APLN Research Laboratory 2021

June 7 – 9
8:00 am – 1:00 pm CDT (each day)
Virtual Conference








About Research Laboratory 2021

In past years, the annual agile conference was a place to learn from the experience reports of whatever speakers volunteered to share their stories.  They were good stories.  Almost too good.  But it was largely a passive activity for the attendees.  They attended, and absorbed.  In 2021 we want to find out what would happen if we deliberately unleash the learning potential of the community…

Tackling real-world problems by proposing solutions, measuring effectiveness, adjusting as necessary then reporting on outcomes.


Each day of the conference will present a Keynote address on a topic with broad appeal across the agile community.  All conference attendees are encouraged to attend the keynotes

Presentations & Workshops

Each day, conference attendees will be able to select from a variety of presentations (50 minutes) and skill-building workshops (80 minutes).  These events run in parallel tracks, allowing attendees to ‘choose their own adventure’ in learning

Research Laboratory

We have partnered with several organizations facing real-world business problems.  Conference attendees are encouraged to join one of the Research Teams that will be assigned to help the Client Partners to find solutions to their vexing issues.

Research Laboratory- Step by Step

There are three distinct phases to conference activities:

  • Pre-conference – Prior to the conference in June, we will have an active call for challenges, speakers and research team participants.  Registration is now open!
  • In-conference – During the conference, the research teams will meet with the research partner, engage in open learning activities, and formulate a plan to address the client partner’s challenge. 
  • Post-conference – Following the conference, an extended research cycle will occur, where the client partner initiates the plan and provides feedback so the research team can study and adjust the plan accordingly. The research teams will capture their findings in an whitepaper that will be published in book form and distributed to conference attendees.

Click on each section below to see details:

Call for Challenges (pre-conference)

Every organization faces challenges.  Sometimes they are subtle.  Other times they are so obvious that you can’t help but see them.  But what do you do to solve the issues?  Chances are if you knew that answer, the problem would already be fixed.  That’s where Research Lab 2021 comes in.  Submit your challenge, and we’ll contact you to learn whether or not an Agile Research Team could help you get over your vexing problem.

Call for Speakers (pre-conference)

As with other Agile conferences, we are looking for speakers!  We need experienced presenters and facilitators to provide a variety of content that can help the Research Teams make good recommendations to the Client Partners.

Are you a thought leader with information to share, or a skill to teach that could help an agile team solve real world business challenges?

Submit a topic proposal today!

Research Team Formation (pre-conference)

When a challenge is accepted for the conference, it becomes a Research Topic and the organization becomes a Client Partner Organization.  The client partner can send a member of their team to take part in the Research Team.  They will fill the Research Partner role.

All conference attendees will have the opportunity to gain practical experience by signing on to a Research Team, and may even be able to fill one of the key roles on the team.

Presenting the Research Topic (in-conference)

At the conference, the Research Partner will present the challenge to the members of the Research Team. 

This is the first time the Research Team will be fully assembled, so this serves the double purpose of letting the team get to know each other at the same time they learn about the needs of the client partner.

With the needs of the customer in mind, the Research Team members can look at the conference events schedule and choose which sessions they each want to attend.  


Individual Learning Opportunities (in-conference)

Every conference attendee can attend any learning event during the course of the conference.  There is a combination of Keynotes, Presentations, and Skill-Building Workshops.  Each attendee will be able to attend up to 9 sessions from a library of more than 20 events.  The goal is to expand individual knowledge, and possibly even learn some new techniques that could be applied to solve your Client Partner’s vexing problem.

Research Team Collaboration (in-conference)

At various points during the conference, the members of each Research Team will be able to check-in with each other and coordinate their activities.

On the final day of the conference, the Research Teams will gather to construct a product backlog of suggestions for the Client Partner Organization to try.

This is an opportunity for the conference attendees to apply what they’ve learned during the conference!

The Team will also agree on a cadence for meeting in the weeks following the conference.  We are targeting the teams getting together at least once a month for the duration of the study.  The Liaison and the Research Partner might agree to speak more frequently.  The Coordinator will be responsible for gathering contact information for all the team members, scheduling the meetings, and ensuring that the lines of communication open.


The Research Period (post-conference)

Following the conference, the Client Partner will attempt to implement recommendations made by the Research Team.  They will gather data and report successes and failures as approaches are adopted.

