Real Life Retro: Fyre Fest

November 14, 2019

What did we do well, what did we do badly and what could we improve next time? These are the questions that guide retrospectives, a common tool of agile product development in the tech sector. But while this agile approach to continuous improvement is often celebrated as the centrepiece of innovation and systems improvement, the process is rarely used to look at big picture events. To change that, OneEleven is hosting its first “Real Life Retro” on Nov. 21 –  applying the agile approach to famous (and infamous) public events. The first subject of Real Life Retro, facilitated by Ash Christopher, Senior Engineering Manager for Shopify, is the Fyre Fest, the 2017 “luxury music festival” founded by Billy McFarland, CEO of Fyre Media Inc, and rapper Ja Rule. Launched at WebSummit to promote a talent booking app, the festival was scheduled to take place on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma, and its unravelling became the subject of a 2019 Netflix documentary. “When I watched the Fyre Fest doc, I was fascinated by the people who weren’t in leadership positions and who found themselves involved in something going so crazily off the rails. I kept thinking, what would I have done?” said Siri Agrell, OneEleven’s Executive Director. The Real Life Retro will be an interactive exercise, with audience members breaking down the good, the bad and the ugly of Fyre Fest’s ideation, execution and crisis management, and extracting lessons that apply beyond the event itself. Cheese sandwiches will be served. “This isn’t about whether or not we could run a festival on a beach. It’s about how to contend with extreme personalities, circumstances and expectations – how to adapt, communicate, refocus, mitigate damage or – sometimes – extract yourself,” said Agrell. “I want OneEleven to be a place where a community of smart people enables each others success and helps each other avoid mistakes. Real Life Retros are a fun way to explore how that’s possible through the lens of pop culture.” OneEleven is home to more than 55 quickly growing Toronto technology companies who work out of a 120,000 square foot facility on Front Street West, sharing space, programming, expertise and a bad ass attitude.


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