When I first heard this year’s stateside Scrum Gathering would be in New Orleans, I had no doubt it would be amazing. The Scrum Gathering is one of my favorite events all year and I’d always wanted to visit New Orleans, so this was a no-brainer. With the Scrum Gathering scheduled right up against New Orleans’ famed Jazz Festival, I knew I would make the most of this trip.
I could gush on forever about how great everything was, but it would be far too lengthy. (Which probably would mean never getting written in the first place since I exhibit a significant fear of commitment when it comes to writing long posts). So, in the interest of brevity, I’m just going to give you my top three highlights.
1) The People
It may seem a little cheesy, but it’s true. There is no replacement for connecting with the greater Scrum community in person. As we’ve heard so many times in the Principles behind the Agile Manifesto:
“The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and
within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”
(If by chance you’ve not heard this a million times, you should just stop reading right now and go check it out, because it’s super important. And when you’re done reading it, print it out and put it on the wall by your desk. I’m not kidding. Go now. I’ll wait.)
Well, it should be no surprise that the benefits of face-to-face conversation extend well beyond development teams. It’s the best way to experience relationships and community in general. And for me, it created a real eye opener when I went to my very first Gathering. I had been floundering for years, sometimes in an agile vacuum and sometimes in the company of a small group of brilliant Scrum-minded friends. But suddenly, there at my first Gathering, I truly felt that I was among my people.
2) The Parade
Yes, a parade. But not just any parade. A Scrum Gathering parade. A real life parade for us! A major thoroughfare was shut down just so all 600 of us brainiacs could march through New Orleans led by a three-piece jazz band and a full police escort. I mean, who gets their very own parade?? This girl. That’s who.
3) The Jazz
Obviously, New Orleans is overflowing with amazing jazz music. For me, it permeated my entire visit, from Jazz Fest before the Gathering to staying a few extra days to troll the jazz clubs over on Frenchman Street. But it seeped into the Gathering itself as well, showing up in the theme (one of the tracks was “Jazzin’ It Up”), some of the session titles (“Jazzin’ the Duo” on pair programming) and, my favorite, one of the Open Space sessions in which Peter Green brought in some live jazz musicians to jam with him (a former professional trumpet player) and teach us a few things about the similarities of jazz and Scrum.
I’ve found there’s often no better way to illustrate the tenets of Scrum than to step back and look at the way things are done in another industry. It is, after all, easier to see the whole picture when you’re not in it and many of Scrum’s tenets come naturally to other industries. And that’s what Peter’s session did: illustrated and reinforced the importance of team agreements, active listening and self-organization (among many other things) through jazz. I actually loved this session so much that I’ll soon be dedicating a blog post to just this topic; so if it sounds interesting to you, stay tuned.
So there’s my trio of Gathering highlights. If you were at the Gathering, I’d love to hear some of your highlights too, so please do share below. And hopefully I’ll see you in Phoenix next year!