Heart of Agile Conference Pittsburgh 2018

Official Program Announced!

The official Program for the Heart of Agile Conference Pittsburgh 2018 has been announced!  Check our the full line up of speakers below!

Seeing Agile increasingly weighed down since its inception, Dr. Alistair Cockburn, one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto, devised the Heart of Agile to re-focus attention on the four elements that makes work effective:

Collaborate. Deliver. Reflect. Improve.

The Heart of Agile Conference is a two-day journey that invites people from diverse sectors to have meaningful exchanges on those four elements.

The exchanges are held in four formats allowing different types of exploration:

  • General sessions let people listen to a key speaker and converse with their neighbors on topics of their interest.
  • Experience Reports offer first-hand information and reflection: “We saw this… We learned the following from our experience…”. Experience reports serve as an exchange opportunity for practitioners to learn from others.
  • Collaborative Conversations offer joint problem solving with other participants. A facilitated peer-topeer event, where everyone has something to contribute.
  • Tutorials provide opportunities to learn directly from experts, whether better ways to collaborate, an aspect of delivery, or some new technique.

In addtion, the Exhibition Space allows participants to see the latest offerings in the field, and talk one-on-one with specialists.

As a bonus, both the Project Management Institute and the the Scrum Alliance accept the conference toward 16 ongoing education credits.  For more information on SEUs, please refer to their respective web sites.


The call for speakers is now CLOSED.

The Program Team is reviewing all submissions.  The full program will be announced mid-March!


Alistair Cockburn

Keynote Introduction and Facilitation
The author of the Heart of Agile and co-author of the Agile Manifesto tells how the Heart of Agile got started and what it means, just enough to get the conversations going.

Keynote | Collaborate, Deliver, Reflect and Improve

About Alistair: Bio

Soledad Pinter

Opening General Introduction to the Heart of Agile
Soledad Pinter continues Alistair’s introduction to the Heart of Agile with an interactive general session. In this session she will engages with the audience, and let the audience engage with each other, to get going with their own use of the heart of agile verbs, and get to know each other before even the first coffee break.

Keynote | Collaborate, Deliver, Reflect and Improve

Bio: Soledad Pinter

Maria Materelli

Personal Agility and Balancing your Life
Maria Materelli has been working on balancing her workaholic life for the last several years. In this experience report, Maria will relate recent experiences in helping people organize, balance and start to direct their overly cluttered lives through the Personal Agility framework. This session might be for you if you or one of your friends could do with de-cluttering your lives, getting it back in focus.

Additionally, Maria will provide us with her DJ magic during the evening dinner/cruise. Make sure you stay for this magical 2-hour trip up and down the three rivers.

Tutorial | Deliver

Bio: Maria Materelli

Gabrielle Benefield

Using Mobius for More Effective Results
Getting more output but not better outcomes? What value are your products and services really delivering to your customers? Wondering where to start to deliver more business? Mobius is the double-loop learning infinite loop, helping you to focus on what problem to address, how to detect if it’s the right problem to address, how to get and analyze feedback to decide whether to continue or change tracks. This tutorial introduces you to the Mobius Loop.

Tutorial | Deliver

Bio: Gabrielle Benefield

Ghennipher Weeks

Learning from your Analytics
You have more analytical information than you know, and more power inside than you imagine. Focusing on the Reflect aspect of the Heart of Agile, Ghennipher Week’s experience report describes how she and her clients mined their data analytics to uncover deep insights. From those insights, they were able to make crucial and important changes in direction.

Tutorial | Reflect and Improve

Bio: Ghennifer Weeks

Jonathan House

Taming the Wild Beast of Self-Organization using a Nasty Trick I learned from Alistair
Jonathan House describes, in this experience report, three separate attempts at organizing teams in three different organizations. In the last one, the team delivered an organizational structure using self-organization within the team and a particularly nasty trick Jonathan learned from Alistair, namely, winning a competition before announcing it. This trick helped the team get buy off from the business units of Product and Design. It is not impossible that Jonathan’s talk may also veer into the bizarre mating ritual of the whipnose seadevil, the male of which fuses its mouth to the female and hangs onto her for the rest of its life. Only Jonathan is capable of showing how parasitic reproductive processes lead to improved, stable team structure.

