Feb 6: Mental Models in High-Performing Agile Teams presented by Amit Uttam


As the key principles of "Agility" have been put into practice over the last decade, there has been an increasingly alarming trend to look at "Agile" as a magical set of tangible team actions. It has sadly become all too common to equate software delivery agility with the mechanics of standups, certifications and iterations. Collaborative skills and introspection are often diminished, despite being a fundamental pillar of the Agile Manifesto.

A principal distinguishing characteristic of high-performing software delivery teams is the ability to gain quick and intuitive convergence around a set of business needs. This is not an easy task. Business, Management and Technology typically find themselves complaining (in equal measure!) that the other parts of the team "just don't seem to get it". It's as if they're "always speaking a whole different language". This is when sustained collaboration begins to decay into dysfunction. Detailed research and analysis of performant teams reveals that the recognition and adaptation of a team's various "Mental Models" plays a central role in prolonged, sustained success in delivering business and growth outcomes.

This talk (with brief interactive exercises) has been presented at multiple international Agile Conferences to resounding reviews. It introduces the basic principles of Mental Models, their recognition in individuals and teams, and their application toward managing/participating in successful Agile software delivery teams.


Amit Uttam is currently the VP of Engineering & Operations at PetroFeed. He is a frequent speaker on the international Agile conference circuit, evangelizing pragmatic "agile" over dogmatic "Agile". Amit bears the scars of successful organizational Agile transformations in diverse environments, from multi-national corporate enterprises to small, less-focussed start-ups. His long consulting career and present role at PetroFeed have been to bridge the familiar chasms between business desires for growth and propulsion, versus entrenched software engineering preferences. Transforming these divisions into the creative and healthy tensions that characterize his successful Agile clients and teams is what charges Amit and gives him immense satisfaction. Amit's software engineering and management career has had him consulting, residing and working full-time in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Canada and the United States, which he strongly credits for embracing diversity in team mental models.