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.

Software Development is Hard. Updated.

A while back, I put up a previous version of this primer talk that I sometimes do. Most recently to a group of projects managers at the Department of Business and Innovation, here in Melbourne. I thought I’d share the latest version, and you can see it below.

Problem Solving with agile UX – Part 2

6 up 1 up exercise

6 up 1 up exercise

In Part 1, I talked about the motivation behind the “Problem Solving with agile UX” session at the recent LAST (Lean, Agile, and Systems Thinking) conference. Here, I’ll describe what happened on the day.

Back in May, Pete Grierson, a User Experience consultant at realestate.com.au, agreed to present at a meeting of the Melbourne Agile and Scrum Meetup Group. He’s got solid experience at realestate, and in previous roles with agile UX, so I was pleased that he agreed to present that night.  Here’s my writeup of that event.

Originally, one of the options for that meetup, was to have a workshop section. However, the number of people, the size of the venue, and time limitations, meant that it wasn’t practical to do this. Instead, I decided to team up with Pete at LAST conference, and it was great to have a full house for our session.

You can see Pete’s slides used to support the workshop, in the Slideshare deck, below. As I wanted to avoid “death by Powerpoint”, at all costs, most of the time was spent doing a series of exercises, rather than dwelling on the slides.

We also had a video camera setup in the room, and if the video turns out any good, I’ll link to it here.

The session and the exercises had the goals of:

  • demonstrating how UX practices can increase shared understanding by supporting user stories and user story backlogs.
  • showing that UX can be a valuable weapon in your armoury; helping a team build something that is really useful, and valuable to a customer.
  • demonstrating that it’s most valuable to have the whole team involved in UX style activities, in order to collect latent knowledge about the issues, goals, and possible solutions. It’s not just the job of a UX person, all team members (product owners, business analysts, developers, testers), can and should be involved.
  • Showing that it need not take huge amounts of time to include UX practices in agile projects.
One thing I didn’t mention specifically is that UX techniques work great with Story Mapping as promoted in the work of Jeff Patton. My fellow conference co-organizeer, Craig, did a session on story mapping, earlier in the morning. I’ve also written about story mapping, on this site.

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