This is the second time I’ve attended the Agile Business Conference (ABC). The first time was ABC’s inaugural year of 2005. I had some misgivings about the direction ABC was taking in 2005, but based on attending this year I think some things are improving. We had many more interactive sessions this year, including workshops from Pascal van Cauwenberghe / Rob Westgeest and Willem van den Ende / Marc Evers. In 2005, it seemed like every session was a presentation—often a rather dry one—and interaction with the audience was confined to questions at the end.
Barry Fazackerley indicated that ABC has been growing at 30% per year to date, and given the large venue they’ve stuck with so far (Queen Elizabeth II conference center in Westminster) there’s plenty of room for growth. There’s still work to do. Too many presentations stray close to a vendor sales pitch, the seemingly impossible-to-fail certification exams provoked some cynicism, and there’s perhaps still too much influence from the small circle of consultants who form the nucleus of the DSDM industry in the UK. I think ABC is moving in a healthy direction, and early fears about it eating into XPDay’s market share seem groundless. If anything, ABC is reaching a different audience, and if sessions continue to improve, could serve them well.
For me, the highlight was Christopher Avery’s keynote on responsibility. He provided a refined and succinct definition of responsibility and a set of pitfalls to avoid on the way there. I liked his model and perceived vague links to my interest in cognitive bias (particularly the Fundamental Attribution Error). Hopefully this will generate some insights for me.
Christopher is a good speaker, but dwellt a little too long on end-of-keynote links to his own business interests/marketing materials. I’m not sure whether he was paid for the keynote (his website does list keynote speeches as one of his paid services) but I think too much of this kind of thing is a poor show, especially for a keynote speaker. In the end though, I’d still say 8 out of 10 (10/10 for the message, -2 for the sales pitch).