Anti FrAgile Day Chicago

After five years, Agile Day Chicago is still growing and improving. This year we again lean toward an AntiFrAgile Theme. We’ve gathered international and national speakers to speak on complexity, product thinking, responsive engineering and more.

Eventbrite - Agile Day Chicago 2017

The morning sessions will once again spark lively open space discussions in the afternoon. New this year, we have dedicated a track to community sessions where you can speak! We are also proud to announce that all profits this year will go to help Leonardo’s Basement, a maker’s space for children ( )


  • Dave Snowden

    Link to ‘Slides’ from Keynote
    Founder and chief scientific officer of Cognitive Edge.  His work is international in nature and covers government and industry looking at complex issues relating to strategy, organisational decision making and decision making.  He has pioneered a science based approach to organisations drawing on anthropology, neuroscience and complex adaptive systems theory.  He is a popular and passionate keynote speaker on a range of subjects, and is well known for his pragmatic cynicism and iconoclastic style.


    Designing systems that are able to survive radical change and inherent uncertainty requires a deep understanding of context and the ‘evolutionary potential’ of the present. Focusing on future goals and idealized descriptions of human behavior increases vulnerability to the unexpected. This presentation will look at narrative and constraint mapping, in the context of the Cynefin framework, to determine the energy gradient of change and the legitimate time horizon for planning. It will look at the theory of coherence in the context of decision making as a means to hold options open as long as possible, avoiding premature commitment with associated vulnerability. Emerging worl on unarticulated need mapping, pre-Scrum techniques in Agile and ecology based architectures will be explored.
  • Shannon Lietz

    Link to Slides
    Shannon Lietz is an award winning innovator with over two decades of experience pursuing advanced security defenses and next generation security solutions.  Ms. Lietz is currently the DevSecOps Leader for Intuit where she is responsible for setting and driving the company’s cloud security strategy, roadmap and implementation in support of corporate innovation.  She operates a 24×7 DevSecOps team that includes Red and Blue Team operations.  Previous to joining Intuit, Ms. Lietz worked for ServiceNow where she was responsible for the cloud security engineering efforts.  

    Security has mostly operated towards the right of implementation just prior to deployment. With the introduction of Continuous Delivery, security must shift left and new processes, tools and skills must be formed. From risk acceptance back to architectural decisions, everything security must be re-imagined in order to realize the vision of safer software sooner. Whether you practice DevOps or have been in the business or protecting workloads, this change is both exciting and somewhat mystifying. To further this global change, we’ve enlisted the help of heroes like you to highlight the path forward. Come join us to hear about the journey and enjoy some humorous tails.

  • Anne Steiner

    Link to Slides
    Anne is a product geek, coach, and influencer who guides companies in introducing respectful change. She leads teams in incorporating agile practices that improve quality and customer satisfaction while not adding superfluous process. In her role at DevJam, she helps teams discover, define, and build products in a better way, specializing in leading teams through the process of taking an abstract vision and breaking it down into something that is understood, actionable, and incrementally adds value.

    The boss told you to “just write all the stories,” but you have little to start with beyond a vague idea or a bullet point on a slide. How do you get to those brilliant, right-sized stories that can be handed off to your developers? Illustrated via a real-life example, Anne Steiner demonstrates concrete steps for filling the gaps between idea and stories. In the end, you’ll have your stories but more importantly, you’ll also have a discovery conversation that leads to deeper product understanding.
  • Jeff Patton

    Jeff Patton helps companies adopt a way of working that’s focused on building great products, not just building stuff faster. Jeff blends a mixture of Agile thinking, Lean and Lean Startup Thinking, and UX Design and Design Thinking to end up with a holistic product-centric way of working. Jeff is author of the bestselling O’Reilly book User Story Mapping which describes a simple holistic approach to using stories in Agile development without losing sight of the big picture. You can learn more about Jeff at:

    In this short talk, Jeff Patton will describe how product-centric agile teams have started to rethink what velocity really means. They’ve separated development velocity from learning velocity. They’ve started to expose specifically what they’ve learned from every experiment or release to make the rate they’re learning visible. And, as a consequence, learning that lots of effort doesn’t always mean lots of learning.
    Come to this session to understand this important view on what velocity means for product-centric teams.
  • David Hussman

    David has spent the last 15 years producing products for companies of all sizes around the world. David’s coaching is non-dogmatic and pragmatic. He learns about product communities to seed self-discovery and avoid simply telling people what they “should do”. David spends most of his time helping teams validate product ideas by blending product discovery with responsive engineering. He also works with leadership to pragmatically introduce lasting agility that fosters innovation and a competitive edge.

