Agile 2014 attendees, what are you going to do?

If you attended the outstanding Agile 2014 conference in Orlando over the last week, and you are even remotely like me, then you’ll have returned home with a mind bursting with new ideas and techniques gleaned from your time away.

You may well have drawn great inspiration from your time in that hermetically-sealed agilist bubble (a bubble both figuratively and literally, thanks to our gargantuan resort location). Given it’s still the weekend, you’re probably impatient to start delivering on that inspiration and applying what you have learnt.

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While I was at the conference I kept a list of the new stuff I’d come across that I wanted to ‘do’, ‘try’, ‘research’ and ‘think about’ when I got back to my real life. Unsurprisingly, it’s a long list. It’s length is a reminder of how worthwhile and thought-proving the event was, but it’s also kind of intimidating. As I look down the list I find myself looking forward to each task and simultaneously wondering how on earth I am going to make the time to do them. Frankly, I’m concerned I won’t get as much value out of my trip as I could. Maybe even as I should.

I suspect I’m not alone; opportunities will be missed to enact lessons and follow-through with ideas across the cohort of Agile 2014 attendees. Even with the best intentions, our busy work routines and packed domestic calendars will spirit away our time, substantially limiting the value we reap from our week in Orlando.

If someone I was coaching said the above to me, my first question to them would be pretty straightforward:

“Given all that, what are you going to do?”

To answer to my own question… Well, I want to make sure I do the most valuable stuff on my list. However, I am going to take my lead from a lady (never caught her name) who stopped me during one of the breaks in the conference to thank me for the retrospective workshop I’d run with Mike Upton (which, as an aside, I really appreciated as she reminded me why I put myself through the stress of running the session in the first place). She said it had taught her that she should vary the activities in her retrospectives, rather than repeatedly running the same one. She said she was going to fix that.

I’m going to follow her lead because, although our session was full of hints and tips, she’d boiled it down to that single action point – she was going to vary her retrospectives in the future. One clear action that, having talked to her briefly, I felt sure she was going to do.

When in ‘coaching mode’, I’ve sometimes asked people who are facing a long list of things they want to get done “Which three things will you feel most disappointed about if you look back in a month and you haven’t done anything?”. I realise that’s needlessly negative, so let’s rephrase:

“When you look back in a month’s time, what three things will you have done since Agile 2014 that have made it an awesome month?”

Here’s my answer:

  1. I’ll have run a Facilitation Patterns and Anti-patterns session (using Doc List’s cards) with my team/coaching colleagues
  2. I’ll have sorted out my project’s backlog and planning projections (based on many #NoEstimates discussions at Agile 2014)
  3. I’ll have started a monthly Lean Coffee at Red Gate (my employer)

Hopefully, I’ll be able to tick more things off my list as well, but I’ll make sure the three tasks above are done before I worry about the rest, because if I do those three it will have been an awesome month.

If you haven’t made a list of stuff during the conference, maybe now is a good time to do that – before memory atrophy kicks-in. If you attended with a number of local colleagues, get together and have a retrospective. That way you can see if any of the things you want to do overlap – and agree to share the effort. In addition, calling out what you are going to do in front of others can be quite motivational (especially, if you plan a follow-up discussion in a few weeks’ time).