Last week, I attended Velocity Conference 2014 in Barcelona, and shortly after, published a recap of the first day. The following post is the recap the second day.

The second day also started with several short Keynotes, and continued with at least four tracks after the first break. And again I’ll only highlight the conferences which left the biggest impression on me.

Vanessa Hurst - Cultures of Continuous Learning

Vanessa’s Tuesday Keynote was all about learning. How we can create and foster cultures where learning is front and center. Of course she also talked about why it’s a necessity to do so and sprinkled this with very nice tweet-sized sentences like “Continuous Learning is like Continuous Integration for the Brain”.

But the keynote was way more than that. She gave an entertaining, passionate, information-packed tour-de-force through how to create a culture of continuous learning. The most important points being …

  • Combat Steretype Threat (Great to finally have a name for that)
  • Nullify Impostor Syndrome
  • Embrace Dunning-Kruger Effect. This was kind of a surprise to me, because I always considered Dunning-Kruger something negative, a bias that you have to consider in interactions. But of course this way to look at it, is way more positive and productive.

An awesomely fantastic talk, that you should definitely watch. Twenty minutes very well spent.

Pamela Fox - Lowering the Barrier to Programming

Pamela is an awesome speaker, and it was evident in everything during her keynote that it’s an important topic she’s talking about. Not only to her.

She listed a number of barriers that young people, not only children, face when they (would) try to enter programming. She then showed way how those barriers can be lowered.

The barrier that stuck the most for me was “#6 Career Misconceptions”. It means, that many children don’t know what Computer Science is about and therefore it doesn’t occur to them, that they could enter this field as a professional. Once you start to think about it, it’s obvious, but it didn’t occur to me yet, at least not in the clarity that Pamela put it.

At the end of her talk she tasked everyone in the audience to lower the barrier for one child. Which I think was a great idea.

Jeff Sussna - Using Promise Theory to Improve Digital Service Quality

Jeff’s session was about Mark Burgess’ Promise Theory, and one can use it to model nearly any collaboration between people and systems.

At times a bit long-winded it still was great story-telling by Jeff, and introduced a for me completely new and interesting concept, that I can imagine will help me communicate some things better in the future.

He concluded with a simple set of steps, which you can also find in his slidedeck, that can be applied easily, even though I imagine Promise Theory to actually be more complex than that.

Those steps are:

  • What promises should we make? Where “we” can be anything from a system, a component, an application to a digital or physical service.
  • What should we do to maximize trust? Because “acknowledging uncertainy enables greater certainty”.
  • What promises do our customers need to make? Because a service is “a relationship, not a transaction”, both sides need to keep promises in order for the service to be successful

Conclusion

I wanted to go to Velocity for quite some time now, because from what I could tell, it’s THE conference about operations and engineering management. So I was really excited to finally go there. And Velocity didn’t disappoint.

I was able to bring back lots of inspiration, some confirmation for the way we work at vaamo and of course had the pleasure to meet and talk to some very smart people.

If you’re interested in the more personal side of the experience, I wrote about that in my personal blog.