Impressions from ALE2011—Day 1

Posted by on Sep 14, 2011 in Agile & Lean, Conference | No Comments

After my first Thank You last weekend (which I feel inclined to repeat: Thank you all for making it an amazing experience!) I’ll now write up my impressions in a timeline, focussing on my learnings.

The Prepared Bags

Prepared Participants Bags


Last Tuesday I went to the venue around lunchtime to meet early-arriving peers for preparation. We went to lunch with about a dozen people, among them Stephen Parry. Since he submitted his talk about the ICT value chain, I was looking forward to meet him. He started the conversation with how we “made him come” to our unconference: He had seen our tweets and looked at our site, and was so amazed by our lean distributed organisation that he wanted to be part of it. And he has great expectations from and high hopes for the network: a power to compete with big consultancies like McKinsey or Accenture, who sell Lean and Agile to Enterprises by guaranteeing to cut costs, which (if it works at all) only enables these to “do the wrong things righter”. We know how to do it differently, we are many, and through our use of social media we get visible. We could get a chance to make a difference!

The afternoon was quickly over with preparing rooms, printing Marcin’s badges, posters and Ivana’s appreciation cards, stuffing 200 bags… (Eelco suggested the bag stuffing should be offered as an extra paid optional Kanban excercise next year. Like that.) More and more people arrived, hugs were exchanged… It felt like a family reunion. Especially the fact that I could now meet all the amazing organisers in person whom I’d been working with so intensely was creating an emotional state that hasn’t fully subsided yet… An inner fire that still burns.

Appreciation Cards

The ALE2011 Appreciation Cards—Thanks Ivana!

When we went out for dinner, we were already more than 20, and all the time people kept arriving. Connecting through Twitter and Foursquare, they found us and joined the crowd… Later in the bar, Oana, Franck, Marcin and I started working on the finalisation of our prezi on the event’s organisation.

I was distracted by the arrival of friends: Ivana, Liz, Chris, YvesJurgen gave me a present:–) but we managed to finish the talk prep. Thanks again to Liz for giving me the most effective 5min coaching ever on (her way of) Feature Injection to improve my point:–) I had just discovered (through visual similarity of our organisation with the FI model) that we had actually structured our sofas along the capabilities of our goal… And the sofas pulled features and stories from these capabilities to create an emergent event that couldn’t have been described in advance. Constantly aware of our Real Options and deferring decisions because of budget constraints we let unconventional, unheard-of solutions emerge. More on that in a later post, I’m deviating from the topic

We finished at 2am. My heart was full of joy, ALE2011 had started.


I arrived at eight at the venue, bringing my wife Christiane (who joined Monika on the spouse&kids program). The place was already buzzing in Yellow! Our amazing student volunteers had prepared the reception, people just started to come in… And at nine, it started. The amazing Jon Jagger ran a coding dojo icebreaker, getting people moving and coding and laughing and looking puzzled… Amazing, another thank you, Jon! And I’m proud and happy you decided to sponsor ALE2011.

Coding Dojo Icebreaker

Coding Dojo Icebreaker—Look at the Happy Faces!

After that, Rachel Davies started with her Keynote “10 years of Agile—are we There Yet?”. She immediately found the right tone for the audience, and with a provocative statement about Enterprise Agile she inspired discussions that continued throughout all three days… Thank you!

Rachel Davies on Enterprise Agile

Rachel Davies on Enterprise Agile

After the coffee break, we had our talk about the organisation of ALE2011. We started with a bit of confusion for the audience, as we were not actually in the room… Franck was fiddling around with his computer and suddenly we called him on Skype—while he was checking the participants list on Google. We played through a typical evening during the last weeks before the event: check who registers, check who’s paid, skype with the others… and then Marcin, Oana and I entered the room and “really” started our talk:–) Hope the video is ready soon, I want to see how it worked for the audience:–)

Oana, Franck, Marcin and Me talking about ALE (photo by Ivana Gancheva)

Oana, Franck, Marcin and Me talking about ALE (photo by Ivana Gancheva)

Before lunch, I went to Stephen’s talk. He was as amazing as expected—I wrote about it already. Lunch was great, as all service in the NH hotel… And then, there were lightning talks. I can’t actually remember, will have to wait for the video:-) But the audience was fascinated:

Fascinated by Lightning Talks

Fascinated by Lightning Talks

I mostly butterflied during Open Space. The atmosphere was engaging, familiar, interesting… I remember some specifics: Rini van Solingen asked me for an interview… I talked with Chris Matts and Olav Maassen about Real Options… Still astonished that Chris was interested in the way I use my keys for risk mitigation.

Real Options Smiling

Real Options Smiling

I had to leave early that evening for a company meetup. As so many agile42 colleagues came to Berlin for the event, we used the chance to meet and have dinner:-) More on the next day tomorrow!.

Leave a Reply