With each consecutive year I attend, and speak at, more and more different conferences and conference-like events. One of side effects of that is I have more insight how such events can be organized, what works, what doesn’t and what I like most about them.
One of things I’ve learned is that there’s no one size fits all sort of event. Depending on the goal, the audience and even a place on the map the event’s format should differ. This also means that it would be really hard for me to point a single best event I attended last year. Depending on a perspective there would be two or three of them.
Either way Ace Conference was always high on my list and it hasn’t changed. It is sort of my home race – the only bigger agile/lean event happening in my home city. That’s just convenience though. If I like Ace Conference it is for something different.
The event is an ongoing experiment. Its format is changing over time and I can tell you that’s a good thing from both speaker’s and attendee’s perspective. Approach to open space evolved as well. I believe that also focus of the event is adjusted every year. I mean how many basic-to-intermediate Scrum sessions do you need in 2012? And yes, we all learn new things we want to share. I sometimes think how naive was my Kanban session back then in 2010.
This year’s big experiment is a workshop day. There are a few of them and especially one – Jim Benson’s session on Personal Kanban – is definitely worth recommending and should be a sure-shot choice if you don’t have strong preferences. Go, sign for it!
The workshop day is only a part of the event though. I’m happy with choice of speakers, and not because I am one of them. Besides of Jim, who I’ve already mentioned here, I’m looking forward to Bob Marshall’s keynote. If you want to challenge your views Bob is the guy who will make it happen. There’s Andrea Provaglio whose perspective on people is always a source of great learning. And there are a few guys from well-known Polish companies to share their experience adopting agile in their organizations, which is likely to be attractive for local audience.
If you know me for a while you are aware that my primary goal at different events isn’t session track. It is networking. While I don’t expect Ace Conference to be this cozy, nice, 150-something people big event, which it was back then in 2010, it is still a great place in terms of networking. Long coffee breaks plus half of day of open spaces would create enough opportunities to approach all the people you want.
This is by the way something I encourage you to do – if you spend breaks chatting with your colleagues you meet every single day at work you’re basically missing the chance to approach some loud-mouths and learn from them. Go out of your comfort zone and talk to these few folks that you enjoyed listening to and learning from. There’s no better way of investing coffee breaks.
And if you want a final recommendation to attend Ace Conference I’ll be (passionately) ranting against harmful paradigms that most teams still use in everyday work. It’s going to be fun.