Agile2022 Conference Reflective

August 31, 2022
Agile2023 Conference Closing Party

While attending Agile2022 this year, I couldn’t help but reflect back on my long history with this conference. I attended my first Agile conference in 2008 in Toronto. The following year in 2009, I was a speaker. Since then, I have presented or attended nearly every year since. I’ve been a reviewer, helping review and critique submissions.

With all this experience speaking, reviewing, and attending, you could say I know my way around this conference and these topics, and I have networked with many of the thought leaders. In this post, I’ll share what the conference looked like this year, including some great topics speakers shared, my two cents on future Agile conferences, and some helpful tips for why you might consider attending Agile2023.

Before summarizing my experience at Agile2022, I want to acknowledge the Agile Alliance that puts on the conference. They do a great job! Each year, we see the benefits of their dedication to bringing in new voices and calling back experienced presenters. By reflecting and improving upon the previous year, they ensure no two years are the same.

A lot has changed since I first attended in 2008, as Agile methodologies have matured and been put to the test. Let’s dig into the people and talks that impacted me most this year.

The Agile Community & The People We Meet

This conference is unique compared to others in our industry.
#1. It’s a week long.
#2. It’s big. It is by far the biggest of the Agile Conferences that I attend.

With so many in attendance and a whole week for the event, Agile affords you more time to network and provides more opportunities for sharing, making connections, and reflection.

One of the main reasons I go to a conference in the first place is because of the people I meet and then reconnect with year after year. These connections have contributed to new learnings, shared ideas, and understanding challenges over the years. This community is one of the things I love most about the Agile conference.

I also meet new people, which is valuable in its own right. This is what makes the conference successful. The folks who attend the conference can largely be broken down into two categories:

  1. Those who are curious and desire to learn and likely take away key learnings that will positively impact their organizations and teams when they get home.
  2. Those willing to share their knowledge and experiences—success and failure.

The Agile conference is an excellent place to learn and ask questions, meet other folks experiencing similar challenges, and share what you’ve learned with others.

Powerful Talks at Agile 2022

I was able to take in a number of powerful talks this year. The speakers covered a wide range of topics and backgrounds. A few sessions that stood out to me include:

Keynote: Joshua Kerievsky, Founder & CEO of Industrial Logic

Joy of Agility
Spoke on the “Joy of Agility”. Agility isn’t a formula, a framework, nor a set of roles and rituals to follow. It’s a timeless way of thinking and being that matures with practice and skill. I love Joshua’s ability to boil down years of experience into simple takeaways. This talk helped highlight the _real_ value of being Agile.

Keynote: Melissa Perri., CEO of Produx Labs & Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School

Product Thinking: The Secret to Scaling Value
Delivered “Product Thinking,” a talk on how we build on the processes of modern product management to create value in our companies, and how Product Thinking can help us create the right mindset for that. Melissa is a rock star in the Agile community. She’s not afraid to challenge the norms and bring in new ideas—in this case Product Thinking. I love her ability to communicate in a way that’s memorable and actionable.

Tricia Broadrick, Founder of Ignite Insight and Innovation, LLC

Energize Without Using Power Over
Tricia’s session examined four power dynamics that impact leadership’s ability to energize resilient teams. As you practice a couple of leadership tools for “power with”, expect to discover vulnerabilities, expectations, and hidden truths in the current struggles. Tricia is AMAZING! I love her ability to get at the core concepts. She has been an inspiration to me for many years and I appreciate the kindness she shows me. One of my co-workers said, “This talk was worth the price of the entire conference… can we get her to come to SEP?” For me, there could be no higher praise for Tricia!

Troy Magennis, President of Focused Objective LLC

Managing Dependencies to Unlock Product Development Flow at Scale
Workshopped the different types of dependencies that block flow (no matter what process you use), how to quantify their impact and learn from historical data, and how to address root causes of delays and avoid the same issues in the future. This workshop was incredible. We have already started to incorporate this thinking into our projects and sales process. Thinking about dependencies as knowledge, task, resource, and concurrency has unlocked a new way of thinking and conversations with clients.

Matthew Barcomb, Head of Product Services at Industrial Logic

What No One Says Out Loud About “Transformations” (and How to Survive Them)
This session covered what a transformation is and why they are generally needed. We discussed the three main reasons most large-scale change efforts typically fail to meet expectations. This was the first time I really had a chance to meet Matt. Like I said earlier, it’s for people like this I come to the conference. Over the next few days, Matt spent several hours with me—sharing thoughts, insights, and learnings. I could not be more grateful for his willingness to give his time. These conversations may have been the highlight of the conference for me.

My Two Cents on Agile2022

Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
Agile2022 took place in Nashville, TN at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

Early Agile conferences had more developers and talks about developer practices. A natural evolution focused on how to “do Agile” over time. Recent conferences have been lighter on XP practices and more high level. This reflects change within the Agile community, where we’ve focused more on processes and leadership elements as we’ve come to understand that development practices aren’t the only barrier to successfully adopting an Agile mindset… This is apparent when I compare a conference schedule from my first one to now.

A word of caution—it can be easy to take for granted that quality code “just happens” in this day and age. This may be why we focus the conference on high-level Agile theory and leadership. But good code doesn’t just happen.

Looking Ahead to Agile2023 and Beyond

Going forward, I’d like to see a continued evolution around the challenges teams and organizations face today. Let’s tie some of the conceptual Agile organization management back into the day-to-day realities of Agile team structures, and address the “messy middle” of product development. Let’s avoid the trap of thinking everyone at the conference has the same experience level and understanding, or that foundational concepts are old hat. Instead, let’s incorporate these practical topics from practitioners who are solving real problems on real projects.

What could this look like? More talks on product development and its practical application—things like story mapping, product management methods, XP practices, product thinking, and discovery. These are talks I found so beneficial early in my Agile learnings, and we need to keep talking about them to ground the next generation of makers and leaders in these principles, too.

Kudos once again to the Agile Alliance on Agile2022, and to all the presenters and keynotes who shared these important topics! I am looking forward to next year.

Why should you consider attending Agile2023?

  • Build your network.. For developers and managers, it’s a great opportunity to meet others who share your interests or have similar challenges they are trying to solve.
  • Be a Thought Leader. Consider sharing by presenting or speaking at a future conference—more than likely, someone in attendance can learn from your experiences!
  • Expand your Agile understanding. Check out a recent conference program to see the breadth and depth of topics each year. This is a great opportunity to learn from a wide variety of people.

I agree, it is expensive, but if you were only going to one conference, I would recommend this one. You can register for Agile2023 in Orlando now »

Interested in more about the Agile2022 experience?

Check out our podcast interviews with Agile2022 speaker Josh Kerviesky and Dan Vacanti.