If you had been me at the Orlando Scrum Gathering…

you would have had an absolutely indescribably fantastic time!  And that’s just for starters.  To be honest, the phrase “that was so much fun it must have been a sin” comes to mind.  I had fun every minute I was there.  Here’s a short VERY LONG recap of what I can recall now (a week after I arrived in Orlando):

Saturday, very late at night I was on a shuttle from Orlando International Airport to the Gaylord Palms Resort and Conference Center.  I was blown away when I saw the Gaylord Palms.  It was a sight to behold.  On the Mears shuttle were about 10 people and I didn’t know any of them.  I was tired and just looking forward to getting to bed.  While waiting for my luggage to be taken off the shuttle someone in the group said “You’re Bob, right?”  Freaky, right?  Well, I was at the hotel hosting the Scrum Gathering, but I was not expecting someone on my airport shuttle to know me!  Turns out it was Bent Myllerup and his wife Kirsten from Denmark.  He recognized me from various pictures.  By the way, Bent is a fellow Certified Scrum Coach.  I got to hear about how they had to fly through Detroit to get to Orlando and they were afraid the luggage was lost, but then it caught up with them.  I felt tired, but they looked pretty wiped out after a REALLY long day of flying.  Little did I know how many more surprises were in store for me!

The second surprise came when I went to check-in to the resort..  The person at the check-in desk ran my credit card for the room and then left to go to another room.  I was concerned about what had happened because the card had plenty of available credit, it was not stolen or lost, etc.  Maybe they lost my reservation?  No, none of the above.  They were out of normal rooms with king-sized beds so he upgraded me to a junior executive suite.  It sounded nice and they weren’t going to charge me extra, so what the heck.  Well, it turns out the room had a decent sized living room area with couch, large chair and coffee table.  It also had a dining area with a nice sized round table and 4 chairs.  I nice den area with an office desk and chair.  A very large bedroom area with a very big looking king-sized bed.  A bathroom with doors to both the entry hallway and the bedroom.  A large walk-in shower.  Let’s just say I was blown away.  The whole suite had to be 450 square feet or maybe even larger.  I felt like I wasn’t worthy, but I wasn’t going to say no.  It was great.  I actually was kind of pumped up when I saw it so I got settled in and did some work.  Next thing I knew it was 2:30am and I had to get up at 7:15!

On Sunday I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the Scrum Trainers and Coaches Retreat.  Wow, what a day!  The day was sponsored by the Scrum Alliance, which was extremely nice of them.  Mike Vizdos volunteered to run things for the day and Jean Tabaka got roped in to help him out at the last minute.  These are two people I really respect.  Mike in particular made it clear the entire day would be about positive energy.  I later learned that this particular event in the past had degraded into something very negative and left everyone with bad feelings.  I’m glad I didn’t attend those other retreats because this one was nothing like that at all.

I spent the day having conversations with amazing people.  Serge Beaumont, Peter Stevens, Jim Cundiff, Roger Brown, Jeff McKenna, Tobias Mayer, Howard Sublett, Lyssa Adkins, Peter Borsella, Alan Cyment and so many others that I can’t remember them all now!  I learned new techniques for using case studies as exercises in class.  I learned a lot about the inner workings of the Scrum Alliance and how things are being turned around.  I learned a lot about facilitation.  I saw various Certified Scrum Master course slide decks and the great ideas they contain.  I interacted with others on a Scrum Alliance Improvement Committee on how best to move our group forward.  I had an amazing lunch with Peter Stevens where we spoke about so many things I can’t remember them all, but he ended up creating a blog entry about part of our conversation involving a quote from Randy Pausch (of the Last Lecture fame).  I remember my head swimming when the day ended just after 4:30.  Then going to the reception later in the evening and having my head spin again as I spoke to even more people who I have long admired but never been able to meet in person.  The night (for me at least) ended around midnight when I left the bar after having spent several hours with Mike Vizdos, Howard Sublett and Andreas Schliep.  Very interesting conversation.  Very open and honest people.  I remember thinking for the first time in a couple of years I really had a good feeling about where the Scrum Alliance was headed.  I had a smile on my face all day and I’m pretty sure I fell asleep that way too!

It turned out I was too jazzed up on Sunday night to fall asleep, so once again I didn’t go to bed until about 2:30.  This time I slept through the alarm and missed the opening keynote sessions.  I normally don’t make it to those anyway, so this conference was no exception.  I did make sure I was at Luke Hohmann‘s “Innovation Games® in Scrum” deep-dive session.  I have been interested in Innovation Games for quite a while and this was going to be my chance to see the master at work.  I am hosting an Advanced Product Owner course for some clients at the end of this month and I want to use some of these games so this session was important for me.  Luke did not disappoint.  I think we ended up playing 6 of the 12 Innovation Games including doing a couple of them online.  People kept filing out of this session, but I think it was because they didn’t know what they were getting into.  For me it was pure heaven.  I learned a LOT.  I also confirmed my understanding of some key points I intend to use later this month.

