When you catch the 389 to Bondi, or reviewing for Agile Australia

Today’s blog shines a light on the AgileAus reviewing process with guest blogger Katrina Kolt, Stream Captain of Lightning Talks at this year’s Agile Australia Conference. If you’re thinking about submitting to speak at AgileAus, Katrina has some fantastic insights! Speaker submissions close on Friday 24 February 2017.


Katrina Kolt, Lightning Talks Stream Captain, AgileAus 2017.

I’m a frequent visitor to Sydney, mostly because my brother lives in a cute semi, just five minutes’ trot to Bondi Beach. The 389 bus ride from Circular Quay to Bondi is my favourite, not just because it gets me to the waves, but because it’s a great taste of Sydney – Kings Cross, Paddington, Woollahra and then on to Bondi. Last year I reviewed for the Enterprise Agility stream of Agile Australia and I loved it… well almost as much as winding my way through the streets of Sydney to the beach.

Where the Agile Australia Conference presents the thought highlights in our community, reviewing submissions gives you a broad taste of what folks are thinking about in the Agile community. It’s a bit more like the 389 bus ride, full of local colour, with opportunities for conversations as the bus stops along the way to pick up passengers. If you’ve ever met Pete, who’s one of the morning drivers, then you could just about get a handle on the role of a Reviewer. Pete takes his job seriously, welcoming every passenger, sometimes even in Greek! He knows his job is to get folks to their destination but he wants them to have a great journey.

What does a Reviewer do?

A Reviewer reads every submission to a stream just as soon as it comes in.

We triage a submission to figure out what support the Submitter needs in order to articulate their idea. If we spot the kernel of an awesome idea, but think a submission needs more one on one love to grow the idea, we invite the submitter to contact the “Agile Doctor” by email.

We want each and every submission to be a contender for a talk at Agile Australia! That’s why we engage with the Submitters to:

  • suggest ways a Submitter could shape their submission to better meet the submission format
  • guide Submitters as to whether their talk is the best fit for one stream or another
  • ask questions, where something in the submission isn’t clear
  • guide Submitters on whether their talk might work best as a case study, or presentation of ideas
  • consider if the topic suggested can reasonably be covered in the time-box of an Agile Australia talk

As Reviewers, we don’t know who submitted the talk, which organisation they work for, or if they are an experienced or first time presenter. We’re only interested in the idea behind the talk, and if the submission expresses that idea.

What excites us?

  • Ideas that push the boundary on our practice and implementation of Agile.
  • Fun and interesting ways of conveying an idea.
  • New thinking on Agile within and beyond software.

At the end of the day how do talks get selected?

Reviewers compile a shortlist of submissions that show promise. The shortlist is developed in a collaborative way, with all Reviewers for a stream involved. We try our best to avoid confirmation bias by encouraging Reviewers to pitch a talk to the other Reviewers, even if that talk didn’t make it into the first cut of the shortlist.

Once the shortlist is compiled, it’s over to the Stream Leads to select talks for the Conference.

The date of Agile Australia 2017 has been announced (Thurs 22 – Fri 23 June 2017), and the destination is Sydney. I won’t need much encouragement to come along, particularly because the talks will be great, the company interesting, and the waves are still open at Bondi after hours!

Find out more about being a speaker here.

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