As a program chair for Agile2016 (look Paul, I didn’t put a space in there!), I felt like I was going to the conference knowing what to expect – since I was also on the program team in 2015. For the most part, that was true, except there were several aspects that made this past week…well, extra emotional.
- My program team: Brian, Diane, David, Phil and the Elastic crew. It’s always a wonderful feeling when work doesn’t feel like work. When laughter and the good type of tears intermingle with the tough discussions about each experiment and issue raised. I’m proud to be a part of a team that supported this list of appreciations for Agile2016. Much love!
- Brian, our plans had changed at the start of the year. We thought we would have two more years together. Instead, knowing that this was the end as part of the conference was bittersweet. I could go on and on but I expressed the highlights in this month’s appreciation post.
- Volunteers, you get a ton of praise during the week and it doesn’t begin to touch the amount you deserve. You were not focused on the “I’m doing my 20 hours and done”, you were always finding ways to help. Personally, I’m grateful to the crews that helped me keep things calm when sessions were full.
- As usual, sponsors delivered in the most amazing ways. I heard constant comments about the fantastic events & swag throughout the week.
- Track chairs & teams, our goal was a quality program…achieved. Understanding and recommending session submissions is no easy task but the result made it feel as such. People couldn’t decide between sessions, multiple sessions were full, a variety of topics, etc. Thank you for supporting your track speakers!
- My teammates, Jake Calabrese – Peter Green- Peter Saddington. I didn’t have as much free time as I would want to just be present with this team at the conference but every single time I needed someone be it for celebration, support, dinner, etc…one or all of you were there. I cannot express how wonderful it is to be so proud of the people you work with!
- Jennifer Dyni: my forever teammate. I’m so ridiculously proud of you and love that our relationship remains strong even living states apart. I am so grateful that we are able to continue to bring our new worlds together at this conference…btw: Ultimate Software people ROCK! Thank you for everything in our past and everything still ahead for us!
- Brandon Carlson and Olav Maassen: You guys already know how much I look forward to this week for time with you both but I still had to call it out publicly! Thank you for always looking out for me!
- Ron and Chet, as a program chair – I can’t speak at Agile2016 but I can facilitate a Stalwart session. I was truly honored when you both asked me to facilitate your session. You guys did a fantastic job and supported me wearing the facilitator hat. I really enjoyed getting to be a part of the session. Thank you!
- Speakers, I’m no different than most of the conference attendees…I wanted to see so many of you. Every time I did peek into the room, I loved the energy and passion you had. The one I heard the most about and completely missed was Tamsen Mitchell…so you now have a friendly stalker in me until I get to experience your awesomeness 🙂
- Attendees, specifically anyone that I had to turn away from a full session. We select hotels years in advance and although we had enough seats for capacity of the attendance, there were so many rooms on the third floor that were smaller than we would have liked. We have already actively started investigating whether the hotel next year will be a challenge and what are some alternatives to aid in this issue. However, I should clearly state…I’m so very grateful to the individuals that understood – I’m hopeful that I pointed many of you to sessions that you were very happy with.
- Attendees, specifically anyone that approached me with feedback and questions. I know my phone goes nuts and I’m not always able to be as present as I want to be but I sincerely appreciate every effort. For those that I asked to follow up with me, I’ll be waiting to hear from you!
- Keynotes: Lately, I’ve experienced too many keynote speakers that fly in and right back out. Not this year. Everything from attending other sessions to engaging in the social events…truly wonderful to be able to connect and have people be accessible to the conference community.
- Previous Conference Chair Support: My week started with dinner with current and former program team members. My week ended playing Rummy with Paul and Brian – almost like a nonverbal passing of the torch. I feel very lucky to have so much support. Thanks Mitch, Kent, Paul, and Brian.
- Remembering Jean Tabaka: I knew that sharing and hearing other stories would be difficult. I truly underestimated how intensely I would feel my broken heart. As I felt the room closing in, my teammate Peter Saddington was suddenly by my side. I didn’t ask him, I didn’t need to. He knew and acted. Thank you my friend! I was so grateful to hear other stories of her inviting and caring ways. I was so grateful to let the tears flow as I hugged old and new friends. I was so grateful to release the emotions but with that came a price… I was absolutely drained. I was in bed by around 9:30 that evening. Luckily, I was mostly recovered by the next day but I still felt her void as the week continued.
- Collective Soul & Mike Cottmeyer: I’m not the biggest fan of Collective Soul. Nothing against them but I only knew two songs. I went to experience the event. What I gained was observing Mike, the look of euphoric happiness and amazement as he watched and as he NAILED playing Shine with them. I attempted to take a photo of it but just couldn’t capture the essence. Thank you Mike for giving us all a memory that will never be forgotten.
