Agile2021: Responding to Change Over Following a Plan

Agile2021 Conference

When the co-authors of the Agile Manifesto defined adaptivity and responsiveness as one of the foundations of Agile, they could not possibly have foreseen everything that 2020 is throwing at us.

It seems the only constant in 2020 has been waking up each and every morning wondering, “So what new absurdity is going to happen today?!” The tidal wave of daily surprises shows little indication of ebbing before year’s end.

It’s been a year of many unexpected — and often unwelcome — changes.  We were heartbroken at having to cancel deliver:Agile2020 and then Agile2020 because of the COVID19 pandemic. Both conference teams had put tremendous effort into designing exceptional programs and great in-person conference experiences, and we really didn’t feel it would do those events justice to jam them onto an online platform on short notice, even at the risk of disappointing our community.

The good news is that planning for Agile2021 is underway, though we are in an environment of considerable uncertainty around what will even be possible.  Agile2021 will mark the 20th anniversary of Agile Alliance, and we’re hoping to make it an extra-special gathering. Because Agile Alliance has hosted a series of successful Agile20XX conferences, our team is accustomed to following a well-defined path in terms of pulling it all together. One of the more interesting opportunities we have in planning Agile2020 is the need to take a more Agile approach overall than in past years, given how little is certain and how much the environment is changing around us.

Agile2021 Planning Team
Agile2021 Planning Team: Top L-R: Kevin Stevens, Ellen Grove, Pam Hughes – Middle L-R: Brandon Carlson, Diane Shapiro, Tarah McMaster – Bottom L-R: Yvonne Dewar, Dana Pylayeva, Jessica Small

Amid all of the uncertainty, however, there are a few things we do know for sure. We have an Agile2021 programme team: Brandon Carlson is the Agile2021 conference chair, and Dana Pylayeva and Kevin Stevens are on the Program Team. Our long-time event planning partners Elastic Communications + Events are keeping us updated regarding the emergent options as the event landscape changes in the wake of the pandemic.

We have a venue for and are planning an in-person Agile2021 event (keeping our fingers firmly crossed in hope that gathering in person will be possible next summer!). With a conference of this scope, it is necessary to contract with venues 3-4 years in advance and we are working closely with the Gaylord Rockies in Denver to understand what will be possible given the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 restrictions in the area. While working with the Gaylord helps us understand what is possible on-site, we know that the conference attracts people from all over the world. For this reason, we’re also following public health advisories and national and international travel updates very closely — our foremost concern is the well-being of all participants.

Of course, the core planning team is also considering what options we have for creating an online experience alongside an in-person event. One challenge is that what makes Agile20XX special for many of us are the interactions that happen outside of presentation spaces — meeting up with old friends at the end of the day, a chance conversation with an Agile luminary in a coffee lineup, or making new friends over the lunch table. Sharing content online is relatively straightforward; it’s a much bigger challenge to create spaces for hallway chats, parties, and other serendipitous interactions in a virtual venue. Given what we know today, we’re making an assumption that Agile2021 will have both in-person and online elements, but to be completely transparent we’re still exploring how that might work. We’re investigating options and keeping as many as possible open until the last responsible moment.

Agile 2021 planning is happening, though there are many assumptions that need to be tested, and each question that arises seems to spawn more additional questions than answers. As we figure out what will be possible, we’ll continue to update the Agile2021 event page with new developments. In the meantime, if you have specific questions you’d like to see addressed, please drop us a note at [email protected].  In the meantime, please continue to block off July 19-23 2021 in your calendar – it will be great to see you there!

This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They may not represent the opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.

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Ellen Grove

Ellen Grove

Ellen Grove is the Interim Managing Director of Agile Alliance. Based in Ottawa, Canada, Ellen has been working in software development for over 20 years, moving from software testing to user-centered design to managing development teams to Agile coaching and training. Ellen is an Agile Coach, trainer and facilitator who works with organizations of all sizes - from startups to multinationals - to help them find more effective ways of working based on Lean and…

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