LADG is 100!!!!

By | October 24, 2016

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday London Agile Discussion Group,
Happy birthday to you.


Last week, the London Agile Discussion Group held its 100th session. It all began over 4 years earlier …

On Tuesday 20 August 2012, I climbed the stairs to a tiny room above a pub in Victoria, London, for a discussion entitled “Story Points or Ideal Days: which is better?”

This was the inaugural session of the newly formed London Scrum Discussion Group whose aim was to discuss books on agile and Scrum. Seven people turned up on that first night. A fortnight later we met again, this time to discuss “Should testing be included in the Sprint and in estimates?” This time 20 people turned up. The following session two weeks later saw another 20 people turn up to discuss “What makes a good retrospective”.

One of the early sessions in The Plumber’s Arms

Since then, we have changed our name (to London Agile Discussion Group) and moved venue (to The Savoy Tup, just off The Strand). We’ve used many different formats, from debates to group exercises, from 4-chair fishbowl (you can only speak if sitting on one of the chairs and one of the chairs must always be left empty) to role-playing. One thing has remained unchanged throughout the 100 sessions: “We value discussions and debates over presentations and lectures”. That’s our strapline because we are a discussion group; we don’t do presentations.

A recent meetup in the (much more spacious) Savoy Tup

This has tripped us up on a couple of occasions when we set a topic for discussion, only to find that it was unlikely any of the attendees were likely to know about the topic. It’s very hard to have a discussion about something that nobody knows anything about. For example, the session on 5 April 2016 was entitled “What is Crystal Clear?” It’s creator, Alistair Cockburn, was one of the original signatories of the Agile Manifesto and, when the Manifesto was formed in Snowbird, Crystal had more traction amongst the signatories than Scrum did. But where is it now? Nobody who turned up for our session knew anything about it. Fortunately, we’d pre-empted this, spoken to Alistair, and come up with novel ways to both hold a discussion AND explain what Crystal was about. However, that took a lot of effort.

After 100 sessions, the organisers have reviewed how we should run the group. We are going to keep the focus on discussions, we are going to keep it free, we are going to keep the topics varied and engaging. But, we are going to change the cadence to monthly, focusing on quality over quantity.

And what quality we have in our future. We have Georg Fasching running a session on team dynamics, another looking at whether we should focus more on descaling rather than scaling agile, and a workshop with Dan Ashby on writing BDD scenarios in the new year.

Thank you to everyone who has helped run sessions at LADG over the years, and thank you to everyone who has attended a session too. Afterall, a discussion is nothing without participation from you.

Please go to London Agile Discussion Group for more information of upcoming events.


Photos from past LADG meetings


The last 100 sessions

20 Aug 2012

Story Points or Ideal Days: which is better?

4 Sep 2012

Scrum discussion: should testing be included in the sprint and in estimates?

18 Sep 2012

What makes a good retrospective

2 Oct 2012

Promoting Scrum to non-believers

16 Oct 2012

How to build the best Scrum board

30 Oct 2012

Scrum sucks! Kanban rules!

13 Nov 2012

Does Scrum really work for remote teams? What are the tricks to help?

27 Nov 2012

Quick-fire questions (Christmas Special)

22 Jan 2013

Quick-fire questions

5 Feb 2013

Agile & Scrum for beginners: an introduction

19 Feb 2013


5 Mar 2013

How to manage bugs when they appear mid iteration

19 Mar 2013

Release planning: what is it and how do you do it?

2 Apr 2013

What makes a good user story?

16 Apr 2013

How to fit interaction design into a user story

30 Apr 2013

Is being cross-functional really best? What does it mean?

14 May 2013

How to estimate

28 May 2013

What is Lean?

11 Jun 2013

The best bits of agile

25 Jun 2013

Your one piece of advice

9 Jul 2013

Using agile with external teams

23 Jul 2013

Scrum boards: electronic v physical

6 Aug 2013

Dealing with technical debt

20 Aug 2013

Iteration zero – what is it and should it exist?

3 Sep 2013

Does Scrum really work for remote teams?

17 Sep 2013

How to split user stories

1 Oct 2013

How to be an agile coach

15 Oct 2013

Planning poker

29 Oct 2013

How to introduce Scrum to an established team (including sceptical management)

12 Nov 2013

Stories don’t ALWAYS need to be broken down to fit the iteration

26 Nov 2013

When is waterfall a better framework to use?

