1st Conference: Speaker Interview - Eduardo Nofuentes

Eduardo Nofuentes has strongly solidified his position in the Melbourne Agile community through a passion for what he does and a willingness to share his experience.

People have been captured by his story of how he has applied Agile principles to business issues beyond software development, and he has spoken previously at 1st, LAST, Agile NZ as well as receives requests for his consulting services around the world.

Eduardo has recently set up The Agile 11, offering his expertise as a service to help entire organisations and non-software teams discover better ways of working; and he continues to be actively involved in the community.

I took the opportunity to interview Eduardo, ask him about his talk, ideas and how people best prepare themselves for 1st and any upcoming Agile journey in their own businesses.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to reach out to us. My email is Ringo.Thomas@tabar.com.au and I'm always happy to hear from you.

1st Conference is being held on 2-3 March. Registration is available now.

I would encourage people to open their minds and be open to these new ways of working and be change agents in their organisations if this new mindset resonates with them.

Ringo: What’s your talk and/or workshop about? Where did the inspiration come from and what do you hope people can take out of it?

Eduardo: The talk is about the agile transformation of a non-digital company I have been working with for the last 12 months. The company, Vicinity, owns and manages more than 80 Shopping Centres across Australia including iconic locations like Chadstone and Emporium and it is a Top-30 ASX Company.

I am hoping to break a few myths about agile:

  • First, that agile ways of working it is only for software development teams or digital companies. We will be able to show how you can also achieve the benefits of moving to an agile way of working in more traditional organisations and in teams like finance, operations, marketing, HR, etc…
  • Second, that agile would not work in big corporates. Vicinity is a very large company and has embraced this way of working and even adopted it as a change strategy in a pivotal moment of their existence.

Ringo: Given this conference is structured around the Heart of Agile, is there one of the four parts that particularly resonates with you?

Eduardo: To me is very difficult to choose one that resonates more than the other. I really like Alistair’s framework, but I see it as a whole, as a continuum, not as four different parts. I believe that in teams and organisations, the magic happens with the four parts start working together and in the sequence that Alistair outlines: collaborate, deliver, reflect and improve; and, as an agile coach, I see my role in organisations as someone to help them achieve that cadence in the most appropriate way for them.

Ringo: What should people be thinking about before they come to 1st conf to ensure they get the most out of the two days?

Eduardo: To open their mind. I imagine many attendees will be there because they want to start learning about agile. I would recommend them to not come with any preconceptions and relax and enjoy the talks and workshops. 90% of us have always worked in Command and Control organisations, and we take for granted some of the ways of working that are thoroughly embedded in the corporate word. I would encourage people to open their minds and be open to these new ways of working and be change agents in their organisations if this new mindset resonates with them.

Ringo: How do you think having a second day of workshops will add to the overall learning experience?

Eduardo: I think it is a brilliant idea. I think people tend to learn more by doing than by listening; so having a series of workshops where they can start practicing some of the concepts discussed on the first day will only reinforce their learning and adoption of these concepts and methodologies.

Ringo: What’s the best advice you’d give someone starting out on their Agile journey?

Eduardo: I would say that Agile is a mindset. When you start, Agile can be a bit overwhelming; there are so many courses, practices, tools, certifications, etc…that someone that has not had a lot of exposure to these world can feel a bit lost and not know where to start.

I have worked with many people that didn’t know any of the practices or tools, but they were “agile at heart”; and on the other hand, I have seen many people “doing” agile, as in using the practices, but still operate in a very command and control fashion.

So, I would recommend people to start understanding the mindset, values, and principles of this way of working first and if it resonates, then learn more about methodologies, tools and frameworks.

Ringo: What are the most common roadblocks that people come across they should look out for?

Eduardo: To me, the main reason why agile transformations fail or don’t succeed is what I call the absence of “brave leadership”. To transform a team or organisation to an agile way of working, it will require a leader that is willing to do things differently and against the norm. It will require a strong leader willing to relinquish the control and power and put the decision making on team members and will require a leader that will provide a safe environment for team members to experiment and fail. Sadly, that is not your usual leader in the current corporate world; so many agile transformations die because of this.