Archive for September, 2009

BizConf round up

Monday, September 21st, 2009

I started writing this blog post 31K feet above the ground – somewhere between James Bay and Hudson Bay in Canada aboard the AA292 from Chicago to New Delhi. I finished it and published it a good three weeks later - after things had settled down upon my return to Delhi from a fairly long US trip.

BizConf has been a great experience. I met a lot of interesting people, attended many thought provoking sessions and participated in some very insightful conversations.

Two factors that made BizConf extra special were

  1. The Venue: The Ritz Carlton at The Amelia Island, is a beautiful property in the middle of nowhere.
  2. The size: Limiting the number of participants to 75 lended a highly personal touch to the conference.

This blog post should have come earlier. But I travelled from BizConf to Chicago to attend the Agile2009. The five days at agile2009 were just as hectic and prevented me from writing this post.

So, let me start this post with a list of some useful apps, I found out about at the bizconf

  • Launchly – Track and vote on new website launches.
  • No Kahuna – User story management application that TerraAlien uses. @ntalbott introduced me to this site.
  • Spreedly - – My first impression, was that this is just the hosted SaaS RailsKit. But upon talking more about it with @ntalbott – I realized where it fits in. One of our recent projects has a subscription billing module, I guess we could have saved atleast a few weeks, had we know of Spreedly before we developed our own subscription management system.
  • Pipeline Deals - Lead Tracking Software, @Obie talked about.
  • Workday - HR in the cloud
  • Devver - Execute your tests on the cloud.

Here are two books that I added to my list

  • The art of possibility by Benjamin Zander . I had seen Zander’s video on Ted.com a few months ago, but I had lost the link. Good to have both found out about his book and the link.
  • Four Steps to the Epiphany – by Stephen Gary Blank.

I did not tweet during the sessions, infact I did not even take my laptop to the talks so that I could concentrate on the talks and also keep it simple – with just a pen and a note book.

During the talks, I had noted down some point that had an impact on me. I want to share the main takeaway from each talk here.

Selling Value for Fun and Profit by Randall Thomas (@daksis)

We do not sell time, we do not sell deliverables – we sell value. It is important to preserve, create and deliver value. So price on value and deliver value, make sure you market the value and get paid for the value

Build Trust : Keeping People Happy without Paying an Arm and a Leg by Johanna Rothman

Standups are great for Removing Group Obstacles – but they are not good for removing personal obstacles. So do one on one with your team members – treat those one on ones like business dates and treat that time as sacrosanct.

Good Idea, But How Do We Do It? Finding and Using Your Sources Of Power by Esther Derby

Use your network, People like to do favors to others. People don’t like help inflicted upon them. Work by attraction.

Keynote by Roy Singham

Write down your top 10 mistakes. Strategists look out to the future – but that is possible if someone is taking care of the “here and now”. The most important rule in consulting is to know your customer’s customer. Are you a connector/ maven / persuader - Tipping Point.

Why Agile Will Probably Fail You by Corey Haines

Scrum Assumption = Self Organizing Responsible Developers
Quality = Nominal cost of Adding Features
Crafsmanship = Effective Coaching + Continual learning + Deliberate Practice [ Think of a orchestra which practises the only time when they are on stage - Why do we do that with developers]
CodeKata + Code Dojo + Code Retreats

Getting Things Done by Jon “Lark” Larkowski

Mac Break Weekly. OtherInbox
Caldav - For iCal and Google Calendar syncing.
Tomatoes - Pomodoro (http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/)

Rails Economics and the ARC Model by Ian McFarland

Three Factors: Agile, Rails and Cloud have revolutionized Computing.

Overall a great conference. I have one question however - Why were all the Panels about Product Development? Did it show Hashrocket’s eagerness to launch a product. For a conference tagged as “the premier learning and networking event for forward-thinking consultants and principals of custom web application development firms” - I would have loved to see panel discussions about improving ourselves as consultants or something to that end. I understand and appreciate the motivation behind doing a product. But this wasn’t the conference about Services companies wanting to do a product.

Thanks Hashrocket for organizing the BizConf. I will surely be back next year.