Monday night was a reception sponsored by VersionOne.  It too was great.  Again, meeting great people, making great new friends.  During the day I met Darian Rashid who is so close to me in lean/agile/Scrum beliefs that it is truly scary.  We spoke a bit more during the evening and both were going to try to make it to each other’s sessions on Tuesday (didn’t happen for either of us!).  As the bar was closing I remember them giving Howard Sublett a full glass of bourbon for the road.  Nice parting gift!  I don’t even remember where I ended up after the reception, but I’m sure it was a fun place.  I’m sure it had fun people.  I’m sure I had interesting conversations.  Right now I can’t recall any of them, and no, it isn’t because I was drunk.  It is simply because a week later all of those great conversations are starting to run together!

Tuesday was a big day.  My presentation “Doing Scrum Isn’t the Same as LIVING Scrum” was at 9:45.  I slept late (and missed Darian’s first session) so that I could be fresh for my session.  My session went very well.  I knew the material was great because I gave earlier versions of the same presentation to the XP NYC Meetup and the Phoenix Scrum User’s Group back in January.  I updated the material for Scrum rather than Agile and changed a few slides based on new ideas I had.  It was a total success.  Lots of good ideas, good questions, and a great group of people.  Some standing and some sitting on the floor since we ran out of chairs.  It was awesome.  I had so much fun giving the presentation.

After the presentation was over it was time to simply mingle.  I should have gone to other presentations, but I didn’t.  There were too many interesting conversations to have in the hallways!  I even ended up playing Doctor 🙂   Lunch was quite interesting as Harrison Owen spoke about the creation of the open space concept.  My favorite quote in regard to running an open space event was “Sit in a circle. Create a bulletin board. Open a marketplace. You all go do work while I take a nap.”  He was hilarious, yet always making the point that open space can be used to solve very serious problems.  Late in the afternoon the CSC’s met with Howard Sublett in my room (since I had so much space) and had great discussion around a bunch of topics.  Howard is an interesting character and the more I got to know him, the more I liked him.  After the CSC group broke up I spent time that evening getting dinner with a great group including Jean Tabaka, Bent Myllerup and his wife, and several others I can’t remember right now.  When I went to bed on Tuesday night I remember thinking “I don’t know if I have any more energy or brain cells to handle another day!”

Well, turns out I did.  I missed the opening remarks for open space on Wednesday, but I got there in time to go to some sessions.  I spent time with Roger Brown talking to a group of people interested in applying to become CSCs in the future.  That was fun because I got to see the process through their eyes.  It is rather intimidating and being able to help some people understand it was nice.  We can’t give them answers to everything, but we can give them some guidance, which we did.  I felt like I was repaying the guidance and support Richard Lawrence gave me when I applied.  I spent lunch talking more with Darian Rashid.  I still can’t get over how much he reminds me of me in the way he thinks about things.  We are supposed to get together later this month when I’m near Philadelphia.  I’m really looking forward to it.

Unfortunately, the Scrum Gathering did have to come to a close for me.  I left at around 3pm to head to the airport.  Once there I tweeted about sitting at Wendys and 5 minute later James Love who I met in my session at the Scrum Gathering was joining me.  Turns out he has some needs in his organization people I know may be able to help with.  Who knew???  A perfect end to a perfect few days.

Until next time I’ll be Making Agile a Reality® by keeping up my relationship with the incredibly smart people I met at the Orlando Scrum Gathering.

Oh, and thanks to Derek Wade because I blatantly stole the idea and title of this blog post from his blog post!

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  1. It’s been quite inspiring reading the various blogs on this event – and yours is no exception 🙂 I may not be a part of agile, let alone scrum, but they give me hope that there is a better way!

  2. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the recap. The Gathering truly was a memorable experience.

    I enjoyed spending time with you, and hearing your heart for real honest coaching. My expectations is that this will not be the last time our paths will cross, but just the beginning of an agile adventure!!!

    Until next time, know that I am available. and willing.

    1. Howard, I obviously had a great time in Orlando and interacting with you was a big part of it. I had a great time during our serious discussions and I had a great time during the laughter times as well. I’m looking forward to repeating it again sometime.

  3. Bob,

    What a great recap of the gathering and what a way to capture the positive energy. Thank you for being a part of all that positive, passionate, interaction. Sunday’s CST/CSC event was a great day for me. I was so glad to work with Mike Vizdos and to be a part of the group of ~28 people who took the time to come together on a Sunday and share ideas, dialogue, challenges, etc. And, I will admit, that I have never laughed so hard at a gathering of CSTs as when we did the readouts from the final exercise of the day 🙂 I don’t know if anyone has photos of the actual “Captions” storylines about all things “Scrum” but I took some of the various groups huddled doing the exercise. I will try to post those somewhere.

    Thanks again!

    1. The “Captions” closing exercise was a riot. I wish I had saved ours. It started out with “Scrum Gathering larger than Agile conference” and ended with “Cat eats Dog” or something like that. Which, when we thought about it wasn’t that big a stretch from the original! 🙂

      Thanks again to both you and Mike for an amazing job that day. It really got things off on the right foot for a lot of us.

  4. Bob,
    Thanks for the shout out. I’m glad that you found my Deep Dive session “pure heaven”. I also learned some really powerful ways to frame questions when playing Speed Boat. Thanks for coming, and I sure hope you will come to one of our two-day Master Classes sometime soon!

    Luke Hohmann