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Monday is the official start of the Agile2017 conference.  It can be overwhelming to be with over 2500 people, choose from over 200 topics in over 20 tracks.  It can be overstimulating and, for an introvert like me … exhausting.  So how can you successfully navigate such an event.

  • Set Goals
  • Plan the Day
  • Connect
  • Pause and Re-plan

By the way, I drop a few hints of where I’ll be in the details below if you want to chat about distributed teams, Agile Florida or the Agile Alliance Community Group Support Initiative.

Set Goals

Usually I set a few goals for a conference:

  • certain themes I focus on (usually things I’m trying to dive deeper on)
  • certain people I want to meet or re-connect with (and I make note what it is I want to connect about … because I will forget in the busyness of Agile2017)
  • certain tactical goals for the conference.

Themes this year for me are

  • Who else is concentrating on distributed agile –  I only see one talk from Sam and Karen from Growing Agile.  None of my five proposals made it … my fault there.  Another blog post perhaps.
  • Re-thinking Team – I’m learning some very interesting things about distributed work and teams (a little too early to publish conclusions).  But I’m looking forward to hearing Heidi Helfland’s talks.
  • Connect with user group leaders and let them know about the Agile Alliance Community Group Support Initiative.  FYI .. there is a meeting on Monday 5:30-6:30pm in Wekiva 1/2.  Also, I’ll be in the Agile Alliance Lounge Tuesday 1-5pm and the Agile Alliance Members Meeting on Wednesday if you would like to find out more.

Tactical goals usually include how I want to monitor my progress throughout the conference.  This year, I’m going to experiment with very short posts so I know how well I executed my plan.  I’ll share them here with you.

Plan the Day

I tend to pick several things per time slot (unless I have a talk or other commitment).  Below is a part of my “rough plan” for Monday.

Screenshot 2017-08-06 08.59.26

Some things you will notice:

  1. I signed up for First Time Attendee Orientation even though I’ve been coming to this conference since 2005 (and XP Universe before that).  Why?  Because I’m helping in Dave Prior’s experiment with Personal Accountability Teams for myself and to give back to the agile community.  For the last 3 years, I’ve been focusing on who is coming up as new leaders in the agile community and also what help new agilists needs.  Navigating this conference is just part of it.
  2. Sometimes I don’t attend the keynote.  This year, I read Dave Marquet’s book and it resonated with some of our leadership.  So I’m curious to hear what he has to say.  I always catch keynotes later on video if I miss them.
  3. I’ll pick multiple things in a time slot.  No cloning technology here.  It’s my way of tracking what is interesting. If it doesn’t fit my immediate conference goals, I’ll try to catch it later or try to talk to the speaker if I miss the session.  If I see that it’s being video-taped when I walk in and it’s not meeting my overall conference goals, I’ll catch another session.  Otherwise, I’m there and engaged.

Something you don’t see: I’ll put things that meet my goals on my personal calendar so I don’t miss them.


When I go to a session, I try to say hello and get to know people at the table.  If I’m sitting with people I know, I still try to connect with others at the table.  The most value I get out this conference is connection over content.

Same thing for hallway conversations.  If I see someone I specifically want to catch up with and I don’t have one of my goal-fulfilling sessions coming up, I make the time to chat.  Sometimes I make the time to chat anyway if I have not seen them in a while.

I know this doesn’t sound very introverted, but again, connection over content.  I’ve learned that I can get overloaded with info at this conference.  But if I know others who attended sessions I’m in or sessions I wanted to attend, I can reach out to them later and ask about it.

Pause and Re-plan

If you are here the whole week, by Wednesday, you can can get fried.  Don’t let that happen.  Monitor how you feeling.  If you need a break, take it.  If you are making connections, you can catch up on that content later (or you might find out the session was a dud .. it happens).  Use the time to walk around.  Maybe hang out in Open Jam and see who you might me there.  Maybe just go work out or take a nap.  What ever you need to recharge.

You can put in very long days if you are making lean coffee at 7am the mornings (watch Twitter for this) and then attending “after parties” until late into the evening.  You can’t do it all and make it through the week.  Again, what will help you make good connections throughout the week?

If you read this entire blog post and see me later in the Agile2017 hallways, I’d love to hear how it helped.  Have a great week at Agile2017!