XPDay – Reflections and Thoughts by Chris Matts

At the post XPDay drinks session I realised that the easiest way to think of the XPDay organisation was that I was the Scrum Master and Steve Freeman was the Product Manager. He made the decisions and I kept an eye on implementation. We used Real Options rather than Scrum as the approach to organising XPDay.

Please leave comments about what you liked and disliked. Also ideas for next time. We will discuss them at the retrospective (Date to be confirmed).

A brain dump of things that spring to mind about XPDay…

1. The organisers, Nader Talai (Operations, Finance, Sponsors and Registrations), Marc Johnson (Technical Track), Julian Kelsey (Technical Track and Magazine), Steve Freeman (Quality) and I (As little as possible) were all regulars at XTC. This made it easy to organise meetings. We simply went off in the corner for ten minutes.

2. The nice venue added significantly to the pleasant atmosphere. It was so nice to be in a bright, naturally lit, space. I love Giovanni’s comment “This is the nicest basement I’ve spent two days in”.

It has already been suggested that next year might be held upstairs in the even nicer part of the building.

3. We had a complaint at the end of Day One that the “Technical Track” room was unpleasant. Nader arranged for the rooms to be switched for Day Two. Next year we should get feedback at lunch time.

4. Free entry reduced the operational overhead and gave the organisers more freedom on who could attend. Once the registration closed we had a policy of “XTC Regulars – Past and Present” could still be added to the registration list.

5. One hiccup was that the Lean Startup Meet Up site told people to register via the XPDay eventbrite page. However a number of people registered on the Lean Startup Meetup. In future, we should ensure that people cannot register in anyway on other sites.

6. We deliberated did not print delegate names so that no one could tell who had signed up and who just turned up on the day. Delegates wrote their own name badges. We provided material so that they could create a fresh badge for day two. Delegates were encouraged to write their twitter name on their badge (something copied from #ALEBerlin).

7. Steve’s requirement that all attendees write a five line experience report as a barrier to entry would appear to have worked. The general feeling was that most sessions were fairly advanced. It was felt that people new to Agile might have struggled with many of the sessions as they assumed a high level of knowledge. We will do something similar in the future.

8. We had hoped to provide the opportunity for someone to use XPDay as their first open space faciliation. Rachel did a fantastic job of facilitating the open space on Day one and mentoring and coaching Phil Parker. Phil Parker then did an amazing job of facilitating Day Two. I would like to see a master and Padawan run next year’s open space. I hope other conferences do the same to grow the number of open space facilitators.

9. The open space closing session was expertly facilitated by Phil. Phil asked people to share a learning and make an appreciation. He also asked people to tweet using the #myDailyThankYou tag. Phil projection the twitter stream for the tag as people were speaking. I found it very moving. The idea of using #myDailyThankYou as an appreciation came from Yves Hanoulle in the post #ALEBerlin discussions. I hope to do it again. It meant the end of conference generated a very positive stream of tweets.

10. I enjoyed the half hour walk from the venue to XTC. It forced us to get some fresh air and exercise.

11. I loved Rob Bowley’s “title sponsor” talk. He simply thanked the organisers and the other sponsors. Very cool.

12. The end of day one keynote worked well bringing everyone together before we went for drinks. I think most people were tired from the sessions and it provided an entertaining and informative end to the day when everyone was tired.

13. Last year we had no technical sessions. We learned that the last responsible moment for technical sessions was before the conference. This year we had a good selection of technical sessions. I think the track set the tone for the conference as a place for software practitioner’s. Having the technical track set up allowed for the spontaneous “Enigma” session at lunch on day two.

14. We did not create a schedule in advance. The technical sessions and experience report time slots were chosen by the presentors on the morning.

15. On day one, we used a first come, first served approach to proposing sessions. Day two, we put those sessions we had commited to the presenters (Technical Track and Experience Reports) on first. It went smoother on day two because of this as we did not have to tell people not to propose sessions in technical track or experience report rooms.

16. I thank Michael (@arsagilis) for a conversation that means we need to be clearer about the purpose of XPDay sessions. They do not exist to answer a question but rather provide a way of meeting the people who can help with answering the question. If you find an answer, its a bonus.

17. We committed to let people who had prepared a technical session or experience report the opportunity to deliver it. There was no commitment from the presenters. A few had to drop out but it did not cause any extra work as we did not have a programme.

18. We did really badly at letting everyone know what was going on. Need to find a way of communicating better that requires little or no effort.

19. Manning reception is a great way to meet people. Might offer the role to first timers next year so they can meet more people. Perhaps consider an ice breaker for first timers during the registration period.

20. Some people missed the big names you often find at other conferences. Some did not. It was suggested that XTC could organise more opportunistic XTC nights when big names are in town. Or get speakers on subjects of interest. The room at the Bishop’s Finger lends itself to talks.

More to come.


Lean Startup Track @ XPDay

The Lean Startup Community has arranged to join XPDay on Tuesday.

They will start with a one hour introduction at 9.30.

Speakers will stick around so that they can be pulled into open space sessions.

Presenters/Topic include…

  • Philipp Moehring, Seedcamp  – Lean Startup from an investors POV
  • Salim Virani, Leancamp – Web Business Models and the Missionary Position
  • Damien Kimmelman,  Duedil – Lean Hiring & Teams
  • Chris Matts – Feature Injection
  • Dan Hill, Crashpadder – Cohort analysis in Google Analytics (or just what’s the point of cohorts?)
  • James Gill, Go Squared – How we decided to pivot (interview)
  • Rob Fitzpatrick, The Startup Toolkit – Turns Out My Business Was A Blog


Track Host.

Call for Experience Reports

Experience reports are at the heart of learning in the Agile community.

We are soliciting for experience reports to form part of the Experience Report Track at XP Day 2011. If you have had an experience that you feel would be of value to the wider community, please submit a session.

If you have not presented before, you will be assigned a shepherd to help you prepare.

To submit a session, leave a comment on this post. We will create a blog post for each experience report so that others can leave a comment on your submission.

Your submission should be a paragraph or two and should cover the following points as appropriate:

  1. Background context
  2. What we wanted to change
  3. What we tried
  4. Something that succeeded
  5. Something that failed
  6. Something that surprised us

All the best

The XP Day 2011 team.

Lean Startup Track at XPDay

Dear All

We are delighted to announce that Salim Virani, the organiser of the London Lean Startup and various Lean Startup Camps will be organising a Lean Startup track for XP Day.

The Lean Startup track will be similar to the one that Salim ran at TNW “The Next Web” conference in Amsterdam. The Lean Startup track at TNW consisted of eight fifteen minute presentations and talks.

More details to follow!

The XP Day Team



21-22 November at Mary Ward House

Mary Ward HouseThis year XP Day will be on 21st and 22nd November at Mary Ward House

Once again, this will be a free event for practitioners which is funded by sponsorship. We are looking for sponsors for the event. Please contact Nader Talai for details.

Based on feedback from last year, this will be an open space event again, however we will also have two tracks:

  • Experience Reports ( as last year )
  • A technical track as this requires setup and planning. (Organiser: Marc Johnson – please e-mail me at xpday@marcj.co.uk)

Even though this is an open space event, it does not mean that planned sessions are not allowed. Get planning!

Registration details will be posted here soon.

Xp Day