Experiment with the Melbourne Agile and Scrum Meetup community


This is a version of an email I sent to the 5000+ members of the Melbourne Scrum and Agile meetup group, in February. I’ve been involved in organising this group, along with others like Craig Brown, since 2011.

This post is intended to be a record to point people in the group to, if they need explanation of the the experiment, in subsequent months. I also intend to do a follow up post, with some observations.

There are also some FAQs about the experiment on the February 2018 meetup listing.

The eagle eyed among you, will have noticed that to RSVP for the meetup on 28 February, there is a $10 fee.


Here’s the reasons why we are trying this experiment.

There were a few issues that I noticed in the meetups in 2017.

1 – We were struggling to get venues…sometime it only happened at the last moment.

2 – Often the topic of the meetup was decided on, at a late stage.

3 – Although many people RSVP’d, there was a very large % of no shows.

I’ll briefly address points 1 & 2:

Venue/Catering – I’ve sorted out the venue situation, as Envato have kindly provided the venue and provided a small budget for catering, for the next few months.

Meetup Topic – The idea of the meetup is that group member should propose topics, and if they don’t have the expertise to run the session themselves, we crowd finds someone who can. For Feb and March, Brett and Daniel have stepped in…but we still need topics for April onward.


As far as I know, this group is one of the longest running (founded in 2008) and largest (5100+ members) in Melbourne/Australia. There have been over 100 meetups in that time. It was started by Martin Kearns, who sometimes still gets involved.

It’s always on the last Wed of the month, unless public holidays or other extraordinary circumstances prevent it. In recent times, it’s an open RSVP, often without a confirmed topic or venue. As there are 5000+ members, but limited physical space, it seems that people will jump in and RSVP early, but then are a no show for various reasons…not interested in topic, double booked, washing their hair. Some people change their RSVP, often at the last moment, or they don’t give any notice.

The net effect is that:

• people who do really want to come miss out,

• it’s hard to cater and plan logistics,

• volunteers who run the Meetups don’t know how many people will come which makes it difficult in cases where equipment is needed for activities.

So, to secure your RSVP for Feb 28, you will need to use Meetups system and pay $10. When you show up, you get the money back, or you can choose to contribute to catering (useful if we don’t have a catering sponsor) and/or contribute to a good cause (for this experiment, it’s Flying Robot School.) Also RSVPs will open closer to the date of the Meetup, preferably once the topic has been decided.

There’s more FAQ’s about this on the Meetup’s page, where you can also RSVP. You can also see the 1 experiment canvas I’m using, at the top of this post.

Who comes to LAST Conference?

Who comes to LAST_preview

I run an event with Craig Brown called LAST Conference. It’s happening for the 4th time on 18 September 2015. In 2014, I was pleasantly surprised that the Software Development Today blog rated us #20 in the Top 50 agile conferences.

It’s a meetup on steroids

Of the various descriptions there are about the event, I like “It’s a meetup on steroids”, the best. It’s designed for people who have a bit of experience with agile (I run an event called 1st Conf for people who have less experience). We have a whole day of workshops, talks, lightning talks, retrospectives etc. We deliberately have up to 7 concurrent sessions, to keep things exciting and we keep it really affordable, too.

Who comes?

In the lead up to this year’s event, I was doing some analysis of who comes along so I thought I’d share. Look ma, I did a pie chart! Click the preview above for a larger version.

Not unsurprisingly, people who fit into a manager role, make up the greatest proportion of participants, followed closely by Business Analysts. The types of job title that made it into the Manager bucket were “Business Solutions Manager” or “Practice Manager”.

It’s good to see that there is a reasonably diverse spread of roles and it’s really good to see that Developers are about one fifth of the cohort, there’s a few Architects and a good few QA people. I would like more UX folk to come along…we’ve got a couple of UX sessions in the pipeline this year.

18 September 2015

We’ve run the event in the darkest days of Melbourne Winter, up until now. This year, we’re going to be in Spring! In order to make use of Swinburne Uni’s brand-new Advanced Manufacturing Design Centre (AMDC), we have moved away from their crowded winter term and instead will be on 18 September 2015. We will be opening registration in the coming days (signup to the mailing list to be the first to know), and you can still submit a session idea, over on the LAST Conference website.

Headline sponsors – elabor8

Sponsorship from companies keeps the event affordable. elabor8 have returned as headline sponsors this year. If you’d like to join them, then please get in touch.

LAST Conference is organised by Tabar, a group of agile exponents in Melbourne, Australia.

What’s so funny ’bout Peace, Love and Understanding — Agile Singapore 2013

I was fortunate to be invited to the Agile Singapore conference, in November, to present a session titled “What’s so funny ’bout Peace, Love and Understanding?”. This may sound familiar to you from the song written by Nick Lowe and made popular by Elvis Costello.

I was also joined by Melbourne colleagues, Craig and Neil, who were also on the schedule. Neil was on the first leg of his #NoEstimates roadshow, that also took in Finland and The Netherlands. Craig was telling the good folks of Singapore about Management 3.0

My session was based around the search for understanding in different forms in agile projects, and in general. I started off with a few lyrics from the song:

“So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony? Sweet harmony.”

I chose to highlight this song and its lyrics, as it had triggered a thought process about how working together on teams on complex and wicked problems, is all about searching for understanding about how to move through an ever changing landscape, and how to understand each other, and the people that we are making our products for.

I  moved rapidly through topics such as Motivation, work as a co-operative game, how change can be supported, how Barcelona FC and other team sports can help us to understand understanding, and a few techniques that can help us to understand our customers.

Lastly, we played “The Vacation Game”, where pairs discussed where they would go on holiday together, then joining another pair to discuss the same topic, and so on. The ideas was to help people understand who else was in the room (by talking to them!), and to get them out of their seats.

The next time I deliver this talk, I think I would have the vacation game at the start, and then proceed with the rest of the slides. I would also concentrate on explaining some of the connections more carefully, such as why I used the song. In my mind, it all makes perfect sense, but if I’m jumping around from a song, to a football team, throwing in  a board game, and a statue of Bruce Lee along the way, then I think I could improve the way that I stitch it all together.


Agile Singapore’s photo of the conference speakers.

As for the conference itself, I found it to be a worthwhile experience. I’m not really a fan of the massive convention centre vibe, but putting that aside, there was a good variety of things going on. There was as much of a community feeling that there could be, considering the surroundings, with lots of  enthusiastic folks participating over the 2 days. I enjoyed talking to people in the Singapore agile scene, to get a gist of what has been going on there. I also had a chance to have a look around Singapore itself.

An added bonus is that I can now say that I’m an “international speaker”, and been on the bill with luminaries such as Kent Beck, David Hussman and Jim McCarthy. It was good to attend the Hussman session about story mapping to confirm that I’ve been on target with what I do with my clients, too.

Congratulations to the organisers, and I hope they go on to organise more successful events, in the future.