Another year and another wonderful Play4Agile conference has happened. For me this was again an improvement on the last year. This is as much to do with the learning I’ve gone through since last year as it is about the mix of people, who were there. I just finished submitting my assignments for ILM Coaching Level 3 certificate so better understood what was happening in some situations, which had previously been invisible to me. I also had been trying more games than in the past with students and other groups too. This all helps to set the scene and prepare the stage. This was apt as this year I spoke up more in the open space than I have in the past knowing that the more you put into these events, then the more you receive. I was also happy to do this knowing that I was with my tribe, who’d be kind and helpful if I had a ‘learning opportunity’ through a minor failure.
I arrived at Rueckersbach on the Wednesday in order to take part in the Temenos workshop that had been organised by Olaf, Christine and Michael Temenos helps participants focus on issues blocking them, and was something I wanted to learning more about as part of my coaching education as it involves learning by drawing along with story telling, which are always powerful learning tools. A huge thanks to them for running this and opening up many ideas to me and the other participants. This was a nice deep dive of issues with people I trust and was a good warm up for Play4Agile.
On the Friday I participated in the pre-conference gamefication session organised by Katrin Pete and Thorsten My team came up with a mobile app to make house cleaning more fun so that you could spend more time at the weekend doing fun things with the people you care about instead of doing the chores. This set up a number of people with good ideas of how to develop games the rest of the weekend. In the evening Alan had us body storming some boats and other mad shapes as a group before we did the general announcements and run down for the weekend.
On Saturday I went to the ‘hosting cards’ session with Michael and Olaf to explore how to make ‘hosting or facilitation’ better. Afterwards was the StragtegicPlay with Lego Serious Play ‘time capsule’ session run by Katrin, Melanie Peter and Sabine, where I had a realisation that I need to plan a bit more to make our proposed summer holiday work smoothly in the long-term as it will be a bit different from the usual holiday. You can see me building the final model at the end of this time lapse video. The implications about this holiday hadn’t sunk in yet, but the space to play with the hands using Lego helped this realisation. Afterwards the IM Project with Anne wasgood at showing more ideas that can be explored with Improv. This was a variation of the pattern game where the circle has the claps going round turn into whatever people’s imaginations develops was great fun, and then another variation passing the juggling balls across the circle while ‘daily work’ went around to left and right while the ‘fragile’ jar was also tossed back and forth across the circle. This was a good way to learn about handoffs and communication. Ellen‘s ‘Positive No’ session was fun and provided another stand up before the crowd moment to illustrate the idea of how the participants could learn to nicely say ’no’.Christine, who knows a lot more of these games than I, helped me run a session on playing Improv games to see what could be useful for us to use in our own sessions. Big thanks to her helping. This gave us some good results as seen here: one two. I also found a useful improv encyclopedia of games. In the evening after dinner I was playing Hanabi a Japanese game about cooperation, which Michael had brought along. This was an interesting game, which I’ll have to consider getting too.
Sunday saw me gong to the Agile mindset games with Konstantin where I finally played both the Penny Game (and heard how it goes better with dice) as well as Henrik Kniberg’s Name Game and heard of other games to illustrate the ideas. This was followed by the Markus‘s collaborative storytelling session where the idea is that the group pick one story from the members to tell and to then draw upon with special focus to develop general points for all where we heard Mikko tell us the story of Stattys which was real interesting and had lessons for us all. I replayed the Katrin’s SP_LSP time capsule session where I again was able to think somemore about an idea that had been proposed by a friend the previous day.
After lunch I went to the product owner game being run by Astrid Sandra Joost and Lilian and helped them launch their idea. I then ran a session on playing with different canvases (Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, Happy Startup Canvas and Product Canvas with Mikko so that we could see if it might be possible to develop a game or something. With the help of Mel, Michael and Mikko, it looks like we did come up with something that I’ll write up later. Lastly, I went to the character building improv style run by Anne along with Katrin, Mikko and Alex where we learned a fastpersona generation technique that was great fun. I’ll have to try it at the Aberdeen GSJ in a few weeks time. During the ‘evening news’ our characters got a quick reprise to the amusement of the other folks. Then Marc and I volunteered to facilitate the open space on Monday. This meant we ended up prepping much longer than I ever thought I’d be in order to get our ideas for the session sorted out as well as getting the chairs and everything else just right. We were wonderfully assisted by Thorsten, who had been spending a lot more time than people realise behind the scenes getting these things ready. Later it was a few rounds of Werewolf with others to unwind before bed.
Monday I facilitated the open space with Marc, which went real well and we only missed one minor thing. After an intro we had competing teams of ‘choirs’ which was fun before the open space started. I told the group about why I was there to try something new knowing that if we messed it, then that was human and ok. I had survived two rounds of being a stand up comic in November 2012 and May 2013 (link will be added) , so this would be easy by comparison. I needed to just sit and catch up on emails so skipped first session and then went the ‘creative suitcase’ session run by Katrin, which showed me some useful ideas to be more creative. Imissed the end as Marc and I needed to prep the closing of the open space where we went over what happened in each session. Then it was over and we got a standing ovation from the crowd, as did each pair who did this, I must say. Still, it felt wonderful to be in the centre of that warmth coming from everyone. Thanks to all of you, and remember: if I can do it, then so can you.
Running the open space with someone was part of my personal growth track this year where I tried new things amongst friends. Others were going to sessions on ‘business model you’, or ‘finding your superhero’. But that wasn’t what I needed this year. I needed the experience of trying new things.
Sessions are only part of the value of this conference. There are also the conversations over meals with an ever changing cast of people as you re-connect with people from last year and meet new friends of friends you recognise from Twitter and Facebook. Here you discuss their current challenges and share your own. This is a chance to compare notes and glean new approaches you can try back home.
Conversations over games in the bar and other rooms are also equally valuable. Sure you maybe playing Werewolf and trying to stay alive as a villager, seer or witch, but you’re also chatting and laughing with each other and see each other’s game facilitation styles. Or you’re playing Hanabi and thinking of how you could use this game to show cooperation needs and the value of choices and information sharing as everyone loses or wins the game.
Roll on #p4a15 🙂