I’ve been to many a conference in my life – all sorts of them. Agile Cymru however was my first time attending as a speaker.
I thought I knew what to expect before hand, but I walked away with some feelings I hadn’t anticipated.
I had expected to feel and be made welcome, and I was. I had expected to feel and be treated like a newbie, but I didn’t.
I had expected maybe a dozen people to come and see what I had to say. In the event, both my talk and my workshop were full rooms – thank you to all who attended.
The first thing that happened ‘off-script’ as it were was a couple of days before the conference. The organisers asked if I would swap slots with another talk (one of the speakers had difficult flight times). Of course I said yes, I mean if an agile coach doesn’t know how to be flexible….right?!
What struck me was HOW they asked me. The Agile Cymru team made me feel like I could have said no if I had wanted to do so, with no ill-will.
Then, perhaps a little thing, but it meant a lot to me. One of the speakers who I had helped out by switching came to thank me during the conference. I felt….respected & appreciated.
Later on the first day, I had a nice chap who I didn’t recognise, approached me. He said he was doing a PhD in psychology and had noticed I was talking on Non-Verbals the following day. He was unable to attend my talk, he said (those darn plane schedules again!), but he’d be happy to review my talk from a scientific point of view over lunch. I took him up on his offer and used a good chunk of his lunch break! (Thank you so much Joseph). So that’s how I met Joseph Pelrine.
About the Content & Speakers
The talk Joseph then gave the next day about the psychology of estimating was great. I was both immensely grateful and proud that he’d felt it a good use of his time to talk with me about non-verbal communication!
To my mind, this was the key to the conference’s success. The whole culture of the conference was of inclusivity, equality and diversity.
For example, both the Keynote speakers were from completely different disciplines from software development.
Dr. Kitrina Douglas is a professional golfer turned sports psychologist. She spoke about story-telling and how important it is to leave room in the dominant narratives to tell stories of ‘another way’ too.
Stevyn Colgan, who, despite being best known as a Radio 4 presenter & QI ‘elf’, called on his 30 year career in the police service for his talk. He talked of how to solve problems before they manifest as actual problems – something all Scrum Masters & coaches know about! His new book “why did the policeman cross the road” is next on my reading list, I was so impressed 🙂
All the other speakers and attendees I met inspired me in directions I don’t usually think too. I had great conversations with Emily Webber, Gez Smith (also known as @TheBunnyPicnic ) & Joseph Pelrine, finding them each kindred spirits on topics I’m passionate about.
Agile Cymru seemed to have a great balance of talks. There was the deeper psychology type stuff that I love as well as talks on the mechanics of agile working too. Belinda Waldock talked about how she persuaded Pearson Publishing to work in an agile way to get her book written and published. It got me thinking how easy it would have been to just accept the way that they normally do things, and fit in. Belinda saw the opportunity to persuade them to try something new.
Diversity & Equality
This diversity and equality permeated the conference, and felt completely effortless, which was wonderful.
If you are thinking about how to spend your conference budget for 2017 this one would be a really great choice.
Thank you, and well done all, I had a really great time.