Saturday, 26 January 2019

2018 Retrospective - How Could Agile South Coast be Better?

How have we been doing? 

We invited Agile South Coast members to a retrospective on 22nd Jan 2019. We used the list of ASC past events from to briefly review each meetup of the last year for learning points. From that we've distilled our (previously unstated) “Goal” for our community as well as a list of ideas to improve our focus on that.*

Agile South Coast in 2018

Significantly, for our volunteer-run community, we ran our full set of 12 regular events over the year, with no cancellations! This was supported by the flexibility of our new hosts at Cogeco Peer1 who took over when we moved away from our previous venue. We've also held an extra one-day hands-event as part of the Global Day of Code, hosted by Networkers Technology and led by Steve Tooke of, something that we might try to do more of in the future.

In our retrospective, looking at the details of each event, from 20-35 attendees we typically receive 5 to 10 post-session feedback responses. We looked at those for each event and, with our own opinions of the events, we summarised what was helpful and what has been unhelpful or disappointing in recent sessions:
  • We probably have different subsets of our membership that prefer different topics, and content presented with different styles 
  • Every venue will be inconvenient for some in our community - we are very happy (and grateful) to continue at Peer1 while Emma and her colleagues are able to offer it to us 
    • Sometimes people pay unnecessarily for parking because they are unaware of the free parking arrangements 
    • Sometimes people have trouble finding the entrance (including the pizza delivery) Some people will come to single events because they are interested in the particular topic in that session and are unlikely to come again 
  • Sessions that give an opportunity to practice a new idea are more popular than those that are purely “presented” 
  • The Meetup website allows photos to be uploaded for each event, and these have been useful to people after the event, and have even been helpful to people who haven’t been able to get to the event 
  • We set our meetups for a maximum of 40 registrations; we typically get 20-30 people in the room 
  • We don’t currently need to ask for money to fund the events - if we did need money we have at least two sponsors who could be approached


We propose 
The purpose of Agile South Coast is to support the community of agilists in and around Southampton. We do this by offering: 
- opportunities to talk, share ideas, and build relationships
- a welcoming environment to all, including those new to agile 
- opportunities to learn, at a range of experience levels

Does this make sense for you? Why do you come along to our Agile South Coast events?

We had a range of ideas to do things differently over the next few months. Please look out for (and feedback on) these. They are intended to make each event more helpful to you, and to ease and spread the organisational effort needed to put on each session:
We will be asking for more feedback to help us and our speakers run sessions in a style that you find most helpful
  • We will be keeping our list of attendees up to date to understand how many people actually attend each event, so if you registered for an event and didn't make it, we'll be moving you to "Did not attend" on
  • We'll be bugging you to feedback on events more regularly, and perhaps we'll experiment with questions and surveys outside of
  • We'll experiment with some extra sessions, intended to be very hands-on workshops. These will be planned and advertised on alongside our regular calendar of events
  • We will provide notes for our speakers asking them to be mindful of our diverse audience, and whenever possible build in opportunities for practical exploration of new ideas
  • We will ask speakers to provide summary notes for their session, perhaps even in advance if they think that could be helpful
  • Manage and work with sponsors to ensure our expenses are reclaimed
  • Invite members to be “venue helpers” to arrive early and help people find our door
  • Produce Agile South Coast signage to help people find the way in
  • Provide name tags on arrival
  • Review our sessions more frequently to reduce the effort and increase the speed that we react to new ideas!
Do you have any comments on this? What would be most helpful for you?

* So that you know who to thank for this effort, or blame if we have missed what you see as the point of our events, these are the people who were part of this discussion: Mike Williams, Mark Wheeler, Emma Gautrey, Ian Mayo, Josh Tasker, Steven Mackenzie.

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