What is Balanced Team?
Balanced Team is a group of people who are interested in furthering processes and methodologies to create great things. We welcome people who wear many hats (design, development, testing, product management, marketing and sales) and we value multi-disciplinary collaboration and iterative delivery focused on customer value as a source for innovation.
We are a self-organizing, international organization with virtual and face-to-face touchpoints:
- In-person retreats and social events
Balanced Team Origins
Balanced Team grew from the contributions of many people over time. Here is a brief review of some key events and activities that led us to where we are now.
August 2009 “Agile Evolution”
Jeff Patton and David Hussman organized an “Agile Evolution” meeting before Agile 2009 in Chicago. Jeff invited a number of Agile and UX thought-leaders, including Alan Cooper, Desiree Sy, Jared Spool and Lane Goldstone, who later become active participants in Balanced Team.
Genesis of the first Agile UX retreat
Jeff Patton introduced Lane Goldstone to Anders Ramsay. They started to hang out together and spend a lot of time talking about how to blend agile and UX. Lane and Anders wanted to see the two communities communicate better, and include other disciplines as well. They decided the best way to advance this mission was to bring together like-minded people in a retreat format and see what happened. Lane reached out to Alan Cooper to host the first event and we were off and running!
January 2010 “Agile UX Retreat” in San Francisco CA
The first Agile UX retreat was a two day event at Cooper. Highlights included:
- Confidentiality agreements made it possible to discuss things openly
- Event self-organized as it evolved
- Lots of open conversation between agile developers and designers
- Key insight: No more “Us and Them” thinking
- A strong feeling we were onto something and desire to continue meeting and talking
Blog posts: Anders Ramsay | Johanna Kollman
Between the major events, group members held smaller events in London and Florida to share what we were learning and recruit new members.
Agile UX Retreat in London, UK
- Two day workshop?
- Need details from Anders or Johanna
Agile UX event in Boca Raton, FL
- Evening event at Agile ‘10?
- Need details from Desiree
July 2010 “Agile UX Retreat” in Grand Rapids, MI
After the first San Francisco event at Cooper, people realized that adding a third day at the start of the event to get to know each other would be beneficial. The next Agile UX Retreat started with a reception at Atomic Object and continued at The Factory for two days of workshops. Highlights included:
- Continued work of first event
- Realized that onboarding new people was important and challenging
- worked on “Humanifesto,” and Problem statement(s)
- Brainstormed new names, “Balance” was chosen
- Commitment to continue holding events
Blog post: Carl Erickson
Shortly after this event, we created our blog, www.balancedteam.org with a masthead designed by Paul Hart.
December 2010 “Agile UX Retreat” in New York, NY
Pivotal NYC hosted our next three-day event. By this point, we had a number of participants who had attended several events and we started to gel as a working group. After our round of lightning talks to catch up with what we were all learning/doing, we worked on next steps. Some people wanted to put on a public event that was educational in nature (100+ people, invited speakers), the other wanted to continue the smaller, invitational events to share practices (<50 people, participatory). In the end, our inability to find a good venue we could afford pushed us towards the smaller format for the next event in SF. Highlights included:
- “Lean UX” concept brought to group by Janice Fraser, LUXr
- Lightning talks showed how people were starting to bring balanced team practices to their work
- Decision to hold next event in SF
Blog post: Alan Cooper
Between the major events, group members continued to sponsor smaller events to share what we were learning and recruit new members.
February 2011 “DeLUX” in Boulder, CO
- Evening event during IxDA ’11, at Pivotal Boulder
- Social time + lightning talks
- Someone at Hot Studio designed an attractive poster for the event (who?)
March 2011 “DeLUX” in Austin, TX
- Evening event during SxSW ’11
- Need information about location from Johanna or Ian
September 2011 “Balanced Team Conference” in San Francisco, CA
Three-day event at Hot Studio, San Francisco. Our theme was “Getting Practical.” Highlights included:
- Lightning talks
- Breakout conversations/workshops
- Our first success story, SideReel (Zach)
- Collected and published resources for larger community
Blog post: Josh Seiden
Between these two events, Lane Goldstone designed a logo and produced a batch of buttons and promotional postcards.
March 2012 “DeLUX” in Austin
- Evening event during SxSW ’12 at Adaptive Path, Austin
- Social event + lightning talks
June 2012 “Balanced Team Conference” in Chicago, IL
Three-day event at Ideo, Chicago. Our theme was “Welcoming the Business Perspective.” Highlights included:
- Organized talks
- Unconference sessions
November 2013, Balanced Team Summit, San Francisco CA
- Event site: https://balancedteam.org/balancedteamsf2013
- Resources: http://lanyrd.com/2013/balancedteam/
April 2014, Balanced Team Salon, San Francisco CA
April 2014, Balanced Team NYC Salon, New York NY
May 2014, Balanced Team London
Balanced Team members gathered in London for a Salon May 31, 2014. Thank you to our event sponsors, @pivotallabs and @neoinnovate
August 2014, Balanced Team Salon, Los Angeles CA
Instead of sitting down and listening to a few presentations, we designed an activity for every attendee to participate in discussions and generate ideas together. The event was filled with conversations from people in the community sharing ideas, socializing, and offering insights from their own experience.
April 2015, Balanced Team Salon NYC
In cooperation with LeanUX NYC, Balanced Team hosted an evening of conversation and consumption on April 15th, 2015 at CompStak in Manhattan.
Photos on Flickr
May 2015 Balanced Team Los Angeles
May 2015 Balanced Team Chicago
June 2015 Balanced Team Summit in Grand Rapids, MI
The Balanced Team Summit was a three-day event in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Our theme was “Balanced Teams Everywhere.”
Balance is action guided by incremental adjustments, rather than an achieved state. At the 2015 Balanced Team Summit, we explored and shared the latest techniques and innovations of Balanced Teams in different sized organizations in the software industry and beyond. Throughout it all, we considered the question, “What does it mean to be a balanced team?”
- Opening and social mixers at Atomic Object
- Day One: Invited speakers
- Day Two: Community contributions
- Closing party at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts
Event site: https://balancedteam.org/btgr2015/
November 2015 Balanced Team London
On a damp, dark Saturday morning in November, a group of like-minded designers, developers, product managers, agile coaches, business analysts and project managers got up bright and early to meet at the Pivotal offices in London, UK for the Balanced Team London Salon 2015.
May 2015 Balanced Team Los Angeles CA
Balanced Team hosted a Salon at Rhubarb Studios in downtown LA May 20, 2015. Thanks Pivotal for providing food and drinks.
March 2016 Balanced Team Ann Arbor
A brand new chapter of Balanced Team just got started in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Our first meeting took place on March 30, 2016 at the recently renovated ITHAKA/JSTOR offices in downtown Ann Arbor.
I would be happy to host the next gathering at DevJam in Mpls
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Just wrapped up #btla event – great group – insightful discussions…
If you ever want to host an event in Chicago, do keep me posted. I run the product design team at Allstate that has been drinking the kool-aid of balanced team with our long standing partnership with Pivotal Labs.