Canterbury Tech Summit

Canterbury Tech  looks like it is growing year on year. The yearly summit is now maxing out its venue. There is a pod cast. The local groups are working together to promote each other by having a shared stand.

But as I always get told. What is the “Why”.

Why have a summit?

Why have meetup’s?

Why have these community events?


And the main reason is rather a long term drive for the local community to succeed. It’s the local community leaders that make all the difference. The local counsel the local DHB the local tech leaders.

In a recent Joe Rogan pod cast a US political figure was asked is there hope for the US and he said yes by all means. He said he had gone to local communities that where doing absolutely great on every metrics and the one thing they all had in common is that they all had strong and connected local community leaders that where working together to make their city great.

They would all work for the best outcomes for their community even if it meant holding back on left right politics for a bit and working together for what is best, not whose team was right.

This local community needs local events, local support and local leaders. In Christchurch we are very lucky to have all those. I am glad to be able to help a bit where I can and I am very glad I am not alone.

See you all at the Summit next week….



15 March 2019 – Christchurch

On 15 March 2019, I had a frustrating drive back from dropping off my daughter off in the City. Traffic was frustrating, parking was tricky to get into, and everything took longer than it should have. I had to walk a couple of children over from the museum to the art center where the kids were going to do art play before nature play in the gardens.

Then at 2 pm, I was trying not to panic as I knew the children were close to the shootings. By 3 pm my wife was in lockdown with the children and there was nothing I could do.

The next day I had time to think and then started hoping not the see anyone face or name I knew, in the headlines. And then on Monday the names and faces of those who lost their lives started appearing. And then Farhaj Ahsan’s face appeared and I knew that a kind and gentle man with a young family was killed. A name appeared I had hoped would not. And then another – Syed Jahandad Ali. Father to two girls at the kindergarten my wife teaches at.

Both men shared some common traits. Both were young, hardworking and intelligent. Both where kind and gentle. Both where great fathers. The death of both left all who knew them with a sense of great loss and sadness. For their families, nothing will be the same again.

And all I can do is share my condolences, with the family and friends of those who lost their lives.

Zombie Scrum

I confess I am torn between two competing drives. One the faux agile the other zombie scrum. Both describe the same problem with the same issues and results. But they say them in two different ways.

Zombie scrum is the analogy between zombies and people in tech just blinding following scrum without passion or understanding.

A note on this for those of you that know that zombies are not the same all over the world. In England the zombies are usually fast moving desperately hungry running around at top speed attacking. This is the same type as in World War Z. Then you get the slow moving USA zombie from walking dead and others. The zombie type we are using is the slow american one.

The imagery for the Zombie scrum is easy to illustrate and have contemporary help with all the Zombie movies and TV series out.

You can see the team going through the motions they know are now meaningless and is done simply to appease the people of influence that wanted to implement something new. Something new that is easy, quick and simple that will make others miraculously change their old slow ways and suddenly become twice as fast, engaged and happy.

Faux Agile is the same thing. Faux means fake or imitation. Its agile in name only and only looks like agile from a few hundred meters away. Very much the same as Zombies look like normal humans from far enough.

So what are a the causes of Zombie scrum and Faux Agile.

1. Upper level mandated implementation without first hand experience.
2. Management Consultant’s new plan.
3. No experienced Agile coaches, Scrum masters.
4. Limited management training.
5. Limited training.
6. Underfunded change management project.
7. Excuse for headcount reduction.
8. Limited buy in from rest of the company.

But you could simplify it to: “It looks so easy surely it can’t be that hard.”. So with this simple change, minimal investment is now to bring a doubling of productivity.

That brings us back to the question of Zombies or Faux. Faux describes the problem more correctly but Zombies so the human response better.

I think I’ll stick with Faux.

Agile snake oil

Snake oil is an ointment made from the fat extracted from a Chinese water snake. It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.

This is something I never knew. I never had the need before to look it up. Just like a billion other things, I’ll only know about in the most superficial way, and that’s ok.

But I got there by thinking about all the scams in the Agile community, the management consultancy industry and the health industry. Snake Oil is a famous health industry scam so much so that it’s now known mostly as a way to describe a scam. “You’re nothing but another Snake Oil salesmen”

 Snake Oil aside, I tried to find some real Agile scams on the internet. But alas I gave up. I could not get past the mountains of articles about Agile being a scam. People have been blogging about Agile and Scrum being a scam with such passion and vigor that it’s now 10 feet deep. Strangely the blogging has slowed down significantly in the past few years and was much more popular a few years ago. And now that the Agile community is looking into the real Agile Scams going on. Perpurtrated by Agile Salesmen, with the same understanding of it the original Snake Oil salesmen had of traditional Chinese medicine, all will be blinded by the opinions of angry blogger.