Teams are encouraged to follow a series of Plan-Do-Study-Act loops.  The Collaboration session during the Research Lab sessions during the conference will serve to INITIATE the process, with the teams ending the conference with a PLAN in place for the Research Partner to take back to the Client Partner Organization. Over the ensuing month, the Client Partner will DO what has been suggested and gather results.  At the end of the cycle, the Research Team will gather to STUDY the results, and make a recommendation for how the Client Partner can ACT differently in the next loop. This session will end with an updated PLAN for the Research Partner to take back with them, kicking off the next loop.

The Research Team will meet periodically during the research period to observe the results and update their recommendations.

Publishing the Results (post-conference)

As data and results are gathered, the Research Team will put together a whitepaper documenting the results of the experiment.

At the end of the year, the whitepapers will be gathered, and published together in a booklet that is made available to conference attendees.

Research Team members will receive a copy of the book, and be listed as co-authors on their Research Topic.

Featured Talks & Speakers

With a full roster of great speakers, workshop leaders and session facilitators, we'll be hearing from the latest thought leaders and gaining an opportunity to apply the knowledge they are sharing immediately.


Listen To Podcast/ Watch Video

Pricing & Registration

Early-bird pricing is now available!  For one low price you get all three days of activities, the chance to put theory into practice.
But why even pay that, when you could pay nothing, and also get the opportunity to gain experience making a difference for a real business, and the chance to be included in a published case study?

Seriously.  Pay $99 and learn history.  

or pay $0 and make history.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please review the frequently-asked questions below.  If you don’t see an answer to your question, use the button at the bottom of the page to submit your question and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Why are you charging for a virtual conference when the monthly meetups are free?

There are costs associated with hosting an event of this size and complexity. Sponsor contributions and ticket sales will also go toward the cost of the hosting experience as well as the expense of publishing the whitepaper experience reports.

What is your refund policy?

Your ticket cost can be refunded in full up until the Friday before the conference.

Can I choose the days I use a multiday pass for?

Your ticket gets you access to any day of the event.  If you are participating as a member of one of the Research Teams, we hope you will attend all three days.

Do You offer student discounts?

We offer discounts for presenters, sponsors, client partners, and volunteers.  If you want to find out more, please contact us.

How can I become a Speaker?

Submit a presentation proposal using the online Speaker form.  You can suggest a 50-minute presentation or an 80-minute workshop.  Your application will be reviewed, and if selected your event will be scheduled into one of the conference timeslots. 

Are there any topic limitations for Speakers?

Apart from a limited number of available slots, there are no limitations to what you can propose.  Keep in mind, presentations and workshops that would be applicable to helping solve any of the Research Topics will be given preference.


What are the dates and times of the conference sessions?

Monday June 7 through Wednesday June 9, 2021. 

Half day each day  from 8am through 1pm CDT.  


Do I need to bring a printed ticket?

The conference is 100% virtual.  When you register, you will receive a login id for the Whova app that we are using to run the conference.

Do you offer bulk ticket purchase discounts?

The bulk ticket rate would be the same as the Early-bird discount, and would have expired at the same time.  So no.

How can I upgrade my registration?

If you purchase a ticket, and are later selected to be a presenter, sponsor, client partner, or volunteer, your ticket will be refunded.

What kind of Challenges are you looking for?

We are literally looking for anything that could be causing you stress in your business.  Are you concerned about product delivery?  Are you worried about the processes used in your organization?  Are you looking for better ways to engage your employees? 

Do you have any industry preferences?

No.  The more varied the problem space(s), the better!

What is a Client Partner organization?

If your challenge is accepted and becomes one of the approved research topics, a research team will be assembled to address your issue.  You are a partner in this effort because ultimately, only you can commit your organization and people to trying out the suggestions and sharing the results.

I’m out of work or cannot afford to pay.  Is there another way to contribute?

We’re very sorry to hear about your situation, and totally understand that paying for a conference may not be your best use of funds.  But we’re here to help!  Would you be willing to become a Volunteer?  Follow the main menu link to “Call for Volunteers” and see if that option will work for you!  Would you be willing to be a major player on a Research Team?  Follow the main menu link to the “Call for Researchers” page.   You don’t have to buy a ticket.  Just fill out one of those two forms, and we’ll add you to the conference for free, as a thank you for the extra effort you’ll put in.

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Early Bird Registration Now Open!

Early-bird pricing is only available through May 31, then the price jumps up.