What’s New for Agile2021

July 19 – 22  |  Online

What's New for Agile2021

If you’ve been to an Agile20XX event before you know it’s an amazing conference where people from all over the world come together to discuss the latest in all things Agile ranging from technical to management topics and everything in between. After making the difficult decision to cancel Agile2020, we quickly began planning the next iteration of our favorite conference. Even with all of the talk of vaccines and the hope that comes along with them, we know we’re not out of the COVID-19 woods yet. In response to this, we’ve changed up the conference quite a bit for 2021 and we’re hoping this will give you an overview of some of the changes we’re making for next year. 


For those of you who don’t like to read (present company included), here’s a summary of the changes outlined on this page. If you want to know the gory details, keep on reading. You’ll find them below.


Topic Agile20XX Agile2021
Format On-premise Online
Live Content U.S.-centric Multiple time zones
Diversity People with the means to travel People with an Internet connection
Duration 4.5 days/8 hours a day 4 days/4 hours a day
Session Type: Talks 75 minutes 30 minutes (pre-recorded) + 20 minute live Q&A
Session Type: Workshop 75 minutes 50 minutes
Tracks Approximately 15-20 Approximately 3-4
Content Organization Tracks Playlists
Submission Deadlines Single Deadline (3) Iterations

We’re focusing on an entirely online experience

Agile Alliance was founded by and thrives by virtue of its community. The Agile20XX annual conference has been the primary mechanism for bringing that community together year after year to expand and promote Agile values and principles. Protecting the health and wellbeing of our community is critical to the success of the organization. With global cases of COVID-19 still surging, we felt it would be best to pivot the on-premise conference and go fully online for Agile2021. While we will miss meeting our new community members and re-connecting with our long-timers in person, going virtual does create new opportunities for improving the diversity of our content and building new interaction models.


Agile2021 will better represent the community we serve

As much fun as it is to bounce around the hallways of a conference venue, travelling to spend a week at an in-person event can be cost prohibitive for many would-be attendees.  Virtual conferences, on the other hand, eliminate many barriers to access — broadening the reach of the conference itself. While a virtual event certainly makes access easier, it doesn’t necessarily make it convenient. Logging on at 3:00 AM to watch your favorite speaker’s session because you live in a different area of the world isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of a good time. That’s why this year we’re taking a couple of different approaches to improve your experience. First, talks will be recorded and available to you for playback at any time during the event. This allows you to view content at your convenience rather than trying to adapt your schedule to align with that of the conference.

In addition to making the content accessible through the Agile Alliance content library after the conference [with the All Access Pass], we’re hosting live sessions in three different time zones this year and featuring local speakers in each time zone. This gives you live content from your peers available to you at a time that doesn’t require you to work strange hours. Our live events are tentatively planned to be held in the following time zones:

  • US (CDT)
  • UK (WEST)
  • Hong Kong (HKT)

While these time zones are subject to change, one thing isn’t: Agile2021 will “follow the sun” for the first time in its history.

Combating “Zoom fatigue”

We all know how tough it is to be online for 8 hours a day, and that’s why we’re making an effort to ensure that doesn’t happen to you this year now that we’re going virtual. To combat this, we’re shortening a few things. Firstly, we’ve reduced the session length to 50 minutes from 75 minutes, with talks being shortened to 30 minutes (see the next paragraph for the details). In addition, we’ve limited the live content to three sessions per day, allowing you to share your day with both Agile20XX activities and other important work.

Same general content, format tailored for an online audience

There are still two primary types of content at the conference: Talks and workshops. We’ve tweaked the way they will be handled this year at the conference — here’s a look at how things have changed:


You’ve probably been to talks at previous Agile20XX conferences as well as others and know they’re a staple of the conference circuit. We’ll have talks again this year, but with a twist. Each talk will be 30 minutes long and pre-recorded. While the recording is playing, the speaker for that session will be live online responding to audience questions. Once the 30-minute session is complete, the speaker will host a live 20-minute Q&A session about the content. Talks are solo presentations, no co-presenters. We’ve chosen this format to reduce the number of technical issues that can detract from the attendee experience while still providing the level of speaker interaction that you’ve come to expect at the Agile20XX conference.


Good old fashioned talks are great, but sometimes you just want to get your hands dirty. That’s where the workshops come into play. Workshops are activity-based sessions where attendees learn together through a series of facilitated exercises led by the presenter. Please keep in mind that we’re looking for exercises that require some sort of work and not merely, “Talk about this topic in a small group and report back.” While workshops haven’t changed much, we’ve shortened them to 50 minutes (the same duration as the talks) and they will be conducted live rather than pre-recorded. If you’re submitting a workshop to Agile2021, we strongly encourage you to clearly think through how you intend to facilitate the participants and let us know in your submission how many attendees you think you can handle. If you would like a second person to help facilitate your workshop, detail how the two of you will work together to present the content.

