For many years now, I have written something about my experience at the Agile Alliance 20xx conference. I have attended this conference every year since Agile2007. Minus Agile2020 but no one could attend that year! Yet, each time I am surprised by what I experience. Normally, I write this post on the last day or over the weekend. But this time I needed a few extra days to process everything, including the interactions at Scrum Gathering, Techwell, and bonus visits during a trip to Europe. I’m still not sure this completely conveys all the emotions but it’s the best that I have right now…
First the things I expect and yet always impress me each year:
- 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. Purple shirts rock!
- The Agile Alliance, Program Team, and Organizers – Thank you. I know how much work leads up to and during this week. The energy, passion, and focus on experiments came through loud and clear. Mad respect!
- The speakers came to play this year. As usual, new insights/ideas were plentiful from the keynotes to the speakers to the lean coffee participants. The speaker I heard the most things about was Beth Andres-Beck. So I will be keeping my eyes open for the next chance to hear Beth share.
A big realization for me this year:
- There really is a benefit to the 5 days! I didn’t arrive until super late Tuesday night (normally I arrive on Sun morning). Trying to squeeze in all of the interactions in just a few days was extremely overwhelming. I didn’t take my normal lunch naps and between that and the jet lag, I felt super old and called it early in the evenings (ok midnight, but still). I need all of the days to be able to really connect with people. Some I just got a quick hello and hug, which I’m not dismissing. I appreciated every single hug.
But this year, my only official responsibility was to speak on Thursday morning. So unlike in years past when I have focused on various details, I’m going to spend extra time on two particular elements: speaking and people.
I was nervous to speak. Yes, I was nervous to speak. I never get nervous about speaking (writing yes, speaking – nope). This was a new session, one that was focused on content from my new book, Lead without Blame. I got to the room assigned and many were eating breakfast there. So there was no way to gauge how many would be staying the minute I started talking. To have a mostly full room of over 300 people, gave me an energy rush. Instantly, all the nerves were good and I just felt back in my comfort place. Things just flowed – the stories, the humor, the vulnerability, the content, the engagement, etc. I was easily feeding off the energy and reactions in the room. The buzz from the conversations had me smiling. The room had familiar and new faces that just brought me joy. I was even able to honor a few people in the content stories (thanks Diana, Linda and Christy). I had the support of people grabbing me water when mine went missing (thanks Jake and a person I do not know your name but am grateful for). But there were moments that I can’t quite explain that gave me this feeling that people I wished were here, were. Gil Broza quietly passed a written compliment to me during an activity – I’m so grateful for your continued support but you also had no idea that in doing this gesture, you brought Dave Hussman into that session too. He was the last person to pass me a note and as I read yours, I felt today’s support and the support over all of the past years. As the session ended, something I had not expected, a few people stood to applaud. Now I’m uncomfortable sharing that (feels like bragging) but I’m forcing myself to because what it did at that moment is remind me to my core, why I speak… to help others feel less alone and for me to feel less alone in this world of imposter syndrome and complexity. I teared up. That’s not shocking in itself but the tears were for realizing things I was afraid were gone forever after COVID – are still very much a possibility. Connection. Learning. Laughter. Care.
And all of that was possible because of people. I think I’ve mentioned that when you have gone to these conferences for a while, these can feel like reunions. I lit up each time I saw a new face. I cried with several hugs. I even almost peed myself from excitement a few times. I knew I needed to be with others. What I didn’t realize I needed was to feel their excitement to be with me. With people I’ve known for many years, I felt seen and valued. And with people that I had only met on zoom, I felt relief and excitement to finally really interact. And with people that I had the pleasure of meeting, I felt appreciated and happy to be creating new connections. I got surprises. I got 1-1 time. I got to see friends shine. I got to remember people with others. I got to dance and sing together. I got to observe and watch people own their abilities. I got to be with people. My soul needed this. My soul needed these people. People that understand me. People that support me. People that challenge me. People that make me have hope in humanity.
Please know that every interaction big or small was very important to me. Dealing with uncertainty and disappointment is hard, but the people this week gave me strength for what lies ahead. I am eternally grateful.
Agile2022 was worth every single minute. I’m already counting down to Agile2023.
Do you have any Agile2022 thoughts to share?
PS. I didn’t take many photos (just not a habit I’m been in lately) but here are a few that I took. How do I have no photos with Jake Calabrese and Peter Green?! This is unacceptable!!!