What did Redgaters think of our first internal conference?

If you read my previous post, you’ll know that on 6th March 2018 Redgate’s Product Division and Foundry ran their first internal conference. It was called Level-Up (Or “Level Up”, depending on your preference for hyphens).

 . We wanted to gauge whether the event was valuable and well-received; so whether it was worth the effort and budget that we had put in.

Thanks to the 62 awesome Redgaters who who took the time to complete the survey and provide their candid feedback, I can now share the headline insights from the survey, including your feedback for the venue, key takeaways from the event and whether there is a desire to attend an event like this again (Spoiler: there is ;o). Plus, if we do run the event again, our attendees have told us how to make it even better.

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Common words from “How would you rate the Level-Up conference as an internal event” comments

How did the content, venue and event rate?

When asked to rate the sessions & content during the conference 85% of respondents gave Level-Up 2018 at least 4 out of 5. The general sentiment being that most found the sessions to be varied, engaging, informative and well-prepared. Some of the sessions felt a little rushed and the balance of content (technical or non-technical) and style (talk or workshop) was not ideal for everyone.

When asked to rate the venue, 87% of respondents gave IWM Duxford at least 4 out of 5. The consensus was that having the event at a museum with the opportunity to roam around was really great. Conference rooms were functional, if a little small and dark. The heating was on the blink in one of the rooms. Some people liked the lunch, some really didn’t.

When asked to rate the planning and organisation of the event, 95% of respondents gave Level-Up 2018 at least 4 out of 5. There was a clear feeling that the conference was well organised, especially considering it was our first go at running an event like this. The day itself was recognized to have gone very smoothly. The process to nominate and create sessions was a bit rushed for some and we should have been clearer when the event changed from “open space” style.

When asked to rate how the Level-Up conference rated overall as an internal event, 90% gave the event at least 4 out of 5. You’ve seen the highly scientific word cloud at the top of this post that highlights the common phrases from the comments on this question!

Finally, when asked if we should run the Level-Up Conference again, an overwhelming 97% told us, yes, we should!

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Attendees (including Matt and me) at the end of the day discussing what we’ve learnt and aha moments from the conference

What did people takeaway from Level-Up 2018?

Respondents called out a variety of takeaways and lessons learnt from the conference. We spotted the following themes:

  • Good API design and reusable components are key to quality and speed
  • A drive towards .NET Standard
  • Our OKR (Objectives and Key Results) process can be fixed and there is a desire across the division to do so
  • Useful new methods for note taking during research calls
  • Keen interest from engineers around cloud-readiness
  • Reinvigorating our Guilds might be a good way for us to address cross-cutting concerns
  • Desirable leadership behaviours depend on the situation and there’s interest in developing these behaviours for our situation
  • Insight into the Tech Lead role and a desire to explore it as a career path
  • Systems Thinking could be a useful tool for the division
  • Experience Mapping is something to try with our teams
  • Electron looks like a great technology we should use more widely

How could we improve Level-Up next time?

Respondents told us what they thought could have made the conference better and we identified the following themes that we can consider if the event is run in the future:

  • More talks than workshops
  • Moving longer workshops to the morning sessions
  • Having shorter sessions for the end of the day, when harder to concentrate
  • Better descriptions of the sessions in a programme
  • Fewer tracks with shorter sessions
  • Have speakers and sessions from outside the division
  • Schedule more between sessions for discussions
  • Use larger rooms/spaces for the sessions

Next steps

Following the event, the organizers ran a drop-in session to see where we could provide support to those who were inspired during the event to tackle some of the issues or explore key themes raised on the day. It was great to see a group from across the division fired-up about improvement and feeling empowered to lead on some of these initiatives.

Thanks again to the Redgaters who gave us their feedback and to everyone involved in making the event such a success. And, given the demand above, I guess we’d better get planning for next year’s conference! ;o)

This post first appeared on Redgate’s engineering blog ingeniously simple.

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