Scrum Gathering Las Vegas

Recently, I had the good fortune of representing 3Back at the Global Scrum Gathering in Las Vegas. The theme: Up the Ante. And the Scrum Alliance did just that. Scrum Gathering Las Vegas reset the bar, not only for agile conferences, but for collaboration as well.

Scrum Gathering Las Vegas shirt

If you’re not familiar with the Scrum Gathering, it’s a biannual conference put on by the Scrum Alliance which is focused on (what else?) Scrum. Typically, there are the two global conferences each year, one in North America in the spring and another in Europe in the autumn, as well as a plethora of smaller regional conferences. In my opinion, one of the most noteworthy things I’ve seen at the more recent Scrum Gatherings is the extraordinarily wide range of attendees. They vary drastically in so many ways: skill level, background, objectives, job roles… It’s an amazing blend of some of the top thought leaders in our industry working and learning alongside novice aligists that are still trying to figure out what Scrum is. And yet the Scrum Gathering provides a collaborative-rich environment which manages to provide all attendees with fresh ideas and new tools to take back with them. Scrum Gathering Las Vegas was no exception.

Preparing for the Open Space Scrum Gathering Las Vegas

The sold out Scrum Gathering Las Vegas kicked off the night before its official start with the hilarious Vic Alejandro who is not just a standup comedian, but a Certified ScrumMaster as well! I’d never seen a comedy set all about project management, corporate culture, and software developers. But strange things happen in Las Vegas! Scattered throughout the conference were notable keynote speakers Jeff Sutherland, Bill Joiner, and Alistair Cockburn. And though I’m not actually a huge fan of keynote speakers (or anything that involves podiums and slides for an extended period of time), Alistair did have one of the greatest slides I’ve seen in a while. Dream big!

Alistair Cockburn keynote at Scrum Gathering Las Vegas

The first two days of Scrum Gathering Las Vegas were arranged with pre-selected sessions. These sessions were divided into three tracks: See the Future, Build the Future, and Tools of the Trade. Our own Dan Rawsthorne (a.k.a Dr. Dan) delivered a session on the Advanced Discussion of StoryPoints for Project Management. Other sessions ranged from technical (Effective Scrum and High Quality Code – It is a Chicken and Egg Relationship) to psychological (The Power or Observation), team-oriented (Helping Dispersed Teams Bridge Time, Distance and Culture) to management geared (The Agile CEO: Patterns, Principles and Practices).

Following the predetermined sessions was a third day dedicated entirely to Open Space. And that’s where things got really creative! Participant driven sessions included all the topics you might expect plus more than a few atypical ones. Some of my favorite titles (I couldn’t attend them all!) were Scrum on Steroids, I Lost 40 Pounds with Scrum: Scrum + Diets, and Enter the Danger. Scrum Gathering Las Vegas was getting truly unique!

Open Space planning at Scrum Gathering Las Vegas

Throughout the entire event, the ever-popular Coaches Clinic was running non-stop. At the Coaches Clinic, individuals could sign up for 15 minute slots to get free advice and guidance from agile and Scrum coaches who volunteered their time. Although previous Gatherings have offered the Coaches Clinic, it was more fashionable than ever at Scrum Gathering Las Vegas! Everyone wanted to be a part of it and I don’t think a single slot went unfilled.

Coaches Clinic at Scrum Gathering Las Vegas

I must admit, despite all the amazing sessions and activities, my favorite parts of Scrum Gathering Las Vegas were not in any of the breakout rooms. They were in the hallways, at the breakfast buffet, or the lunchroom. I couldn’t wait for the breaks or the chance to meet new friends for a drink at the end of the day. The sense of camaraderie was overwhelming! And, though I’m sad it’s ended, I had enough inspiring discussions and the heated debates to keep me fueled until the next one.

Retrospective at the Scrum Gathering Las Vegas Coaching Clinic

I’m sure you’ve heard the classic tagline “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” I hope this time, it doesn’t. I hope every participant managed to take something home with them and start putting it to good use in their companies and environments. I know I have.


(for more fun photos of Scrum Gathering Las Vegas, check out our Facebook page)