Home, again, from Agile 2011
It’s been a wonderful, busy week in Salt Lake City at the Agile 2011 Conference. It was great to see so many friends and to make new ones. I had an incredible number of fascinating conversations.
This weekend I was saddened, though not surprised, by the number of tweets with complaints about the conference, often tweeted by people who didn’t go. To paraphrase Yogi Berra
Nobody goes to the Agile Conference anymore. It’s too crowded.
It’s true that the Agile Conference doesn’t have a tight, narrow focus. It casts a wide net and is as inclusive as possible. This means that, no matter what your interest, it doesn’t concentrate on that. This means that it’s almost certain to have more interesting sessions than you can possibly attend. On top of that, there are many interesting conversations and side-sessions in Open Jam and in the hallways that are often worth as much or more than the sessions. It’s an embarrassment of riches.
I no longer worry about the things that I’m missing. Instead, I concentrate on the fact that my time there is bringing me value. I can’t optimize the value I receive, but I can use the “Law of Mobility” to get up and go somewhere else if I’m not getting enough value. This year, I found I rarely had to do that. Even when I wanted a bit of peace and quiet, I got sucked into valuable conversations. Even walking down the hall, I got sucked into Jim Shore and Arlo Belshee’s “Stages of Practice: the Agile Tech Tree.”
It was a conference of connecting ideas for me. The Agile Tech Tree session tied right into the levels of proficiency from Willem Larsen’s “Fluency over Proficiency: Accelerating Agile Learning and ‘Hunting Fluency’.” Barbara Fredrickson’s keynote, ” Why Care about Positive Emotions?” contained many key points that dovetailed with my workshop on ” Team Swarming–Why and How.” (
Those in my session know there were no slides, but I’ll be uploading the flipcharts we generated in the workshop. I’ve uploaded the flipcharts, as well as the slides I didn’t use.)
Yes, I missed many, many sessions that I would like to have seen. Sometimes I missed sessions not because of the conference design, but because of the limitations of my own body.
To be sure, there are things that could be improved about the conference. That’s always true. Every year, the current organizers hold a retrospective to notice things they want to change, or continue, in the next year. As Linda Rising says, “We are all a work in process.” It’s futile to ever expect optimization of a system composed of people, though. And this conference is an extremely distributed work by many volunteers, some of whom are new to the process. There are a wide variety of goals among those who work to put on the conference. Far from being disappointed in its imperfections, I’m amazed at how it soars.
But now the conference is over and I’m back at home. There are many things I want to pursue while the ideas and passion are fresh. There are two ideas, especially, that I’d like to collaborate with others who have passion in the same area.
- Applying the ideas and techniques from Willem Larsen’s Language Hunting to learning and training Agile concepts and techniques.
- Exploring team swarming and collaborative team formation.
If you have passion and energy in these areas, please contact me, and let’s see where we can go with it. And if you want to stay in touch less energetically, sign up for my occasional email newsletter.