Mar 102010

I have many ideas for blog posts as a result of attending and presenting at ScrumGathering 2010. But I’m going to take a first iteration here, lest I never get around to all my big ideas. How Agile, right?

I didn’t want to just post my fond memories — if you didn’t go to the beach, do you want to look at someone else’s vacation photos?  What I want to do here is  to dump my experiences into your brain. I recognize that you aren’t me, so if you had been there you would have had a different experience than I did.

But if you were me (or are someone who shares certain similarities with me) and you simply didn’t get to attend, here’s a brain dump for you (the session or person I learned each item from are listed at the bottom):


  1. B = f(P,E) Behavior is a function of the Person and their Environment; you can change behavior by changing their environment – CSelf
  2. We often mis-label things as self-organization. An example is self-assembly, such as how people board an elevator. True self-organization has a nontrivial definition, and is worth learning and remembering. – CSelf
  3. The “best friend, worst enemy” game, and how working to protect yourself results in team fragmentation (posted previously) – CSelf
  4. People are self-organizing systems. Naturally. As a species, we have over 13 billion years of experience with this, and only recently have we tried to manage people as things. — HOwen
  5. The “inventor” of OpenSpace Technology synthesized the genesis of OpenSpace after having a martini. He leaped into brilliance and realized that it would only work if there were minimal rules after his second martini. We underestimate the negative impact our everyday rational minds have on our ability to innovate — HOwen
  6. Many of the major catastrophes we’ve created come as result of trying to organize self-organizing systems — HOwen


  1. People’s emotional response to a situation depends on how much it challenges them, and also how much ability they have to handle it. You can change their response by changing either of these. – CSelf
  2. Three words you need to remember to help grow self-organizing teams: “LEAVE THEM ALONE” – CSelf
  3. Powerful questions are those which invite a transformative experience in the person being asked. They tend to be context-free, and totally open-ended — CCoach
  4. There are still plenty of “leaders” who blatantly destroy the elements critical to good teams (by moving members around between teams, for example) and yet are okay with paying to send someone to ScrumGathering. — Recep
  5. Team performance, production velocity, process effectiveness, and personal feelings can all spiral upward or downward. This fits in with my model of positive and negative feedback loops, and has been proven in empirical studies. Yet many people reject the concepts as “fluffy.” — Positive

Coaching and Training :

  1. A great way to ask for silence in a class is to have an agreement where, when you hold up your hand, everyone else goes silent and holds theirs up too. The class self-assembles into silence because they receive the visible signal from everyone else. — CCoach
  2. Being an independent coach/consultant can be isolating, but there are ways to keep in touch with the community. I hope to join in with growing this community — Recep, GK
  3. “Super Pecha Kucha” (a slide every 5 seconds) seems to be the up-and-coming presentation trick. Jurgen Appelo’s audience exploded when he finished his presentation like this. — DoltGuide
  4. Scrum people can be nakedly honest, and yet completely kind about it. I watched an interaction between Joseph Pelrine and Jurgen Appelo that was so gratifying it caused me to laugh in delight. — DoltGuide
  5. Pecha Kucha is completely doable with two people. — OurTalk
  6. Given enough practice, explicit signals between co-presenters are unneccessary. Don’t plan, iterate, even in your interactions. This takes the the meta-level conversations (e.g. “your turn”) and “bakes them in” to the presentation itself. — OurTalk
  7. If you are doing a dense PechaKucha talk, consider either paring it down still more, or warning people how dense it will be. — OurTalk
  8. Be prepared to see your own images turn up in other peoples’ presentations. Work hard to ensure that someone else’s don’t turn up in yours. Give credit where credit is due. Fix the problem when it is discovered (Jean, your image is now attributed correctly :) — convo, JT

Relating to People:

  1. Social media can be used bi-directionally, to truly connect people. Social media can be used unidirectionally for selfish reasons. I prefer the former. – Convo, SB
  2. As @ccarfi says, people can engage in “hunting” (one-off transactions) or “gardening” (long-term relationships). Watching Twitter posts clearly showed who was doing what at #sgus — Twitter
  3. Coaches and trainers can be one-sided in their conversation; talking but not really listening. Does this come as a result of being the “center of attention” in class all the time? Or are people like this attracted to training? Either way, I resolve to pay real attention and listen more. — convo, SB
  4. ScrumGathering this year seemed so much more focused on people, collaboration, and teams; less focused on process and mechanics. This was in large part due to my choices of interaction, but also on the overall content. I am grateful to the conference organizers. — convo, SB
  5. Conference energy can be addictive. Receiving attention, engaging in interactions, discovering new things. Leaving is actually like a physical and emotional crash. It reminds me of closing night with a theatre troupe. I was not the only person to have this reaction. — Twitter
  6. Being positive is not an attitude, it is a practice. — Positive


  1. I was recognized publicly for my assistance to Luke Hohmann in helping the ScrumAlliance set new direction for 2010. Gratitude, humility, joy. — Convo, LH
  2. The “Castillo Fort” room at the Gaylord Palms is a gorgeous place considering it’s entirely man-made. Like an open-air cave. — Recep
  3. You can get a cool thing that fits around the iPhone to turn it into a near-professional camcorder — Recep, GK
  4. The Twitter fountain was extremely cool. Google it. It was a large screen showing a constant feed of attendee posts over an ever-changing background of pictures posted — Twitter


The Sessions and Conversations:

  • CSelfOrg — Joseph Pelrine, Coaching Self-Organizing Teams
  • CCoach — Lyssa Adkins, Coaching the Coaches
  • Recep — reception
  • DoltGuide — Jurgen Appelo, “The Dolt’s Guide to Self-Organization”
  • OurTalk — myself and Scott Barnes, “What Is Scrum? Changing How You Think About What You Do”
  • HOwen — lunch keynote, “All Systems Are Self-Organizing” with Harrison Owen, known as the inventor of Open Space Technology
  • Positive — Lyssa Adkins, “Positive Psychology and Team Performance”
  • Twitter — staying involved “remotely” via the #SGUS Twitter stream, after I had left the conference
  • Convo — misc conversation. If initials are given, the conversation involved:
    • SB – Scott Barnes, @cryofx
    • LA – Lyssa Adkins, @lyssaadkins
    • GK – Gerry Kirk, @gerrykirk
    • JT – Jean Tabeka, @jeantabeka
    • LH – Luke Hohmann of InnovationGames
 Posted by at 9:59 pm

  5 Responses to “If You Had Been Me at ScrumGathering 2010”

  1. Thank you Derek – I wish that I could have been there…and in a way I was – reading your post was almost like being there. Thank you for sharing your learnings…


  2. Great personal summary Derek. Good to read, and I think it captures the spirit of the event nicely. Made me sad that I missed Jurgen’s talk. Next time…. there’s always a next time :-)

  3. Derek, this is a great wrap up. It is interesting to learn your take away from SG. Indeed, many take-aways here too. As for vacation photos…I suppose I’m a bit of a voyeur (case in point, I’m reading your blog!)

  4. Great summary! I miss being there less now after reading your post. BTW – never heard of Twitter Fountain, but now I know it is a great idea to put one somewhere during an event.

Your thoughts?