LAST Conferences 2017

This is a version of an email I recently sent out to all the people in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane who participated in a LAST Conference, in 2017.

Some favourite photos from LAST Conferences 2017.

Some favourite photos from LAST Conferences 2017.

I have recently returned from Brisbane, where I participated in the very first LAST Conference Brisbane. This marked the end of the extended tour of Australia for LAST Conferences in 2017. It started in Melbourne in June, headed to Sydney in July, and stopped off for the first time in Canberra, in September.

Along the way, it was really gratifying to see over a thousand professionals get together to share their knowledge and to learn from each other. It was also good to receive the highest rating we have ever had for LAST Melbourne, an excellent improvement on the rating in Sydney, and very high satisfaction from our colleagues in Canberra and Brisbane.

Great topics, excellent speakers, and great to see the local community. 10/10
— Brisbane participant


The collegiate and community feel of LAST Conference, that we aim for, depends on the enthusiasm of the people who participate i.e You.

Kudos must go to the organising teams in each city, that include:

Melbourne - Gabor Devenyi, Wai Ling Ko, Steven Mitchell, Paul Dealy, Craig Brown
Sydney - Caoilte Dunne, Gareth Bowell
Canberra - John Connolly, Alex Sloley, Irene Zhen, Mia Horrigan , Matthew Hodgson
Brisbane - Dave Pryce, Ryan McKergow, Karen Jenkin, Bhavesh Sharma, Andrew Robinson

Each city also had extra content curators and helpers, who deserve a pat on the back.

In addition, the affordability of LAST Conferences depends on organisations who provide support, both in kind and financially.

The organisations who supported one or more LAST Conferences were:

MYOB, elabor8, REA Group, Dius, Reece Group,  Aconex, Swinburne University, UTS, AGL, Oakton, Zen Ex Machina, and Tatts Group.

Keep it going, Keep in touch

Don't forget to keep the spirit of LAST going throughout the year by supporting the Meetups in your city. Volunteer to share knowledge at a meetup, and consider submitting for a LAST Conference (or more than one) in 2018! 

These are the meetups that Tabar are closely associated with via organising content and venues and sponsoring. By the way, we always appreciate support for meetups from companies that can host and/or provide catering.

There's many ways you can keep in touch with us on social media:


We also recommend our Slack team. There's hundreds of people from all over Australia involved, with active discussions about all sorts of topics relevant to LAST concepts. If you're not a member, you can apply to join by emailing us. If you came to a LAST Conference in 2017, check your inbox for an invitation.


You can see a few of my favourite photos in the collage, above. You can add your own and see if you can spot yourself in the Flickr Pool or the Google Photos album.

2017 logo design by Bruce Taylor

2017 logo design by Bruce Taylor


This year's design was by Bruce Taylor. You can get one (or a design from other years) here.

We also have a bunch of stickers left over. Ask me for one, next time you see me!

Diversity/Gender Balance

LAST Conferences are signatories to the Diversity Charter, because we want to reflect the communities that we serve. Although diversity is not just about gender, something we aim to do is encourage a better gender balance to run sessions at LAST Conferences. I intend to write a separate post about how we have tried to do this and the results.

In summary

It feels like we have come a long way since Craig Brown and I ran the first edition of LAST Conference in 2012. I remember him high-fiving me, saying "We are awesome". This year, I'd like to give everyone who participated in a LAST Conference in 2017 a virtual high five, as we have most defintely continued the awesome-ness. Thanks!

Things you might not know about 1st Conference 2017

We started 1st Conference in 2015, after running LAST Conference for a few years. A little while back, I described LAST as a meetup on steroids, and that it was originally designed "for people who have a bit of experience with agile". Since then it's gone from strength to strength, debuting in Sydney in 2016, with Brisbane joining the party in 2017, too.

We decided to launch 1st Conference as a somewhat more conventionally structured event for people with less experience. The way we thought about it, there are more and more businesses that are declaring themselves to be "Agile", which means that  there a bunch of people who are trying to figure out how to make this happen. 2015 and 2016 was about the first 2 years on an agile "journey". For the 2017 iteration, there has been an evolution in the intent and design of the conference that I wanted to emphasise. 

