Conferences are one of those things you hear about and see all the cool swag from those who attended. After hearing about it for years, I finally decided to take action and attend Agile + DevopsDays Des Moines on September 7th and 8th at the Iowa Events Center. While I do enjoy travel and seeing new places, I found this local event to be a perfect fit for my busy schedule. One might not think Des Moines is a bustling city filled with software developers, but we filled half of the Grand Ballroom’s 14,400 square feet (which just happens to be Iowa’s largest).
Since the conference was a mix of both Agile and DevOps, there was a broad array of sessions to attend. One had to decide if they wanted to investigate the adoption of AI or creating self-organizing teams. To me, this is a unique and beneficial pairing as a leader ought to have a degree of understanding of technical issues while developers should also grow their planning and leadership skills.
On the technical side, one of the more memorable sessions I attended was on the advent of AI tools like ChatGPT and GitHub Copilot. Developers are adopting and experimenting with these tools and we are learning how to best utilize them. For example, one can use AI as a pairing partner, but how do we ensure that we are upholding best practices set by extreme programming. From maintaining code quality to writing readable code, we need to learn how to navigate the balance between embracing innovation and preserving traditional software engineering best practices.
On the agile and leadership side, I sit here recalling the session on giving feedback as one that stood out to me. Feedback is an important part of mentoring and part of an organization. It is also something we can struggle with at times, both in giving and receiving. Positive or negative feedback is important to provide so we can gain insight into what ourselves or others may not see or realize. The goal is that by giving honest, respectful feedback, it aids in the journey of continuous improvement.
In conclusion, now that in person conferences are back in full force, I would strongly recommend people give Agile + DevopsDays Des Moines a try next year. You can find a wide variety of new technologies, applications, build systems, and best practices being discussed. On the flip side you can also listen and learn how to grow your leadership and planning capabilities.