I spent the day at Agile Coach Camp in Montreal today. It was my first Open Space experience and I thought it was really amazing. At the end, they asked us to write a letter to ourselves, which we will receive as an e-mail in three or four weeks. They suggested writing about our experience, what we learned about ourselves and others and what we will be doing next. Sounded to me like they were asking me to write a blog post! To learn more about my Agile Coach Camp experience, please read on!
Truth be told, the camp activities started last night with some agile games, lightning talks and a group dinner. My kids and the travel make it challenging for me to free myself up for events like last night , so I skipped last night and joined the camp today. To register for the event, we needed to write a position paper in which we declared our super power. Mine was using Jedi Mind Tricks to help bring change, I was happy to learn this morning that it was picked as one of the favorites last night.
The day started with a continental breakfast and networking session and then we did an opening circle for the open space session. I never such a session before and I did not know what to expect. The fascinating thing about this event is the fact the participants self-organize the sessions all day long. We had five or six spots where people could group together to discuss different topics for around an hour. On the wall, there were big post-it notes that started out blank and people proposed topics they wanted to discuss.
To create the first sessions the facilitator asked us during the opening circle to get up, introduce ourselves, propose our topic and put it up on the wall. My first proposal was a session on using Agile with distributed teams which I scheduled for late in the afternoon.
Todd Charron presented the first session I attended. It presented different ways to use improvisation to liven up daily scrum sessions. Todd facilitated a creative and lively session with lots of laughs. I intend to use some of his games with the teams I work with. I will need to figure out the correct context, but he had some interesting little games. My favorites were:
- A group of people in a circle with their eyes closed trying to count to 21. Random people call out numbers in sequence and if two people mention the same number at the same time, the group must start again at 1. It took us a few tries to succeed, but we managed to do it.
- Having a group of people in a circle count numbers sequentially going around the circle. When they reach a number containing a seven (i.e. 7, 17, 27) or that is a multiple of seven (i.e. 7, 14, 21) the next person calls out “buzz” instead and the circle changes direction. It is more difficult than it looks!
Michael Stayd hosted the next session I attended which was about systemic constellations. Early in the session, I was skeptical but seeing it in action was cool. We recreated a situation that someone in the session was experiencing by having others represent the people involved in real life. The person whose problem we were trying to help with positioned these people and they explained how they felt based on where they were. This is all very symbolic in nature is very hard for me to explain so I will provide a couple of links on the subject instead:
Having no topic of interest in the next slot, I added a session to present the concepts behind Tribal Leadership based on the book and the course I just completed. I enjoyed presenting the subject matter and hopefully made the participants curious enough to go check out the audio book. One thing I found myself doing when looking at the available sessions in a timeslot was trying to identify if I was in a mood to give gifts or to receive information. I consider adding this session a gift and trying to share some of the knowledge I gained in the last few weeks.
After lunch, I attended a session by Kate McGaw on using Kanban to manage your personal life. Kate, if you ever find your way to reading this, my wife will most certainly thank you! I told her about your session when she got back with the kids and she got quite a laugh at my plan of building a Kanban board in my home office so that she can manage our home improvement list. At this point, I am unsure if I should thank you until I see how much work I acquire in my backlog… 😉 All kidding aside, your session was a good takeaway for me! Thanks!
My final session of the day was the one I hosted on Agile for distributed teams. I tried taking a different approach to my morning session by mainly facilitating, taking notes and letting others do most of the talking. I told some personal stories and share some information from “A Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum” but I did not want the session to be an informercial for the book either.
I was too drained to attend a final session after that, so I walked around and spoke to individuals instead. I had a tremendous day containing many positive experiences. Some people there knew of the book I co-wrote with Elizabeth and Matt and offered nice words about it which was a pleasant experience.
I want to apologize for not going to supper after the event. I had a free night as my wife went to see her family with the kids, but I want to share a little secret… I am very awkward socially even with friends, so imagine with people I barely know. I understand this is strange coming from someone who speaks comfortably to large groups of people, and blogs openly about his life… But for some reason there is a difference and it is both challenging and difficult for me. I appreciated meeting you and I hope we will keep in touch!
Thank you to all of you for sharing your stories and experiences as you gave me a very rich experience today! Many more thanks to the organizers for taking your personal time to get this up and running for all of us!