I’ve been asked to continue to be a part of the Agile Alliance Program team for the Agile 2016 Conference in Atlanta. Since I’ve been transparent as a track chair and program chair in previous years, I want to continue this goal. Now the disclaimer is that this is my glimpse: former and future program chairs will think and potentially do things differently.
An early task to accomplish for each program chair is determining track chairs. For me this meant finding “pair-chairs” for these tracks:
- Coaching and Mentoring
- Collaboration, Culture and Teams
- New Track not named yet
As a program team, we targeted some general goals/guides in helping to select:
- One returning and/or previous year’s track chair for each track. This is to provide experience and knowledge in helping to achieve a solid program.
- One new track chair for each track. This is to provide new perspectives to help make this and future conferences awesome.
- New track chair candidates should have experience volunteering and/or reviewing. This is not a “promotion” but it helps to have had experience being a reviewer first before take the lead as a chair.
These were goals not mandates. We kept these targets in mind as we explored candidates. Where does the list of candidates come from. This year, I pulled from:
- Last year’s track chairs for returning options
- Previous years’ track chairs for experienced options
- At Agile 2015, we requested anyone interested in volunteering to contact someone on the program team. You had the option of volunteer, reviewer and/or track chair. This list was then reviewed.
- A list of the top reviewers from tracks given by last year’s track chairs.
- Additional candidates based on the collective program team’s experience working with different people.
Then it all starts to get a little fluid. It’s not a simple direct process. I focused first on determining the “returning/experienced” candidate for each of the four tracks. Choosing here is difficult but the options are more narrow, especially if you are starting with one returning. I tried to consider things such as is this their first time returning, what was the feedback on their contributions from the previous year (did they go to the retro, did they do reviews, etc) and there is an element of “how well would we work together” that is taken into consideration. I want to have fun while delivering quality work.
Once I have a candidate in mind, I reach out to them. I talk to them about their interest in being a pair-chair on this track for Agile 2015. However, it’s important to highlight that this is not a guarantee as things may change as we work to determine the pair-chair or final approval of the full committee from the board. If they express interest, then I add to my candidate list by inquiring if they have other names they would like to be considered.
Overall, this first step is not easy. There are a ton of names in that compiled list that I respect, that I would love to work with, and that would do a great job. There are just only so many spots 🙁
Then I focus in on the pair-chairs. I’m going to break this down a little by each of the tracks. Let’s do coaching and mentoring first. Brandon Carlson agreed to be returning chair on the track. I met Lisa Shoop several years ago during my very first time as a track chair. So when she approached me at Agile 2015 with interest to be a track chair, I was excited. One track done!
Let’s cover Leadership next. Don Gray agreed to be the returning chair. One of the candidates on the interested list was Cheryl Hammond. Cheryl had been a reviewer for several years and I found myself running into Cheryl at Agile 2015 quite a bit. No, not just at the parties but during sessions where she engaged and added to the speakers content. Upon talking with them both, they were interested. Another track done!
Onto Collaboration, Culture and Teams. Jean Dahl agreed to be the chair with former experience. Similar to the value of a reviewer moving to a different track, the thought was there would be value in having Jean move tracks. Since Jean was not a returning chair on this track, I decided that although the target was to have one new person per track, that this scenario might be better suited to having another former experienced chair. So I reviewed the list of interested track chair candidates and Gil Broza stood out, as a quality speaker and volunteer in past years. Two more track to go!
Next, Learning. Olav Maassen agreed to be the chair with former experience. Since Olav was not a returning chair on this track, I decided that although the target was to have one new person per track, that this scenario might be better suited to having another former experienced chair. Since Jason Tice did an amazing job with the help experiment, as a program team, we wanted to have him chair a track this year. So I asked him and he agreed to be the pair-chair. One more track to go!
Finally, a new track that has been added to the conference but not yet named. In this situation, we needed former track experience and individuals connected in the community to help define the track’s goal. Doc Norton agreed to be the chair with former experience. After reviewing the list of interested track chairs, George Dinwiddle seemed like such a natural fit here. They were both game to help experiment with this new track! Whew, done!
I now had a final proposed list of track pair-chairs. I still had a list of people that I wished I had more spots available but as with most things…this is the reality.
Now I didn’t independently submit my list. We are a team at the program level. We discussed if anyone needed to move, if we missed anyone that really should be considered, etc. Then we as a team submitted the final full program committee names.
I have no idea if anyone cares about this but I was once curious. So I’m sharing.
What would you be interested in learning more about with Agile 2016?