During our in-person conferences, we’ve got all kinds of other activities including Keynotes, the Agile Alliance Lounge, Lean Coffee sessions, and more. We’re in the process of lining up these activities, so you can count on plenty of ways to interact with your peers during the event.

From tracks to playlists

In addition to the move from on-premise to virtual, we’ve made some changes to the traditional track structure you may be used to. We’ve simplified from around 15-20 tracks down to only three or four. These tracks are People, Process, Technical, and Experience Reports. We’ve made this change to simplify the submission process and, given that much of the content is online and pre-recorded, we feel that we may be able to create “playlists” after all the content has been confirmed. A playlist like “Leveling up your ScrumMaster skills” can be more tailored to an attendee’s individual learning needs than a more generic track such as “Collaboration, Culture, and Teams”. We believe that deferring track definitions until the “last responsible moment” will help us improve the experience for speakers and attendees alike. 

We hope this information is useful to you when trying to figure out just how Agile2021 will compare to previous Agile20XX conferences and we can’t wait to (virtually) see you in July!


Co-Chairs : Bernie Maloney & Joanna Vahlsing


As Agile practitioners, we aim to create teams and environments that foster high performance. That laudable goal engages skills and approaches from several domains. How do we enable Leadership at all levels? Ensure human interactions and impactful collaboration? Or nurture our ability to Learn, ideally fast, as we inspect & adapt? And, how can Coaching and Mentoring accelerate an organization’s ability to Respond to Change over Following a Plan?

This track focuses on the individuals and interactions, the People as well as their ways of working. Learn how to engage the curiosity that may be buried in your organization; to build trust and psychological safety even between dispersed people; to leverage feedback and facilitation to make space for greater effectiveness. Come, discover not only how to confront and address the challenges in an emergent environment, but begin to thrive amidst them.

The People program has previously been home to tracks like Coaching & Mentoring, Workplace Culture, Leadership, Self-Care, Teaming, Maximizing Learning, but submitters need not be limited by these categories. (And if you’re not sure which 2021 track is the best fit for you, just ask.)


Co-Chairs: Cheryl Hammond & Itopa Sule


Twenty years ago, the Agile Manifesto and its Twelve Principles set out a vision and ideals that we have chased and debated hotly ever since. Are they still relevant? Do they “work”? What did they miss?

The Process track exists to consider what happens when the principles of agility intersect with scale and over time, e.g.:

  • In teams, and teams of teams
  • In organizations of all sizes, from startup to large to supermassive multinational
  • Across roles, from specialist to generalist, and in matrixed reporting structures
  • As “IT” and “product” and “the business” become increasingly interdependent, perhaps indistinguishable, because “every company is a software company”
  • In all manner of sectors and industries, private and public, for-profit and non-profit and governmental
  • When timeboxed cadences and/or continuous flow meet budgeting cycles, earnings calls, and market rhythms
  • As new practitioners enter the workforce, as experienced ones move on, as new leaders emerge, as outdated systems linger

What are the practices – tried and true, or new and innovative – that make agility work in these contexts? How do we adopt and adapt them? What and how do we learn? What outcomes can we deliver?

The Process program has previously been home to tracks like enterprise agile, customers & products, project-program-portfolio management, agile companies, and agile in government, but submitters need not be limited by these categories. (And if you’re not sure which 2021 track is the best fit for you, just ask.)


Co-Chairs: Doc Norton & Cat Swetel


There is a wealth of new Agile tools, techniques, patterns, and practices. In the Technical Track, you’ll learn how to best support and evolve your Agile engineering behaviors and habits in light of these new capabilities and emerging technologies.

Agile is now a multidisciplinary field that includes Developers and QA, UX Designers, Infrastructure Engineers, Data Scientists, Cloud Specialists, and more.
Practitioners from all involved disciplines will address advances, new challenges and new directions, learn from world-class experts, and practice our craft together.

This track will explore topics including, but not limited to:

  • New and updated core Agile development practices
  • The integration of user experience (UX) principles
  • Advances in testing practices and automation
  • The evolution of tools and techniques that bridge development, deployment, security, and operations
  • The growing importance of data and intelligence across the entire spectrum of activities

Experience Reports

Co-Chairs : Rebecca Wirfs-Brock & David Kane

Experience Reports

Experience Reports help us understand how agile really works, challenges encountered, and how agile approaches evolve. As we reflect on the 20 years since the Agile Manifesto was created, we want to hear stories from all parts of the globe on a wide range of topics. We are interested in both stories told by experienced agilists, recounting the most recent chapter of their agile journey as well as those from reporters newer to agile practices, sharing their insights and learning.

Proposals accepted into this track will require authors to write a 6 to 8 page experience report that will be published at https://www.agilealliance.org/resources/experience-reports/. Authors will receive help from a shepherd to help them craft the report. In addition, authors will present a short 15 minute version of their report on the day of the conference and participate in a Q&A session.

What sessions in this track all have in common is that the reporters share both first-hand accounts as well as personal reflections.