A Round-up of European Lean/Agile Conferences

A Round-up of European Lean/Agile Conferences

 [From the Archive: Originally posted at Amplify.com Nov 3, 2011]
I’ve been speaking at a bunch of Lean/Agile conferences across Europe recently (e.g. October 2011). Some of the organisers have asked me for my feedback (I applaud folks who listen to their customers and want to improve). So here’s my feedback on each of the events I attended, in the “Perfection Game” format:

Lean/Kanban Benelux

What I liked

  • The venue
  • That everyone was in the same hotel
  • The production quality of the videos
  • The audio and projection facilities for the session speakers
  • The Hotel lounge
  • Belgian beer and food
  • The camaraderie common to all the attendees
  • Meeting many Twitter friends in meatspace
  • The roster of great speakers

Overall score out of ten: 8

What would have made me give a ’10’ score

  • Reliable Hotel Wifi
    • As a visitor from another country wishing to avoid excessive mobile roaming charges, and not wanting the cost and hassle of buying and swapping-in a local SIM, wifi is the best solution for me to stay in contact with home, and MORE IMPORTANTLY to stay in contact with other conference folks to arrange e.g. social events during our stay.
  • Reliable Conference WiFi
      • Ditto the above, plus live tweeting
  • Hotel and conference venue closer together (within a short walking distance)
  • Better air-conditioning in the conference venue
    • I guess we could not have anticipated a heat wave in October, but the venue was often way too hot for me.
  • Better Hotel management
    • Although the hotel decor, bar service, food, etc was great, the Radisson Astrid seemed poorly organised and run overall (i.e. great staff were defeated by a dysfunctional system).
  • Absence of personal attacks from some of the speakers on the work and – more perniciously, on the integrity – of some of their fellow speakers. I am speaking in particular of Dave Snowdon as the major offender (literally).
    • Maybe some formal “polite request” of speakers to refrain from this kind of thing might help?
  • Less confusion and uncertainty over speakers’ arrangements, expenses.
  • Real-time display of the conference (or even better, session-specific) tweet streams, on stage (big screen), during all sessions.

Magrails Manchester

What I liked

  • The organisers: Lovely people who went way beyond the extra mile to make me feel welcome and valued.
  • The venue (in general, but not the room layout – see below)
  • That all sessions were videoed
  • That there was just a single session track – great!
  • The Magrails website – great job, guys!
  • The audio and projection facilities for the session speakers (barring the audio glitches)
  • Attention to detail, especially the handouts / conference bag
  • Tee-shirt (quality!)
  • The audience. A very attentive, inquisitive and widely knowledgeable bunch

Overall score out of ten: 7.5

What would have made me give a ’10’ score

  • Much more attention to the social dimension
    • Example: Late-night chatting in the hotel bar (didn’t happen)
    • Example: Over-breakfast chatting in the hotel (happened marginally – thanks Jason!)
    • Example: Evening events held somewhere quiet, calm and cosy, to facilitate conversations
  • A better layout for the session room (long and thin made it difficult to engage with the speaker in the far distance)
    • Personally, as a “speaker” who likes to get close up and personal (engaged) with an audience, I would have like it to be “in the round”.
  • A panel session as part of the day’s schedule (or maybe an early-evening thing)
  • Everyone in the same hotel
  • Reliable Hotel Wifi
    • As I could not get a 3G signal in the hotel, I may as well have been a visitor from another country. Under such circumstances Wifi is the best solution for me to stay in contact with home, and MORE IMPORTANTLY to stay in contact with other conference folks to arrange e.g. social events during our stay.
  • Reliable Conference WiFi
    • Ditto the above, plus live tweeting
  • Hotel and conference venue closer together (within a short walking distance)
  • Better Hotel management
    • Although the hotel decor, bar service, food, etc was OK (but not great), the Radisson (Park Inn Hotel) seemed poorly organised and run overall (i.e. nice staff were defeated by a dysfunctional system).
  • Real-time display of the conference tweet streams, on stage, during all sessions
  • Not being barred from charging things to my hotel bill just because the Hotel had lost the billing details.
  • A reliable taxi firm
  • More Buzz during the second (workshop) day.
    • OK, it was a Saturday, and I guess some folks had hangovers from the previous night, but the buzz of the previous day seemed conspicuous by its absence.
  • More effective “policing” of the day’s schedule (sessions overran)
  • Mike-up the audience (or as a minimum ensure speakers repeat ALL questions so all can hear)
  • Opportunity for Open space session(s) and/or lightning talks aka Pecha Kuchas

Lean/Kanban Munich

What I liked

  • The venue
  • That everyone could get to the Alpen Hotel quickly and easily
  • That some of the sessions were videoed
  • The audio facilities for the session speakers
  • German beer
  • The camaraderie common to all attendees.
  • Meeting many Twitter friends in meatspace
  • The roster of great speakers

Overall score out of ten: 8

What would have made me give a ’10’ score

  • Reliable and convenient Hotel Wifi
    • As a visitor from another country wishing to avoid excessive mobile roaming charges, and not wanting the cost and hassle of buying and swapping-in a local SIM, wifi is the best solution for me to stay in contact with home, and MORE IMPORTANTLY to stay in contact with other conference folks to arrange e.g. social events during our stay.
  • Reliable Conference WiFi
    • This was particularly poor.
  • All sessions videoed (especially mine :}
  • Quicker publication of videos, slide packs after the event
  • Better (suggested?) Hotel
    • Avoid the Metropol😦
  • Less confusion and uncertainty over speakers’ expenses.
  • Real-time display of the conference (or even better, session-specific) tweet streams, on stage, during all sessions
  • A lounge area (specifically, with comfy seating) at the conference venue

LESS Stockholm

What I liked

  • The “volunteer” nature of the event – thanks to all those who made it so great🙂
  • Everyone in the same hotel
  • Outstanding catering facilities, especially the fruit, drinks, amuse bouches, and cake
  • The audio facilities for the session speakers (when they were used)
  • The camaraderie common to all attendees and organisers alike
  • Strengthening many Twitter friendships in meatspace
  • The roster of great speakers

Overall score out of ten: 7.5

What would have made me give a ’10’ score

  • A chance to see something of Stockholm
  • Better beer
  • More cake!🙂
  • Not getting bounced out of the bar in the late evening “because of Swedish alcohol laws”
  • Better session rooms
    • Rooms were too bland and impersonal
    • Room B1 was imo too wide and shallow and too small for keynotes
    • Other session rooms were too large
    • All projection screens were way too high
    • Lighting of e.g. the speakers themselves was poor. Needed spotlights!
  • Sessions videoed
    • I really hated having to miss sessions from the multiple tracks in the knowledge that I’d not ever have the chance to catch them on video later.
  • Convenient Hotel Wifi
    • As a visitor from another country wishing to avoid excessive mobile roaming charges, and not wanting the cost and hassle of buying and swapping-in a local SIM, wifi is the best solution for me to stay in contact with home, and MORE IMPORTANTLY to stay in contact with other conference folks to arrange e.g. social events during our stay.
    • Telia’s wifi service was (generally) reliable, but a UX nightmare (continually having to reauthorise).
  • That the Hotel had refrained from remodelling their bar area during the time we were there
    • Particularly all the banging (demolition noise) during breakfaster and lunch
  • More clarity re: speakers’ expenses.
  • Real-time display of the conference (or even better, session-specific) tweet streams, on stage, during all sessions
  • Cheaper airport transfers. The Arlanda Express is way too pricey.

Happy as always to answer any questions, etc.

– Bob

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