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16 June 2016

A note on the 5th LAST conference (that you should go to)


LAST Conference is in it's 5th year and we happen to be the largest Agile Conference in Australia. We have about 150 speakers and about 160 sessions over two days. We do all this for the price of a fancy lunch. Which is relevant because we provide three meals and a bar tab at the end of the day.

Over the years Ed and I have run LAST Conference as a conference we would want to go to. It's a little bit chaotic, it's fun, it's overstuffed with ideas.  This year we have tried a few variations on what we have done before. Here they are for posterity and with some comments on how we are going;
  • There is a tech conference woven in among the Lean-Agile stuff
  • Code retreat is embedded in the bigger conference
  • We have expanded the team who program the content
  • LAST is over 2 days this year
Let me elaborate on these;

The hidden tech conference
To see the tech talks you can browse the program by topic. I have also added a LAST|Tech Twitter handle to several of the specifically tech talks. See here for the list of tech sessions.

Each year I look for something beyond the 'agile mainstream,' because, basically I want some content that I will be stimulated by and most of the agile stuff, well, I want something more. And I suspect a bunch of other people do also.

This year I focused my attentions on a stronger technical program. We have always had tech talks but the audiences for them have been a bit lukewarm. Build it and maybe they'll come.

My motivation here: If LAST doesn't maintain interest from software developers it will eventually fail as a cross-discipline event. If it fails as a cross discipline (aka whole team) event, then it will not be loving up to some of my aspirations for it.

So, borderline tech people, go to the tech talks to help entrench them into the program. Tech people, go along to LAST and enjoy the tech talks.

Code retreat
I work with Supriya Joshi who is very passionate about the software development community of practice. One of the events she is active in is Code Retreat. I asked her if we could put Code retreat into LAST this year. It's an experiment and we will see how the two fit together.

Code retreat is a place for people to come and get some structured coaching on theor coding skills. It's accessible and friendly.


The expanded team 
Our core team is still Ed, Paul and me. Additionally this year we invited Rajesh Mathur, Ryan McKergow, Kelsey Van Haaster, Victoria Schiffer and Steven Mitchell to help program the content.

Expanding the team expanded the work for me, but the value it brings is important. We get a wider view of what content we should be programming. We broaden our perspective beyond "What Craig reckons." And we increase our network of ideas and experiences.

You can see the results I think. The line-up this year is stronger than ever before. There is diversity in thoughts, ideas and experiences and coherence around values.

2 days of conference goodness
Our main feedback over the years has been too much content drives people nuts. So we are running the event over two days with a number of sessions repeated on both days. A big thank you to speakers who have donated their time to do this. As a punter coming along, you cna choose to come both days or just one.

This conference is essentially about a community of practice coming together to share ideas and experiences and to learn from each other. Come along and share yours with us.