My classes favor interactive and group techniques that engage and challenge participants, often repackaging esoteric concepts in simpler, newly connected ways.

They include :


Imagine you've been given the go ahead to start a project from the ground up doing "Agile". Your team and your company are sold on the vague concept, but no one in your organization really understands what they've signed on for. How do you start it?

There's remarkably little that's said within the agile community about starting projects. If your organization is new to agile, this is your first and best chance to introduce agile ideas up and down the organization, build trust, get alignment, and generally start off on the right foot. Even if your organization and team are agile veterans and already gelled, you still need to generate a backlog, agree on the vision of the project, talk about risks, etc.

We'll look at some of the problems that even agile projects often face. Then we'll talk about what a solution to many of these problems might look like. Finally, we'll see some practices and ideas that industry leaders are using to start projects off more smoothly.


Agile teams generally prefer self organization and group decision making to command & control hierarchies. They rely heavily on close communication and collaboration, which are skills that can be honed and learned, like anything else.

We'll be looking at techniques and tricks that a team can learn to become more effective at talking. As teams begin to learn these tools, they'll find themselves using them in retrospectives, planning meetings, whiteboard sessions, and even while pairing.

We'll talk about :

Six Thinking Hats - these introduce vocabulary for recognizing and switching easily between different types of thinking (or hats).

Index Cards - all the cool kids are using cards these days. We'll be looking at fast, fun ways for lots of people to brainstorm, prioritize, group, etc using cards.

Discussion Cups and other Ground Rules - it's amazing how much more effective a group discussion can be when you lay out a few labelled cups...

This is not a lecture session. We'll split into groups and actually try all of these techniques so that you can bring them home to the teams you work on.


Agile teams have traditionally organized backlogs and stories as a prioritized list. This is great for developers, as all they have to worry about is the next story. But a list of 1000 stories can be completely unwieldy for a Product Owner / Customer to manage. Story maps look at stories in a hierarchical view. This allows us to more easily find holes, establish context for stories, and generally build & make sense of our backlog.

In this class I'll take you through the process of building a story map. And you'll see, first hand, what it feels like to build one as a team.


Like it or not, conflict is something we all have to deal with every day. Most of us don't think too much about it and were never given tools to do so.

In this short talk, I present 5 strategies for dealing with conflict, when they make sense, and when don't. They come from the Thomas-Kilman Instrument (TKI) and begin to give us a vocabulary to talk and think about how we deal with conflict.

They are categorized by the relative importance they place on the issue at hand and the relationships involved in the conflict :


The act of collaboratively creating a cohesive and captivating story, is not unlike the act of collaboratively creating a cohesive and captivating piece of software. Theater Improv has many tools and ideas on how to get really good at this on stage, and it turns out many of these ideas are quite useful for software teams.

We'll be using simple improv games to explore :

  • Accepting Offers
  • Yes, and ...
  • Trust
  • Communication