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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Personal Accountability Teams at Agile 2017

TLDR

Join a new experiment being run at Agile 2017! Get the most you can out of the biggest Agile event of the year by signing up with a Personal Accountability Team. Stick around at the end of the First Timer Orientation if you’d like to get set up with a team that will meet Daily in Orlando.

 Personal Accountability Teams at Agile 2017

The Agile Alliance is running an experiment to help interested First Timers form small teams who will hold Daily Standups each day in Orlando to get the most value they can out of Agile 2017.

We are just a few weeks away from Agile 2017. With over 270 sessions throughout the week plus a wide variety of other non-session activities, sponsor events, random unofficial activities, hallway conversations, late night "networking" activities, etc. There are LOTS of options. There are, in fact, more options than you could possibly take advantage of.

For many years, I attended big multi-day conferences with the same approach: throw myself headlong into it on Day 1 and participate in everything I could. This worked.... for most of Day 1. It started to fade on Day 2 and by Day 3 of whatever conference I was attending, I hid in my room a lot, I'd sit in the back of a session I was only partly listening to while I did work and often, and mostly just waited for it to be over so I could go home to my family.  Needless to say, this was not a very effective approach.

Several years ago, I tried an experiment at SXSW where I got together with a small group of people each morning for a Daily Standup. It was my first time at SXSW and I was completely overwhelmed. When I initially proposed the experiment at the end of a session on Project Management, I was looking for 2 things:
  1. I wanted to have a group of people I could meet with each morning who would help ground me and who would listen to my goals for the day. For me, a big motivator on achieving those goals was knowing that I'd be facing the same people again the next morning.
  2. I was looking for support. I didn't know a single person at SXSW and I wanted to have a small base of people I could sync up with. I hoped that we'd share tip and talk about what we had learned during the previous day, and that the collaboration would help us all get a better experience out of our time in Austin.

It worked pretty well. I have been refining this practice at every conference I've attended since. More than anything else, this is what helps me maximize the value I get out of any conference I attend.
In practice, it works just like holding a Daily Scrum, except the questions are a little different:
  • What am I going to do today to get value out of my time here?
  • What progress did I make on my goals from yesterday?
  • What am I struggling with or what do I need help with here at the conference?

I think it is critical to keep in mind that "getting value" does not necessarily mean attending every session. Taking time for yourself, going for a walk, taking a nap before you head out in the evening, making sure you are eating right and hydrating... these are all as important as the conversations. With so much going on, it can be hard to give yourself permission to skip some stuff, but if you don't, you are going to miss a lot more.

This year at Agile 2017 the Agile Alliance is supporting an experiment in Personal Accountability Teams. If you would like to participate, all you need to do is to attend one of the First-Time Attendee Orientation Sessions being held at the start of the conference. As soon as the orientation is over we will walk over to the Open Jam, where we will help you find a small team you can meet with each day throughout the conference to support you and help you get the most value possible out of your time in Orlando.

If you'd like to know more, just reply to this post or attend one of the First-Time Attendee Orientation Sessions at Agile 2017.

AGILE 2017 First Time Attendee Orientation Sessions