AgilityToday - Be the Part of Revolution, Be the Part of Shift, NCR Agile Conference Failed to connect

How our participants felt

How did we Un-Conference at AgilityToday?

What happened at AgilityToday?
Was it really an UnConference?
Did it fit it's VoC as it promised?
Let's Un-cover ;)

#1 Free Essential Workshops and Fun Contests to claim passes.

UnConferencing started with a lot of fun in the form of contests, Hackathon, meetups & workshops. They were absolutely free of cost, and led to UnConf passes discounts. Thanks too Atlassian and Microsoft for supporting us with Logistics. And immense thanks to our AgileVirgin Community worries who created special workshops for induction of Lean, Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Distributed Agile, SAFe and some great CI/CD tools. Thank you very much SumitAmitaSonaliSunilVaibhavNamrataShuchi and Pritika

#2 Essential, Special and Unique (First-Time) courses, at subsidised prices.

Pre and Post UnConference works shops had all essential courses like CSM, CSPO, Kanban Essentials, PSM, PSPO, as well as Special courses like LeSS, SPC and Testing Automation, and then there are some very first time courses as well like XSCALE, Certified Distributed Agile. Thanks to our Sponsors and Knowledge & Logistic Partners Siraj SirajuddinMadhur KathuriaArshiya SultanaPritika GullianiNaveen Kumar SinghRajiv KathuriaAshish MishraDeepak and Prtiksha that we could make these available to our Partners.

#3. Open Houses, with special facilitation to ensure participation from all.

Keynote is a huge responsibility, and mostly badly executed. Mostly Conferences have them either to please Sponsors or just to meet the condition. At AgilityToday, we didn't have a keynote, and it was an intentional move, required to install confidence in every participant that they are nothing less, and embrace Agile values that we are all equal. So instead of keynote we had an Up-close and Open Conversation between Professionals and Leaders of IT/Software & Agile Industry. Purpose was not just to create a great conversation, but was of Co-creation of a culture by both the parties - Leaders and Executors, where you get your answers from Leaders like Rajendran Dhandapani (Zoho Corp), Vikram Kapoor (CEO Prowareness), Tarun Kohli (CEO Quovantis), Vishal Saha (CTO PeopleStrong), Ashish Mishra (Co-Founder Agile Testing Alliance), Siraj Sirajuddin (SPCT, Co-Founder Temenov+ Agility), Silvana Vasitova (Enterprise Agile Coach), Tathagat Verma (Country Head Chinasoft International), Madhur Kathuria (CST, CEO AgiVetta Consulting), Anand Murthy Raj (SPCT, Founder Agile Spirit), Ajay Kabra (Sr. Director Xebia) and they share their problems with you and seek your inputs to solve it. So, on both the days, AgilityToday had two OPEN HOUSES - 'Into your shoes' & 'Seek from Gurus'.

#4 Map Professionals with Opportunities, Growth and Gyaan they need.

For opportunities - Networking, Self-learning, finding out right course, direction and mentor, needed support and guidance, a platform to make yourself visible, and get yourself heard. With the cooperation of Agile and industrial Leaders, both the days allowed 1:1 between Professionals and Leaders, to discuss Career Opportunities and Profile improvement. All Participants booked a slot with their Leader of choice via Pingala's App MyRappo, and discussed about work related challenges, sought opportunities and also asked about what can be done to further upgrade themselves to fit future and changing job market needs. Leaders like Vikram KapoorAnkita MathurNamrata Datta and Siraj Sirajuddin openly announced opportunities.

#5 Only Speak from your Experience that we can use in real life.

There was a clear and loud message in VoC that only talk talk talk makes people sleep. So we crowd sourced only those proposals which met the criteria. Sessions were only Authentic Experience Reports, Case Studies and Hands on Workshop!

#6 Unwinding with Drumming and Painting

Yes this UnConference was very much fun and we Unwound with Drumming and Dancing on Day-1. Thanks to my friend Joy and his Delhi Drummers who created this magic for us. All 200 people dancing and playing same rhythm.Day-2 was even more special, thanks to Siraj Sirajuddin and Silvana Wasitova for creating a beautiful Open Space, an UnConferencing and Unwinding Space for us, a Temenos where everyone painted their Vision.

