Agile Coach Camp Denmark 2013 – Some Impressions

ACCDKFor the last two and a half days I attended the Agile Coach Camp Denmark 2013 and it was an amazing experience I would like to share with you.

I used to attend the Agile Coach Camp Germany and the Play4Agile Unconference in Germany for the last three years now and I really liked people from other countries to attend these conferences. For this year I decided that I wanted to be one of those from beyond the border and registered for attending the Agile Coach Camp Denmark. Kristian Haugaard (@haugaards), one of the organizers, made me aware of ACCDK during the Play4Agile conference in February and I liked the idea that it took place from Thursday to Saturday, so that there was still the Sunday to spend with the family.

My journey started with an adventure which culminated in a last-responsible-moment experience. I got a train ticket from Hamburg to Copenhagen and I needed to take another train from home to Hamburg Central Station. I would have 18 minutes in Hamburg to change trains which seemed fair enough. Unfortunately my train to Hamburg was announced with 15 minutes delay and as a commuter I knew that this usually meant 20 to 25 minutes. Damn! I jumped into a taxi, asked the driver “Can you make it to Hamburg Central Station in 30 minutes?”. He said “Usually it takes around 35 to 40.”. “Ok Scotty, I’ll give you 20!” (Actually, I didn’t mention that last part). After two thirds of the way we seemed pretty good in time, but then it happened: Traffic jam. Damn again! I messaged my colleague Rolf Dräther (@rdraether), who was supposed to take the same train, that I would probably miss the train. He told me that the platform had changed, which in the end helped me not to loose more time for looking up the platform, and encouraged me to hurry. In the end I reached the platform the moment the train attendant informed the platform attendant that they were ready to start and I jumped in the train at the last moment.

ACCDK13 - Socializing

Oh, well, you were expecting something about ACCDK. Here you go: Copenhagen welcomed us with a weather I was hoping for in Germany for a long time: Sunny blue sky for the whole two and a half days. Thanks to the organizers for arranging this :). After moving into our rooms (I got a room in an old fort which used to house 36 soldiers (the room, not the fort!)) we started socializing supported by drinks and sandwiches. Around 6pm the official part started, facilitated by Ole Jepsen (@olejepsen) (who btw did a great job facilitating several events), including lightning talks, some ice-breaker stuff and explanations of Open Space. My personal hightlight was Per Beining (@perbeining_dk) making us hum “Hommmmmmm, hommmmmmm …” while himself singing a nice song which turned out to be from a beer commercial (Per, can you provide a link to youtube or similar which I can post here?)

ACCDK - Open Space

After breakfast the next day the Open Space marketplace opened. As usual lots of interesting sessions were offered, I will tell you about the ones I attended. My first session was about the basics of storytelling. Erwin van der Koogh (@evanderkoogh) gave us some insights in how to structure your stories to make them more interesting for the audience and more sticking in memory. Then we were supposed to share a story with a partner. Thanks, Michael Niebuhr (@michaelniebuhr) for listening to my nemesis story and sharing yours.

The next session I attended was facilitated by Nils Bernert (@nilsbernert). He was asking for advice for a talk he is about to give and we were discussing agile adoption vs agile transformation, spiced by lots of questions and proposals by the attendees.

Then we got into leadership. David Marquet (@ldavidmarquet), a former U.S. Navy submarine captain and Jenni Jepsen (@jenniindk) talked about leadership on the one hand and corresponding processes in your brain on the other hand. E.g. they made clear, that the more powerful you get the more you lose conscience due to dopamin addiction in your brain. Fascinating!

The next session regarding leadership again was also facilitated by David. Showing us snippets from the movie “Master and Commander” with Russell Crowe he made us be aware of details and discuss certain reactions, leading to quite different conclusions among the attendees. In the end it turned out that Russell Crowe played a quite bad leader. My favorite quote: “Bad leadership leads to good movies, good leadership leads to bad movies”.

My last session for the day was facilitated by Torsten Kalnin (@vinylbaustein). Torsten brought a game called “Rhetoric” which supported a group up to 10 people to train their public speaking skills. Each participant was supposed to hold a speech of roundabout one minute regarding a certain subject and constrained by some structure elements. Afterwards the other nine participants gave immediate feedback and it was quite interesting to see how people adopted the feedback given to others for their own speech. I was to talk about my first bike and despite the topic seemed pretty simple I made a lot of mistakes and got good feedback. I decided to buy the game as well and play it with my teams.

This evening’s dinner was supposed to be a killer. We were served a meal prepared by a two-star Michelin cook (the only one in Denmark). I was so flashed how something as simple as potatoes and carrots can be prepared in such a well tasting way. And let’s not talk about the meat, a piece of veal which was cooked for six hours on low-temperature. Words can’t describe it.

Later that evening some people went to the beach to fly some chinese lanterns but I was already in my room, trying to ignore the boom-boom-boom from a nearby teenager party in a tent.

The next day after breakfast I attended just one more session by Rolf Dräther (@rdraether) who was explaining the team management system. He pointed out that usually there’s a gap between stuff people are doing at work and their abilities and interests. The TMS is supposed to show these discrepancies and help people to get more happy at work.

The rest of the morning until lunch I used to chill in the sun and talk to different people, something I consider at least as important as attending sessions on a conference.

After lunch Hans Baggesen (@hansbaggesen) gave Rolf and myself a lift back to Copenhagen Central Station (Thanks, Hans!) and in the car I still learned something. Hans played a CD by Alabama Shakes, a band playing music quite similar to Janis Joplin which I will from now on listen to more often.

My personal conclusion:
This was one of the best Agile Coach Camps I ever attended. We were less than 50 people which on the one hand ascertains that there are enough people to provide a good mix of interests and topics but on the other hand keeps the sense of familiarity. I met some people I already knew but a lot more I didn’t know so far and I’m very glad that we got in contact. The number of sessions in parallel was limited to four, which I liked very much because I never had the feeling to miss something. I will for sure continue attending Agile Coach Camps outside of Germany. e.g. I will be at the Agile Coach Camp Italy in two and a half weeks. There’s something planned for Spain (Barcelona) by Saket Bivalkar (@saketbivalkar) for October this year and I’m already having in mind the Agile Coach Camp Netherlands next year.

Last but not least I would like to thank Louise Navntoft (@lnavntoft) for being the good soul behind all the organizational stuff. She was always smiling, always kind and had an answer to each question she was asked. Thanks Louise and all the other organizers and contributors, you did an awesome job. I will for sure come back next year.


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