Lean Agile Scotland 2012 – A Review

Lean Agile Scotland 2012 – A Review

[Draft – would you be willing to improve it further with your feedback?]

Lean Agile Scotland 2012 took place in Edinburgh, Scotland 21-22 September 2012.

Already the details are fading, but the joy of the event remains undimmed.

I’m writing this review mainly as a reminder to myself, and as feedback for the conference organisers. Accordingly I’ll be eating my own dogfood, and giving feedback the NVC way. In brief, this follows the form: This is what you (the conference) did; this is what I felt; this is the need of mine that was or was not met.

The City

The choice of Edinburgh, although somewhat forced due to a late issue with the original Glasgow venue, was a happy outcome. I felt warmly welcomed into the city, rainy weather on arrival notwithstanding. The choice of city met my need for railway travel (I dislike flying, love trains) and for a safe(?) and friendly place to be.

Aside: The public brawl on Grassmarket late Saturday night made me wonder if the city is a safe as I first thought.

The Venue

The venue chosen, albeit a last-minute choice, was the “Our Dynamic Earth” centre, near the Scottish Parliament. I felt warmly welcomed by both the venue staff and the conference volunteers, many of whom took the time to speak with me. This met my need for meaningful human connection. The venue was but a short cab ride from the hotel. I felt happy to see parts of Edinburgh during the journeys to and fro. This met my need for experiencing the city.

I felt frustrated and, eventually, exhausted by the level of ambient noise in the break-out areas, and the lack of informal seating (sofas, etc) – which impinged on the quality of conversations. As an introvert and as someone with knee problems that make standing for long periods uncomfortable and tiring, my need for a comfortable and relaxed environment for e.g. conversation was not well met.

The session rooms were spacious, clean, well-lit, well-appointed and well-equipped with audio, video and projection facilities. The seating was a little regimented and I felt some discomfort sitting for long periods in the seating provided. My needs for comfort were not fully met – but I guess that’s auditoria for you.

The Schedule

Apart from the keynote opening each morning, there were two tracks in parallel, each day. I felt frustrated that I was obliged to miss some sessions which I would have liked to attend. I also felt a little bored at times, in sessions that felt overly long at 45 minutes per slot. These things did not meet my need for meaningful human connection, nor for my need to feel I was making a difference.

The format of most of the session followed the talk-to-slide-deck style. Apparently Karl  did a talk-to-flipchart session but I missed that. Most sessions had only a brief (or absent) Q&A element at the end. This format makes me feel like I’m being talked at, and does not meet my need for meaningful human connection, nor for my need to feel I was making a difference.

The Rightshifting Fest

The Saturday morning (Day 2 AM) saw one track dedicated all morning to Rightshifting. Liz Keogh’s keynote “Respect for people” set the tone well, I thought. My session, up first, described the basics of Rightshifting, in an attempt to set the scene for the other two sessions. The organisers went out of their way to accommodate my request for a different format. I felt listened-to and valued. This met my need to do the best I could for the audience, and for the conference organisers.

The Rightshifting Gang

Although I still had slides – to illustrate certain ideas (the slide deck should be online soon) – we moved the furniture around to give a more conversation-friendly in-the-round experience. I’m not sure how successful this was, not least because time pressures (and the surprise of the audience?) impacted the amount of conversation that took place. Note that the slides were in part similar to this presentation.

The Speakers’ Dinner

The Speaker’s Dinner, on the night prior to the conference opening, was held at the Italian restaurant “Vittoria on the Bridge“. I felt well-fed, which met my need for eating after a long day travelling. I  felt frustrated and, eventually, exhausted by the level of noise – which impinged on the quality of conversations. As an introvert, the location did not meet my need for a cozy and conversation-friendly environment.

The Hotel

Most of the speakers stayed at the Apex International, Grassmarket. I found this a pleasant hotel, although the bar/lounge area was a little small and generally noisy. The barman was a star. As in the Speakers’ Dinner restaurant, I felt frustrated and, eventually, exhausted by the level of noise – which impinged on the quality of conversations. As an introvert, my need for a comfortable and supportive environment for e.g. conversation was not met.

The Sessions

[TBD]

The Videos

The videos (coming soon) may not catch the spirit of the event (we shall see) but they will likely give you a taste of the subjects covered. I’ll post the links here when they’re available.

Summary

Chris and the other organisers put on a great conference, both at the venue and in the other locations like the hotel and Speakers’ Dinner. I felt cared for and valued. This met my need for being part of and contributing to something joyful. Their efforts meant many of my needs from such an event were met. The biggest unmet need of mine was for conversation-friendly oases of tranquility in which to advance meaningful human connections.

If you get the chance to attend next year, grab it!

– Bob

4 comments
  1. With Edinburgh being a regular host to stag dos and hen nights, it’s not uncommon for some sort of altercation to occur. By and large though, Edinburgh is as (un)safe as anywhere else. Oh … there was a riot on Friday night in Glasgow…

  2. Bob,

    Thanks for taking the time to provide such a comprehensive review of the conference. I value your feedback very much!

    I agree that the opportunity for good meaningful conversations was rather limited. I had hoped that the area on the upper floor would have been used for open discusion and was disappointed that it wasn’t. I still feel I could have done more to facilitate this although I hadn’t considered the openness and the ambient noise a barrier until reading your review. Thank you for pointing this out.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the conference, that means a great deal and encourages me to do it all again next year🙂

    Thanks again,
    Chris

  3. Thanks for the great and personal summary – will check back for videos etc… I was disappointed to miss this as that Friday was my last day of a contract so that unfortunately wasn’t going to work. From what you’ve said though, it looks like it will be worth attending – are you planning on another Rightshifting Fest?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: