One cannot believe it, but it was third year of Agilia Conference, that is now over. I am tired and still full of emotions, processing outstanding papers, sitting over coffee, feedback forms and pictures and thinking what to do next and how. It is time for a quick retrospective.
I believe in need to modernize industry of Czech and Slovakia. I believe that adoption of new techniques of work is necessary to stay at competitive edge in changing globalized world. The purpose of the conference is to bring ideas and knowledge from various business areas so people can learn and adopt ultimate practices. Through our slogan of “Three Faces of Agility” we aimed at collaboration among isolated independent “kingdoms” in corporate word. And further we wanted to encourage these kingdoms and get them engaged to contribute small bit of knowledge from their particular domain toward a success of the whole – be it small business or large enterprise.
“Did we succeed?” – Is my thought. Let us know. I am writing now how I saw the event and it may be also a bit subjective. I say it ahead.
When we started organizing conference, we have never been thinking about 300 people. We have exceeded this number and I would like to thank to all of you, who have helped us to make it happen. I feel it as your great support to what we do and why we do. Such quantity also brought to us many problems, which we haven’t anticipated before. We dealt with it and fixed most of them.
Every year many people approached me regarding quality of speakers. Mostly in positive way, sometimes in negative way or with mixed opinions. I try to understand what is behind their feeling and expectation. I see in my observation that from the speakers is expected to make show first hand. Content is just secondary. Presentations with great deal of showmanship were much better perceived than those very valuable presented by less performers. It is sad observation. It is not feasible to verify quality of presentation from speakers ahead, and it is also not the point. Speakers are selected according to content we want to deliver. They are interviewed so we can guarantee they know what they are talking about. People we have invited are mostly very special persons. They all are distinguished in some way, very strong personalities, sometimes very hard to deal with. Not all of them are heavy extroverts willing to show themselves. But in all cases they have something unique to say.
Agilia is also to inspire people which are in various levels of “agility”. Visitors should find also “easier” topics to be able to cope with their level of involvement. I am proud we were again able to present many experts from the front line. Those, who have something to say, have interesting experience, but normally are not speaking at conferences. We found them, convinced them to come and share with us what they know. It may happen, and often will, that their expertise with presentation in public is rather limited but it is excusable in this case.
I am glad we could welcome 4 authors of books concurrently. I am not sure if this normally happens at any other place. And we had opportunity to show two of them, which were printed just recently so we have succeeded with presenting ultimate content. One of my foreign friends mentioned, that these names would not be possible to get together in London for a single event and that this really makes conference very valuable. Thank you.
Why particular topics? What does have Beyond Budgeting to do with Agile? Was the audience appropriate? Well, I think it was. We try to open topics, which must be heard. These are not always which are cool, but indeed, which MUST be heard. Period.
Do we care about quality of requirements? It is all about purpose. We should. I guess Tom did a great job so at least some of us will care tomorrow. By the way, did you notice it is the essence of every business? Great surprise that for majority it was completely new perspective!
What does it mean financial management for developers? Well, Agile is a managerial style. A new managerial style for knowledge based economy. It is not something just for developers. And it requires broader knowledge from all of us. We need T-shaped people. That is the reason we should care. Strictly narrow specialization is for insects, we are all human here, and in business. We should care what managers do, what other departments do, because success depends on efficient collaboration. Did we miss somebody here? Yes, indeed. Representatives of “other” departments were absent. We have invited them – finance, top management, marketing or human resources. And here we failed. (Well, not completely – some CFOs joined the event which is really enormous success.) I think it is due to serious problems our organizations have with vertical communication. While it will be considered impolite and often offending to communicate up to next few layer of hierarchy, we will continue facing trouble in business.
Can government go Agile? Or should Agile be at government? Let consider, government as a service to people. Wouldn’t it be a nice idea? Current attempts to regulate government institution are source of big trouble. Government environment is currently not attractive for any talented people to be part of it and improve it for better. Brian showed us few examples, that things starts changing in the world – at least at “doing Agile” side. What to do to change governments here? You are all tax payers, you all have your right to vote. Change this system! How does it relate to Agile? Agile is about self-accountability. In your work and also in outside work activities. Look at your region or town, what can be done.
Planning is important but life is changing. Agile is about inspect and adapt quickly. And we did. In the conference day, less than 45 min prior start, we have got 3 cancellations from speakers. Or better said, 2 cancellations and one no show without warning. Here I ask myself, isn’t one of Scrum values TRUST, and another one COMMITMENT? I will not argue with reasons. I promise, I deliver. Period. In spite of this accident, program went smoothly and we were able to recover without interruption. Thank you to all for assistance and I apologize to all who felt offended. We haven’t anticipated such situation and we will have to. On the other hand, it also indicates what level of Agility we have in Agile community. There is still a lot of work ahead to make it better.
I was surprised, but it seems companies have had some difficulties to present their own product or tool in action. To me seems to be easier to present tangible item to semiskilled users on how to examples. You can touch it, you can feel it, you can see it and you LIVE it – in Action! Your problems originates from your daily operations and you fix them on daily basis, so why it is so difficult to present your routine? But maybe I am wrong.
We have created space to make networking happen, both physical and in timing. I am not sure, if you have utilized it to its full potential. Going to conference means meeting with people, especially with those unknown to us before. It also means sharing experience, discussing, looking after new opportunities and ideas. Space, good food and encouraging presentation create ideal environment. Being encircled by own colleagues or friends it does not make any sense at such events. How many new contacts have you gained? How many new business opportunities have you got? From feedback form I see that not many. Shell we focus in Agilia to teaching how to network and why it is important?
I enjoyed atmosphere, it was indeed cool and energizing. I believe, it was a great source of inspiration for you and that everyone found something for himself, that make him think in upcoming days.
Just as a curiosity, for the first time we were facing the attempts of criminal activity, counterfeit bank and travel documents and also engagement of police. I hope this is not the trend.
What about the future?
In May we will start preparing new round. We will try to make it even better. We pay very strong attention to your feedback and will also appreciate your additional comments and suggestions. So again, if you have some suggestions and ideas, feel free to contact us and share with us, we listen. And I hope next year will be different. I count with your active participation.
On behalf of organization team, thank you very much again for your participation and looking forward to see you at Agilia 2014.
About author: Michal Vallo helps companies deploy agile techniques and improve performance. He is agile trainer, coach and manager at Aguarra and founding member of Agilia community and organizer of Agilia Conference.