Then we invited participants to switch tables if they like. Sort of like speed-dating meets Lean Coffee. 

The goal of this session was to invite people to get a taste of our meetup. It was fun to run, and participants were smiling and connecting, which was the outcome we sought. 

For the past year, every month, we gather to share and support women who are building their understanding and reputation in the Agile community.

Our community provides opportunities for aspiring voices to test out their topics in front of a group, as well as peer coaching for improving the material. One past speaker had her presentation accepted by a conference and furthered her dream to write a book. Others have attended after losing a job and found confidence in our community to find another job. 

It’s a crazy special kind of community that people keep coming back to… even yoga instructors! 

We are so excited for another year for the Austin Chapter of Women in Agile and the magic moments that occur by just bringing people together and giving them a place to see themselves and be themselves.

Call to Action:

  • In Austin? Join us at our monthly ATX WiA Meetup!
  • Somewhere else in the world? So are Women in Agile! We’re now on 6 continents! Find your local community
  • Don’t see a local Women in Agile community in your area? Start one!
  • Already part of a community, please share stories about the magic moments you are finding in your group in the comments.

SAFe SuMMit WiA EVENT Recap

by Beth Hatter

Another great Women in Agile event at the annual global SAFe summit! Although it was an early start on a gorgeous morning in San Diego, the room quickly filled to the point they had to bring in extra tables and chairs to match the crowd. It’s always exciting to see so many allies at the events!

We kicked the day off hearing about Women in Agile from our hosts, Angel Chavez and Deema Dajani from Scaled Agile. They gave a quick overview of the programs Women in Agile has in place to support all of us and then moved on to our wonderful speakers.

Em Campbell-Pretty started off describing her journey and how she took risks that led to some great adventures. Even though failure seemed likely, taking the step forward into the unknown was an inspirational theme woven through her funny talk. By the end she had us all up dancing – literally!

We next heard from Riddhi Gupta and her wonderful story of starting the Women in Agile Charlotte chapter. Her story inspired us that great things can start from small groups, and we should all be bold enough to take that first step to see what awaits.

The morning was a great start to the day with connections being made, laughter shared, and new friendships forming. I always appreciate the supportive, welcoming, inclusive environment at Women in Agile events, and I look forward to the next one.