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.

User Experience and Agile – Meetup report

I used to work with a chap called James. When I met him, he was known as a User Centred Designer (UCD) , and I worked with him on some of the projects that I have previously written about on this site. We hope to collaborate on some articles on here in the future.

These days, he’s a Senior Experience Designer at New England agency, MadPow. You might have seen an article recently by two of James’ colleagues, Illustrating the Big Picture : Journeys, Experiences and Interactions.

I also used to run an agile group in Oxford, where I used to live, and we used to team up with the UX Oxford group, from time to time.

Anyway, as you can tell, I’m a big advocate of incorporating User Experience into agile projects. Ever since I became involved with the Melbourne Agile and Scrum User Group, I wanted to organise an event to discuss UX and Agile.

After a couple of false starts, the evening was held on 23 May 2012, at the Seek offices in St Kilda Rd. I announced the event on Meetup, and within a day 115 places had been snapped up, and we had around 30 people on the waiting list. So, obviously a pretty hot topic!

Peter Grierson, did a talk on general User Experience principles, with an emphasis on how UX can support shared understanding in an agile project. He shared some examples of what he’s done at variuos companies in New Zealand and Australia, most recently at REA (realestate.com.au). Incidentally, I’m hoping to team up with Pete, for a session at LAST Conference, that has a UX focus.

You can see his presentation, and listen to his talk, in the Slideshare deck, below.

Later, we had a a panel discussion relating to the gatherings’ real world examples of Agile UX . The panel used a Fishbowl format to allow everyone to take part in the discussion, which I think worked pretty well.

Thanks very much to Simon and Amelia from Seek for helping to organise the evening, and to Seek for providing the venue and refreshments for the gathering!