UnConf in a Nutshell:

  • India's first 2 days UnConf which wasn't a Coaching Camps or few hours Open Space.
  • Hosted ~250 Delegates during UnConf, and same number for it's Pre/Post UnConf workshops.
  • 21 out of 58 Crowd sourced and selected workshops and authentic experience reports.
  • 26 Speakers, 47 CXOs, 14 Agile Gurus, 58 Agile Coach / Consultants, 42% Women Participants.
  • Participants from 119 Companies, 7 Countries and 8 states of India.
  • 7 Sponsors, 11 Partners, 2 Supporters

With AgilityToday, we have been able to hit a milestone for all our efforts that we have started as AgileVirgin  Community, and we have hundreds of query on how more people can be part of this initiative from all over the India, and many leaders from all over the world offered genuine help for future initiatives. So, we decided to dare some more, and create self managing teams of Volunteers and fuel our other initiatives.

A Culture is not build over a weekend in an UnConference. It is built Daily by living it!

So stay tuned, we will share with you about our upcoming initiatives. Let's create a culture we need.

Who made AgilityToday happen?

This is an authentic account of People who made AgilityToday possible. This post shows my heartfelt gratitude to all of them.

It was March 2016 and I was already doubting everything about me, and my then state-of-being - Agile. By then I had been practising Agile Coaching for 2 years and after leaving my 10 years old first-and-only job, was an Independent Agile Consultant for 7 months and with beginner’s luck I had been able to get 2 small Consulting assignments. In 2 years as Agile Coach, with my full time job, I did not just sit at my job, but kept learning from every Agile meetup, workshop and possible training around. My very first Guru in this space was Neeraj Bachchani who helped me with the best possible knowledge he had. In 2014, thanks to him, I got to be part of Agile Noida (a.k.a Agile Carnival) team and I got my first opportunity to see formulation of a Conference. He was first Independent consultant of the region who alone created a great Conference for the region. And after that I went to almost all the Conferences of the region, but sooner they all started looking same, same was the case with meetups. Agile for me became All fart but no shit, as our jobs allowed no-Agile.

This is March 2016 and I am loosing it. Thanks to Siraj Sirajuddin I am invited by Temenos+Agility to attend AgileIndia. And I was blown away! What a thoughtful, insightful, intentional and grand Conference it was. Wow!! That refreshed me.

I came back, all charged up with ideas, enthusiasm and inspiration. I for the first time saw and met people who were doing it and not just talking it. I come back, do good work, and go back to AgileIndia2017 and then after that I decided to go to World’s best XP Conference.

XP (Cologne) made me think beyond Indian culture and boundaries. I met Silvana Wasitova there. She is like a big flowing river, who has seen and done so much, and brings with her experience of generations of Project Management.

We talked and the two of us hit it off right away. I took her promise that she will be there for me in AgilityToday, and she kept her promise despite all the adversities. She is my Guru and Guru to India’s first 2-days UnConf - AgilityToday. She brought with her all the UnConferencing elements from all other place of this world. I am humbled and thankful to her for giving so much to us.

After coming from XP Conf, I am talking to closest person to me - Sonali Kar, that I intend to do an UnConference and she with her childlike innocence and eyes glittering with dreams said “What? UnConf? Are we ready? Do we have enough time? Well whatever, I am with you, let’s do it”.

I can’t tell you Sonali, having you by my side I feel we can do anything we aim for. And we announce in that meetup that we are going to create India’s first 2 days UnConference - AgilityToday. And as they say, when you wish with intention, entire universe helps you.

This was first time when awesome Namrata Datta, and her very young startup founder, Agile Engineer friend Ankita Mathur(Tecvolo Labs) came to our meetup. This changed course of our journey. That day we had 25 people in meetup who committed themselves to this unConf, but only these 2 turned up when it came to really making things work.

There were many weakening moments when I almost gave up idea of UnConf, and if I did not have Namrata to back me, I would have given in to one of those moments. Since then Namrata is my power bank. She is very hard working, champ of Agile Domain, great leader and one of the best people in my life. Our entire Tech Work and innovation (website, mailers and all the ideas on ‘how-to’) was done by Ankita, and we are together in our journey forward.

I did not know how to put my dream out on a website, it was all Ankita’s efforts, her imagination and technical expertise. We would have failed without her. She was also our Sponsor. Thank you very much TecVolo Labs for being our very first Sponsor.

I met Evan Leybourn in AgileIndia. He needs no introduction on Professional front, The Agile Director, Founder BusinessAgilityInstitute and Creator & Organiser Business Agility Conference, but let me tell you something about him on personal front. He is one of the most humble, noble and sincere person I have ever met.