Experience Report | Deliver

Bio: Jonathan House

Djordje Babic

Using Georgie Boards to Boost Team Focus and Effectiveness
Djordje Babic is traveling to Pittsburgh from Serbia to recount his experiences in using the X-shaped Heart of Agile reflection structure in teams to create a greater binding of the team, improved morale and focus. Djordje’s intention is to get you, the audience, ready to try out similar experiments in your own teams.

Experience Report | Collaborate

Bio: Djordje Babic

Paul Boos

The How of Collaboration
Collaboration is, of course good, but how do you get it off the ground? In this tutorial, Paul Boos lets you explore different ways to get collaboration off the ground. You will see how using a particular interactional model (“1-2-4-all” and the Johari window), and aligning work using it, can effectively remove inhibitors to collaboration.  This is an experiential tutorial, not a talking head. You will practice the use of the model within the session.

Tutorial | Collaborate

Bio: Paul serves as an IT Executive Coach helping executives, managers, and team onboard Agile and Lean thinking in their day-to-day work. He passionately explores improving software development and particularly the leadership needed to make it successful. He helps organizations develop pragmatic methods to achieve enterprise agility by applying portfolio management techniques and Lean, Lean Start-up, or iterative approaches. Before becoming a coach he was an Agile practitioner in management and development both as a Federal employee, contractor, and within product consulting.

Stevan Novakovich

Reflect to Collaborate: The role of present-mindedness in the art of collaboration

Mindfulness is a successful catalyst for supporting change, and more importantly a methodology that aids in the constant, unpredictable nature of the creative and innovative process. The creative process is universal and requires one’s ability to be at ease with uncertainty, the unknown and change. Artists, architects, innovators and software engineers navigate the same stages to create something new, innovate or find the solution to an existing problem. In this tutorial session we will learn about the Mindfulness Triangle of Awareness: Intention, Attention, Attitude. We will go through specific Concentration, Awareness and Somatic Techniques and find out what silence, circle dance, mindfulness and collaboration have in common.

Additionally, Stevan will lead a voluntary session after the main day, during the 2-hour dinner/cruise on the river. In this second session, Stevan will give you a chance to practice some of those mindfulness and movement techniques. You do not need to attend the tutorial session to participate in the after-day mindfulness practice.

Tutorial | Reflect and Improve

Bio: Stevan Novakovich is the Founder and CEO of Global Om Revolution LLC, a company providing professional development training in Mindfulness, Stress Reduction and Social-Emotional Learning (EQ). Stevan’s ultimate intention is to bring these transformational practices to the mainstream, and by doing so, help individuals, communities and businesses persistently keep practicing realigning and tuning themselves to their unique possibilities. Stevan is a former professional athlete, university professor, producing artists, certified yoga instructor, meditation and mindfulness teacher, and mindfulness practitioner. His training has included many years of study with traditional meditation master teachers who inspired him to dedicate himself to teaching mindfulness strategies. He considers himself to be an “Awareness Activator” on the quest to help people and organizations excel in their teams collaboration and success.

Andy Worshek

Creating Intent-Based Leadership Culture: Stories from “Turn the Ship Around”

Join as Andy Worshek, then chief on the nuclear-powered submarine USS Santa Fe, recounts stories from turning the USS Santa Fe from last place to first place in retention and operational standing. When Stephen R. Covey rode the USS Santa Fe, he said it was “the most empowering organization he’d ever seen”. Andy will describe how they did that, and how to create “intent-based” leadership in your organization.

Tutorial | Collaborate

Bio: Andy Worshek served in the navy for 24 years, and achieved the rank of Master Chief. Andy was assigned to the nuclear powered submarine USS Santa Fe with captain David Marquet. Together, they teamed up and turned that ship around by developing a new model of leadership that built leaders at every level. Intent-Based Leadership took the Santa Fe from “worst to first,” achieving the highest retention and operational standings in the navy. Andy practiced intent-based leadership as the director of Human Resources and Personnel Development at McGee, Hearne & Paiz, LLP, the premier accounting firm in Wyoming.

