This year’s XP2010 conference was held in the great Northern parts of Norway, up in Trondheim, only about 200km south from my first XP conference (XP2006) I attended several years ago. I always find this series of conferences interesting, partly because there is always the blend between the academic (research papers and experience reports) and the industrial side as well as the infusion of the hosting country’s culture.
This year, the conference saw 425 attendees (50% of them Norwegian) across 8 different tracks and covering four days of a wide variety of conference mixtures including Lightning Talks, Panels, Workshops, Tutorials, and Open Space events.
The first of the two keynotes, run by Scott Page was my favourite – a lecturer and researched on complexity in different environments. He talked about the importance of diversity and its impact on building better solutions as well as a provable formula calculating what the wisdom of the crowds was. Hopefully they’ll be putting up his slides somewhere as a result.
The second of the keynotes, ran by David Anderson did a great job of condensing down a long talk into a thought-provoking discussion on the work that he’s been doing on building a Kanban movement in the places he’s been working as well as a discussion of his recently released book about Kanban. He had some nice visualisations on the slides and even finished slightly earlier with plenty of times for questions.
Overall the conference seemed to have a nice blend of both process and technical topics, although there were a few complaints about specific discussions around “XP” itself although I think plenty of discussions about specific practices quite useful within any agile context.
I ended up much busier than I thought I would be, playing host for two of the session talks, helping out with a Pecha Kucha (more on that later) session and running a workshop on my own.
Venue, organisation and efficiency wise, the organisers need to be congratulated on a job that will be hard to surpass. Everything seemed to run smoothly including an amazing and difficult-to-forget Conference Banquet involving interesting local foods (smoked reindeer heart, moose and local seafood), a pair of comedic jazz academics, Keep of Kalessin playing some Extreme Metal, all inside Trondheim’s amazing Student Society venue.
The strangest part of the conference for me was participating in a “What’s in my agile suitcase?” Pecha Kucha run by Martin Heider and Bernd Schiffer. You can read more about the format here and it was great to be one of the five other prepared Pecha Kucha’s including Rachel Davies, Mary Poppendieck, Joshua Kierevsky and Jeff Patton. I found the diversity of styles and approaches fascinating as well as the specific things that people “packed” in their suitcases. Being the first time format all the speakers found it a fascinating format made thrilling by the short-time and the fact you don’t have control over the timing of the slides. If I were to do this differently, I’d definitely try to focus on a smaller range of topics (or just one).
My week ended (as did the conference) with my final workshop called “Building the Testing Pipeline.” I’d specifically targeted people who’d been working with automated tests for some time and I ended up with a surprisingly full room. I’d run this previously at ACCU with a slightly different audience. We had some great brainstorming sessions (I’ll be putting that up soon) and hopefully more people came away thinking more consciously about the balance of tests they have and whether or not they have the correct balance that maximises their confidence, and minimises their feedback cycle.
I’m also very proud that the experience report that I shepherded won best paper (experience report), and I finally got to meet the author, Jørn Ola Birkeland of Bekk Consulting, in person to congratulate him on the day.
Thanks to all the organisers, participants, and passionate people that made the conference so much fun and success. Wonderful to reconnect with old friends and make many new ones.