For me as cross pollinator, conferences are great places to meet great people, to learn and share new and amazing subjects and to get exciting ideas. Almost every week agile conferences take place somewhere around the world. It can, however, be hard to keep track of all of them. It would be unfortunate when you miss an event just because you did not hear about it. It would also be embarrassing when you organize an event yourself, and find that similar events take place on the exact same days. Fortunately, there is a community-maintained public Google calendar of global conferences focusing on agile. The calendar was created by Yves Hanoulle and is available on http://agileconferenc.es . The Agile Alliance embraced these calendars and published them on their website.
Available as public Google Calendar
Google Calendar is a Master Calendar that aggregates individual calendars in one place. You create or sign in with your Google account. Your Google Calendar may include your own personal and business calendar, and any public calendars that you subscribe to. On any available public calendar, just click on the ‘+' to add that calendar to your Google Calendar. When you're not using Google Calendar, a shortcut in your browse can be your best friend.
In 2007 Yves Hanoulle, a Belgian agile coach, started the Agile Conferences Calendar for himself. He shared the calendar with his friends and over the years it became more popular and more difficult to keep up to date. Yves stopped adding agile events to the calendar for others, instead he invited others to join the Agile Conferences Group and maintain the calendar themselves.
There are always more people willing to help than bad people. Look for the helpers. If you can't see helpers, it's your turn.
Community members, currently 185 from all over the world, get full access to the agenda (actually three agendas) and are added to a low traffic mailing list. When they introduce themselves, there always receive some warm welcome messages.
Some members are relatively new, some joined the community more than ten years ago and are still actively involved, adding events year after year. Probably there are sleeping members too, we just let them and welcome them back when they awake. As most members are event organizers, we use the list to schedule our own events at less crowdy moments When adding events, mistakes are easily made. Here the community really helps, as other members check new events for missing details or links that don't work. Sometimes, when working with multiple Google Calendars at the same time, events from other members can accidentally get deleted. When Yves sees a suspicious action in the log, he contacts that person and asks them to put the event back on the calendar.
Due to COVID-19 lots of events were cancelled or turned to online. On the calendars, these events usually start there name with ‘Cancelled' or ‘Online'. Keeping the cancelled events on the calendar is a great benefit for people trying to find out what happened to their favorite conference.
How I got involved
I got first involved in the community when I organized my first Agile Open Holland in 2017. I was proud to put our event on the agenda and introduced myself to the community. I was surprised to see so many familiar and famous names there. And curious about the names I did not recognize, I reached out, connected, and learned so much more. In 2017 the low traffic mailing list got very busy for a while when Chris Matts invited members to participate in the creation of the Snowbird Collaboratory, named after the Snowbird ski resort where the Agile Manifesto was created in 2001. Yves and I were among the volunteers that supported this initiative. The collaboratory grew to over 200 members, but is not active anymore. I still host that website.
Me stepping in
Each year Yves receives some fifty to a hundred requests to access the calendar. Ranging from people interested in finding conferences, to organizers and spammers. Handling all the requests became too time consuming for Yves, so I was happy to step in there. All requests are now entered in Google Form and channeled to Google Sheets where we track sending first replies and adding new community members to the calendars and mailing list. As a cross pollinator, I really like these first contacts. Most requests involve people interested for other reasons than adding their event to the calendar. Asking people what they would like to have happen sometimes sparks an interesting conversation and gives great opportunities to really help, ranging from showing how to use Google Calendar to introducing them to one of my contacts or other communities I'm involved in. Currently I'm doing most of this work with Yves monitoring on the background. When I'm too involved in other things, like holidays, Yves just steps in again.
How you can get involved
When you are an organizer of an agile conference or event, we invite you to become part of the community. It won't cost you a lot of time, and still have the benefits of meeting and contacting other organizers.
When you miss an event on the calendar, please contact the organizers and tell them to get their event listed.
When you're hosting a website, you can enhance its value by displaying the calendars on your site. When you're hosting a Slack Workspace, you can easily display all changes to the calendars in a dedicated channel. That way your members will be among the first to hear about new or updated events.
Taking ownership means you hold yourself accountable for your actions and how you do your job. You move from “that’s not my job or my responsibility” to “what can I do to improve results?”
Taking ownership is enclosed in one of the principles of the Agile Manifesto:
“Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.”
As an agile coach, I would like to see both individual team members and whole teams take ownership more often. I want to investigate how to facilitate this and share my learnings with you in this blog.
Taking Ownership is hard
What I see is that nowadays most organizations see benefits in moving towards a more agile way of working. These organizations are gradually learning and growing. Some organizations are just starting their journey, others have already achieved significant progress. And withing organizations, we see the same differences between teams.
But growing a team is hard work. It’s easier said than done. In my experience, a big hurdle is enabling teams to take ownership.
It seems simple: all it takes is management to trust teams and allow them to take full ownership of their project, and teams taking that freedom and become a high performing team.
But what to do when the team is not ready to take ownership? Or when management is not ready to give ownership to the team?
Agile coaches can help
Coaches can help the team with their initial transition by cultivating the agile values and principles and making small improvements.