At the end of every Agile Conference, we hold a retrospective (of course!).
The conference chair, program, and track chairs, marketing, etc., all take part. One of the recurring items from previous years has been that we should “treat the program like an Agile product”. This year of embracing uncertainty over following a plan presents an opportunity to do just that.
Travel restrictions, vaccine availability, and social distancing policies are the primary sources of uncertainty for Agile2021. These uncertainties cascade to not knowing how many people will be able to either attend or present in Denver. Barring another total lockdown, we will be at the Gaylord Rockies July 19-23, 2021. The most significant change we are making in response to uncertainty is building and releasing the program iteratively. We are planning a virtual component for the conference, which will be the topic of an upcoming post.
Typically we would release an extensive list of tracks under each of the three main programs: Technical, People, and Process. Each program would have 6-7 tracks underneath it and you would submit sessions to those tracks for evaluation. This year, we are pulling submissions up one level in the hierarchy: potential speakers will submit to Technical, People, and Process, and the track chairs will evaluate and recommend proposals there. Then, in conjunction with the program team, we will sort them into tracks, and announce that iteration of the program. We will receive submissions continuously during this time and release new iterations of the program as both quality submissions and demand for the conference allow.
The switch to having fewer submission buckets is one we had previously discussed. The main reason is that picking all the tracks in advance screens out submissions that do not fit into those buckets. In addition, there were a lot of internal discussions and churns about what track a talk fit into. We feel confident that this change would have been a good one in pre-pandemic times and fits current events even better.
On behalf of the program team, we are looking forward to your attendance and your submissions for Agile2021.