Agile Conference - A Stage Producers Story

Posted in Agile and Musings - 0

The Agile Alliance "Agile" conference has become the preeminent event for our community each year. It boasts, on average, 1500 attendees and this year received nearly 1000 submissions. Organizing this is no small task.

This post is meant to share with attendees and submitters alike what my experience working on the conference for the last four years has been like. My next three posts will show you what it is my teams look for in submissions, how we make decisions, and more.

I have broken the posts down to these three areas:

I have been working on the conference for four years. In 2007 I was a reviewer and shepherd for the Experience Report (XR) track. In 2008, I worked as a team member for the Leadership & Teams stage that was being run by Johanna Rothman and Mike Griffiths. Along with Pollyanna Pixton, the four of us made up the team and reviewed 150+ sessions. In 2009 I picked up the Stage Manager role for the Organization and Culture stage and this year I am running the Leadership and Culture stage. I have submitted papers each year and have had some accepted and some rejected.

Despite what you may have heard, working the conference is a paid position for only a few people; most who dedicate their time to the conference are volunteers. Even those who are paid aren't making a living off the money. Stage producers in 2008 (if I recall correctly) received $10,000. For 2009, the number went down to $250 because we wanted to ensure we had more money to get good keynote speakers (among other things). In 2010, the stage producer is paid $1,000. In addition, each stage producer is given free conference admission and hotel nights. Prior to the conference we build the stage program. While at the conference, we are expected to introduce each session, with the help of our assistant producers, as well as attend the conference retrospective, write up a report on our stage and to handle the feedback and survey data. Assistant producers and reviewers are often never compensated and dedicate countless hours of their time to helping review hundreds of sessions. My team this year and last year were invaluable. It is truly a labor of love and a way to give back to a community that has given so much.

With that out of the way, it’s time to share with you what my team looks for and what a good submission looks like. My next blog post will deal with ways to increase your odds of getting a session accepted at the Agile Alliance Agile Conference.