In early December, we got a nice pre-Christmas surprise in the form of the feedback they received on the first draft of the book that we sent them back in October. We anxiously sifted through all the feedback forms and the chapters that some had returned with comments and overall, people were pretty positive about our work which was very encouraging for us. Some of their comments allowed us to see places where we needed to clarify what we were saying and others allowed us to see where we glossed over content that they considered very important. It’s one heck of a process writing a book, you cannot please everyone and it all depends on the point of view of the reader and where they are in their knowledge.

So we spent part of December and January incorporating feedback from the reviewers, while also touching up stuff we found when we created the materials for our CASCON workshop. It’s amazing how seeing your content in 18pt in slides in front of your face helps you see things differently. We were also fortunate to have our content reviewed by Scott Ambler at IBM. He provided lots of valuable insights on how we could improve our work and even contributed some quotes to put in along the way which was really awesome! As part of the work we did we also wrote our preface, acknowledgements and contributors sections. Acknowledgements are hard… Really hard to write… You just do not want to offend or forget anyone important!

We have also been getting drafts of the book cover from our publisher. We have a good idea what the cover will look like but they still have some touching up to do as we changed the title of the book along the way and they were not aware of it… All that to say things are progressing well. We have sent the another package with our latest updates this week and hopefully we will be working with their copy editors soon as well as their production people. It is hard to explain, but it is all a bit unreal right now.

Some contacts at the IBM Cognos lab in Ottawa graciously invited me to do a repeat of my November talk I did for them on Agile Planning in real life. They gave me two full hours instead of the hour and a half I had the first time. Funny story moment… I’m still fairly new preparing talks like this and I had no knowledge of animations at the time.  I had some slides which were basically a single build-up slide, but I had created them individually instead of using animations. So Monday night, I’m looking at the material to get ready to give the talk and I realize that I had 38 slides instead of the 60 I had in November for the same talk… For some odd reason, this freaked me out a bit and then I got concerned that I did not have enough slides to cover the two hours… So what did I do? Well, as I went over them, I realized some could be improved, so I touched up some of them and deleted two more from the deck… Needless to say, I tried not to think about it too much to make my stress worse.

I think the talk itself went very well. I always have challenges settling my nerves in the first five minutes and then it gets better and I’m fine until the end. The participants were just amazing! A lot of good, intelligent questions they made it very interesting for me. This is the third time I give this talk and I find that each time, I stray a bit further away from my original article on agile planning in real life and I incorporate more and more content from the book in the presentation. Funny how that happens, I think it just shows the gaps in my knowledge that I filled in the past year. The other observation is that I was able to handle those thirty extra minutes by incorporating material verbally from some of the other talks I prepared last year. The two hour length of the talk was borderline for me though. I can keep people interested for ninety minutes but I was finding the two hours a bit longish at the end. I decided to try something different this time around as well and I intentionally removed some text from some of the slides and used the pen on my tablet pc to write in some notes or highlight some items. It turns out that this was a great way to help the people on the call understand what I was talking about as they had a screen sharing session they could log on to for the presentation.

From what I gathered, I’d say about 40-50 participants took part in the session, including the people on the phone. So all in all, it was a good experience for me.