2012 Kalamazoo X Recap

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This year, Michael Eaton and his colleagues hosted the 4th annual Kalamazoo X conference. I have attended all 4 years and I have to say this was the best one. For those who haven’t yet heard of Kalamazoo X, it is a conference targeted at software developers, but the topics focus on the softer skills (i.e., the non-technical skills) required in your career. Each presentation is only 30 minutes long, which keeps things moving very rapidly. A single track provides a shared experience for all attendees. Every presentation was excellent and the room was packed. Speakers would often reference a presentation from earlier in the day.

Below are my notes from the sessions I attended.

Joe O'Brien
People Patterns
Packed a lot of great ideas
Never seen a project fail for technical reasons.
Corollary: Never seen a project SUCCEED for technical reasons.
Deliver bad news quickly

Laura Bergells
The People You Like the Least are the People You Need the Most
Teams require different personality types
Idea people (Putting the "Fun" in "DYSFUNCTIONAL") and rational people (Putting the "No" in "INNOVATION")

Suzan Bond
Intuition: Your Very Own Super Power
Learn to understand intuition and trust yourself.
Takes guts
OK to find ways to back up intuition.

Leon Gersing
Going Gonzo – an exploration of cultures in software development
Allow yourself to separate from the dominant culture and its associated dogma.
Drew inspiration from Hunter Thompson, Frank Zappa, and Georges Seurat.
"Most people doing Agile today are actually doing Waterfall with Agile terms. Agile is dead."
More important to be right than to be wise. Understand the problems you are solving.

Tim Wingfield
Your Career is Yours
Watch Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk
Ask Why? Does my customer really need this feature?
Coding Katas: Practice how to code.
Need to build trust. Be honest.
Work/Life balance: You need to enjoy your career; not endure your career.

Justin Searls
The Mythical Team-Month
If you are going to fail, fail quickly.
We are conditioned to avoid failure
Finding great developers:
Most traits are non-technical
Look for one who can succeed without you.