Lean Agile Scotland — postscript

Chris announced today that I’ll be taking over from him as conference organiser of the Lean Agile Scotland conference series. As Chris said, he and Marc Burgauer will continue to put the event programme together and to host the event. Me and my team will take over the financial and other organisational aspects of the event. The important thing for everyone is that the event will continue as an inclusive and collaborative space with a great community feel.

About Me

As Chris mentioned, I have 10 years experience in conference organisation. I’ve run about 80 conferences through my company Software Acumen and volunteered at about 10 other conferences, notably the BCS SPA conference.

I’ve also put on about 150 free events varying in size from half-a-dozen participants up to 350 or so and continue to be involved in the organisation of a few not-for-profit events.

I was involved in the BCS SPA conference for just under 10 years, firstly as speaker, then a ‘behind-the-scenes’ volunteer, then a session reviewer and eventually conference co-chair. SPA contributed strongly to my philosophy of conference-goers as active participants rather than as passive attendees and also inspired me to run my first conference in 2007. I subsequently founded Agile Cambridge in 2010 and since then Agile Manchester, and the Agile in the City conferences in Bristol and Birmingham.

My event addiction — and I think addiction is the right word — goes back further — to 1989 when I volunteered / got roped-into helping organise evening events in London for the BCS Expert Systems Group. Back in those days, publicising the event was the hard part — this consisted of making sure it got listed in the weekly print magazine ‘Computing’ and making sure it was included in the occasional print mailing for the specialist Group. No email lists, Twitter, LinkedIn groups or Slack channels back then…

Software Acumen’s events philosophy is to create events that are ‘Great rather than Big’, in line with our desire to create a company that is ‘Great rather than Big’. I’m planning a separate blog post on what that means to me but in essence it means the focus for the success of the event lies in a great participant experience, not in the size of the event. Lean Agile Scotland and the team behind it fits perfectly with that philosophy.

I’m also an agile coach, delivery person and reflective practitioner. I first heard about agile back in 2000, when a consultant at the software company I worked for came back from the OT Conference (the precursor to the SPA conference mentioned above) with a copy of the newly-released Extreme Programming Explained. I devoured that book, shared it with my dev team and we started adopting the practices. For various reasons I still consider that an early, failed agile adoption but, with 13 previous years of slow, painful or cancelled waterfall deliveries before that I saw agile’s potential.

What next?

It’s taken us a little longer than hoped to make the transfer of ownership for the business behind Lean Agile Scotland — none of us has done this before — but we’re there now.

This has held up ticket sales and the Call for Speakers for 2017 but both of those are now in place on the event website.

Chris and Marc have been busy on the event programme though and we’ve already announced Kate Gray and Esko Kilpi as keynotes for 2017 and we have more speaker announcements to make shortly.

My colleagues Allison, Emilie, Jemma and Jenna are also working hard on all the other myriad jobs that will make the 2017 event a success. I’d also like to thank Emilie specifically for managing the legal and financial aspects of this arrangement to completion.

What *you* can do…

My first suggestion is that you thank Chris (and Marc and Lucy) for creating Lean Agile Scotland and enabling it to become a canonical example of what a Great event should be. Chris is a humble person but it’s a massive responsibility to run an event on your own and that responsibility is only slightly lessened by having a great team behind you. He’s built a growing community from scratch and sustained it through many years whilst being a husband, father and having a demanding day job.

With Software Acumen taking on the financial risk and now managing the organisation of the event I hope Chris will feel that burden a lot less, as well as being able to spend more time with family and friends. I’m also hoping that this will free up some brain space for him and Marc to create an even more brilliant conference programme :-)

My second suggestion is to reply here, message me at @markdalgarno or mail me at mark@software-acumen.com if you have any concerns, questions or comments about the transfer. Everyone involved wants Lean Agile Scotland to continue to be a success and to continue to improve and we want your feedback. We hope to see you at the conference.

Finally, if you haven’t read Chris’s post yet, you can do so here.

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