Time spent at a conference is precious, so you should make sure there is a return on that investment. What better way to do so than to leverage agile ideas?
Here are a few tips based on the principles behind the Agile Manifesto for getting the most out of attending a conference.
Like any good agile team, do some initial planning before that first conference day to determine which talks you think will be the most worthwhile. But don’t be afraid to change your mind if you hear someone rave about a different speaker or you start listening to a talk that isn’t what you expected. Make the most of your time by having a backup talk highlighted for each time slot so you can quickly adjust as necessary.
Listening to talks can be rewarding, but most conference attendees will tell you the real value is talking to peers at lunch, meeting like-minded people at networking events, and enjoying the social aspects. When you have some downtime, don’t go back to your hotel room or check email. Seek out opportunities to meet other attendees and talk tech. You will be surprised how often other people have the same challenges you do but also have some solutions! Also, don’t be afraid to go up to that speaker you heard earlier and ask follow-up questions. They’ll be able to spend time digging into your situation more than they could in the classroom.
Effect continuous improvement
While you may have an upfront plan for what you are going to attend at the conference, sometimes you get there and realize there are other things going on in the industry that your organization needs to be on top of. Use breaks to reflect on whether your conference plan still makes sense. Should you be spending more time checking out what’s going on with DevOps? Or trying to figure out how to be a better leader? Only you know the answers to these questions, so take the time to adjust your plan based on what you are learning.
Deliver working “software”
From a conference perspective, delivering working “software” means taking home valuable information you can share with others. Whether your management has requested a formal presentation or not, take notes on what you’re learning, download copies of presentations you liked, and start thinking through how you will best spread knowledge when you get back to the office. Doing so not only helps your team learn new concepts, but demonstrates the ROI of attending conferences, which will help justify future conference requests. You will also find that presenting what you heard will help you better understand the topics.
One final thought: You will leave the conference full of exciting ideas for improvement. But once you get back to the office, reality will hit, and all of those great ideas may get buried under day-to-day challenges. Prioritize your improvement ideas and focus on getting one new concept implemented first. After that, you can work off the backlog and continue putting new ideas into practice.
Join me at these following upcoming conferences and lets have some conversations:
EPIC Experience: April 19–23, 2020 | San Diego, CA
STAREAST: May 3–8, 2020 | Orlando, FL
Agile + DevOps West: June 7–12, 2020 | Las Vegas, NV