In a previous post, Writing a new playbook for Agile2022 in Nashville, I wrote about some of the feedback that the Agile Alliance has received about the last few in-person Agile20xx conferences (you should hear an implicit “except for the last two years” whenever I write something like that) and the experiments we are taking on this year to try to address them. At our onsite planning session last month, we formalized the structure of the program with these experiments in place and I’d like to take the time to go over them with you.
Rethinking the conference content
One of the most common refrains we have heard from attendees–especially first-time attendees–is that the conference is overwhelming. So much content coming at them like a wave that they do not know what session to choose. Related to this issue is the program team’s desire to foster more of a community during the conference by increasing the chances that people will be in the same session and be able to talk about it.
If you looked at the daily conference program in previous years (here’s that “last two years” exception again) you would see four sets of nineteen or so sessions each, spread out over fifteen-plus tracks. The experiment we are trying this year is to introduce what we are calling “Featured Talks.” They will appear in groups of four at the beginning or end of the conference day, replacing a block of nineteen. A few people have called these “mini-keynotes” and I think that’s accurate. They are meant to be sessions of broad and practical appeal, but for large subsets of our audience instead of everyone. The featured talks also allow us to bring the community closer together at the end of the day.
The right amount of time
One of the other larger pieces of recurring feedback relates to session length, especially for workshops. Seventy-five minutes for a workshop allows for the facilitator to introduce the exercise, run a couple of variations, and take a few questions. While valuable, this left both the attendees and the facilitators wanting more.
This year (and I have to admit this is the change I am most excited about) we are introducing “Workshop Wednesday.” After lunch on Wednesday, the afternoon will be devoted to a set of three-hour workshops. We have looked at the room capacities and determined that we can provide a substantive workshop for all attendees. Like all Agile 20xx sessions, they will be first-come, first-served. So while we can’t guarantee your number one choice, there will be a seat for everyone who wants one (unless conference attendance goes way up and we’ll still figure something out).
In talks with members of the community, as we planned this year’s event, both of these changes have been extremely well-received. It’s my hope that they will make your path through the conference easier and provide some structure to the experience.
There are some smaller changes that I will talk about in the next post. I look forward to seeing you in Nashville!
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.