Saturday, January 17, 2009

a trip to Paris for the Agile Alliance

This week the Agile Alliance had their (annual?) board meeting for the first time outside of North America, and, as a way to reach out to their members they held an evening reception in Paris... I haven't been very involved in the Alliance in the past (I am a member but I've always been more interested in local events, like Agile Philly, the Simple Design and Testing Conference, and XP Day Manhattan). Still this event was too nearby for me to miss the chance to meet board members, and I was also really excited to have an opportunity to speak with other agile practicioners in English! On the other hand, I wasn't really looking forward to breaking the ice with all these new people, nor did I want all the hard work of sitting on a train for 3 hours and practically missing a whole night's sleep (the event was to run from 6:30pm to 2am, then another 3 hours on the train at 6am). Still, I already know two of the ten or so board members there that night, and I knew it would be nice to say hi to them. Also, I would get to meet more "celebrities" from the Agile world, and have a chance to meet some other native-English speaking people that have made a similar journey as mine. We talked about language and cultural barriers, what problems people are facing adopting agile, what issues local organizations are having, and about what we thought the Agile Alliance ought to be working on. I probably got involved in about 6 different conversations (some in French too!), milling about the room, from around 7:30pm to 11pm. Then a bunch of us headed out the door to a restaurant, pictured left, located across the street from the Chateau de Vincennes, right. It turns out it wasn't so hard to break the ice that evening, and I really had fun meeting new people. I also really felt welcome since several people, including Laurent Bossavit and J.B. Rainsberger knew me by name (they're both celebrities in the Agile world). J.B. even exclaimed--what are you doing in France? Little did he know that I'd left Philly... but he's not doing work there any more either. After nine years of trying to become an agilist, I really feel like I've become part of the community.

I got to ride the bullet train back and forth to Paris, using the famous Gare de Lyon. Though I've been through the station a few times, this is the first time I ever walked outside it, pictured left... quite beautiful, even in the dark. It was a valuable trip for me, since I had a chance to visit my company's Paris office and meet with our Director of Operations for an hour or so as well. I met some other agile practicioners from a neighboring region (Rhone-Alps), that may be interested in doing a joint meeting with our local Franche-Comté group some evening. I also got to hear what a few scrum folk were doing at large companies like Orange France and SNCF.

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