If you aren’t already familiar GitHub, the interview provides a quick overview of it’s capabilities and what it does. If you are a PM and you use Github, Brent is currently working on reaching out to the PM community learn more about of how project managers can leverage source control applications to make their jobs easier.
During the conversations we had in Malmo, one of the most interesting things Brent and I discussed was how GitHub works from a distributed employee standpoint. They are based in San Francisco, but 70% of the staff work remotely. If you are struggling to cope with the challenges of distributed teams, check out the interview to hear some of the ways that GitHub has managed to establish itself as an organization that was able to function in a distributed way. Brent shares a lot of the critical things that GitHub does to make sure the relationships and interactions are deeply established despite the virtual nature of the organization.
One of the exploding lightbulb moments for me during the interview was at 9:40 in when Brent says that during the previous day he had been “trying not to work”. This struck me because I often struggle with the same thing when I am home, and I wonder if this will be a new challenge distributed organizations have to learn to cope with. When you have a group of highly motivated, energized people who work for your company, and they enjoy what they do so much that the hard part is getting them to stop and take a break, how does that impact sustainable pace? In the same way that teams are sometimes forced to work all night and all weekend, I’m wondering if we may reach a point where we have to stop teams from working all night and all weekend.
I've written before about how much I value Øredev. One of the best things about the event is that each year they post the videos from the presentations.
Here are a few of my favorites from this year:
Denise Jacobs (@denisejacobs)
The Creativity (R)
Fred George (@fgeorge52)
Roy “Woody” Zull (@WoodyZuill)@jbrains)
Practical Tools for Playing Well With Others
Extreme Personal Finance
Agile Lightning Talks (J.B. Rainsberger, Dave Prior (Me), Woody Zuill
Adrian Howard (@adrianh)
Lean UX: Building Products People Want
Angela Harms (@angelaharms)
Does Pair Programming Have to Suck?
Jutta Eckstein (http://www.jeckstein.com/)
The Art of Learning and Mentoring
Jessica Kerr (@jessitron)
Functional Principles for Object Oriented Developers
Kate Sullivan (@DrGorgonzola)
New Frontiers for In-House Legal Practice
If you have ever attended a professional conference, one of the most common things you hear goes something like this:
"Oh, I don’t actually get much out of the sessions. I really just attend to network. The most important part of these things is what happens in the hallways in between sessions."
One reason professionals often attend conferences is for self-validation. Being surrounded for a few days by peers who share the same knowledge base you do and attending sessions that confirm that you all do in fact know the things you need to know can be very reassuring.
If you reach the stage where that becomes boring, you, like many will bail on the sessions and spend time in the hallway chatting with your colleagues. This is the portion most people say they find most valuable. It is a great way to extend your network, check in with others on your ideas and ensure that your face and name are a recognized entity in your professional community.
The question is, is this really the best that professional conferences have to offer?
This fall I attended two events that changed the way I look at conferences. The first was DPM 2013, which I’ve already written about here. It exposed me to a segment of professionals in the PM field who are working towards what may become a new way of approaching work. It includes aspects of agile and traditional pm, but is really neither of those things.
This November, I had the good fortune to be able to present at Øredev 2013 and this is the event that has had the most significant impact on how I view conferences now. This was my 3rd time attending Øredev. It is always enriching and challenging, but this time, I found myself very reluctant to miss any of the session. Each talk I attended introduced me to a new batch of ideas, concepts and ways of working that were unfamiliar to me. Each speaker I watched present, challenged some assumptions or practices I hadn’t previously thought to question. As someone who was firmly in the “It all happens in the hallways” camp, this was a new experience for me. I was more concerned about missing something my brain needed than I was about hanging out in the halls networking. Any decent conference will offer an attendee a chance to learn something, but what makes Øredev stand out is that it requires something more than information consumption.
The best way to sum it up may be by paraphrasing a conversation I had with another attendee at Øredev following the "Tekhnasthai" keynote given by Anna Beatrice Scott. He said:
IMHO, this is the type of bar against which conferences planners should be measuring themselves if their events are going to retain value going forward. And as attendees, we should use the same bar. Going to conferences where we can have our assumptions validated or where we can be passively fed is not enough. In order to grow the profession and grow in our practice of it, we should always be seeking out events that will push and challenge us and leaning into the scary bits.