Alexis Monville (en)

ALE15 best conference this year

I am just back from ALE15, the fifth edition of the self organized conference from the Agile Lean Europe network. As usual, I feel really good when I am back, as if this edition was the best edition ever… I am started to get used to this feeling, as I only missed one edition, in 2013, since the beginning of the adventure.

Why is it so special ? And what happens there ?

Well, there’s a lot of things that I can highlight.

First of all, it’s self-organized. It means that anybody can contribute to the organization of the event. For each event several people gather on a sofa, and those people will work together to achieve the mission of this particular sofa.
For example, I (with others) was involved in the program sofa, some others where involved in the finance sofa, others in the marketing sofa, and others in the spouses and kids sofa.
When you choose to contribute to a sofa, you can contribute with 5 minutes of your time with a suggestion, or invest a lot more, the choice is yours, just know that when your drop the ball, the others must know it so they can handle.
On this picture, you can see the list of the organizers of this year event. A big up to my peers ! It was great to do this with you !

Second, there’s a spouses and kids program, it means that you will see kids running in the conference venue alley, attending conferences, playing games, and even speak on stages. It means that it’s a conference where you can be yourself among your peers and your family. Kids love this, as my daughter ask each year if we are going the next one. The conference is planned end August, just before the kids are back to school, especially for this purpose.

Third, a part of the program is reserved to the open space format, so that the program of the conference is defined by the most important thing for the participant at this particular moment. This year, I had the pleasure to facilitate the open space with my friend Pablo. It was great and our experiments worked quite well.
Experiment One, as there’s people from all over Europe (and more) we asked them to demonstrate the babel opportunity by pitching their topics first in their mother tongue and then in English. This was amazing to see the difference in body language between the two pitches, and it was a lot more energizing and fun to hear some language your are not used to hear (not at all for some).

Experiment Two, as we were around 180 people for the open space, we knew that there will be 12 groups (at minima) in parallel and we wanted all those groups to share their findings with the whole. We asked them to prepare a restitution of their work on a flip board paper, and to summarize it with a tweet with #ale15 hashtag. We organized 20 minutes global restitution after each of the 40 minutes sessions. It worked well, it was interesting and it helped for sure to improve the participation and the quality of the work done. You can see the result if you look for the #ale15 hashtag on Twitter.
Experiment Three, as we think with Pablo that one of the big benefit of the open space in enterprise was that the group has a common purpose, we tried to propose a common theme to the ALE15 Open Space… and it didn’t work at all… But we survive as it was a survivable experiment 😉

And then, obviously some magical content from great speakers and from great discussions.

Putting some words on weird feeling like Chris Matts in his opening speech on day 1, when he explained how the agile movement evolution using the adoption model and others and why all the « scale agile » thing was ahead in time suggesting framework before the stories where really there. In this blog post from Chris you can discover more in detail the idea behind.

Or the integrating talk by Olaf Lewitz, where we experiment memorization exercise : « options have value, options expires, never commit early unless you know why » that was twitted several times, when he demonstrates that balance and polarization was wrong and that we should look for integration.

Inspiration for our future work that we should bring slowly back in our day to day work as advised by Rachel Davies in her closing keynote speech.

I also had the great pleasure to play once again the Deming Red Bead Experiment, great experience and great conversation. Deming Principles are still so relevant!

What’s next ?

ALE16 of course, you will be able to contribute to the organization of the next event by sitting on one of the sofas. Stay tuned and follow :
Agile Lean Europe (ALE) on linkedin and/or on Twitter

PS : This edition was quite hard on a personal level as my loving partner Isabel (in life and also in business) endured a devastating medical episode. I thank her for her support as she asked me to go for the commitment I had made to the ALE community and also to let our daughter have fun with her peers in the kids program.