XPDay London 2007: A Retrospective

I’ve been surrounded by a lot of grey for the past couple of months. It may be the dreary autumnal London weather. Or perhaps it’s the sea of sombre suits reflected in glassy buildings in Canary Wharf. Fortunately, going to JAOO for the first time back in September helped cheer me up. Going to XPDay London last week gave me hope.

What worked well: The Highlights

It’s the attendees who make the conference: I met some very cool, contemplative and collaborative people. By cool, I mean friendly, modest and fun. When combined with cool, contemplative and collaborative best describe what people who really get Agile mean to me. Instead of meeting resistance, things just flow.

In an opposing context, the 3 Cs can mean: colluding, corroborative and complicit. Apparently that’s how some people behave when things get tough. Unfortunately, it’s also when how you behave matters most in determining the outcome. Over time, I’ve come to recognise Agile as a mindset and it’s really easy to spot the bona fide ‘Agilistas’ (practitioners of Agile) from those who play pretend. It’s a bit like watching bullies prance about in tutus. They’re usually those who don’t quite ‘fit’.

Creative sessions such as the Conversation Café by Simon Baker and Gus Power asking the difficult question – ‘Have you compromised your agility?’: I especially liked the scene setting with paper table cloths, funky electric tea lights and piles of lollipops. It seemed to me a well-crafted social experiment in which participants were lulled into a comfortable state of mind before being electric-jolted into discussions that challenged their fundamental beliefs in what being Agile means. The combination of this polemic session with Steve Freeman’s panel discussion on ‘Have we lost our mojo?’ helped reunite a crowd that had become fractured by difficult conversations (I described it as invoking a tribal reaction much like football does – understandably, of course).

For me, the best sessions were those that encouraged us to fight against organisational inertia and question conventional wisdom. Simon and Gus did an excellent job of reminding us to challenge mediocrity. It may be the norm in your organisation, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

My three wishes for XPDay London 2008

  1. For an inspiring and erudite speaker like David Stoughton to do the opening keynote
  2. For an exceptional closing speech that challenges us to take action (because ‘Goodbyes’ are important).
  3. To co-present a session with Pascal Van Cauwenberghe, co-creator of The XP Game.

Thank Yous for ‘The Yellow Brick Road’

Special thanks to Tamas Jano and Tom Geary for test-driving the Wizard of Oz game cards. Many thanks to Duncan Pierce for mucking in with what he described as ‘the most unusual session’ he’s ever worked on. And a big T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U to Jim for making shadowy figments of imagination real. If you want to know how the session went, you can read Pascal’s account of it here. Thanks for the coverage, Pascal!

3 Responses to “XPDay London 2007: A Retrospective”

  1. Thinking for a Change » A picture of Virginia travelling with Pascal writes:

    […] The metro arrives huffing and puffing and hissing. The grey mass piles in. I’m submerged in a sea of sombre suits. […]

  2. Thinking for a Change » XP Days London: 3 wishes writes:

    […] Days London: 3 wishes Portia has 3 wishes for XP Days London 2008. I second those wishes. […]

  3. XP Days Benelux 2009: The Start of a Great Adventure | Selfish Programming writes:

    […] series: The Yellow Brick Road – Agile Adoption through Peer Coaching. I first co-presented The Yellow Brick Road with Duncan Pierce back at XPDay 2007. Since then, the concept of Agile Fairytales have travelled […]

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