Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Borrowers & Followers; PMI 2011 North America Congress

Today was the last day of the PMI Global Congress in Dallas Texas. I've heard there were somewhere around 3000 attendees. In general, the event was similar to past years with some featured speakers, a lot of paper presentations, and the exhibition hall with vendors.

Malcolm Gladwell with PMI CEO Mark Langley

The highlight for me was the keynote speaker, Malcolm Gladwell. He talked about company cultures and innovation. The companies that are really successful aren't necessarily the ones that invent the new ideas, they're the borrowers and followers. He used Apple as an example. They didn't invent the graphic user interface or the MP3 player but they were the ones that saw the true potential of these items and brought the products to market that people wanted. Facebook was another example, it wasn't the first social media site, but the creators learned from what others had tried to come up with the best product. 

There were about 55 Area of Focus presentations. I primarily attended sessions related to agile (I also did a presentation, on Kanban). This was the first year that the communities selected papers for specific tracks. I really enjoyed Mike Cottmeyer's presentation in the agile track. He talked about scaling agile to the enterprise. His model included a user story level that followed an iterative agile approach, and a feature and epic level above that using a kanban approach. I was interrupted by work and missed Dennis Steven's presentation, but I understand it was similar (you can find a lot of Dennis's presentations in slideshow here). 

Jesse Fewell, who founded the agile community, did a nice job with fixed price agile projects. One of his key points was that you should focus on success criteria, not on features, when defining the scope of the project. He also talked about dynamic scope; if you want to add something into the release, you have to take something else of of similar size. Size should be in terms of cost, not something more obscure like story points. 

I also caught an interesting presentation titled Agile Collaboration in a Virtual World that was presented by Elizabeth Harrin, Cornelius Fichtner, and Andrew Filev. They are all members of PMI's New Media Counsel.

There was a lot of interest in agile. Some people were very new to the concepts, others had played around with it, and a few that were looking for the more advance topics that Mike, Jesse, and Dennis presented. I missed Michele Sliger's presentation, but I understand it was a great discussion of the more fundamental points of agile. 

There was a lot more twitter traffic this year, including an official PMI tweeter. You can find traffic by searching for #pminac. We also used #agc11 for agile tweets. Next year, Vancouver.


Elizabeth said...

Thanks for coming to our session on virtual teams. I also enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell's presentation. I've never read any of his books, but I'm inspired enough to go out and get one now.

Bob Tarne said...

Elizabeth - if I were to pick one I think you would like, I would start off with Blink.

Derek Huether said...

Looking forward to seeing you all in Vancouver!