We as members of the AGILE2019 organizing team would like to shed some light on the behind-the-scenes roles that are involved in putting together an AGILE20XX conference and what it takes to keep it running smoothly. We hope from reading this and the next posts in the series, you will want to be involved in helping to shape future AGILE20XX conferences. If so, please leave us a comment below, find us at the conference, or complete this form.
As part of a review team, you will be guided by the track chairs about what the program is looking for that particular year. Then you will get to read some great submissions and help provide feedback (to those who request it) to help the submitter attract an audience and provide enough detail within the submission to enable your review team to evaluate it once it is ready. This role helps expose you to new perspectives and developments in the subject area. It also harnesses your coaching, mentoring, and reviewing skills to help shape a great program for the track, which typically covers diverse topics over varying levels of advancement. Engagement in this role enables you to receive a free 1-year Agile Alliance membership, providing access to a wealth of great material, as well as starting you on the path to other roles within the conference team if that is what you aspire to.
Here’s what some of our reviewers have to say about their experiences:
In 2017 I had the privilege of joining the Agile Alliance as a reviewer for the DevOps track with Samantha Lang, and even followed her to the Self-Care track this year for the 2019 conference. Having truly amazing servant leaders like Samantha leading these groups is what initially drew me in. Becoming a reviewer has challenged me as an Agile coach in providing valid, concise, and meaningful feedback. I love being a part of a community of individuals that wants to better themselves as Agile practitioners, as well as improving others through the submission process. If anyone is considering getting involved within the community in this way, I would strongly recommended it! The partnerships and knowledge gained through these experiences is something that I will always be grateful for. – Rebecca K.
2019 was my first year as a reviewer for the Agile conference. I loved doing it and found it a rewarding experience. Whilst helping others to improve their submissions I learnt so much about what makes a really good submission. It was fascinating to read all the different proposals and a good feeling to be able to contribute to the quality of the programme by evaluating. The track chairs gave us a lot of guidance so a lack of past experience isn’t a problem. I encourage anyone with a keen interest to make themselves available next year. – Alison G.
Without feedback from track reviewers I would never have become a speaker at Agile20xx. I wanted to become a reviewer so I could give back this help and support. – Alan P.
I became involved as a reviewer for the first time this year when I was approached about being a reviewer by my co-speaker Sam Laing, who is also the Self-Care track chair. The chance to be a reviewer was a great opportunity, although a little daunting. I was at pains to ensure I gave the submitters the best advice possible which supported their aim to be accepted to the track. Fortunately Sam gave me some great pointers and after reading feedback by some of my fellow reviewers I quickly came up to speed with the best way to give the submitters valuable feedback. At the same time I was in awe of the great topics which were being submitted, and excited that I will be able to hear many of these at the conference. It was a wonderful experience being a reviewer as I added more tools to my toolbox on how to give respectful and valuable feedback – I thoroughly recommend it. I’m looking forward to attending the conference as a first-time attendee and speaker, and meeting and learning from the great minds in the global Agile community. – Tracey M
Being a reviewer for Agile2019 was an exhilarating and committed experience. It allowed me to learn from my fellow reviewers on how to write well formed feedback and also how to improve my own submissions. To have an opportunity to critique and provide well intentioned feedback is never easy especially in a community of well respected peers. The role definitely is challenging from that perspective but I feel I walked away gaining more from the insights and thinking process of thought leaders trying to bring attention to provoking and change-generating topics. Truly a privilege to be a reviewer especially for a track being introduced for the first time! – Sweta M.
I got involved in being a reviewer at Agile2019 because I liked the quality of talks when I presented at Agile2018. I wanted to learn what is happening in the modern Agile community, what people are interested in, and what topics are important nowadays. I wanted to contribute to this community. And I have to confess: I was also very curious how the selection is made for such a huge event with ten parallel tracks, tons of hallway conversations, expo, and multiple other ongoing activities. It sounded super complex and almost impossible, and yet each annual Agile Conference I went to was a great success. So I guess I wanted to figure out how to make something huge and super hard to organize into a great learning and sharing experience for its participants. As you can see, I had a lot of expectations.
My expectations all came true. I read over a hundred amazing submissions from great authors around the world. I learned a lot of new concepts and creative ideas. I contributed to selecting outstanding proposals for the upcoming conference on all possible topics that are of interest to Agile practitioners, coaches, team members, and IT and business professionals. I experienced the selection process and saw how you can establish an absolutely transparent and fair selection process dealing with hundreds of high-quality submissions. And unexpectedly, I gained something else I did not think about before – I gained a group of people I met and stay in contact with now. I built my network of like-minded people (at the end of the day, all of us volunteered to be reviewers at Agile2019, which by default means that we have similar interests, same passion, and desire to contribute to the community).
The atmosphere was extremely inclusive. We pair reviewed or (trio-reviewed) some of the proposals if we wanted, if not, we reviewed them individually and if desired, asked others to look at them. Conversations on Slack were active at any time of day and night given that the reviewers were all around the world. Each submission was reviewed by six or more reviewers to establish fair feedback. We all took feedback to submitters very seriously to ensure it’s relevant and quick. We had video conferences to continuously improve and meet each other as a reviewer’s team. I was a reviewer on two tracks, Leadership and Mentorship and Coaching. I invested a lot of time and read almost all submissions. Everyone had a full choice what and when to read, and I did not plan so initially but the submissions were interesting and the reviewer teams were wonderful, so the effort was worth the time I invested.
It meant a lot to me: I gained knowledge and learned many new concepts, I met great people – leaders of both review teams, my teammates around the world, and the thought leaders – authors who submitted their work. When the review process was over, I felt sad because it was a great effort – as time-consuming as the time I was willing to invest, working with a self-organizing like-minded team, being part of an inclusive and respectful community – all of it was a great experience. But I am not sad anymore, because I look forward to meeting many of them in August at Agile2019 and staying in touch with others who won’t be able to travel this year. Either way, my network is much wider now because I volunteered for reviewing Agile conference submissions. Finally, I want to confess: when I go to the conference in August, I will look at the presentations through different lenses since I feel a personal responsibility for the tough choices we made selecting the best of the best submissions to be presented at the conference. And guess what- I can’t wait for the call for reviewers for Agile2020 🙂” – Mariya
Interested in becoming a reviewer for Agile20xx? The easiest way to get started is to complete this form.
About the Authors
This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They do not represent opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.