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I recently embarked on a new project with David Lowe to run low cost, low effort meet-up over lunchtime on a park bench, called Agile on the Bench.

It started, like so many good ideas with a random chat in between meetings, what if we did a low cost, very social agile event on a park bench over lunch time?

We set up a website and twitter account, decided on a format, invited some of our friends and colleagues along and had our first minimum viable event to see if the idea works. And it did! We had 16 people at our first event, so we’re going to do it again.

The current format is:

  • we find at least 2 speakers
  • no tech for speakers. No laptops, no tablets, no phones. Not even print outs from PowerPoint or Keynote
  • up to 10 minutes for each talk, plus time for questions from the crowd
  • talks are related to agile and/or lean
  • each event lasts 60 minutes (a lunch break)
  • anyone can step forwards to talk after the scheduled speakers
  • it’s free and nobody is paid for speaking
  • the audience bring their own lunch

Things we learnt from our minimum viable event:

  • people liked the format  and want to again
  • you get a lot of strange looks if you do a conference in a park
  • it’s turned cold this week and coats / gloves / hats are essential agile on the bench wear
  • pigeons don’t really care about agile and would rather fraternise with each other while we talk
  • content, pasta, bunions and 80s soundtracks are all relevant agile topics

We also had some great suggestions for locations for future events that aren’t always outside, we aren’t changing the format just yet, but we’re agile so may well do in the future.

If you want to come along to a future Agile on the Bench register your interest on the website and follow @agileonthebench