Here are some things that you might not have realised about 1st Conference 2017

Not just for newbies

With the upcoming edition, people who are starting out are still an important audience of the event. However, with the adoption of the Heart of Agile framework for the theming of the event, we think that the focus on the most important areas that really are at the heart of agile will be useful to people who have been working with agile for a while. We are hoping that 1st can be a first agile learning event for some, and that it can also be the first learning event of the year for others.

As Alistair Cockburn, co-creator of the Agile Manifesto and the creator of the Heart of Agile says:

Agile has become overly decorated. Let’s scrape away those decorations for a minute, and get back to the center of agile
— Alistair Cockburn

We hope that stepping back, remembering the central, most powerful principles of agile, will help experienced people, especially those working with less experienced colleagues.

Not just about IT

The principles described by the Agile Manifesto for Software Development predate it by many years. Much was borrowed from the car industry and Toyota, in particular.  Now, car companies are realising the need to be more agile (, and almost all companies are recognising the need to be able to change course more rapidly ( Indeed, we have been hearing much more about "Business Agility" in recent times.

At 1st Conference this year, we will be hearing from Jurgen Appelo, who talks about agile management techniques that can work in many different departments. We also will hear from Eduardo Nofuentes, with a practical example how a company that runs shopping centres are using agile and lean techniques. I'm also very keen to hear Lilly Ryan's talk about what we can learn from a spectacular failure on a project in the 1850s.

Above: Interview with Jurgen Appelo about his keynote talk at 1st Conference, Melbourne on 2 March 2017.

Gender balance

We are very aware of the issue of lack of women on conference lineups. Last year, we signed up to the Diversity Charter, as a statement of intent that we are actively seeking to improve the balance. We have got plans in place for the 2017 Melbourne edition of LAST and we actively sought to fill the 1st Conference lineup with talented women. We're really pleased that both the speaker and workshop facilitator balance is almost exactly 50:50 (it was 20:80 in 2016).

Ideas AND practical tools

The first two editions of 1st were single day. In 2017, we extended the event to two days, with a lineup of talks on day 1, and a series of 90 minute workshops on day 2. The plan is to get an overview and understanding of the ideas through the talks, and then to do some practical things on day 2, to take back to work on Monday. For those who can only spare one day, there is a single day registration available to day 1 only.

Don't miss out…

…on hearing from an inventor of agile and a top international thought leader in agile management, plus all the Australian content on the schedule. Everyone involved is really excited for this event and we really hope that you'll see fit to join us on 2-3 March. Early Bird registrations are available until midnight on Monday 6 February, so don't wait!

Who comes to LAST Conference?

By Ed Wong

A version of this post first appeared on Ed Wong's personal blog. LAST Conference is part of Tabar's event series, that also include 1st Conf for new agilists and Spark the Change (formerly Dare Festival)

I run an event with Craig Brown called LAST Conference. It's happening for the 4th time on 18 September 2015. In 2014, I was pleasantly surprised that the Software Development Today blog rated us #20 in the Top 50 agile conferences.

It's a meetup on steroids

Of the various descriptions there are about the event, I like "It's a meetup on steroids", the best. It's designed for people who have a bit of experience with agile (I run an event called 1st Conf for people who have less experience). We have a whole day of workshops, talks, lightning talks, retrospectives etc. We deliberately have up to 7 concurrent sessions, to keep things exciting and we keep it really affordable, too.

Who comes?

In the lead up to this year's event, I was doing some analysis of who comes along so I thought I'd share. Look ma, I did a pie chart! Click the preview above for a larger version.

Not unsurprisingly, people who fit into a manager role, make up the greatest proportion of participants, followed closely by Business Analysts. The types of job title that made it into the Manager bucket were "Business Solutions Manager" or "Practice Manager".

It's good to see that there is a reasonably diverse spread of roles and it's really good to see that Developers are about one fifth of the cohort, there's a few Architects and a good few QA people. I would like more UX folk to come along…we've got a couple of UX sessions in the pipeline this year.

18 September 2015

We've run the event in the darkest days of Melbourne Winter, up until now. This year, we're going to be in Spring! In order to make use of Swinburne Uni's brand-new Advanced Manufacturing Design Centre (AMDC), we have moved away from their crowded winter term and instead will be on 18 September 2015. We will be opening registration in the coming days (signup to the mailing list to be the first to know), and you can still submit a session idea, over on the LAST Conference website.

Headline sponsors - elabor8

Sponsorship from companies keeps the event affordable. elabor8 have returned as headline sponsors this year. If you'd like to join them, then please get in touch.