What the Agile Alliance Australia should be

The Agile Alliance Australia (A3[*1]) was formed at the Agile Australia 2009 conference with and an interim board. The goal of the interim board, as I remember it, was to setup the foundations for A3 and quickly hold another election (hence ‘interim’) to transition to a fully functioning body. The A3 did start to talk about what it should look like but it hasn’t progressed which is why I’m writing this entry.

I think the A3 should be:

  • a small group of people – until more are needed.
  • have a primary goal of co-ordinating a yearly, national conference
  • have a secondary goal of supporting local chapters.
  • have a tertiary goal of being a centralised point for resources

Supporting local chapters and acting as a centralised point were discussed at the original meeting.

Small Group

Keeping the A3 board small will keep it easy to co-ordinate and should remove some of the burocracy. The downside of a small board is that they’ll be kept pretty busy. I really don’t want to create a large, beurocratic, unwieldy beast.

A National Conference

This is a lot of effort but also has very big rewards. The benefits of having a national conference are:

  • it gives our community a place to congregate for learning and networking. Without it we are an uncollected group of local communities which would make it harded to achieve larger goals. We have a lot of very talented individuals in Australia and we should be proudly showcasing them. Agile Australia 09 and Agile 09 were two of my favourite events because it humanised my community. Sure, I’ve interacted with them over mailing lists, but meeting someone and having a face-to-face discussion is much more rewarding.
  • gives us a forum to introspect over the past year and set goals for the upcoming year for our community.
  • it is a lot of fun – surely that counts!

Support Local Chapters

The local communities have lots of advantages.

  • They are natural congregation points.
  • They *are* the agile community
  • They should already be talking about what agile is and how it is evolving.

A3 should not look to replace these groups, but should look to augment and encourage them.

Centralised Point for Resources

At the very least I think the A3 should provide a central Australian point for discussing local issues. This can be done very simply with a mailing list/google group (like this one!) and perhaps a wiki. I would see us central point for visiting and local agile enthusiasts to find out what is going on and get in touch with their local chapters. I don’t see a mailing list for this group replacing other, more authoritative lists, such as Ken Schwabers yahoo mailing list (just to pick one off the top of my head).

Money, Money, Money

It depends on how we want to run this thing but I can see money being kinda useful! The two big items are support for local chapters and running a national conference.

Have a pool of cash would allow A3 to support the local chapters so they can put on some food at a local event, hire a venue or buy other sorts of expenses (I’m not in favour of purchasing assets such as equipment, books, video cameras, etc).

The other advantage to having money is that we could properly co-ordinate a national conference. Up front money is needed to hire a venue and get the conference ball rolling and I think it is unreasonable for an individual to be out of pocket for that sort of expense (even if it *theoretically* only temporary).

How do you get money? Sponsorship? Membership? They all have their pros and cons. I’m in favour of charging a corporate membership fee (but not for individuals). This way corporates can show their support of Agile community and we get some money for it. Most likely a corporate would use their support as a way of validating to their customers they are serious about agile in Australia. ┬áThis is only slightly different to the original discussion.

If we feel that individual paid memebership is deemed useful, then I’d like it to get members a discount to the national conference.

I’m expecting this to be the most controversial part of my proposal.

What is shouldn’t be

I’d like to note what I do not thing the A3 should be:

  • only a group of large corps – I’d hate the only way to get represenation on the board to be via a large corp that doesn’t speak to individual’s interests
  • a certification body

Relationship to *the* Agile Alliance

I see A3 as an entirely separate entity to the Agile Alliance. It may be useful for both groups to have reciprocal benefits, but in their essence they are separate bodies with no jurisdictional overlap.

Why and what now?

If we don’t act now I’m worried that a non grass root group will claim to be a centralised body. I don’t want an unauthentic body being set up to dilute what “I” think an agile body should be.

Rich Durnall has setup a meeting of the Melbourne Chapter of A3 and some of these topics are coming to the surface. I’m going to be at the meeting on Tuesday to talk through my proposal. At the moment it is all booked out (120 people have signed up).

Feedback

This is my vision of what I think A3 should be. I’m ready and waiting for you feedback. Let’s co-orinate the feedback over on the A3 mailing list.

*1 – I thought A3 sounded better than AAA

  1. Steve H. says:

    Supporting local chapters sounds grand – what concrete actions can support this?

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