The TD Developer Network community was looking for a guest speaker for their annual event to deliver a talk to give the developers an introduction to Agile. My director recommended they get in touch with me and the next thing I knew; they invited to be the featured speaker at their annual event held in three different locations. To learn more about my TDDN adventures please read on…

The TD Developer Network (TDDN) is an internal community of practice where developers can exchange ideas and best practices with others in the company. In their annual event, they identify a topic the community wants to hear about and invite guest speakers to do a presentation.

This year, their focus was Agile and they contacted my director to see if someone could help them. He involved me in the e-mail exchange and I worked with them to understand their needs for the presentation. They originally wanted a forty-five minute talk to introduce Agile practices and a fifteen minute talk about how they set up Agile at TD Insurance. After some negotiations, I had ninety minutes for both presentations.

An introduction to agile can take a couple of hours easily, so limiting it to sixty minutes was an interesting challenge. To meet this objective, I decided to create a presentation called “The six habits of effective agile teams”€. The six habits I focused on came from a paper I reviewed last spring written by a former colleague of mine Robert Begg. In his paper, he referred to these as agile fundamentals, and putting these fundamentals together gives you a generic framework for introducing agility. To help the presentation be more concrete for the audience, I turned these fundamentals into habits and focused on the specific practices in use at TD Insurance.

One funny story is that I did not realize until I saw the agenda that I was the featured speaker for the event. In my previous life, these events were usually a full day event with different speakers. The TDDN event it was a two-and-a-half to three hour event.

I presented on three different dates in three different Ontario locations: London, Mississauga and Toronto. The three talks went very well with audiences ranging from thirty to fifty people in each site. Because the presentation dates were so close together, I felt the presentations improved quickly each time out. I ran a bit long at each site, but people did not mind. The downtown Toronto location impressed me because of the rich look and beautiful view from the windows.

I tried something new during these talks as well. I picked up a wireless microphone shortly before the talk and recorded myself at two of the locations. I wanted to give the organizers a recording for people that could not attend. Unfortunately, some parts did not sound good because I forgot that I had the microphone and I kept forgetting to repeat questions for the recording to make sense. To give the organizers something better, I spent an evening at home recording myself doing the talk for two hours. I guess you could say they had a fourth event without even knowing it!

As usual in cases like this, I sent an e-mail to the organizers thanking them for everything they did for me at each location! They were great with me and they made sure everything was ready for me when I arrived on site. During the talk, they made sure I always had something cold to drink! They gave me a gift of Godiva chocolates at the last location which I quickly gave to my wife when I got back home. In case you ever visit here Jean and Tara, thanks again! I look forward to working with you guys again soon!

The organizers also sent this amazing feedback note to my manager after the events:

“I just wanted to thank you for recommending Steffan to us as the speaker for the TD Developer Network Annual Event on the topic of Agile. Steffan was well received by the audience in all three locations as he provided just the right level of detail to interest developers. He is comfortable speaking to groups and knowledgeable in the topic of Agile and it showed. We were very impressed with his professionalism in delivering the two back to back topics Six Habits of Effective Agile Teams and The TDI Experience with Agile€“ two hours without a break of presenting. We quickly realized that we could learn a lot from Steffan and not just about Agile. People were taking notes, asking questions and not just sitting there. He was saying things they needed to remember and we were watching his delivery style.

Steffan is such an energetic and engaging speaker, and his passion for the topics showed. Without being asked, he produced different formats of his presentations, outside of the presentation time slots, so that we can share with those who were interested but due to other commitments, were unable to attend. We already have requests for copies. “