But for now, I would say that if it sounds too good to be true then most likely it’s not.

Let the buyer beware


Agile Dunedin

Agile Dunedin will be the fourth conference Agile Alliance New Zealand will be involved with this year.

We had been looking for someone to run one in the South Island since we started with the project of getting three conferences started up in underserved locations.

When we started we thought that we would phone up a local, get them to organize the event and we would bring the speakers.

Sounded so easy, and like many things that sound easy in the beginning, the more you get into it the more you truly get to know the problem. That is not to say that sometimes all we did was to phone a local and brought the speakers. That did happen most of the time. The pain points that you usually hit, are the things you never expected. These pain points are what makes things more complex and take up 80% of your time to overcome.

Like just finding someone to call in Dunedin if you don’t know anyone there. For me, the biggest unexpected issue was to get people to the websites. By the time you got them where they could make an informed decision about going to the conference your job was done.

I myself finally relented and just bought some ads on Google and LinkedIn. And the biggest thing I found was that they work. And you can see the correlation between Google and LinkedIn marketing and sales.

But if someone does by accident read this article before the 25 of May 2018 and lives in Dunedin, make sure you go to

Agile Hamilton

Hamilton New Zealand has a character all it’s own. Much like many places in New Zealand like Palmerston North that is famous for a quote by John Cleese.

“If you wish to kill yourself but lack the courage to, I think a visit to Palmerston North will do the trick. We stayed in a little motel, the weather was grotty, the theatre was a nasty shape and the audience was very strange to play to. We had a thoroughly, bloody miserable time there and we were so happy to get out.”

Hamilton is most known for V8 engines and farming activity. It is relatively the same size as Christchurch and Wellington. However, the IT communities in the other two are far bigger than the one in Hamilton.

Both Wellington and Christchurch have both benefitted from Government programmes that were set up specifically to help grow the tech sectors in those regions. Wellington as the capital supports the local tech sector directly as a customer. Christchurch has had multitudes of programmes to assist its Tech sector. From special immigration points granted to people willing to migrate to the area to special government growth programmes.

So it was great to see the local community leaders step up and not only start Agile Hamilton but also run a great full day event. With the support of Agile Alliance New Zealand, there was 4 speakers and an OpenEvent in the afternoon.

The event had great attendance and everyone involved felt it was a great start to bigger things to come.

This now leaves us with our last Agile Alliance New Zealand sponsored event, which is to happen on 23 February 2018 in Christchurch.

Which makes you wonder how much potential there is in these smaller communities that aren’t being taken full advantage of.

Agile Tauranga

It’s great to see a group organize and then take off. That is what has been happening in Tauranga with their agile community.

It hasn’t been that long that the meetup group got started and now only and few short months later they have had their first successful conference. I was fortunate to be asked to speak at the event and did a talk on the need to relabel “Technical Debt” to “Technical health”.  The talk was well received but what got me even more excited was the interest in agile and agile adoption.

I think it is important to go to events great and small to see people who are new to agile and see the excitement in them for it. It makes me look back and rekindles the passion for agile.

Agile 2017 – Orlando

The first thing is a big thank you to the Agile Alliance. Both for helping Agile Alliance New Zealand startup, but, also all the ongoing support.

Then a big thank you for doing this every year. Big thank you to all the organizers.

I think you only understand the work that goes into an event like this if you have had a peek behind the curtains or have done it yourself.

My take on the event I believe is slightly rose-tinted because it seems everyone first Agile event was amazing. Everyone, I have every spoken to after their first Agile Alliance conference are always amazed at the content the venue and think it was the best conference they have ever been on.

A few things I didn’t expect was probably the newest things about conferences I have now come to know or it could be just the Agile conference.

Firstly it’s the community behind the event. From day one everyone is busy catching up with friends they haven’t seen for the last year. Saying hello, getting together for beers or dinner. Usually, the only social interaction is between the colleagues that go together or it’s about making sales. Here it was all about meeting friends form years past.

The second surprise was the volunteers. Not only were the volunteers front and center but they were also highly respected by everyone. The volunteers must have a great time because they keep returning over and over to volunteer again. Usually, the volunteers are less of a volunteer and more of a voluntold. Go the purple shirts.

I think my thoughts on the speakers will require a blog post all its own.

So I’ll end with – Yes, this was the Best conference I have ever attended and I hope to go again and meet up with friends from years past.