Kay Johansen

Growing fast, delivering faster: Adding people doesn’t have to slow you down


Experience Report | Reflect and Improve

Bio: Kay is passionate about delivering software products rapidly, often, and with high quality. She has been a Software Craftsman with Pluralsight for five years, helping architect and develop their technology learning platform. During this time, Pluralsight has grown through hiring and 8 acquisitions from a small subscription service offering 500 video courses to a complete learning platform with over 7000 courses, as well as labs, adaptive skill tests, and virtual mentoring, with over 3 million users worldwide. Kay has been involved in the Agile community since the Agile Manifesto was published, helping with Agile conferences and creating and running the Agile Roots conference in Utah from 2009 to 2015. She lives in Utah with her husband, their small dog, and a rather large horse.

Paul McMahon

Making the Heart of Agile concrete: Essence


Tutorial | Deliver

Bio: Paul E. McMahon is Principal Consultant at PEM Systems (www.pemsystems.com) where he has been coaching large and small teams in practical approaches to increase agility for the last twenty years. Prior to his independent coaching, Paul spent 25 years working as a software developer in the US defense industry. Paul recently released his fifth book, “It’s All Upside Down: What I’ve Learned About Software Development and Why Its Seems Opposite to Everything I was Taught.” When he isn’t coaching you can find Paul running marathons. He has completed 19 marathons including 12 Boston Marathons.

Brian Hall

Slicing Your Way to #NoEstimates
There has been a lot of discussion in agile circles about the value of estimating user stories vs just getting the work done. In this tutorial session we will explore how slicing user stories into smaller pieces can allow a team to skip estimating each individual story and just get to work while still giving the business the information they need to plan ahead.

Tutorial | Reflect and Improve

Bio: Aging Agilista (his agile experience predates the Agile Manifesto) and Engineering Leader. Currently a Software Engineering Manager at UPMC Enterprises where he used to be responsible for the health of their agile process through a flock of Scrum Masters, a gaggle of Product Owners, and a pack of Developers. He has since handed the process and Scrum Master leadership duties to his able colleagues and is focusing on the Product Owner side of the process. Past experience in piloting agile processes, waterfall-to-agile conversion, and taking agile-practicing teams to the next level. Oh, yeah.. and he’s done that waterfall thing too.

April Jefferson, Design Action Lab
Paul Boos, Excella

Pass the Perfection
When you have struggled to define a Minimally Viable Product or what is minimally necessary for a project or team, then you need a way to not only brainstorm ideas, but also a way to cut the unnecessary waste out. Pass to Perfection is a game for getting a solution, product or project started with what is minimally necessary; in development terms, this is your Minimal Viable Product (MVP). It mashes up Yes and… thinking for co-creation, and the essence of The Perfection Game (from the Core Protocols) for negotiation and prioritization in a collaborative round-robin game format. Create ideas until you can’t think of anything else and you pass, remove ideas until you have what is essential and you pass. This workshop will have you try out the game and learn how easy it is to get people started. We’ll discuss also how psychological safety is created in its use and gotchas to watch out for so that the environment remains safe.

Tutorial | Collaborate

Bio: April enjoys helping organizations, executives, management, teams, and individuals on their journey to create awesome solutions with positive organizational cultures by leveraging lean and agile. Enjoys walking in curiosity, seeking to understand others, discovering new ways to solve problems collaboratively, motivating others with positivity, as well as, cultivating other’s potential. In like manner, passionate about empowering others to foster their gifts for social change.

Paul is passionately exploring improving software development and particularly the leadership needed to make it successful. Whether this be from the inside or the outside is immaterial. I work with executives, teams, and those in-between to develop pragmatic approaches to achieve enterprise agility applying Lean, Lean Start-up, or Iterative approaches, and portfolio management techniques. I straddle both the practical (hands-on) as well as theoretical (what could be done) and look for unique applications for the people with which I work. I have a reputation for providing direct, forward-thinking, and trustworthy advice. I’m an avid learner and seek out opportunities to use new approaches, tools, and techniques and pass those along to others.

