XP Day for a first-timer

When I turned up at 'XP Day 2011', I was a little bit anxious. I didn't really know what it was, and didn't know anyone going. I had signed up out of curiosity, after seeing it mentioned on Twitter a few times.

Luckily, as it turned out, I hadn't inadvertently joined a cult or wandered into something else suitably tragic. I'd ended up in an 'open-space' format conference, with what looked like 'normal' people.

The idea was simple:

  • at the start of each day, attendees were able to propose topics for discussion, which were then allocated a room and timeslot
  • during the course of the day, attendees were free to roam between sessions that interested them (the law of two feet - if you're not learning or contributing, feel free to move on)
  • at the end of the day, everyone would head to the pub 


Dan Hill, of crashpadder.com talking about Cohort Analysis

goldfish bowl conversation  on conceptual integrity


The sessions that transpired were a mixture of off-the-cuff conversations and pre-prepared presentations followed by discussion. Thanks to the law of two feet, I managed to get involved with everything from a coding dojo to a discussion on using cohort analysis to track customer engagement.

Unfortunately, I didn't manage to host a session myself, but the open-space format did, at least, mean I could get actively involved in other people's sessions.

I didn't feel out-of-my-depth or intimidated, in fact everyone was remarkably friendly. If you're a complete novice when it comes to agile or lean development or someone reluctant to speak up in unfamiliar situations, then I probably wouldn't recommend this event. Its quality is heavily reliant on a supply of willing and knowledgeable orators, and there was even some deliberate discouragement for rank amateurs: the registration form, for example, requested information on your personal experiences.

If you're not afraid to get involved though, definitely go along!

P.S. If you haven't heard of it, check out the eXtremeTuesdayClub, which meets every Tuesday. A number of the XP Day organisers, some of the most prominent members of the agile community, are regulars there.