Oh man, what a conference, I am just destroyed as you can see.
AgileDevPractices 2013 has been the first edition of an excellent conference. It was a big surprise for me when Jose Díaz from Diaz & Hilterscheid asked me to select the talks from the many proposals received. I was also responsible for the major part of the program. I didn't choose the keynotes and some other talks. Fortunately the conference has been very successful in my opinion, given that it's the first edition. I have learned a lot and most importantly, I've met incredible people.
I landed in Berlin on Sunday to have dinner with my good friend Vicenç García-Altés, enjoy Potsdam's beer (Potsdamer Stange) and get ready for my workshop on Monday. The workshop went very good thanks to the energy and effort of the attendees.
The speaker's dinner on Monday was very nice. It was close to the hotel so we saved a lot of time that was used for hanging out. I remember very interesting and fun conversations with many speakers. Back in the hotel's bar conversations kept going till midnight.
The dinner on Tuesday was very special too. Two awesome actors performed theater in front of us improvising the scenes based on notes written by us (the audience). I was specially lucky because they asked me to participate on a particular part. I had to move my arms and hands as if they were his. I had an incredible time over there in the stage, a lot of fun. I could have been performing for a long time. This man made it sooo easy for me to move.
The food and wine was lovely. People were willing to meet new people and jumping from one table to another to join conversations. Everybody was very opened to have conversations about business, practices, experiences or just funny jokes. This has been in my opinion the greatest point in this conference. Everyone got the chance to do a lot of productive networking.
Having no planned activity on Wednesday was a great opportunity. The day after, during the lunch time, Vagif Agilov and Gaspar Nagy facilitated a very interesting BDD refactoring dojo, again as a non-planned yet excellent activity.
eBay has been one of the sponsors this time. They had a stand with very kind people, muffins and stickers and were there looking for talented agile developers. This is another good example of the many benefits one can get from attending this conference, ... exciting career opportunities! If you practice BDD/TDD regularly along with other XP practices and have also experiences with other agile methods, contact me and I can forward you to eBay for their teams in London or Berlin.
All the talks I attended to, were good for one reason or another. There were a few talks where the talk itself wasn't very good but then the questions and discussion made them very interesting. They keynotes were astonishing. I specially enjoyed the keynotes by Peter Saddington, Ellen Gottesdiener, Papa Chris Matts & Olav Maassen, and Pawel Brodzinski. And I really appreciated the fact that all of them got the time to hang out with me and others. It was not that they came in just for their keynote and run away right after. It was great talking to you guys!
All slides will be send to attendees soon. Some speakers have also published them, just search for the hashtag #agileDevPrac on twitter.
Can we do better next time?
Don't take me wrong, the conference was worth every single hour and penny. In fact, I feel that I need a week's holiday. However, we are agile, aren't we? And so now that the conference has finished is time to think retrospectively aiming to improve future editions.
Talks in the program were tagged with the level (beginner, advanced, expert). Some talks didn't match the tagged level according to attendees. I believe the level was defined by the speakers themselves but I can't ensure that in all cases. Considering that AgileDevPractices gathers top level experts from all over the world, as an attendee, I expect an advanced talk to tell me things that I (as a practitioner) can understand but still be innovative, teaching me something new. For an "expert" level session I would expect the speaker to treat me like an expert in the subject, meaning that he/she is bringing cutting-edge stuff. If I have to be selecting talks for next editions, I will ask speakers to justify why talks are tagged with "advanced" and "expert" levels.
The second thing we could improve are talks titles. I asked several people why did they choose the talks they attended to, and most of them said they just read the titles, not the descriptions. So titles are very important and they must be self-descriptive (like good code). If I have to be selecting talks for next editions, and I find a title which seems controversial or hard to understand, I will ask speakers to justify the title or change it. A speaker might be tempted to write an appealing title for her/his talk to grab the attention of the potential audience. However, for such an important conference I would ask for honest, clear and concise titles, rather than for marketing strategies. I don't say this happened many times in this edition though.
Last thing I remember we can improve is handling last-minute program changes. This time there were several speakers that couldn't come eventually so the printed program was outdated. The website was updated and there was a big printed and updated time table in the lobby, but still I felt some confusion sometimes. I think we can probably use a mobile application next time to keep everyone updated using phones.
I am wondering now whether it is possible to make the last day as energizing as the first one, because some of us were really tired at the end. Some speakers told me they prefer to talk in the first day rather than in the last one. How can we work around this? Any suggestions?
Thank you very much to all of you!
First of all, a big thanks to Jose, Madeleine and Uwe for their huge effort and the incredible opportunity they have given to me.
Second, to all attendees and speakers. I have met so many nice people that I am not going to write names in here, to avoid missing any of them. Because every single conversation has been important and fulfilling for me. I expect new professional collaborations to emerge from this encounters.
Hopefully I will see you in the Agile Dev Practices next year! 🙂
If you write a blog post about the conference, please let me know, I'll be happy to add a link here. Posts published so far:
- Inbetween talks, by Tony Bruce
- http://www.ymc.ch/en/agile-dev-practices-2013-review, by Fabian Kiss
- http://blog.lunarlogicpolska.com/2013/agiledevpractices-2013-trip, by Pawel Brodzinski
As I told to some people in Potsdam, remember that we are organizing an open space in the Canary Islands in June. It's a free community event. The perfect excuse to visit the canaries for holidays with you family. We are planning leisure activities. It starts the 21st, but in the afternoon, so you can still attend to the Test Automation Day in Rotterdam the 20th, and fly to Tenerife the next day 🙂 In case you want to know who is already planning to attend and show others that you are participating, join this list.
See you soon!