David Rizzo, Compuware Corporation

Making the impossible possible: Transforming an Organization from Waterfall to Agile
In 2014, we had an established company, a long tenured development staff working in an established technology. We had a slow time to market and minimal innovation. A change was needed to meet changing customer demands and to improve business performance.

That change was an agile transformation that most in the world would think impossible. The transformation at Compuware, a 45 year old mainframe software vendor was not simple. We transformed Compuware’s development process from Waterfall to Agile in 90 days.

From our experience, we have learned the importance of continuous learning and continuous improvement. After three years, we continue to evolve our agile practices.
We have seen an increase in code output, a decrease in escaped defects and an increase in customer involvement in the development process.

We’ve learned how to celebrate success AND failure. Recognizing, reflecting and sharing mistakes has helped us learn and grow. We also identified how to measure what success looks like in an Agile and DevOps environment.

Come share in our experience. Learn how we did it, how we measure it, the benefits we received and what we continue to do to improve. Learn from our journey to help make yours smoother.

Experience Reports | Reflect and Improve

Bio: David Rizzo is the Vice President of Product Development at Compuware Corporation. He is responsible for the maintenance of existing technology and the development of new products. He leads several development teams working on different platforms. David led the transformation of the Compuware development organization from Waterfall to Agile. He is an advocate for enterprises using Agile, DevOps and the mainframe platform.

Savannah Rayat, Rayat Realty Group

Business Agility through Agile Marketing
Discover the possibilities of Agile Marketing and the power of applying Agile across your organization for full Business Agility. See how companies such as Coca-Cola, Xerox, Salesforce, and Adobe are using Agile Marketing today with great results. Hear the benefits of aligning your organization’s use of Agile across departments along with the mindset shift necessary to make this possible. Discover the core Agile Marketing framework and how you can begin to apply this approach at your organization.

Experience Reports | Deliver

Bio: Savannah has over ten years of consulting experience, as an Agile Coach, Scrum Master, and Project Manager. She has coordinated initiatives using both Waterfall and Agile approaches. She has led systems modernization teams, and provided Agile training to corporate teams and commercial students in the hundreds, in multiple industries. She as provided Agile Coaching to both individual and multiple teams and has collaborated effectively with teams of teams in delivering large scale agile solutions. In addition, she has helped businesses organize around and apply Agile principles in non-IT domains. Her dedication to Lean/Agile principles and passion for self-improvement are evident in her many certifications and the extent of her training activity and ongoing involvement in the Agile community. If Savannah is not coaching or training at a client location she can be found volunteering her time at one of the Agile or Scrum conferences throughout the year all over USA and Canada.

Inder Ahluwalia, Trilok Inc.
Kitty Luo, 

Agile Unicorns – Functional Managers as Agile Coaches
Are you struggling to find a good “Agile Coach”? Are good Agile Coach’s similar to unicorns? Can you afford to pay the high salary expected by Agile experts? You all have heard about them but can’t seem to find them in real life !!

Conventional wisdom in Agile Universe dictates that Functional Managers are the biggest obstacle standing in the way of a successful Agile Transformation. We all have experienced the chicken and pig metaphor being used to create artificial barriers between the Agile teams and “Managers” in the organization.

But are Managers the real obstacle? Many of these so called “Managers” potentially could assist the team in meeting its goals. Very often these people are project sponsors or key subject matter experts (SMEs). These are the Unicorns, who when provided with the Agile Values and guidance from a Scrum Master, can be critical to the success of a project.

I will be leveraging my past Agile transformation consulting experience to provide tools and techniques to identify Agile Unicorns and how I helped them in their journey to become Agile Coaches and shaping organization culture. My hope is that the Agile Practitioners will be able to apply some of these skills right away in their specific organizational context.

Experience Reports | Collaborate

Bio: Inder has been a student, coach and consultant of contemporary software development and change management practices for 23+ years. As a Lean Agile Transformation Lead, Inder has collaborated with Business owners, Product managers, Product owners, Operations, UX and DevOps teams to align Enterprise Strategy with Product Features Delivery by providing coaching, training, mentoring and consulting. Inder has signed the oath of non-allegiance and has been scrupulous in avoiding the mono culture of Scrum. He has been a pioneer in combining Agile, Lean, Portfolio Management and Systems thinking to optimize flow of business value and remove systematic organizational impediments.