    With more companies looking to adopt a product approach (or mindset), it’s time to start talking about how to do this beyond the fun, safe land of the well-funded start up. This talk will lay out a path of learning for various types of organizations looking to move from measuring work completed to embracing impact in the market or in house. We will look at several models, starting with the simpler case of one team and one product and building up to the more complex cases of one product and many teams, or one system and many teams. We discuss concrete tools for product discovery that happens in production as well as “outside the code” or upstream from a product delivery cadence. There will be plenty to grok, so please so up ready to learn and ready to question.
  • Mark Graban

    Link to Slides
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, keynote speaker, and blogger in the field of “Lean healthcare.” Mark is also the Vice President of Improvement & Innovation Services for the software company. Mark’s motivation is to apply Lean and Toyota Production System principles to improve quality of care and patient safety, to improve the customer/patient experience, to help the development of medical professionals and employees, and to help build strong organizations for the long term.

    In Eric Ries's book, The Lean Startup, he cites and mentions W. Edwards Deming, the
    American statistician and management guru who was deeply influential to Toyota and other
    companies around the world.
    One of Dr. Deming's key lessons was the need to understand variation when looking at
    performance measures and evaluating individuals. How do we separate signal from noise in our
    view of performance? How can we avoid overreacting to every up and down in our results? How
    can we stop wasting time searching for root causes and special explanations for the effect of
    "common cause variation" in a system?
    Deming’s famed "Red Bead Experiment" is a hands-on way to understand these principles in
    fun and practical ways. During this breakout session, you’ll have the chance to participate in this
    exercise, to learn from observing and reflecting upon some of the silly things executives and
    managers do in their attempts to cajole better performance out of a bad system.
    In keeping with the theme of the day, this session focuses on not using overly simplistic
    methods for tracking and reacting to performance measures, but not so much that it requires
    "complexity" in methods. There are simple, yet effective ways to track and respond to
    measures in ways that are valid and lead to better management decisions over time.
  • Ray Arell

    As a founder of nuAgility LLC, Ray Arell is one of the company’s principal consultants and coaches.   His 30+ year career has been dedicated to building great teams, communities, and products.    Through his leadership, he has directly built and transformed a number of successful worldwide organizations and over the past 5 years has been coaching other leaders to do the same with their own teams.   He is recognized as an industry leader in large scale adoptions of Agile, lean, and complex systems, and he has delivered over 20 keynotes and talks sharing his knowledge across the globe. 

    Innovation programs within companies has fallen trap to a chronic misuse of the word, to the point most programs are shoehorned into traditional project management frameworks that focus more on the word than addressing the need—enabling the inventor, intrapreneur, and entrepreneur.

    In this talk, Ray Arell will talk about how to create the right environments and methods that allow true innovation to thrive; this will include an overview of complexity-informed methods like Solutions Thinking, establishing networks of innovators via communities of practice, innovation hubs, and other key methods/tools that can help accelerating your time to value.

  • Joel Tosi

    Link to Slides
    Joel is a software developer and agile coach, trying to help people, teams, and organizations create products that solve real problems in clean ways.

    How do you embrace cloud and microservices and not risk getting into different failure scenarios or overly complicated maintenance and ripple effects? In this session we will walk through visualizations that help teams blend product thinking with architecture. Along the way, we will look at microservices and domain modeling as well as chaos engineering and fault tolerance – blending all of these into a context that is consumable by all and gives the right emphasis at the right time. Leave this session with simple visualizations and approaches that you can apply immediately to start blending product with architecture, especially if you are looking to run in a cloud world.
  • Chris Powers

    Chris Powers

    Chris Powers has been developing software products for the last twelve years, and he loves sharing his passion for building both software and teams with audiences nationwide. As a Clean Coders author, Chris is producing an educational video series entitled “Clean Code in the Browser”. Chris is a Director of Engineering at Sprout Social and lives in the northern Chicago suburbs with his wife and two children. In his free time he enjoys drumming and tabletop gaming.

