I just realized now – a month after the conference – what it was that made Play4Agile a special, magical conference for me. Of course it’s the people, but there is more to it than that.
I am writing this post in hopes of inspiring others to organize similar amazing events.
Located in Germany, seminar center Rückersbach provided a small-scale rural setting with no distractions. Even though it was cloudy the whole weekend it was good to get natural light through the many windows. Looking out onto nature helps too.
Small is Beautiful
With 50 to 60 people, it is really easy to meet everyone at least once, and spend time with people you feel affinity with. Make new friends.
Here is the closing circle where we passed the ball of string along with appreciations. This is possible with such a small group. (Facilitation note: bring a second ball of string).
Longer is better
I have been to one day events, and they do not compare in terms of the depth of connection with others. And building our social networks is what helps us learn. Play4Agile was almost 3 full days. And this made a big difference.
One very nice aspect of this conference was that we all ate together at every meal. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. This gave a chance for informal conversation and to bond with one another.
Evenings at the bar provide a great way to connect in a more relaxed setting. I also got to play werewolf for the first time. 20 people played Marshmallow Challenge for the first time.
Open Space Format
The best peer-conference meeting format going. Period.
There is always room for improvement
So, what would I change to make the event even better?
- Coffee breaks. Create session slots in the schedule (on the wall) that respect coffee breaks (like space for lunch). Why? Open Space was invented on the concept that coffee breaks are the best part of the conference.
- Session duration. Create slots of varying size. I know that in theory we can make longer sessions, but in practice not a single person did. And several sessions I attended would have benefited from more time. This would be an experiment, so who knows if it will work.
- People missing beginning/end. One challenge was that some people missed the Friday opening and others missed all or part of Monday. One idea would be to give people a little travel time on the first and last day – so that they are both (almost) full days.
Caveat: If you appear in a photo and would like to be removed, just let me know.