It is the Passion, Stupid!
If you harbored some doubts about having good time in Salt Lake City, please take a look at the picture above: Colleague Alex Pukinskis and I “caught” in a minute of pure joy during the Agile Roots conference. I don’t recall the subject we were discussing, but the picture speaks for itself even without a subject.
The relevance of the picture to Agile goes beyond “and here is a picture from the Agile Roots conference.” I actually believe that there is something special in Agile conferences of small to medium scale. These conferences are all about the experience. The program, the presenters and the venue are, of course, important. But, more than anything else these conferences are about savoring the community experience. The value is in the experience.
Over the past year I presented in four small to medium Agile conferences:
My sense is that in each of these conferences the passion of a small group of organizers was the key to success. This passion proved infectious – it affected presenters, participants and volunteers to form an experience that can only be expressed in the words “I wish I were there.”
While I meet many passionate folks in larger Agile/Software conferences, the experience is different. My guess is that it is a matter of “density of passion.” A few passionate organizers suffice to “ignite” a small/medium conference. This core passion does not seem to scale beyond a certain number of participants.