deliver:Agile — 2020 Reflections

deliver:Agile Live!

When the annual deliver:Agile event was canceled earlier this year, I was sad.

The program team — Cheryl Hammond, Amr Noaman, Amitai Schleier — and I had put together a lovely program full of interesting keynotes, breakout sessions, and workshops. I was excited to feature a mix of the XP old guard and rising stars in technical spaces. I felt like the technical portions of the Agile community were already chronically under-served and I was almost heartbroken to lose one of the few opportunities available to specifically benefit that audience.

But then Ellen Grove presented me with an opportunity. Ellen told me I could have pretty much free range to experiment under the deliver:Agile Live! banner. Our new series of monthly events was born.

Advantages of deliver:Agile Live!

Although we all really enjoyed the annual deliver:Agile conference, it became immediately clear a series of remote events would have some advantages.

Responding to the community in real-time

Of course, this won’t come as news to any Agilists, but smaller, more frequent deployments are ideal for highly uncertain situations. Having a monthly event enabled us to respond to the needs of the Agile technical community in real-time and collect tons of input and stories from them.

Perhaps the most impactful example of this was when a big round of layoffs and furloughs hit our community pretty hard in the late summer and early fall. Suddenly technologists were unexpectedly job-seeking. With this need in mind, we were able to quickly put together a session with experts who specialize in advising candidates seeking technical roles in Agile environments. It was hugely rewarding and I continue to hear amazing stories of folks finding the perfect role as a result of the advice shared and the connections made during that session.

For the 2021 event schedule, we are planning about one quarter in advance. We fully expect the loosely laid out schedule to change and evolve as our circumstances change and needs emerge from the community. Here’s our proposed schedule for the first several months of the year:

  • Lean Coffee with the deliver:Agile Community (January 2021): What topics would you like to see addressed at deliver:Agile Live! sessions? Are there any speakers/experts of particular interest?
  • 2021 Kickoff Keynote with GeePaw Hill (January 2021): We will hear a beautiful talk from one of the core members of the deliver:Agile community followed by an extended Q&A session and discussion with GeePaw.
  • Unsung Heroes of the Agile Manifesto (February 2021): In February 2001, seventeen technologists gathered and penned the Agile Manifesto. However, the Agile community was already a lot bigger than seventeen people. As a celebration of the history of Agile and the anniversary of the Agile Manifesto, we will hear from some of the influential figures of the early Agile movement who didn’t happen to be at Snowbird.
  • The Future of Agile Technical Practices (March 2021): After we spend some time celebrating the 20 years since Snowbird, it seems only appropriate to look forward to the next 20 years. For the March event, we will hear from some folks pushing forward and evolving Agile technical practices.
  • Inclusive Developer Experience (April 2021): As many teams prepare for a wave of spring hiring, we would like to spend some time talking about how to strive towards a developer experience that is accessible for technologists with disabilities. We believe this speaks to the core of Agile as a way of working that values people above all else.

Growing the community

Not everyone can make a meatspace conference. It’s a big burden to pay for a ticket, pay for travel, get several days away from work and caretaking duties, etc. Through shorter, more frequent events we have the opportunity to engage many more members of the Agile technical community both as attendees and speakers/experts. The barriers to participation are lowered significantly. While there are certainly advantages of an annual conference in physical space, we are excited by the opportunities presented by a more frequent, distributed format.

Our channel for 2021 will be to keep the conversation going between events. At this point we are not totally sure what platform we will be using, but there will be some sort of place for the deliver:Agile community to chat and engage between monthly events. Stay tuned!

More experimentation

Meetspace events are expensive. There’s the venue, food and beverage, AV equipment, etc. It’s a big commitment. Although there are certainly costs associated with running virtual events, the smaller, more frequent deliver:Agile Live! events present a valuable opportunity to experiment with format, content, etc. This year we tried several formats: ask the experts, moderated panel, and whatever you would call the fun and games of the end-of-year celebration. Next year we will try out traditional talks (with a twist!), moderated discussions, and more. While we have some metrics that we can use to understand the results of our experimentation, we are also extremely grateful for any feedback you, the deliver:Agile community, feel comfortable providing. Please reach out any time!

Thank you, deliver:Agile community

While 2020 has been an incredibly trying year, I am so thankful for the deliver:Agile community and the support of Agile Alliance. As I sat back, enjoying our end-of-year celebration yesterday, I was filled with the happiest form of disbelief. How is it possible that I have found this amazing community of people who share my passion for exploring the evolution of sociotechnical systems? How is it possible that I have found a community that at once appreciates the immense responsibility of being a technologist in the 21st century and seeks to celebrate and have fun whenever possible? Thank you for taking the deliver:Agile Live! journey with me. See you in 2021!

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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Cat Swetel

Cat Swetel

Cat is an engineering manager with experience applying Agile and Lean principles in a variety of settings: from startups to large enterprises, warehouses to Web, etc. She is passionate about increasing diversity in tech. In her leisure time, Cat enjoys making jokes about Bitcoin, hiking, and reading feminist literature.

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