My notes from conference sessions I have attended.

View the Project on GitHub jonfazzaro/conferences

Day of Agile

July 27th, 2018
Cincinnati, OH

Phil announced that the conference would rebrand next year as Cincy.Deliver, and expand from one day to two.

Keynote: Becoming a Social Developer

with Jeremy Clark

Introverts and Extroverts differ by where they derive their energy, not by the behaviors of being shy vs. outgoing.

Machine Learning the Easy Way: Azure Cognitive Services

with Eric Potter

For fine-grained control over machine learning, there are tools like TensorFlow and ML.NET. For those who want an simple API wrapper against pre-trained models, there’s Azure Cognitive Services.

Simple example: given a string of text, ACS will return a sentiment analysis of its content, including a positivity percentage, and a percentage of confidence it has in that positivity percentage.

All responses from ACS APIs include a confidence number.


Indentify objects in an image or video
Face detection
Custom image recognition (train a model)

Speech to text
Voice recognition (fails when speaker has a cold)

Spell check
Sentiment (works better on larger blocks of text)
Content moderation

QnA Maker

“pulls data from various Azure data sources and applies a set of composable cognitive skills which extract knowledge”

Get it Right the First Time - The First 90 Days With a New Team

with Michael Wallace and Mark Bradley

There is no “one right way” to approach coaching a team.

The STARS model

From the book The First 90 Days, originally for finding the right leadership approach given a team’s current mode. Can be used in your first 90 days as a new Agile Coach on a software team.

Start-up. Options are wide-open, preconceptions are few, and attitudes are positive. But the team might be unsteady and/or rushed.

Turnaround. The team is working on a burning platform. Everyone recognizes that change is needed, but they are not sure how to move forward. Look for quick wins to re-energize the team and rebuild trust.

Accelerated Growth. Adding new members always adds stress to a team. This team is taking on new members fast, maybe due to a company merger. You’ll have to get people up to speed quickly, and set things up to scale. People are motivated and positive, which should help.

Realignment. The team has been successful, but is currently not. They may not have even noticed, and may still be telling themselves the story that they are doing well. Run experiments to see what moves the needle.

Sustaining Success. This team is successful, but is ready to take things to the next level. They may be starting to rest on their laurels.


To be applied in any of the cases above.

  1. Organize to learn
  2. Define a clear vision
  3. Establish A-list priorities
  4. Coach, mentor, train as appropriate
  5. Secure early wins
  6. Integrate team changes outward to the organization

At the beginning of any engagement with a team, make a Coaching Agreement.

If you’re delivering quality software, and your team and customers are happy, what do you need metrics for?

Michael Wallace

To discourage team reorganization and splitting people across multiple projects, encourage managers to become more comfortable with the idea of people not only working on things they are experts in.

(more detail from slides pending)

Further Reading
The First 90 Days

Keep up Without Burning Out

with Ken Baum

Reverse Split: In running, when you run the second half of the race faster than the first half. The Holy Grail of marathon running, very difficult. To pull this off, you must begin the race much slower than you think you should go.

Focused vs. Diffuse thinking. Purposeful interruptions (like those involved in using a Pomodoro timer) allow us to switch between focused and diffuse. This allows leaps to occur, and prevents exhaustion.

When reading to learn: at the end of a section, close the book and summarize the material from memory. This counteracts the Fluency Trap–this is the phenomenon that occurs when you re-read a passage and feel that you are gaining understanding of the content, when it is actually just that your brain is growing accustomed to the words.

Attempt solutions before learning the “correct” answer.

Further Reading
How to Read a Book

Purposeful Personal Branding

with Cassandra Faris

The job Cassandra has now is a position purpose-built for her. This would not have happened if she had not been broadcasting her personal professional brand, communicating what she was good at and wanted to do, for a long time beforehand.

We’ve been branding ourselves on the Internet long before Facebook and social media. Remember ICQ? Remember Geocities?

Personal branding is about building trust–people trust you to be an expert in something if you are posting about it consistently.

When you get a LinkedIn request from someone you don’t know, ask! “Thanks for connecting with me. What was it about my work that drew your interest?” Or, something like that.

Offline interaction is key to building and maintaining your brand–help people!

Further Reading
The Speed of Trust

Agile for Remote Teams

with Michael Dowden

Andromeda’s teams are remote-first.

Waterfall -> RUP -> XP -> Agile.

Instead of a stand-up meeting, remote teams use email or persistent chat (Slack) to connect. Not only is this more async-friendly, but also leaves a searchable history.

When they implemented Work from Home Fridays, productivity quadrupled.

The most common Myers-Briggs personality types among software developers are INTP, INTJ, and ESTJ.

Caveat. Remote teams (especially those spread across timezones) may incur up to a 24-hour lag in communications. Can your sprint and workflows tolerate this?

Vision and direction for remote-ready teams must be communicated loud & clear, early & often.

Keep backlog refinement work in sync. It’s an activity that shouldn’t be left to one brain at a time.

Primarily text-based communication makes producing documentation much easier. Focus on text-based communication, but keep regular synchronized touchpoints (calls).

Every developer on the team must have access to the stream of changes being made by everyone else (usually via Pull Requests).


Google Hangouts
Zoom (use this one in the browser only to stay compatible with new users)
Google Drive/Docs
Visual Studio Live Share
GitHub GitLab
Team Services

Features + Benefits

Stronger teams
Competitive advantage by virtue of a broader talent pool
More inclusive/diverse teams

Cultivating Space for Learning

with Faye Thompson

“We don’t have time to learn, there’s too much work to do!”
“We don’t pay contractors to learn!”
“(something something) hit the ground running.”

The Stacey Matrix helps to determine how complex a project is depending on how certain and agreed upon the work is.

Work == Learning

The two are traditionally viewed as separate activities–when you’re doing one, you’re not doing the other.

With knowledge work, working and learning are almost completely inextricable from one another.

Solving a problem yourself creates stronger learning than being taught the right answer.


Rather than the standard three questions, asking “what did we learn yesterday?” can un-zombify your stand-up meeting.

Run experiments
Keep an exploratory mindset
Allow time for learning
Create space to interact

Do what you can to rid your organization of the sentiment that “failure is not an option”.