So many agile conferences! What a wonderful world we live in 😉
I have playfully nick-named September-October this year as ‘Conference Season’. Not everything falls within this time window, but a large majority does, so it was handy and allows me to say things like: “I’ll get to that after conference season” and they know when to expect it.
So the latest conference was on Friday, and as I had never attended Agile Tour London before, I had no idea what to expect.
What made it different to the other conferences I have attended?
Well, for a start it is only 1 day, which is unusual in a calendar stuffed full of multi-day events. They did have 4 tracks, so there was a fair amount of content to choose between. Making that choice was quite difficult on several occasions!
Another thing I noticed was how it felt very much about actual practitioners of agile, rather than theorists or consultants. This was reflected in the attendees I met, and I thank them all for sharing their interesting stories with me.
Usually I attend conferences alone, but this time, I was with 4 other colleagues from NewVoiceMedia. Raji Bhamidipati was one of them, and was also speaking. Her session on Remote Working seemed to generate a lot of conversation afterwards. It was a while before we caught up again!
Aside from my fellow NVM-ers, I knew relatively few people there, which in many ways was great. This meant I had lots of time to meet new people. Now I can look forward to catching up with them and having a chat next time we meet too.
All the talks were recorded, and for once I am delighted about that. The audience were great, and asked some very cool questions afterwards. My talk was on Non-Verbal Communication skills and called ‘Listen with your Eyes‘. Here’s the video.
Antony Marcano‘s keynote was a gentle introduction to the day. It was a collection of anecdotes about how he got to where he is today. These linked together to show why we should all treat our job titles as temporary labels that describe a role we are fulfilling right now. They shouldn’t be boxes from which we pull only the skills we need for this role alone. We all do many things, and can do many things. Using more of our skills brings more value to the companies for whom we work, and more satisfaction to ourselves.
I got some great metrics ideas from Mattia Battiston. Mattia had so much data and experience from his own teams he probably could have filled an extra time slot! Lots of great, thought-provoking ideas there.
Pedro Gustavo Torres gave an account about how Scrum-And is great, but Scrum-But is easy to slip into. Much of what he talked about was really interesting. Unfortunately I was so keen to see his talk I didn’t take into account that I had just given mine. After a talk, I find I need a little while to de-compress. As a result of ignoring my own good advice, I didn’t get as much out of this talk as I had hoped. This is entirely my fault and not Pedro’s at all. I look forward to watching the video.
The other stand-out talk for me was by Edward Scotcher, who talked about how critical it is for businesses to have a clear direction. His talk about choices are killing our businesses looked at why narrowing down the choices we have, makes it much easier to make a good choice. For all of us dealing with business visions and product owners, this is definitely a talk to watch!
My favourite talk
I think the talk I most enjoyed was Louise Elliott‘s ‘Punishment Driven Development‘. At Lean Agile Scotland a couple of weeks ago, Louise had been asked to cut her 40 minute talk down to a 15 minute version (as was I). Having seen this short version and really enjoyed it, I was curious to see Louise give the full talk here.
I am so glad I did, as it was great talk with some lovely audience interaction (and some questionable facebook friends!).
Its definitely worth making a bee-line for this talk if you see Louise giving it again anywhere else.
What was great about Agile Tour London 2016?
Just like Wroclaw Agile Day there was a break after every talk. This was not just great for socialising, it also gave me time to internalise the talk I had just seen before I swept off into the next one.
I have no direct evidence, but I strongly suspect I learn and retain more information when I consume it in this way.
Unlike most conferences, there was no ‘speakers dinner’ before the event, or afterwards for that matter. This meant there was no pre-arranged social vehicle to meet and chat, other than the conference itself. Initially I felt this was a missing piece.
What I found instead though, was a wonderfully informal collection of speakers and attendees. These were the people who, after the conference finished, just wandered along to a near by pub and chatted over a few beers.
I make it sound a little less raucous than it actually was, because it wasn’t quiet at all! The conversations I was part of were certainly varied and interesting, and the people were even more so.
Agile Tour London had a different vibe to other conferences I have been to this year. It wasn’t so much ‘a community’ as it was ‘a collective’. A collaborative, learning environment: Student-y in all the best ways 🙂