Austin Scrum Gathering Review

This past week I was in Austin for a few days to attend (and sponsor as part of Agile For All) the Scrum Alliance Scrum Gathering North America conference. I absolutely loved this week for a variety of reasons.

  • I’m limiting myself to only a couple of conferences this year. As a result, I tried to take advantage of everything I could because I knew I would not have many opportunities. I really do think this contributed to the long list I’m about to write. So I will definitely have to explore what the right number of conferences is for 2020.
  • Conversations: I was able to truly engage with a number of people. People I had not seen for years, people that I’ve only been able to say hi as we passed by, people that I just met, etc. Not surface level conversations but deeper conversations this year. I cannot express enough how much this fuels me.
  • Keynote and meeting Daniel Pink: I do not fangirl often. I did meeting David Marquet and I did meeting Daniel Pink. His work has influenced my leadership significantly and the timing (when) information he is now sharing has already starting helping me make further adjustments.
  • Sessions: I spent an entire day just going to sessions. I saw what my friends and new friends were contributing to the world. I learned. I laughed. I developed new ideas. I met new people. I bonded with people. I even played a game with Tamsen, she won :). I forgot how much I love simply attending conference sessions.
  • Open Space Session: I decided to do an open space session on the Challenges of Being an Agile Leader….personally. I didn’t want to talk about org related items but about the internal struggles leaders feel. I know, shocking. Because I decided to do this about 30 minutes before announcing and deliver only a 2 hours later, I slightly modified my keynote to be a little more interactive. So on a 5 point scale of quality of a workshop, I would only give it a 3. The exercises didn’t really vary, I didn’t have great retention approaches, etc. But the content was definitely 4.5 based on the feedback. I thought this was really a keynote type material but now I’m going to be spending the time to make it into a workshop. We need people not making the quick joke about leaders/managers but instead helping them be leaders. Oh and thanks Jake Calabrese for being my support in the session, when I told you basically 5 minutes before I could use help.
  • Agile For All team: Doing what we do means that we don’t always get to see each other. I loved getting to catch up in person. I loved getting to hangout and laugh together. I loved getting to explore concepts and difficult topics together. I loved getting to challenge and support each other together. I am a better person because of this team.
  • Special call out to Reese Schmidt: She organized the after party karaoke for us crazy people that love to sing and dance our hearts out. I simply had to share the place and show up. I genuinely believe these moments energize me for months. You rocked this week and we are so proud of you.
  • The last one is going to be slightly vague but was my absolute highlight. I healed even more at this conference. I spent time with someone listening to the frustration they were experiencing. I understood it. I spent time listening to their pain. I understood it. I spent time listening to their solution of isolation. I understood it. In helping another, I accepted I wasn’t alone and that my experience is what helped them know they could talk with me – not about any details but about our emotional journeys. There are moments in life when you think you have a solid connection with someone and then it goes ten times deeper. I had one of these this week and I will be forever grateful for what I was able to do for them and what they did for me.

Now normally, I also highlight things that could have gone better. I always one to be balanced. Yet, any thing I thought about was trivial and small in comparison with the exception that we didn’t get an AFA picture.

So I’m going to take Pink’s advice…end elevating. No matter if this is your first Agile conference or you’ve been attending them since 2007…I wouldn’t be who I am today without this space for learning. Thank you to all the volunteers, program committee, reviewers, staff, speakers and attendees. I’m better than I was last week because of the Austin Scrum Gathering.

What was your highlight?

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