Wednesday, May 7, 2014

One Man, Two Conferences

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I’m fairly certain that I’m the only person who attended both THE Performance Improvement Conference #ISPI14 and the Global Scrum Gathering #SGNOLA this spring. I hold professional designations from both the International Society for Performance Improvement (CPT - Certified Performance Technologist) and the ScrumAlliance (CSPO - Certified Scrum Product Owner). As one who works as a education person among technologists, I’m interested in considering the distinction between the two conference crowds and the ethos of the attendees.

The conferences themselves were comparable in size, agenda structure, and cost. Both were more of an educational event than a trade show. Both had a lot more good than bad, and both experiences filled my little head with a boat load of information and ideas.

Below are two lists that show how they are distinct. I would love to hear your comments.

Conference versus Conference

Typical profession
External Agile Scrum Consultant
Internal performance consultant
Touted Credentials
ScrumAlliance certifications
Academic degrees
Gender mix
80% male, 20% female
50% male, 50% female
Conference locations
World-class cities: New Orleans, Paris, Berlin
2nd tier cities: Indianapolis, San Antonio, Reno
Book you need to have read or pretend to have read before attending
Venue-based Metaphor
Music (New Orleans)
Auto racing (Indianapolis)
Conference groove
Forming bonds
Most popular tweet
A slide
A selfie
Awesome keynote speaker that had everyone buzzing
Kenny Rubin
David Maxfield
Book giveaway to support the awesome keynote presentation
Gadget giveaway
Portable smart phone charger
Thumb drive
Laughing, crying
Almost none
Almost constant
Typical model
Circular and repeating
Horizontals and verticals
Involvement of forefathers of the profession at the conference
None of the original Agile Manifesto signatories present
Almost every living performance improvement guru was present

Ethos versus Ethos

Holy grail
Delivering value
Measuring value
Common reference
Failed software projects
Skinnerian behavioral science
Before becoming a consultant, I spent years as a(n)….
Software engineer
Instructional designer
It all starts with articulation of….
An idea
An outcome
People are….
The most important thing
Management are….
Adversaries who don’t understand us and how we want to work
Leaders who don’t yet realize how much we can help them
Love/hate relationships
Hate for project managers. Disdain for HR.
Love everyone
About measurement
A lot of talk about things that should not be measured (defects, release cadence)
A lot of talk about what can and should be measured
On Training
One capable person can pollinate specific skills within a specific team
Scalable solutions and support structures need to be put in place
Don’t forget to….
Follow applicable scrum rules
People love to talk about how nobody talks about….
Continuous integration
Root cause analysis
View of the future
Predictive evaluation
They are snarky about….
Manual testing processes
Training as a standalone solution
Language of success
defect-free, minimum viable, value flow
greater discretionary effort, improved performance, employee satisfaction
Fancy word to describe most problems
Fancy word to describe solutions
What needs to be scaled
Performance support
What attendees would learn if they attended the opposite conference.
An appreciation for the human component of success
An appreciation for the great learning agility that exists within work teams
And they would also learn
In order to quantify value, you need more sophisticated measurement techniques
People on teams don’t care about corporate interventions unless they have immediate prima facie value


  1. Entertaining and interesting about two different worlds!

  2. Great comparison. Very insightful. I did not attend the Global Scrum ... but I did attend ISPI and ASTD/ATD. Common theme: bash training and do training 90 percent of the team and call it something else. Thanks for the table.