Alex Harms, Maitria

Psychological Safety: the hard parts
When we’re feeling stressed, threatened, or unsafe, our bodies help us do a lot of things better. We’re able to run faster, hit harder, yell louder. We are able to notice the slightest movement out of the corner of our eye. Things we do not do better: think creatively, work collaboratively, solve problems. Our movement is coming to realize that feeling free to express ideas, questions, joys and concerns without fear of rejection or judgment is vital for agile collaboration. But even though we say “without fear of judgment”, we don’t do a lot of talking about how to actually get there. And it’s hard! We not only need psychological safety for ourselves, but we’re a source of safety for our teammates. We all get scared, and we all have the power to ease each other’s fears. Let’s explore together what it takes to cultivate psychological safety for yourself and your team, and what gets in the way.

Tutorial | Collaborate

Bio: Alex Harms is a software developer and team coach who wants to make the world a little gentler for coders and tech teams.Coaching from a place of mindfulness and empathy, Alex helps disempower fear, strengthen communication, and build connection, so that tech teams learn together and thrive. Author of the Little Guide to Empathetic Technical Leadership. Coach at Maitria.

Thomas Haver, Huntington National Bank

Develop Yourself and Uplift Others

In the constant flux of software development, everyone involved in creating new technologies and features must adapt to changes or be left behind. One obstacle facing professional development is lack of support and/or guidance from management. According to a recent survey by Robert Half Finance & Accounting, only 26% of employers allow their employees to attend continuing professional education courses during business hours. However, all is not lost: change can come from within rather than management. Employees can take the reins of continuous improvement and generate positive change for themselves & their organization. In this session, the audience will learn how to implement a robust continuous improvement curriculum that can be integrated into an organization’s culture – one training class, one conference, one professional group at a time.

Experience Report | Reflect and Improve

Bio: Thomas is presently serving as the Senior Application Architect for Huntington National Bank. He is responsible for the conversion from manual testing to Ruby/Cucumber automation for the entire enterprise. Originally accountable for the development and maintenance of automation frameworks for Digital Channels, he now leads the automation effort for 73 applications across Huntington that encompass testing, metrics & reporting, data, and environment. Thomas leads the training & technical support for both on-site employees as well as offshore contractors. He has developed test strategies and assisted in coordination between multiple lines to improve delivery effectiveness & resource flexibility.

Kim Hardy, Salt Productions, LLC

Somebody Has to Care!

Unfortunately, many people working in software development find themselves in organizations where competing interests and mutual distrust are common threads within their culture. Gifted individuals are forced into inflexible roles and siloes put them at even further odds with themselves and each other. And if that is not bad enough, processes compel them to work together like inanimate cogs in a machine rather than the unique individuals they are.

As a coach, I believe that when people learn and grow in self-awareness and social awareness, organizations can achieve levels of team collaboration that have been previously elusive to them. That’s because self-aware people understand what they are passionate about and why. They understand the impact their strengths and weaknesses have on others and on their organization. Social-aware people understand what others are passionate about and why. They realize ‘Somebody has to Care’ and in so they value the impact of other’s strengths and develop empathy towards them.

This experiential report details the use of the Strengths@Work practices I developed for achieving increased self and social awareness in teams and organizations over the past few years.

I had to do it. That’s how much I care.

Experience Report | Collaborate

Bio: When I went back to college, I decided to study Computer Science for a couple of different reasons; 1) I didn’t have to take calculus again, 2) I already knew I liked programming and 3) I knew that to be innovative in any field, I needed to learn how to wield a computer like a sword.

At the time I was working full-time, raising 2 kids and taking 1 to 2 classes a term. I struggled a bit to get my footing but pulled out a B and then an A. Then I enrolled in Programming Languages. The class size was smaller, about 15 to 20 students, of which I was the only female. When the professor saw me he said, “I see we have a woman in here. I wonder how long it will be before she quits.” I really don’t remember how the guys responded, but I do remember what happened to me. I hit my projects with such intensity that I ended up with the highest grade in the class, and I graduated from the program with a 3.41 GPA. Go figure.

