ScanAgile 2009: A Retrospective

Beautiful Bird House

It’s my second visit to Helsinki and it’s been quite an adventure! It’s been almost a year since my first visit.

What Went Well

  • The location: Getting the chance to see beautiful Helsinki in the fall
  • Over 280 participants attended – and it’s only the second time ScanAgile has been run!
  • The conference was well-organised, everything went really smoothly!
  • Learnt a bit about Beyond Budgeting from Bjarte Bogsnes in his experience report on implementing the techniques at Statoilhydro
  • Being challenged by questions that made me think hard about how I coach and why
  • Meeting Agilists from all over the world, including Brits who now live in Finland!
  • Getting a chance to sample Open Space sessions on Day 2 of the programme
  • The Toyota Way Management Principles session with Pascal: Illustrated how to implement a kanban system using baskets with the help of Snow White’s Seven Dwarves and the Evil Queen
  • Receiving feedback and recommended reading list from Tom Poppendieck (thanks Tom!) on our Toyota Way session
  • The Conflict Resolution Open Space session by Pascal where we learnt that we don’t have to compromise: it’s not either or. It’s  AND!
  • Post-conference get-together with the very warm and friendly folks from Reaktor (voted second in 2009 Best Workplaces in Europe competition)  at their very stylish office (with its very own onsite sauna!)

Day 2 Open Spaces Forum

What Went Wrong

  • Too many theoretical presentations
  • Too few sessions based on real-life experiences of using Agile
  • No list of attendees, where they work and the country of where they come from


  • How do you get the most out of Open Spaces?
  • What’s the best way to hear everyone speak and engage those interested at an Open Space?
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarves proved popular with the crowd: Would ScanAgile be interested in featuring an Agile Fairytale session next year?

Lessons (Re-)Learnt

  • I learn more from interactive sessions
  • I learn more when I disagree with the material being presented or the speaker because it forces me to question what I think and why I think it
  • We often ask questions not to find answers, but to merely seek for affirmation of our pre-prepared answers. By asking questions with a closed mind, we limit our capacity to learn compared with when we inquire with an open mind
  • ‘You don’t lose weight just by standing on the scales’ – thanks Bjarte Bogsnes for a great reminder!
  • Fixing budgets once a year is like having banks that only lend to customers once a year. That simply wouldn’t be acceptable nor practical
  • It’s customary in Finland to relax with your colleagues in saunas in just your birthday suit!
  • Design and creativity are a matter of national pride judging by the myriad of colourful shops of handmade goods and crafts!
  • Using Thinking Tools such as the Conflict Resolution Diagram allows us to have our cake and eat it! No more compromises through clear thinking. Hoorah!
  • Instead of eating your own dog food, drink your own champagne instead. Cheers to ScanAgile’s organisers and the humorous participants!

Conflict Resolution Exercise

8 Responses to “ScanAgile 2009: A Retrospective”

  1. Vasco Duarte writes:

    great feedback! Thanks.
    Regarding the theoretical bias, i think you are right. We need to seek a balance. However as our communiuty grows in the practice (some companies in Finland have been adopting Agile for more than 5 years) we also evolve the questions we need to get answered. I saw a trend in this year’s Scan-Agile that people were asking questions that were at a different level than last year. I think we’re slowingly moving to the Ha level (as in Shu-Ha-Ri)

    let’s see how we can balance this for next year….

  2. James Carr » Blog Archive » links for 2009-10-17 writes:

    […] ScanAgile 2009 Retrospective Share and Enjoy: […]

  3. Jarkko Viinamäki writes:

    Thank you Portia for your excellent presentation with Pascal about Toyota management principles! It was easy to follow, visual and you managed to cover many ideas in a short period of time.

  4. portiatung writes:

    Hi Vasco,

    Thanks for your comment! Shu-Ha-Ri is a create way to think about our path to learning. Could you give some examples of the kinds of questions that participants are asking that indicate we’re moving from the Shu to Ha stage?

  5. portiatung writes:

    Hi James,

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Scan Agile 2009 retrospective « Thinking for a Change writes:

    […] the Toyota Way with Portia. I presented this session for the first time at XP Days Paris 2006. Since then, it has been changed […]

  7. XP Days Benelux 2009: The Toyota Way Management Principles | Selfish Programming writes:

    […] Monday. We’ve presented this session twice this year, once at Integrating Agile and once at Scan Agile. The presentation has received great feedback – including feedback from Tom Poppendieck at […]

  8. 2009: A Personal Retrospective | Selfish Programming writes:

    […] at a myriad of Agile conferences including Agile 2009, XPDay Switzerland, Integrating Agile, ScanAgile and of course XP Days […]

Leave a Reply