I saw someone tweet that they were having #agile2014 withdrawl. I can completely relate. Yet, it occurred to me that I get so wrapped up in exploring and implementing ideas generated from the conference, that I haven’t stopped to reflect on the actual attending of the conference. I’ve personally wide range of after Agile 2014 posts. Some that were inspired and happy and some not so happy.
This is why I keep coming back:
- Discussions. Some people will say attending a conference like Agile 2014 is equivalent to just drinking the Agile Kool-Aid. However, that’s not my experience. For every conversation that supports an opinion of mine, I’ve also had great conversations about differences in opinion. I don’t necessarily know which is the right side but that’s not what I care about (not sure there even is a right side). I love the points (pros and cons). I love the thoughts and considerations. I love the examples. These discussions help me to reflect and think for myself…evolve the solution that what works best for me and my situation.
- Sessions. I can count on one hand, the number of times that I didn’t learn something new in a session. Sometimes, new ideas form that are a slight tangent from the session topic. Sometimes, I get validation/support for ideas that have already been forming in my head. If we want to continue to evolve, we need to collaborate and learn from others. And this is what I was guilty of early, I would judge an entire session on how much I already knew. What I learn is my responsibility. If I do have more experience than the speaker, I should be able to extrapolate and evolve (in my head) ideas, etc. Yes there are times that I can’t make this happen but they are now few and far between. We need to learn from others – I just had to open my mind more.
- Access. I have not met a more friendly group of people. Every speaker I wanted to chat with after an inspiring session, made me feel like I wasn’t bothering them at all. I now actively encourage people to meet as many people as they can; don’t be intimated because they are speakers, book author or conference organizers, etc. They are people and really are open to as much interaction as possible.
- Laughter. Diana Larsen mentioned in her keynote…this is her tribe. I immediately understood and couldn’t agree more. I am so lucky to have developed friendships that for one week each year we come together for learning, for growing, for tasty beverages, for dancing and for laughter. This week, I was inspired, came up with several new ideas, played various games, danced all night, attended lean coffee and lean tequila, and I laughed. I laughed a ton this week with old and new friends…that’s just plain good for the soul!
What I’m hoping to improve:
- Getting to more sessions. As a conference organizer, it’s hard to ensure your track’s sessions are all set plus decide what schedule you want. Now most of the time, this is not an issue as the sessions on the track are intriguing to me but it’s hard to focus and be present when you are thinking about where you have to be next. I used trello a ton for this conference and it helped but I still managed to miss a meeting when I did get too focused in on a session’s material (Sorry Martin and Daryl!)
- Bringing more new people (especially those at the conference alone) into the fold. A ton of my positives are more difficult for first time attendees. It doesn’t take much to help people feel included. However, when you are seeing people you haven’t seen in a year, it’s easy to focus in on catching up and accidentally creating a closed circle. Two incidents reminded me how important this is: I was going low-key and having dinner with 3 people one evening. A woman was standing there and we chatted just a little. She was just grabbing dinner to go back to her room. I invited her to join us. She has thanked me numerous times for that little invite. The other occurrence was on the dance floor. A group of us where dancing together. A woman came onto the dance floor but wasn’t sure where to dance…so I told her I loved her dress and pulled her into our circle. She found me later and thanked me for including her. Doesn’t take much but I need to continue to reach out and engage even more new friends.
I also decided to try an experiment while at Agile 2014. If you’ve never been to this conference, it’s hard to explain how you might feel and hearing it from just one person doesn’t do it justice. So I thought about what would be low effort/cost but helpful to get a glimpse into the value. I landed at asking various people how they “feel” after they just shared/presented or attended a session. I’m pretty happy with the result given:
- It was a low barrier to participate
- I got to meet a ton of new people
- It took only an hour to put the videos together (Camtasia Studio and no sound makes such a difference!)
- It makes me smile to read all the answers
I will probably do this again but with an actual legit camera (images are not sharp). Check them out here:
I just attended an Agile 2014 session, I feel… http://www.screencast.com/t/ugVGhHp6LSI
I just shared at Agile 2014, I feel… http://www.screencast.com/t/oQgAOX1yE
What would you keep/improve about Agile 2014?