There is a funny story on how dots connect. I was an admirer of BAConf and would reach out to their content whenever I had questions around, but I never bothered to find out who is Organiser. How lame. So finally when I wanted to be part of it, I applied to join there team and to my surprise I got response back from EVAN!! Wow such a small and round world.

All you need to do is wish. I always wished to be part of Business Agility Conf and I got to be part of it in 2018. I connect with Evan to talk about work and other challenges, that’s then I also shared with him that I want to do UnConf and he kept on offering me all the encouragement, guidance and support for AgilityToday. I asked him if he would want to be our UnConf Guru, and he said yes, and did his best with all the time crunch and tough schedule he had. I am extremely grateful to him. I am proud to say that BusinessAgilityInstitute was our Knowledge Partner and offered free membership to all our participants.

AY: We don't want to create a Conference, call it UnConference and name it "Agile For Fools".
DJ: You are mean.
AY: No, I am just being honest here. I don't want to give you false hopes. My job is to tell what is wrong here.

I know Alex Yakyma needs no introduction, but let me do the formality - He is brutally honest, perfectionist and knows the art of Lean-Agile Org transformation. As a methodologist, trainer and consultant, he has led numerous rollouts of Lean

and Agile at scale, involving teams in North America, Europe and Asia, and has trained over a thousand coaches and change agents whose key role is to help their organizations achieve higher productivity and quality through the adoption of scalable, agile methods. He is an Ex-SAFe Fellow and Contributor; and Founder Org Mindset. He is my Guru and more than what-to-do, he was ensuring what-not-to-do to make a quality UnConference. I am a huge fan of Alex and his work. And I am extremely thankful to him for giving his valuable time and continuous support and guidance to AgilityToday. And for those who inferred that I only got his criticism (well I am lucky to get that), he also said, "I hate to admit, but I am proud of all the work you are doing".

Siraj and Susan are not just my UnConf Gurus and Biggest Sponsors (Gold), but also my SPC Gurus. Susan could not come to UnConf due to her prior commitments, but kept supporting me via her suggestions, mails and affection to all my social media actions. Thanks a lot Susan. Siraj believed in me since he met me first and had given me his valuable time for AgilityToday. He is a great Coach, he not only deals with you on professional level, but also takes time to understand you, build with you and then nurture your vision. He let's you lead and gives you creative space.

I can not thanks both of them enough for honouring us as our Gold Sponsor. I had been connected with Siraj all the time for AgilityToday, discussing my ideas and fears. He said, "It's OK even if 1 person turns up, we are doing it". This was all you need to hear, specially from your Sponsor, who is investing so much money on your vision and efforts. Thanks Siraj, Susan and entire Temenos Team for your unshakeable support to our Vision.

It's new year, we still don't have Venue and other Event arrangements like - Stage, Audio, Video, Printing, Photographer, Videographer and we are only 1 month and 23 days away from event. In return to a new year wish, I shared with Madhur that I am doing this UnConf and want him to be our Guru, and he said meet us, we want to help you with anything an everything you need. WHAT MORE CAN I ASK FOR?? And he meant every word. He wants to see community growing and is up for all the help. We go ISEC's Partnership for UnConf, but that's not it, we also got Sponsorship from AgiVetta!! We are very much thankful for all the Logistics and Event support from AgiVetta, ISEC and Madhur's wonderful team: Shruti, Mansi, Sukhjinder and Gaurav. Thanks a lot!

I'll be honest, as it was my first attempt, I didn't know how to write and whom to write for Sponsorship. I was at Scrum Day India as speaker. But there is always one thing common in all conferences - Tathagat Verma.

I very much believe in TV, I seek his Though leadership. He had been my inspiration. Again thanks to Neeraj that I got to meet him and when I understood how he operates his venture Thought Leadership, I got courage to start alone my dream AgileVirgin. In Scrum Day I shared with him that I am thinking of doing an UnConf in Delhi, and I want him to be there, and he not only said he will be there, he also encouraged me about hoe to proceed and whom to reach out for Sponsorship. As I was at Scrum Day, he asked me to talk to Steve Porter. and that was starting of officially talking about the UnConf and reaching out to Sponsors. Else I would have been just thinking and shying away for asking.

I also want to thank Steve for listening to my idea and immediately connecting me to Eric, and thanks to him that we could have Scrum.Org as our First Sponsor (TecVolo is a friend, so don't get me wrong when I call "Scrum.Org" as "1st" here).

