Saturday, August 09, 2008

Agile 2008 Conference

Just returned from the Agile 2008 Conference in Toronto. This is a great conference that applies the agile principles in its organization and execution. Lot's of impromptu "knowledge jam sessions" and even an area for the musically talented to get together and play. It's can be a bit chaotic, but not dull.

The conference had ~ 1600 attendees. It's been growing pretty steadily since it was formed from merger of two smaller conferences about five years ago (including an XP conference). Many popular agile, XP, Scrum and classic CS authors were there. Most were very approachable and friendly.

The attendees were divided up equally between coaches, developers using agile and people new to agile. There were about ten tracks and about 40-50 talks going on at any one time. The sessions dived deeply into agile problems, developments and successes. I gave a 90 minute presentation on agile game development and participated in a CTO panel run by Jim Shore and Dianna Larsen.

The conference was very lightly attended by game developers. I believe there were only three of us, but we smelled each other out soon enough. The other two were a couple of developers from a large company that makes "computerized gaming machines" in Nevada. We had a great conversation over some tasty Indian food about their challenges and stories of making video gaming machines for casinos.

My focus at the conference was attending sessions on building and facilitating great teams. There were plenty of sessions on this topic. I received an overwhelming amount of information on theory, team practices and coaching in the area of hyper-productive teams. You just can't fully appreciate the value of a daily scrum until you've heard about the decades of research on group theory and complex adaptive behavior systems that reinforce the practice. :)

Toronto is a great place for conferences like this, as long as it's in the summer. There are plenty of after hours things to do and great places to eat. All the city dwellers take full advantage of the perfect summer climate. Due to it's terrible winter weather, there are many malls below street level that you can get to quickly for lunch or a quick Starbucks fix.

Next year the conference will take place in Chicago. Hopefully more game developers will attend (think great food and Rush street).

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