With IBM Think 2020 now accepting abstracts from people wishing to share their stories at IBM’s premiere conference, I thought I would share some “tips” & “tricks” on how best to get your story accepted. Following these ideas is not a guarantee that your submission will be accepted but it will certainly increase your chances.
IBM Think 2020 DevOps stories we are looking for…
(but are not limited to)
- DevOps Governance and risk tolerance
- Continuous delivery and continuous testing on the mainframe
- Increasing DevOps maturity: Value Stream Management
- Deploying containerized applications with UrbanCode Deploy
- Process optimization and improving flow
- Solving the DevOps “Day two” problem
- Cultural transformation to achieve desired business outcomes
- Deploying hybrid applications in hybrid environments
- Virtualizing containers and other software dependencies for the purpose of testing
- Integrating IBM solutions with open source software
Be creative! Session delivery doesn’t need to be “death by slide ware”. I encourage those submitting abstracts to think about how they might get “outside of the box” delivering their story in a new and fresh innovative way.
Creating a well-crafted abstract
Call for papers submission applications typically have char/word counters on several fields where you are expected to share your idea. Don’t waste that valuable space using meaningless words or phrases. Opening an abstract proposal with “Attend this session to …” just used up 22 characters or 4 words! My advice is to be concise, be clear, be clean, be complete – avoid repetition, extraneous jargon, and excessive buzz words. If you use an acronym, spell it out the first time. Don’t leave people playing the “alphabet soup” game trying to figure out what the acronym means. And finally, please… proof read your submission. Bad grammar and misspellings make an abstract hard to read and creates additional editing work for the selection committee. Don’t make rejecting your submission easy for them.
Structuring your abstract submission
The selection committee is intolerant to wordiness and allergic to fluff. A well-structured abstract should follow the STAR framework to clearly explain your experience and get your proposal accepted:
- Situation – describe the problem, event or situation you were in
- Task – explain the task you had to complete
- Action – describe the specific actions you took to complete the task
- Result – share the results of your effort, lessons learned, best practices discovered
As some examples:
- Increased deployment frequency by 40% or even better, improved release capabilities from 3 months to 1 month
- Increased deployment success by 80%
- Reduce mean time to recovery by 25%
- Reduced testing cycle from 2 months to 1 week
I was accepted!
Or at least, let’s pretend that you were accepted. Envision the end to build your proposal backwards.
Envision what the end looks like, work backwards and write the beginning – the abstract you are going to submit.
My suggestion; is to begin by quickly building the session outline as a straw-man using bullet points:
- Remember STAR from above? Present the situation, share the problem, describe the actions taken, lessons learned, and explain the solution, with details.
- Share assets that helped solve the problem: URLs, Git repos, templates, or at least what you did to create it.
- Display your tool chain: simple or complex, tool chains get immediate attention and social media love.
- Talk DevOps: DevOps is about continuously learning, experimentation, and failing safely. Be fearless in sharing. Your experience and expertise can save others time and garner respect for yourself with others.
- What’s next: Share your next steps. DevOps is a journey. Sharing your long term vision with others may spark relationships with people who have a common interest in finding a solution to a shared problem.
- Concrete measured (qualified and quantitative) results – tied to the business. DevOps is about delivering results to the business. Sharing your results can help others see the possible and the potential outcomes.
Be prepared to deliver on commitments made in your abstract
Too often, there is disconnect between the submitted abstract and presentation delivered. The result is often a dissatisfied audience leading to poor session rating, poor Speaker rating or both. The more concise your abstract is, the easier it is to build the presentation and meet the expectations of the attendees. Happy attendees translate into higher sessions ratings and Speaker ratings.
Remember that you are the teacher. People are coming to learn from your experiences, and like Teachers, Speakers have a responsibility to connect with each person in the audience and work to share a piece of knowledge with everyone in the room. This is your chance to shine and share your expertise with others.
Submitting your idea
Having clicked the links to submit an abstract, you will be presented with the form containing a number of mandatory fields which need to be filled in.
Details do make a difference! (following the guidance presented earlier in this post)
- Challenge: Describe your challenge. Put this challenge in the context of your industry or market and unique competitive pressures. (1000 characters)
In this field, enter the situation and/or problem statement you were tasked with.
- Solution: Explain the solution, including relevant product information and any cross-team company involvement. (1000 characters)
We are looking for how you solved the problem and what techniques and/or software solutions were used.
- Benefit: Highlight any ROI or other quantifiable measures of success. What tips would you recommend to others? (1000 characters)
Qualified and/or quantified benefits are desired and really strengthen a submission ;-)
The Title (100 characters) and Abstract (750 characters) fields don’t really need further explanation but please adhere to the char limits. You went to all this work! These limits are strict and your submission will be truncated if they are exceeded. I have read many submissions which abruptly ended because they were too long and the system cut them off at the char limit.
Drop it in the right bucket
Some very important fields on the form to make sure your submission is routed properly to the appropriate review team is the “Select Program for this proposal” and “Session Topic for this proposal”.
- Select Program for this proposal – choose “Core Curriculum”
- Session Topic for this proposal – choose “Cloud”
Then it is just a couple of more clicks, tell us a little about you, and you are done!
IBM Think 2020 Call for Papers closes Nov 12, 2019.
Why wait? Submit your ideas today. And good luck!
Thanks for reading