    Complex City offers the biggest challenges of our day just within its walls. Business, product innovation, education, government — huge sprawling problem domains where the old maps and compasses get us nowhere. Exploration is no longer the preparation for the work; exploration IS the work! Collaboration and experimentation become our footholds when our worlds move from complicated to complex.

    We will discuss how collaboration is the lifeblood of your business, yet it is only made possible in a culture of shared understanding and values. We will dive into organizational agility and the practical steps product teams take to stay unstuck. Finally, we will focus on the experimental mindset as a navigational tool to chart a path through the heart of Complex City.

  • David Julia & Simon Duffy

    David Julia
    Link to Slides
    David Julia is a long-time Pivotal Labs consultant with experience writing, deploying, and supporting production systems in Ruby, Golang and Java for startups, fortune 100 companies, and everything in between leveraging lean product and extreme programming.
    He’s currently focused on helping large enterprises transform their internal development teams to adopt modern agile development, agile software architecture, and a culture of continuous improvement.
    Simon is a Staff Product Manager at Pivotal Labs Chicago. He has been involved in high profile agile software development initiatives across healthcare, insurance, telecom, and consumer products. Simon’s key focus is on applying data-driven lean product management within the enterprise.

    The scene: A complex procedure cost estimation system with thousands of unknown business rules hidden in a monolithic application. A rewrite is started. If our system gives an incorrect result, the company is financially on the hook. A QA team demanding month-long feature freezes for testing. A looming deadline to cut over to the new system with severe financial penalties for missing the date. Tension is high. The business is nervous, and the team isn’t confident that it can replace the system without introducing costly bugs. Does that powder-keg of a project sound familiar?

    Enter Project X: At a pivotal moment in the project, the team changed their approach. They’d implement a unique, data-driven variation of the strangler pattern. They’d run their system in production alongside the legacy system, while collecting data on their system’s accuracy, falling back to the legacy system when answers differed. True to Lean Software Development, they would amplify learning and use data to drive their product decisions.

    The end result: An outstanding success. Happy stakeholders, business buy-in to release at will, a vastly reduced QA budget, reusable microservices, and one heck of a continuous delivery pipeline. We achieved all of this, while providing a system that was provably better than the legacy subsystem we replaced.

    This talk will appeal to engineers, managers, and product managers.
    Join us for a 45 minute session where we review this case study and learn how you too can:
    Build statistically significant confidence in your system with data-driven testing
    Strangle the Monolith safely
    Take a Lean approach to legacy rewrites
    Validate your system’s accuracy when you don’t know the legacy business rules
    Leverage Continuous Delivery in a Legacy Environment
    Get Business and QA buy-in for Continuous Delivery
    Articulate the business value of data-driven product decisions

  • Community Presenter

    This year we’ve dedicated a track to you. Use the button to send us a title and a short description for your talk. For submitting you will get a 25 % discount code. Conference attendees will vote on the sessions they want to hear.

    Submit a Session to the Community Track


    No prior speaking experience necessary. We will help you shape your topic. Sessions in this track will be 20 minutes with a total of 6 sessions. Any session not chosen will go right into our open space.




Interactive sessions and intelligent speakers


There will be three session types dispersed across the session tracks: Experiental, Advancing, and Evolutionary

  • Experiential

    Practitioners sharing ideas and experiences around the successful and continuous use of lean and agile ideas.

  • Advancing

    Deep practitioners sharing ideas and practices that augment or extend basic practices or principles.

  • Evolutionary

    Brave explorers present and discuss tools and techniques that are on the horizon, in the ‘what’s next’ category.

Full schedule and session descriptions coming soon …

Community Track Sessions

One track will be dedicated to sessions submitted by you. If you have an idea for a session, send us a session title and a short description.


Click here to Submit a Session to the Community Track

The community track will have six, twenty minute sessions, one of which can be yours! If you are new to speaking, and you have a good story to tell, we will help you with your presentation. 