Being female in this high-tech culture has its challenges. I know that a clear, crisp fall morning makes me feel like singing. I know that a sobbing child makes my heart sick. And I know that I am totally dismayed when people (women & men) come face to face with an organization that just doesn’t get who they are or what they have to offer. They get shut down even before they have a chance to do what they do best.

My professor was initially wrong about me. He thought, and so many others think, that a tender heart doesn’t belong in software development. But since the industry has wasted multiple years and millions of dollars in failed projects (for various reasons) it has now become prime time for “mushy” stuff.

Chris Ruch, Blueprint

Reuniting Families and Locating the Lost With Agile

By day I’m an Agile Coaching and trainer, but in my volunteer time I’m an EMT and run a Search and Rescue Squad. Very differnt worlds, but they both involve getting large numbers of people to work together in teams in rapidly changing situations, with limited information, in a high stakes environment.

This talk shows how I used my knowledge as an Agile Coach and ScrumMaster in a situation well beyond IT. We will talk about how Agile/Scrum concepts like breaking work down into smaller increments, using self-organizing team, frequent planning, and retrospectives all are being used in the emergency services field. We also explore how agile principles are incorporated into the cultural aspects of volunteer emergency services — often thought of as hierarchical and command-and-control, there is actually a culture of of self-organization, decentralized decision making, outcome-based focus, and holding each other accountable — and it illustrates the underlying cultural principles that are the heart of agile which holds teams together and form high-performing teams that apply in product and software development teams as well.

This fun and fast paced talk walks the participants how a high-urgency search for a missing child is run using agile principles and relates each practice back to a similar approach in Agile/Scrum in the product development world.

Experience Report | Collaborate

Bio: Chris Ruch is an experienced enterprise agile coach with a focus on developing agile transformation and organizational change management strategy, executive level coaching, and agile outside of IT. Chris has worked with leading financial services, healthcare and manufacturing companies, as well as nonprofits and institutions of higher education.

Valerie Pearce, Net Health

A Story of Bottom-Up Intelligence: Scaling Agile at Net Health

What happens when teams realize that their organization’s agile practices need to be scaled before the organization’s leadership does? At Net Health, five siloed Scrum teams struggled with code integrations and building a cohesive product for many months. Product features developed in vacuums often overlooked cross-team dependencies until after the work was completed. Rework, unpredictability, and complicated code merges were the norm. However, organic collaboration changed all of this when the Scrum teams proposed an experiment for a new way to operate. This experience report walks through how Net Health scaled Scrum using the Nexus Framework™ to bake collaboration into its culture, the challenges of its agile transformation, and the unexpected organizational benefits realized.

Experience Report | Deliver

Bio: Valerie Pearce is on a mission to become as t-shaped as possible.  While she currently fills the role of Senior Software Architect at Net Health in Pittsburgh, PA, she spent the majority of 2016 and 2017 leading the company’s scaled professional Scrum transformation, implementing Scrum.org’s Nexus Framework across a 50+ person product development organization, as Nexus Scrum Master.  She has previously held positions of Scrum Master, Director of Software Engineering, and Founder.


We would like to thank our Sponsors for their support. Please be sure to visit the Sponsors at the Sponsor Exhibition at the conference.

Registration fees are as follows:

Registration Type Dates Fees
Early Bird Registration Through March 7, 2018 $315
Advance Purchase March 8,  2018– April 15, 2018 $350
Registration at Door April 16 – 26, 2018 $390


Registration to the Conference includes the following:

  • Access to all Keynote Sessions.
  • Access to all Presentation and discussion tracks.
  • Access to the Sponsor Exhibition.
  • Meals and non-alcoholic beverages during the conference to include: Breakfast, Morning Break, Lunch, and Afternoon Break.
  • Networking and Collaboration Reception after Day 1 of Conference.


Please take time to read our code of conduct.