Last week I was attending 2 events that were somewhat related to Agile, and I want to share a quick recap of the most important points I got from them.


ISTA is a conference that has been targeting primarily software (quality) engineers and the topics in the past years were predominantly technical. Therefore, I was very surprised to discover that this year’s conference included quite a lot of content related to “soft” aspects of the IT work. There were sessions on leadership, Agile, and decision-making techniques, and they attracted a significant audience. I will skip some of the presentations that were absolutely worth seeing, but my intention with the blog post is to mark just the prevailing topics that were discussed.

I joined Jim Holmes‘ workshop on Leadership 101. Jim is a technical guy who has a lot of experience in leading teams too, and he shared a lot of examples during the workshop, which made it really interactive and thought-provoking. I found his ideas very relevant for the problems leaders are facing today, and I will certainly check out his book as well (


Jim also made a nice and entertaining keynote, which focused on the one of the most powerful questions that a learning organization could ask: “Why?”. This is really the basic question that we need to ask ourselves if we want to improve continuously.

The second keynote by Richard Soley focused on the possibilities that Internet of Things opens in front of industries. Main insight was the fact that more than 50% of the IoT potential for innovation is not used at all in some industries, and some of the big companies are starting to make strategic alliances to address this niche  and survive the next industrial revolution.

A very interesting and inspiring participation made Deyan Vitanov with his dvitanov_2entrepreneurial journey. I am posting just one of the key messages that he shared and I find very relevant for the Agile topic in general: risk # uncertainty. The bottomline is that you can’t remove uncertainty, but you can “maximize your luck” by failing fast and learning forward.

A fourth line of discussions was around user experience and user centricity. Unfortunately, I couldn’t clone myself and visit all the interesting sessions, so I cannot share much on this topic.

If you are curious for more from the event, you can check Twitter with hashtag #istacon2015 as well – there was a lot of tweeting, so you will find some additional insights for sure.


PMDay organized traditionally by the PMI Bulgarian chapter this yervargasar focused on change and the opportunity and challenges related to it. It’s a very topical context, and the event was well attended. We had the honor to listen to Ricardo Vargas sharing the challenges they have at UNOPS. It was a different view on project management goals – UNOPS is more concerned to ensure sustainability, rather than maximize ROI, and it brings a whole new approach when methodologies and procedures are concerned. Mr. Vargas shared that they use  of practices from all project management schools including Agile, to ensure first of all the safety and survival of their staff in challenging projects, and also to impact positively the development of local communities.

znikolovaThis example was very much in line with my message in a session called The choice of 21-century organizations: to transform or not to be?. I focused on the global trends that we experience today – mass digitalization, focus on the individual, different expectations of the new generations, and the extended responsibilities of sustainable organizations, and argued that the successful organizations in the 21st century need to adopt agile principles, flatten their structures, and strengthen their leadership with coaching skills and open communication.

The conference ended with a nice presentation from a young and very talented project manager – Kamil Mroz, who inspired the audience further with his example of a social initiative that he started to improve his project management skills, but which impacted the lives of many young people, and even spread beyond Belgium where it initially started.

I am looking forward to more inspiring and educational events in 2016!

Recap of ISTA and PMDay 2015 Bulgaria