When we say Building Inclusive Teams, we start the conversation with these topics:

* Building a psychologically safe workplace
* Ethnic, gender, age, and physical ability diversity
* Diversity in thinking
* Supporting women in the workplace
* Social norms
* Creating a learning organization
* Conscious of the risk associated with homogeneity
* Sustainable teams
* Self-organizing teams

I would like to share how I facilitated the experiment, how the team reacted, and what is next.

Agile is everywhere and yet seems to be an idea restricted to the IT department of an organization. When it comes to faster time to market, better quality, increased satisfaction and productivity, the benefits of Agile at scale are desirable across an organization. Join this open track talk on Agile change management that can be applied anywhere in an organization.
A great Scrum Master can help a team achieve great outcomes. Unfortunately, there are also Scrum Masters that can destroy morale, add unnecessary stress, and tear a team apart.
In this session, you’ll discover the five Scrum Masters you’ll meet in hell. These demons bring down the team and their organization along with it. You’ll understand the impact that their negative behaviors can have and perhaps see some of those behaviors in yourself.
We’ll then look at these Scrum Masters through a different lens and see that perhaps they’re not demons after all. You’ll learn how to turn these wayward angels to the right path to save their soul . . . and perhaps your
Sustainable innovation in the complex context (as framed by Snowden’s Cynefin framework) is an urgent and challenging issue for many modern organizations. Innovation by serendipity can be easy and fun. But business success now needs continuous innovation. For one path to get there, we’ll look to a generalized theory of evolution. Few better teachers than Mother Nature, with tips from Darwin, Dawkins and Ridley along the way…
“One size fits all” clothes don’t fit everyone, so why do we try to fit one framework/method for everythng. Some methodologists have an adverse allergic reaction when someone tries to tailor parts of a framework to better suit them. We hear folks say: this is not Scrum, this is not kanban, etc. Why does it even matter? Shouldn’t we be more focused on surprising and delighting customers consistently?

Granted that sometimes monikers like ScrumButs are helpful to identify dysfunctional implementations. However, why should it be a wholesale approach? Where do we draw the line? Haven’t we learned from alienating product people and middle managers. May be it’s time to look at it in a structured manner. We’ll use the Agile Fluency model to shed some light… Knowing that all models are wrong, some are useful. Agile Fluency happens to be useful.

This brief ‘hands-on’ session gives a ‘taste’ of Design Thinking and its role in ‘Igniting Innovation’ in organizations – specifically, in Agile teams.

We will start with a brief definition of the term Innovation, types of Innovations (Product Innovation, Process Innovation, Business Model Innovation, Sustaining vs. Disruptive Innovation), and the need for ‘igniting’ Innovation in organizations in general and Agile teams in particular.

This session will be about how to identify the bad habits of a team, help them observe these habits, and course correct the team without impacting the team’s happiness index. This way we can improve the health and environment of the teams.
Software development is an activity that’s fraught with complexity, ambiguity, and therefore risk. Many organizations attempt to mitigate that risk through stringent processes, but there is a better way.

In nature, there are three types of systems.

1. Fragile systems that break under stress, like a teacup.

2. Resilient systems that resist stress, like a rock.

3. Antifragile systems that become stronger when they are stressed, like your muscles when you exercise.

Most organizations attempt to build resilience, but do so in a way that nearly guarantees fragility. Designing for “antifragility” is a much better goal.

In this talk, you will learn about the concepts of antifragility and how they apply to software development teams:

* Why mass standardization and strict process control does not result in robustness.

* Long-lived teams may be a major cause of fragility.

*The proper role of an agile coach.

*Different teams in the same organization should look, act, and operate differently.

*The best way to stay stable and predictable is to embrace volatility and chaos.

*The unintended side-effects of intervening to fix the mistakes of a team.

*How to strengthen your team.

By adopting the principles of antifragility, you will be able to embrace disruption instead of running away from it.

Many companies spend countless resources and time on the adaptation of frameworks only to learn those don’t work as expected. The adoption of Agile should focus on the essentials and go beyond frameworks.