10 Dec 2013

Christmas dinner

7 Jan 2014

What is the difference between an epic, theme, story & task?

21 Jan 2014

No Estimates

4 Feb 2014

How to sell Agile to middle managers

18 Feb 2014

The most effective ways to explain Scrum

4 Mar 2014

What’s the difference between a Product Owner, Product Sponsor, Product Manager?

18 Mar 2014

Scaling up Scrum with a growing team/product

1 Apr 2014

Setting Sprint Goals

15 Apr 2014

MVP. MMF. MMP. What?

13 May 2014

Mapping a project’s progress

27 May 2014

What is Scrumban?

10 Jun 2014

What is the meaning of “commitment”?

24 Jun 2014

Kanban reports

8 Jul 2014

Testing as an activity rather than a role

22 Jul 2014


5 Aug 2014

Low tech burndown charts

19 Aug 2014

Debate: “There is no longer a need for a Product Owner”

2 Sep 2014

What is TDD and BDD?

16 Sep 2014

What bits of agile/lean are most effective for producing quality?

30 Sep 2014

Techniques to make planning fun

14 Oct 2014

User stories: is the “As a <who>, I want <what> so that <why>” format harmful?

28 Oct 2014

Debate: XP is the best of all agile approaches

11 Nov 2014

The 5 dysfunctions of a team

25 Nov 2014

Are testers seen as lower status than other members of the team?

9 Dec 2014

Christmas Dinner

6 Jan 2015

Do we really need to estimate?

20 Jan 2015

Metrics: help or hinderance?

3 Feb 2015

What do you do when your dev team is agile, but the rest of the business isn’t?

17 Feb 2015

Debate: “We should get rid of sprints”

3 Mar 2015

Debate: “QA is responsible for quality”

17 Mar 2015

Can agencies be agile?

31 Mar 2015

Debate: “We should get rid of Sprint 0” or “You should deliver in Sprint 0”

14 Apr 2015

Design Thinking: An Emerging Problem Solving Approach

28 Apr 2015

Should ScrumMasters be software developers?

12 May 2015

What distinguishes a self-organising team?

26 May 2015

Debate: This room believes that DevOps should be a person not a team-wide skill!

9 Jun 2015

How to approach a new project using a lean startup approach

23 Jun 2015

Estimation approaches

7 Jul 2015

Debate: Scrum is dead!

21 Jul 2015

What do we mean by ‘value’?

4 Aug 2015

Debate: “You don’t need to scale agile”

18 Aug 2015

Iterative and incremental approaches

1 Sep 2015

How to explain agile without using words!

15 Sep 2015

Debate: Technical excellence is more important than frequent delivery

29 Sep 2015

How do you get away from being a “puppet Product Owner”?

13 Oct 2015

Why do we need acceptance criteria?

27 Oct 2015

Should Scrum Masters line manage the team? If so, how?

10 Nov 2015

What are the different approaches for “scaling agile”

24 Nov 2015

Self-organising and self-managing: is there a difference?

12 Jan 2016

Agile pub quiz

26 Jan 2016

What technical (development) knowledge should a PO have?

9 Feb 2016


23 Feb 2016

Debate on the Agile Manifesto: do we really value the items on the left more?

8 Mar 2016

Should you ever let a defect go live?

22 Mar 2016

How do you estimate a project when you know barely nothing about it?

5 Apr 2016

What is Crystal Clear?

19 Apr 2016

Guest session with Morten Elvang: Game Changing Beliefs

3 May 2016

An introduction to systems thinking

17 Mar 2016

How do you use velocity if your team changes?

31 May 2016

Debate: Release plans are NOT needed

14 Jun 2016

Returning to the Heart of Agile with Alistair Cockburn

28 Jun 2016

How to deal with dependencies

12 Jul 2016

Anti-patterns: the smells of bad ceremonies

26 Jul 2016

How do you compensate for an absent Product Owner?

9 Aug 2016

Should an agile team be able to do whatever it chooses?

23 Aug 2016

How can we overcome the challenges we face when we have distributed teams?

6 Sep 2016

Feedback loops

20 Sep 2016

Splitting user stories (workshop)

18 Oct 2016

100th session of LADG!!!!

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