When we are talking about the Parent Agile bodies, we can't miss on talking about Scrum Alliance and Agile Alliance. And YES we had them too as our Sponsors!!! Yeyyy! It really felt like a BIG achievement for a first time Organiser who was trying to do something different - an UnConference, which had 50-50 chances of acceptance or rejection.

Thank you very much Victoria Whitley for your patience. I know I follow up like a baby, and you were not only patient with me, but you also helped with Sponsorship. Thank you Scrum Alliance for being our Silver Sponsor.

Still we haven't been able to seek blessings from Agile Alliance, and I had filled sponsorship application twice and no response. I was feeling low. And it wasn't just about the money, it's much more than that. It's an honour to have Agile Alliance Sponsorship and when it wasn't there, I felt as if there is something incomplete on my front. We wanted them to support us specially for our initiative for Women in Agile. Then I wrote to Natalie Warnert, that opened doors to very supporting officers of Agile Alliance, I am thankful to all of them: Stephanie Davis, Victor Germano, Linda Cook, Philip Brock for investigating whole thing in a day's time, and a very special thanks to Sharon Cooper for moving my case to fast track and helping me with highest Agile Alliance Sponsorship and event Promotion.

While all this was happening, I was constantly talking to Peter, my another Guru. I learnt never-give-up attitude from Peter. Peter connected me with some of the best people in the world, who could have been Sponsor to this UnConf, it's just that I was very late in starting conversation. Peter was always extremely supportive and despite his extremely busy schedule due to increasing demand from XSCALE Alliance. It's an honour to have Peter as our UnConf Guru and XSCALE Alliance as our Knowledge Partner. Thanks to Peter that we our next UnConf Guru Ashish and Agile Testing Alliance as our Partner.

Everything was taking shape, that's when we get call from Zoho offering Sponsorship. Wow with this we got our budget for Drumming and Painting Open Space where we can truly unwind ourselves and be in same rhythm. Siraj did beautiful facilitation to all our Open Spaces and Open Houses. Thanks again Siraj! And thanks Zoho for giving our UnConf unwinding elements.

Before we proceed and talk about anything else, a very special thanks and shout out to our very first partner TAI Infotech. Rajiv Kathuria, Founder and CEO of TAI Infotech had been very excited about the idea of UnConference and he helped us with his entire team to promote and sell the event. Rajiv's zeal and commitment to a cause is amazing. Thanks to them we could reach our participants, thanks to them we could sell our passes. My immense gratitude to Rajiv and his team, specially Shweta and Priyanka. TAI is a highly recommended Conference Partner for sales and marketing. If you want your Conference to sell, shake hands with TAI.

And my next most recommended Partner for UnConf is Pingala Software. Pingala is founded by Vinay Krishna, who is an ex-SolutionsIQ Agilist, a Geek and an amazing human being who has all the qualities of Servant Leadership. I have tremendous respect for him for his sincerity and consistency. Pingala offers a unique value proposition to Conferences by making it super easy to collect feedback of event, and my sending out Certificates to Participants. Once you are partner with Pingala, it becomes their headache, you just have to sit and relax. Thanks so much Vinay for being our Feedback and Certification Partner.

A Very Special thanks that goes without saying is to Microsoft for our event Supporter. For complete AgilityToday, all Free Training, Workshops and Hackathon we got their help for venue and logistics. All our approvals and arrangements were done via Deepak Rajendran and Pratiksha Scindia. They had been of tremendous help, they made all the arrangements for us, and we can't thank them enough. And honestly, if we didn't have Microsoft and their support, it would have been very difficult to make arrangements for all the promised Free workshops and training. And for this entire year they are again going to support us for our Agile, DevOps and Machine Learning Initiatives.

This UnConference would have been a failure and incomplete if we did not have support, participation and contribution from our Industrial Leaders. They are CXOs with absolutely zero time to waste. But they took out time, and talked to our audience, answered their concerns, challenges and shared what it feels to be in shoes of CXOs. Thanks a lot to Mr. Tarun Kohli, Mr. Vikram Kapoor, Mr. Vishal Saha and Mr. Rajendran Dhandapani. We need leaders like you, who taught us what is true Servant Leadership.

Many thanks to all our Speakers, who wholeheartedly contributed this UnConference with workshops, and not just monotone talks, they exchanged knowledge with audience, and installed right principles and culture in them. Last but not least many many thanks to our young, energetic, committed Servant Leader who gave their 375% to this UnConference, to this region to AgileVirgin and whole Agile Community of this region.

Thanks to our awesome Sponsors!

Thanks to our awesome Partners!

Thanks to our awesome Supporters!