In this session, the speaker will explain how to adopt Agile practices by focusing on embedding the core values and principles of Agile into your people, products, processes and technologies (what they call 3pts). They will share insights, tips and tactics on how to nurture high performing teams, optimize processes flows, innovate, transform the workplace and facilitate the creation of value; how to “Be agile” without adhering to a specific framework.

How does your team deal with stress and change? Does it cause them to fall apart, or are they able to adapt? What if you were able to create a team that is antifragile; one that actually grows stronger through experiencing stress and change?
Antifragile is the opposite of fragile. Antifragile teams go beyond resilience and use those stressors and uncertainty to further develop and flourish. The move toward antifragility creates a learning culture and has a positive impact on business outcomes.
In this session, we will explore the difference between fragile, robust, and antifragile teams and how to move your team toward antifragility. You’ll understand how to diagnose the current state of your team by observing key behaviors and responses to change. You’ll also discover approaches that you can use on your teams, regardless of where they are now, to make them more robust and even antifragile.

Learning outcomes:

*Understand the prerequisites to coaching for antifragility

*Develop a specific plan to move your team toward antifragility
Understand the key to sustaining an antifragile team

While the submitter is a musician turned Agile Coach/Scrum Master, this talk took inspiration from a chapter by Ilan Goldstein in his book “Scrum Shortcuts Without Cutting Corners” where the concept originated. The submitter will explore “rock star” behavior (temperamental, egotistical, self-absorbed) and how it can hurt an Agile team, while “studio musician” behavior (team player, quick learner, adaptability) is a better fit, though unfortunately that’s not what companies are really looking for. Come enjoy this fun talk.
In this presentation, we will look at what we really mean when we say ‘quality software’. We’ll see how there is more to delivering quality software than writing good code, and we’ll move our thoughts about quality from an abstract concept into concrete terms that we can easily rationalize about. With an understanding of what quality really means, we can confidently apply appropriate quality controls for any given project, and help teams in their goal of delivering quality software.
Experience report on the (r)evolution already effecting our ability to impact our industry, our clients, and our work.


Telling stories and sharing experiences


8:00 Registration & Voting
8:30 Opening Discussion:
9:30 Concurrent Morning Sessions
12:15 Lunch
1:00 Afternoon Open Space:
4:30 Closing and Reception


IIT Downtown Campus, 565 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL

Courses from Speakers

Cynefin Masterclass w/ Dave Snowden and nuCognitive

Dave Snowden, creator of the Cynefin framework, along with consultants from nuCognitive are offering a 2-day workshop on applying the Cynefin model in an agile world. This course will guide attendees through some challenging questions – including how do you actually scale agile, how do we influence systems we do not own, and how we measure culture change.

Learn More & Register Here

Agile Day Chicago attendees: Use code AgileChicago17 to save 20%

Experience Change Workshop w/ Mark Graban

Ahead of Agile Day Chicago, Mark Graban is offering his Experience Change Workshop at a discounted rate. This hands-on, innovative workshop takes attendees through ‘a year of change’ in a one-day workshop. You will learn and apply change techniques while challenging your perception of what works.

Learn More & Register Here

Code of Conduct

All attendees, speakers, sponsors, and volunteers at our conference are required to agree with and follow the code of conduct.

Agile Day Chicago is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion. or lack thereof. We invite all those who participate in Agile Day Chicago to help us create safe and positive experiences for everyone. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue.

Harassment includes offensive verbal comments including jokes and language, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

No weapons will be allowed Agile Day Chicago events, community spaces, or in other spaces covered by the scope of this Code of Conduct. Weapons include but are not limited to guns, explosives (including fireworks), and large knives such as those used for hunting or display, as well as any other item used for the purpose of causing injury or harm to others. Anyone seen in possession of one of these items will be asked to leave immediately, and will only be allowed to return without the weapon.

If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the conference with no refund. If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of conference staff immediately. Conference staff will be happy to help participants contact venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the conference. We value your attendance.

We expect participants to follow these rules at all conference venues and conference-related social events.
If an incident occurs please use the following contact information.
Conference organizers:, 708.407.4082
Chicago Police Department: 312-746-6000
Chicago Sexual Assault Center 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 1-888-293-2080


Harassment policy adapted from information at the Geek Feminism wiki, Citizen Code of Conduct, and StrangeLoop.