Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lean Conference Recap

Last week I was an attendee and a speaker at the Lean Software and Systems Conference. It was three days of lean, kanban, and flow; and it really got the wheels turning on a few things.

Off the top, a quick warning: If you are a restaurant owner and you don’t usually set up a buffet line in your restaurant, pray that Mary Poppendieck is not among the first few patrons to your new set up. This situation happened at the speaker lunch, and as 50+ lean thought leaders (and me) lined up, Mary came out with, “You would think a restaurant with a buffet line would understand queuing theory!”

Overall, the conference was very interesting. It wasn’t the normal dev conference I’m used to attending. The audience was comprised of project managers and team leads much more so than it was of developers and engineers. It made for a much different dynamic…and dress code. A lot more khakis and golf shirts than cargo shorts and Star Wars t-shirts.

The sessions were pretty good, but this was year two for this conference. That combined with the relative newness of the whole lean software movement led to some overlap in session content. Not saying that’s a bad thing overall, just the nature of the situation.

As with any conference, the hallway sessions add to the whole situation. I saw a few familiar faces and met quite a few new folks, including three guys who had flown over from Sweden for the conference. (And got past the volcano that wreaked havoc on the speaker schedule all three days.)

The only real downer for me was I didn’t get to visit open spaces. I was opposite the open spaces on Friday, so I was preparing to speak or speaking during the first part of the morning. After that, we were tearing down the booth and getting to the airport for our flight home. Would have liked to have seen what came out of those open spaces.

I thought my own session went pretty well. I did 45 minutes of a kanban experience report, and got a few questions near the end. The room was pretty big, so it didn’t lend itself too well to creating the discussion this topic has for me in the past. But, I was video taped for the first time in my short speaking career, so when that link comes out I’ll be sure to pass it around. (After reviewing it to make sure my hair looks ok.)

It looks like next year is slated to be in LA. I’ll submit a topic again, but even if I’m not selected to speak I may have to attend. This isn’t a CodeMash I must-attend-as-long-as-I-have-a-pulse type situation, but more to see how this conference matures and drives lean and kanban forward.

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