- Tribe: Diana Larsen expressed during a keynote (I think last year or the year before) – this was her tribe and I understood what she meant that day and I had a key feeling of this at multiple times during the week. The one I want to point out the most was after Collective Soul, I decided to open my suite up again for anyone. At one point, I entered the main area and I looked around. I saw people that I’ve known for so many years. I saw people that I met at a recent conference. I saw people that I met just this week. I saw track chairs. I saw volunteers. I saw speakers. I saw keynote speakers. I saw attendees. I saw conference org crew. Basically, I saw inclusiveness and happiness. So I was that annoying person that asked for one large group shot. You can’t see everyone in these two photos and 20 people or so had left just before this photo (wish I would have taken this before 1:30 a.m.). However, I think the photos still do justice to the feeling…the feeling that made me think…Jean would be proud of this.
- Experiments: Two major experiments for this year was Audacious Salon and Open Space on Friday. Neither were perfect but both proved that we need to keep going. I’ve got a to-do to schedule retrospectives to see how we inspect and adapt for next year!!!
- Engaging Conversations: I can’t even count the number of conversations where as we walked away, I’m glowing. Pure excitement for new ideas, happiness from appreciations, humbled and honored from being asked to discuss private issues that they are facing, and engaging discussions about what is next. I truly hope I continue to be a person that people feel comfortable to approach!
- Challenging Conversations: As a program chair, not all of my conversations get to be engaging and exciting. Some are extremely difficult. I didn’t experience 100% positive outcomes but the majority of them were difficult and then had a rewarding outcome. However, you know me, I hate that it was not 100%. I have a very hard time with lingering unresolved conflict for another and myself. Are they carrying the weight still? What could I have done differently? Could it have been avoided? Why did I get hurt so much too? I will fully admit that getting home and being attentive to my family has been difficult, as this weighs on me. I will continue to reflect and process.
- Reflective Conversations: I had many but a particular shout out to Jake Calabrese for helping me put into words (and begin the process of exploring) what happens when I want to be in responsibility but due to the situation I find myself reverted back to obligation where I am become deskilled. I see a blog post coming in the future.
- Supporting Conversations: As with leaders in companies, I’m not always able to explore, discuss, explain and sometimes even defend things that are happening. Yet, I’m human and impacted deeply. There were people that respected the confidentially of not understanding the situation but yet found ways to support me too. Despite only seeing some of these people once or a couple of times a year, it’s very clear that I’ve been surrounded by really amazing caring friends. Thank you!!!
- Dancing, as my legs and feet recover today – With everything from the week, I needed to dance!!!! Collective Soul dancing, Conference Session dancing like no one is watching (Paul and Dan turned out the lights for a few minutes to free people to dance), Conference party dancing and Karaoke afterparty dancing!
- Ideas for next year: I do have a ton of ideas for next year. I’ve heard many great ideas from others already. Normally, I would share them out right away but I want to work with the program team collaboratively so I don’t want to fully think out my thoughts right now. I promise to share later but a hint…room sizes, feedback volume, additional code of conduct visibility, and experiments modifications are just a few.
- For everyone that approached me with ideas and experiments, I look forward to discussing them in greater detail over the next few weeks/months. Thank you for you excitement and interest in helping to continue to improve this conference. If you have interest in helping with Agile2017, please submit your interest here.
- Agile2017: I always have a moment at the end of the conference when I’m so sad that the week is ending. I still had that feeling but I also acknowledged that I was gaining excitement as noon approached and I would be walking onto the stage as the Conference Chair for Agile2017. Right afterwards, my imposter syndrome tried to kick into gear…what if everyone thinks I’m not qualified? What if everyone thinks I shouldn’t be next year’s chair? What if there is a twitter storm that is targeted at me? Then I looked down at the first table…there was my teammate Peter Green, who had made a point to sit next to me for the ending. He’s recording this announcement and smiling away…and I was back experiencing the moment. Then as I walked back down the stage, people were approaching me and the thoughts were quickly disappearing. I am so humbled and honored to be next year’s chair. I promise to do everything I can to work with an amazing team of people to make Agile2017 an engaging and safe learning environment full of laughter and love :). But today, today I celebrate Agile2016!
If you have gotten to this point, thanks. I have been attending Agile Alliance conferences since I think 2007…what I gain today is different but just as important. So THANK YOU for an amazing week of learning, laughter, love and leaving it all out on the dance floor!!!
Do you have an Agile2016 thoughts?