Agile 2009: Looking back
So, having written up the 18 or so sessions I've attended over the last 4 days, it's worth looking back at Agile 2009.
I should say first of all, it's been absolutely fantastic. There's been so much great content here - I remarked on this to Karl who commented that last year attendees referred to it as "drinking from a firehose". I'd +1 to that, the problem is not finding interesting work but making difficult decisions on which sessions to miss... and there were plenty of great talks and workshops which I couldn't get to.
There's a sense (which Mike Sutton made explicit in his session) of looking beyond software development to other disciplines. Mary Poppendieck crystallised this for me in her Deliberate Practice session, a Gladwellesque talk relating what we do to other crafts in a very general sense. In particular I've seen a surprising number of crossovers with Aikido, both in terms of people here who practice (or have practiced) both, and in analogy. Perhaps that's just because software development and Aikido are the two things I've been practicing longest in my life, perhaps it's a Californian connection, I'm not sure.
On that note, the atmosphere here has been really friendly and open; and in many ways the social structures remind me of Aikido summer schools (in a good way): you have old hands and new hands looking at the same set of problems in very different ways, sharing insights and stealing tips and ideas to the best of their abilities (again, I must emphasise that this is a positive thing!).
There's a bias towards truth-telling (lots of tales of failures as well as successes), and I've been encouraged to hear that many of the problems we experience at FP are shared by others here. I was also particularly pleased to see the amount of attention being paid to UX by people here - it had its own stage and schedule, but was also represented elsewhere, notably in the "Live Aid" project to build an iPhone app, and in the entertaining closing keynote from Jared Spool. Not having been here before I can't be sure, but I get the sense that it's been taken more seriously this year than in previous - which can only be a good thing.
Agile 2009 seems to fit into what's now a triumvirate of conferences abroad which I feel I can't miss; the other two being Mobile 2.0 Europe, and the mighty LIFT. I'm already looking forward to the next one, and I've yet to leave Chicago...