Just Another F&#k!ng Agile Conference – We did it!
I learned some new things, caught up with some old friends, peers and collaborators and, most importantly, I met new people who I like, respect and find interesting. Win!
It was a conference and an unconference. A day of speakers followed by some food, drinks, music and conversation. Then a day of Open-space, where we set the agenda and the conversation took a deep dive into the key topics and issues that we wanted to talk about.
Day 1 – Conference
Day 1 comprised ten 20 minute talks followed by Q & A:
Francis talked about the future of society and what will happen when, in 1000 days, four billion people will use the internet. Stephen, director of The Cul de Sac and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Teenagers, spoke about the art of storytelling and how stories are literally in our DNA.
Christine talked about how we need to break out of our professional boxes and collaborate in teams. Jimmy shared his thoughts about the networked organisation and Spotify’s structure of support. Nick discussed the app boulevard making us think about push notifications, shared logins, beacons and app extensions.
Francis and the future
Stephen on storytelling
I pushed my own boundaries by giving a quite personal talk about how my past in professional sports and path to the 1992 Olympic summer games have influenced me as a person and how it has helped me develop the skills and behaviours that made it possible for me to be a member of a world-class team. My hope was to share useful insights about high-performing teams and provide people with advice for how to be world-class in life and the world of business. Ambitious, I know, but at the very least I’m happy to have revived the motto of “No pain, no Spain”.
The level of insight and thoughtfulness during the Q & A part of the sessions was inspiring and made me hope for the best for the Open-space event on day 2.
Day 2 – Unconference
The Open-space event was facilitated by Jimmy in masterful fashion. He got us into the perfect spirit of exploration, sharing and learning. He also made us be goblins, throw balls and had Suki literally scream with excitement.
As a group we managed to not hold back, take risks and have real conversations. We managed to explore Agile and to push the boundaries of where Agile can be. We looked inside and outside the realm of technology and discussed many topics such as leadership, Agile in education, coaching heroes on their journey and measuring Agile coaches. We learned heaps from each other and I loved it!
Why on earth did we organise a conference?
We asked ourselves this exact question many, many times when we were overwhelmed by the amount of work we were facing. Organising a conference was nothing we had done before and truth to be told we had no idea how much work this was going to be. We’re glad we did it but wow, I really had no idea!
One of the main reasons for organising #jafac was that we wanted to do something together as a team. On an everyday basis we don’t work from the same location and with Nomad8 being a home for consultants we thought a shared project would help us grow stronger as a team. And it did! I’m very happy about that.
We wanted to create an event that explored beyond Agile. One that wasn’t made up of case studies and how-to’s, but that took us all to places we weren’t used to being. The range of speakers and attendees certainly did that.
We also wanted to meet nice and interesting people who shared our interests. Having moved to Auckland only about a year ago, we wanted to make some friends. We managed to attract some really smart and thoughtful people and I’m glad to have found “my people” in Auckland. I overheard several people at the conference say the same thing.
What did we learn?
We still want to have a full retrospective but overall we learned that:
- the format of conference/unconference works really well
- there are some really cool people in the Auckland agile community – guests from Melbourne, Wellington and Dunedin we’re including you. You can be adopted honorary members ;-)
- it was a great idea to choose people we wanted to hear from (we had no idea what most speakers would talk about before the conference and it worked just fine)
- making the conference affordable (we covered our costs) so that people who freelance or aren’t backed by their companies could come worked great and was (most likely) one of the reasons the “right” people came along
- GridAKL is an awesome venue. Thanks for hosting us!
- Trade Me are super awesome because they sponsored #JAFAC! So are the Agile Alliance!
- it’s really important to remember water glasses/cups for participants!
We don’t know yet! We’ll think about it and are open to suggestions ;-)
* All photos by Jimmy Janlen