SimBlogging: XP Days Benelux 2008 Retrospective

SimBlogging‘ offers a his-and-hers viewpoint as Pascal and Portia timebox-blog simultaneously

‘Fun, Learning, Sharing, Smiles and Laughter’

These five words best describe my first and last impressions of XP Days Benelux 2008.

The conference opened with a warm welcome from the organisers Pascal Van Cauwenberghe, Vera Peeters, Nicole Belilos and me. Next up were Day 1 presenters who promoted their sessions as OOMPs reduced to 30 seconds (pronounced ‘oomps’ aka Official One Minute Presentations).

The conference hall shuddered with laughter as the mini-marketing exercise transformed previously mild and quiet presenters into creative and boisterous marketeers. A few members of the audience even shrieked with delight at the mention of fairytales and the search for happy endings.

Close of Play

Another unique feature was 30 second OOMPs from participants as part of the closing on each day.

Participants stood up to share their thoughts and lessons learnt as Pascal called out the title of each session of the day.

Behind the logistical scenes were the ever resourceful Rob Westgeest (another of the great conference organisers) and Olivier Costa, flanked by a rotating set of volunteers ready to help whenever help was needed. Now that’s what I call a self-organising team.

Fun and Games

One example of F-U-N in action was the Persona Game where each conference participant identified themselves with a particular conference participant stereotype. To win a prize, each participant had to form a team of different persona types to deliver a team OOMP.

Another example was the Games Night where more than 30 grownups played board and card games until the wee hours of the next morning (2:30 am to be precise).

Session Favourites

Critical Chain by Christophe Thibaut and Olivier Pizzato – Mecanno experience is hard to come by, but we can deliver value if we share our knowledge, expertise and tasks

Seeking to Perceive More Than to be Perceived by Emanuel Gaillot and Bernard Notarianni – Where we learnt about three more tools to add to our Better Communication Toolkit: “Investigate Protocol” (from Jim and Michele McCarthy), “Soft Focus” (by theatre director Tadashi Suzuki) and “Emic Interviewing” (from American anthropologist Marvin Harris)

The Business Value Game by Pascal, Vera and me – Learning how the game can be scaled up to 6 teams of 6 participants with 3 facilitators while preserving the quality of learning and gaming experience

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Why Me? – Amusing 33 grownups with the retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Tarantino style

Working with Resistance by Olivier Costa and his Sensei – Where we learnt about the importance of exercising the body with the mind by doing some basic Aikido exercises. Many participants left beaming and reinvigorated by the experience before heading to the bar

Cultural Remarks

  • A Dutch road slows down traffic with a “verkeerseiland” or “slowing down / traffic island” instead of a speed hump (aka “sleeping policeman“)
  • Dutch quiches are served in blocks and cut up into cubes of cheesy goodness instead of being round tarts or tartlets (as served in the UK and in France)

Final Thoughts

What immediately struck me about XP Days Benelux was the spirit of inclusion, instead of exclusivity as seen at so many of the other conferences I’ve been to in the past. XP Days Benelux is a unique gathering because it’s based on what you want to know instead of who you know.

One Nice-to-Have echoed by several people would be more sessions for more seasoned Agile practitioners. I would like to see how this would be implemented next year.

I regret missing the Werewolf Game this year so I’ll be sure to participate in next year’s Games Night!

Many thanks to the wonderful photos by Xavier Quesada. Cheers Xavier!

One Response to “SimBlogging: XP Days Benelux 2008 Retrospective”

  1. Claudio writes:

    Many thanks for everything. Especially for the Mirror Mirror session and the Business Value session!!

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