This article was originally written by Derek Huether at the LeadingAgile blog.
Now that I’ve had a week to reflect and let the experience sink in, I wanted to share my thoughts of our first official Baltimore Lean Coffee event.
I’ve participated in ALN DC events and even helped organize a PMI Agile meetup. So, where did our new event fall on a scale compared to the others? Did I feel like attendees received value and did I feel like we got a good return on our investment? Let me give a little comparison.
Lots of effort – Too much process – Formal – Minimum ROI
WDCPMI (Washington DC PMI) Agile meetup is a more formal event that is trying to get its legs. Cost will vary, depending if you’re a PMI member or not. It’s targeted to the Washington DC project manager community. To be a host, you have to ask permission to hold an event and jump through some hoops with the local PMI Chapter. It’s a PMI evening event, so you can’t simply order pizza. It gets catered. You have to make sure you’re compliant with PMI Chapter processes. To me, the process and effort put into organizing and holding the event is not worth the value it delivers.
Less effort – Not too much process – Less formal – Good ROI
ALN (Agile Leadership Network) DC is a semi formal event that happens once a month in the evening. For $10, you get an evening of pizza, an opportunity to interact with others, and listen to a guest speaker. I like it because it’s casual and it’s good to see others from the local Agile community. What I don’t like is it’s in Washington DC and it’s in the evening. For those who want to see their families after a long day, this can be an inconvenience. I’ll admit, I am not an organizer for this event. I don’t know how much overhead is involved. (I would love to hear from someone in the comments) The group does a good job of not letting the process get in the way.
Minimal effort – Minimal process – Informal – Maximum ROI
Baltimore Lean Coffee is a structured, but agenda-less meeting. Participants gather, build an agenda, and begin talking. Conversations are directed and productive because the agenda for the meeting was democratically generated. We don’t charge anything to join us. If you want to grab a cup of coffee (or other beverage) and a pastry, that’s up to you. Our meeting was 07:30-09:00 on a Friday, allowing people who had to go into an office (or even work from home) time to join us. The last voted topic of our meetup was the time and location. In true Agile form, we discussed it, voted, and decided we liked the time and location. Our next meetup is August 8th back at Mad City Coffee. The most effort I had was saying thank you to people.