Last week I visited the XP Days 2010 Benelux. a great conference! It is informal, everyone is open for discussion and real down-to-earth! A compliment for all attendees and the organisation. It was held in Conference Center Kapellerput, a very inspiring location in the lovely state Noord-Brabant, Netherlands.
This blog is a short summary of the sessions and my experiences on the conference.
The conference was opened at nine o’clock, and after some yoga and basic information the half-minutes-presentations (HMP) started. The presenter or organizer of a session/workshop is given 30 seconds to do a short promo about his session. Some promo’s are straight forward, but some are really nice to see. A good start of the conference day, and a concept that should be used on more conferences.
After the plenary opening, Nicole Belilos and I prepared our own session. Had some discussion about the content by using Skype, while we sitting next to each other :). At 11:00 our session started. We, Nicole and I, experienced it as a good session. Of course, there is always room for improvement. Read the feedback on this page, if you attended our session and have would like to give some (extra) feedback please send me an email.
The lunch was great, as always in the Kapellerput. I had some time to catch up with a friend of my during lunch.
During the afternoon I attended the kanban workshop. In our group we did not experience the real Kanban experience. However, I made some nice frogs and had a a good time during this weekend with my daugther, folding frogs. I liked the idea of the Kanban workshop, for more information look here. I think the reserved time, 1.5 hours, was too short for a good workshop.
My second workshop in the afternoon was about a testing journey. I was hoping to see something new that we could use in our own test process. Unfortunately, this was not the case. However, I think the workshop gave a good overview to all people who were not familiar with a agile testing process. How do ET and Unit tests compare to each other for example.
The next day started again with some yoga, basic information and HMP’s. My first session was about an introduction to value stream mapping (VSM). I already read something about VSM in the books of Mary and Tom Poppendieck. Still, a good session of the guys of iLean. I need to find some time to do some VSM at our organisation, trying to find some bottle necks in our process.
The second session I attended was about retrospectives. The first part of the session was about how retrospectives fit in he continuous improvement organisation of lean (I understood correctly..) and the second part was based on the book of Agile Retrospectives of Ester Derby and Diana Larsen. It was not really new for me, still a good session. Doing retrospectives is not easy, you need to facilitate and select different activities to prevent the retrospective to become a boring meeting with no value.If you would like to read something about distributed retrospectives, take a look here.
After another great lunch and catching up with Peter from iLean the last workshops started.
My first workshop was about feedback, Agile Feedback. Is Agile Feedback different from regular Feedback? No, only in an agile environment you are encouraged to give feedback. The session was about how to give and receive feedback. It was refreshing and remembered me to give active feedback to people. Feedback is a gift, and you should always be grateful when you receive feedback. It is an opportunity to improve yourself.
The last workshop of the conference was about team building using theme centered interaction.I really liked the part where you were able to learn about your team mates. However, I had some trouble to imagine how to use this approach in my daily work. I assume it was because it was already Friday afternoon and I had some problems concentrating. Some basic information about this topic can be found on the wikipedia.
During the sessions I met some nice people to share experiences with. Additionally, gave some advise to people, or at least my idea about the problem. I’m not able to give advice in a 15 minutes meeting 😉
Summary… two great days. As said at the start of this blog, I always like the good and inspiring atmosphere at the XP Days. It not only about coding, also about the soft skills that you need in a a (software) project.