XP Days Benelux 2008 – Program selection

The XP Days Benelux 2008 program: almost done

When we coach teams we repeat ad nauseam: “Almost Done is Not Done”. So, the XP Days Benelux program is not yet done. The program will be published once we finish sending out notifications of acceptance and rejection.

We had a lot more session proposals than in previous years. There’s clearly a lot of interest and a lot of experience with Agile methods in our two small countries. Thanks to our cooperative session improvement process, most proposals are of a high enough standard to be included in the program. That makes the job of the Program Committee hard. Because of there’s so much interest, we decided to increase the number of tracks from 4 to 5.

Conference program recipe

Like in previous years, we have to create a program that satisfies a lot of constraints. The recipe is quite simple.

Ingredients: a bunch of sessions on index cards, two big sheets with the session slots, an initial estimate of value for each session and a small group of agilists.

  1. Use the index card to make a lot of information about the session visible at a glance: subject, type of session, how much experience we expect from participants… The size of the card indicates the length of the session
  2. Sort the index cards by estimated value. Each session submitter could vote for their Top-10 sessions.
  3. Put the top ranked sessions in fitting slots on the program until all slots are taken.
  4. When a constraint is violated, exchange a session card with another session card on or off the program.
  5. Repeat step 4 until satisfied

The process looks a bit chaotic at first, but it converges each time. We end up with a program for a conference we want to go to and where we want to invite our colleagues and customers. That’s one of our acceptance tests.

Just a bit more patience, it’s 90% done

You’ll get to see the XP Days program soon. Watch this space. But first, we have to send more acceptance and, unfortunately, rejection messages. And rejection’s tough to take.

After the program was settled, we discussed other fun stuff to do at the XP Days conference. We’re going to try some new things this year. Participants will decide if we’re successful. Participants can verify if we’ve taken last year’s feedback into account.

See you in Eindhoven on 20 and 21 November!