Brandenberg GateLast week I returned home from Potsdam, Germany. I attended and spoke at Agile Dev Practices 2013. It was the first edition of this conference, and lets just say I look forward to attending again in the future!  I took advantage of this opportunity with Rosie (my wife) travelling with me. We spent the first couple days in Berlin, taking in a very historic view of the world. The last time I was in Berlin was the early ’80s when the wall was still up. I’m always talking about change being a good thing (we wouldn’t be standing so close to the Brandenberg gate otherwise!).  This is one of the best changes I’ve personally witnessed. Congratulations to the city and citizens of Berlin for acknowledging the past in such an appropriate thoughtful way. You are doing a great job rebuilding the city to world class levels!

Now on with my thoughts about the conference! I will first say how impressed I was. For the first edition of this conference, the attendance was lower than the organizers would like. However, the lower number of participants didn’t diminish the value for me as a participant. The conference needs to start somewhere and I am confident future editions will pull in many more people.  Here’s a few thoughts about the conference I’d like to share …

First … the people!  I met so many great people, and there’s many more I would have really liked to spend some time talking with. There were the speakers like Peter Saddington and Pawel Brodzinski I would have liked to chat with but time just simply ran out. I had many great conversations with people in the hallways, and it’s always exciting to hear about your experiences and stories! Networking is without a doubt my favourite part of any conference as I learn so much myself.

The conference featured three keynotes every day. Selfishly I would have rather they have two per day leaving more time for speakers. My timeslot was 45 mins which is one of the shortest I’ve worked with. Although by the feedback my talk was well received, I need to spend some time packaging it smaller. By investing this time it means we can have deeper interactive conversations through my session!

Ellen Gottesdiener gave a keynote address on structured conversations. Ellen taught us there are seven elements of a structured conversation to help teams discover what is valuable. I wrote down a key phrase Ellen shared:  “It’s not a requirements management issue, it’s a value management issue”.  What’s really a shame is I cannot attend Ellen’s course in Toronto this week as I want to learn more! I guess for now I’m going to have to settle with reading your book, and add your course to my list for the future!

Elephant Rider Model

I met Remi-Armand Collaris on Monday night at dinner. Remi-Armand made the 6 hour drive from Holland and I was glad he made the trip. During his time to speak at the conference Remi-Armand read the fairy tale Stone-soup with us. These fairy tales created imagery which explained change in a way I can only aspire to in my workshops! Remi-Armand then related the stone soup story to a change   Since then I’ve purchased your book ScrumUp and look forward to meeting you again in the future!

Carlos Ble wrote the first book in spanish for TDD. I didn’t get a chance to hear Carlos speak or teach but the dinner and hallway conversations were great! I did find out Carlos has written an online tool to facilitate team collaboration called Liveteamapp.com … if you’re working with a distributed team I highly recommend checking it out!  By the way … if you’re looking for an exotic location for an OpenSpace you may want to check the one on Carlos’s blog

Allan Kelley attended my session and we had some great discussions afterwards. Allan even introduced me to Simon (@agilepirate) who apparently has a model similar to the one I’ve developed. As Simon put it … it must be a cosmic coincidence. Allan and I had some great discussions in the hallway, and he even gave me some great feedback on my session. I look forward to meeting Allan again in the future.

Peter Saddington gave a keynote one evening on creating and sustaining high performance teams. Congratulations Peter for such a engaging talk. Among so many learnings Peter helped us discover the most important question you can ask your people:  Are you having fun!  Unfortunately I left early the next morning so we didn’t get the chance to meet, but its a small world so I’m sure we will connect somewhere in the future.

There were so many more people and discussions which I haven’t listed here! If you’re one of them don’t be insulted, as I value my interactions with all of you! I always measure the success of a conference by the amount of discussion I have and the connections I create! My reading list has increased substantially as a result of this conference.  Always a good sign as well!

Finally to Kyle, Uwe, Madelline, and Jose … congratulations for organizing such a great conference! I can only hope we have the opportunity to meet again one day! Perhaps at a future edition of Agile Dev Practices? Only time will tell if that’s in the cards.

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