So, this is the 10th anniversary year of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, and the registration for next week’s Agile 2011 conference is the highest ever. This year, like others, we at LitheSpeed will be active and enthusiastic participants in the conference. Since this is an anniversary year, I thought some reminiscing would be appropriate.

My initial encounter with the agile community was in 2002, when my boss at that time took us to XP Universe. To someone new to the community, it was quite awe inspiring to meet luminaries like “Uncle Bob” Martin and Michael Feathers. I remain impressed by Uncle Bob and Michael to this day. Then, the next year’s Agile conference brought a chance to meet none other than Alistair Cockburn in Salt Lake City. I have to say that that year’s conference changed my professional life. I made so many friends, many of who have remained in close community. Alistair Cockburn, Sid Pinney from Thoughtworks, our own Bob Payne, Michael Hamman — I met them all that year. Bob, Michael and I hung out at a taco truck and spoke excitedly about our shared interest in an Open Space session on Complex Adaptive Systems. We were excited because we felt in our bones that we were on the cusp of something new and big. We didn’t quite know where the whole movement was headed; but when we met magnetic personalities like Diana Larsen and Ellen Gottesdiener, we knew that we had mentors and friends on that journey.

Over the years, every agile conference has grown, but I know others are having that first-time experience of discovering something new and wonderful (or maybe just exotic: few can forget the belly dancers at Agile 2004). Things have grown busier, the conference tracks are more packed, the speakers more advanced, but there remains an air of something new and different with every conference. Also nowadays, the conference certainly carries itself with a well heeled air. The taco stands have been replaced with vendor receptions and other generous spreads. Agile has both grown up and is bringing in the bacon/tofu. So, what keeps us coming back together?

Some years ago, I had a wonderful vacation in Sedona, Arizona and learned about its energy vortexes. Okay, so maybe I’m just not that into the vortexes (vortices?), but I think that the Agile Alliance has created a sort of energy vortex around the conference.

I think, every year, this wonderful vortex draws us all in – experienced and novices alike – and gives a uniquely uplifting experience. In this year’s vortex, I don’t doubt that I will meet old friends and make new ones, and learn tons more. But what draws me back this year, is exactly what has drawn me back in past years: the opportunity to learn and share more about what is ostensibly a development and/or project management process, but what has become for me and many others, a joyful way of work.

This year, we’re excited that LitheSpeed’s presence at the conference will include:
  1. The Live Aid Lab/Agile Philanthropy led by Bob Payne, Tuesday 8/9 through Friday 8/12
  2. 10 Minutes to Testable Specifications led by David Bulkin and Bob Payne, Tuesday 8/9
  3. 10 Minutes to a Better Standup led by David Bulkin and Bob Payne, Tuesday 8/9
  4. The Joy of Work: Managing Performance, Innovation and Organizational Maturity, led by Arlen Bankston and Sanjiv Augustine, Wednesday 8/10 at 1:30 PM
  5. Three Months for Idea to Implementation: Jumpstarting Agile in Nuclear Power, led by Srini Gopalan and Eric Pitschke from Westinghouse Nuclear, and Sanjiv Augustine
  6. Visual Portfolio Management – Putting the ‘Big’ in Big Visible Tracking led by Bob Payne and MIchael Kaiser
  7. Interviews of Agile Thought Leaders for InfoQ, led by David Bulkin
To our many friends and associates with whom we’ve consulted and trained, I hope that this event will give us a few moments to catch up, and to connect yet again.
Hope to see you there in less than a week!