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From Seth Godin to ALE – You may laugh, cause I’ve acknowledge my lizard

August 24, 2011

Today I just got into the office really tired.

I didn’t spent my night watching some stupid movie or series. I invested it reading. It’s hard to do so.

We are always so tired to do whatever. We are getting old and used to be and  stay quiet.

I read Seth Godin. I’m so much into Seth. He’s extraordinarily right about everything he says. As always I only get overwhelmed by simple things, and this guy is expert in make you rethink simple stuff. It’s ridiculous how obvious are the things he says but it’s amazing how, at the end of each sentence, he makes you want to change.

I read a small free paper he has for download in his site,  called – Brainwash.  Seth wrote about how we are born free thinkers and while we grow we are shaped into cogs. But this is not all of it, cause Seth shows how to turn ourselves again into free humans rather than cogs. Basically all we need are levers to hang on to.. and just get out from this Taylorish-life – to reinvent ourselves:

Here are seven levers available for anyone (like you) in search of reinvention:
1. Connect
2. Be generous
3. Make art
4. Acknowledge the lizard
5. Ship
6. Fail
7. Learn

I read about each one’s meaning  and as always it’s truly simple to understand what Seth wants you to understand and where he wants you to go after listening to him.

But I, I  went to sleep.

Today I just got into the office really tired and turned on my PC.

Ale2011 webpage was the first thing I saw.

And I saw my feet and handwriting  there. Among other feet and handwriting of people I didn’t know.

And I thought about the 7 levers. I thought about all the people helping organizing this event. I thought about how we are reinventing ourselves, breaking the chain and unleashing some of our potential.

Connect– more than anyone, more than ever we are connecting communities- 34 countries are participating in ALE (I mean, we only have place for 240 people to attend and we managed to have 34 countries represented.. that’s amazing).

And Ale organizers, I mean their still people that don’t know each other, that have never worked together, but still they are organizing all of the most expected events of the year.

Be generous -ALE has been a project of pure generosity.  It started with some altruists sharing a vision with whomever wanted to listen.   Then all planning,  setup, everything about ALE is being done by volunteers. Organizers pay the same fee as participants, and use the sponsoring to help people who can’t afford the conference (which is the cheapest I’ve ever seen, specially if you check the agenda). Maybe the secret is that ALE has been created by people and for people. Not for money.

Make Art– this means to do something different, something  no one else can do. This is exactly what’s happening. I’ve never seen anything close to this in “Agile world” (nor in any other professional world). In less than a year, separated by  countries (yes we have internet, but you  know how bad this is for communication- specially with different accents), still ALE people managed to create a movement.  Something that people believe in, want to join and want to help with. It’s unique. ALE created or reinvented the will to be part of something . At least for me.

Acknowledge the lizard– this is, for me, the biggest barrier one will always have: face people, acknowledge the fear for the crowd and just step up and say whatever you want to say.  ALE requires one thing from  everyone joining the event: to prepare a Lighting Talk. Is this bad? I don’t know, but still you are being given the opportunity to challenge yourself. So, is that bad?  Will you acknowledge your lizard and just step up. What if, while doing so, you’re able to have some of the greatest speakers in the world by your side helping you , or listening to your words and supporting. Maybe even say: ” don’t worry, we all have been there. It won’t last :) ”

Ship – Oh boy! This is ALE’s biggest achievement. I think only 3 organizers are collocated, all the other (I would guess around 50) are spread all over Europe (Ah! and there’s also a big supporter in Canada!). Nevertheless ALE has manage to ship. ALE2011 conference has been created, developed and organized in less 4 months. AlE2011 is the biggest shipment, but not the only one: Bathtube conferences have been created , ALE University, .. [more on activities]

Fail – We have failed several times. Joyfully we have failed some ideas (we couldn’t put  in practice due to time, money, whatever), we failed as individuals (at least I have) whevener I wasn’t able to attend a Sync meeting to take some decisions or help out in some tasks. But… that’s exactly the point! We manage to fail, we had  the luxury of failure and still things are going pretty well. That’s the magic of working with volunteers: people always stand up for each other…and trust is just something you don’t even ask for. It simply exists and it’s part of the community.

Learn–  this has been the path along ALE – Learning. Not only about Agile or Scrum or whatever you may think this conference is about. It has been a long, fruitful road, walking side by side with people from different places and cultures, knowing humans, learn about motivation, willingness, trust, pride, community, challenges… and in the end (which btw is just less than half the road) to know that anything is possible, of course it is! And it’s amazing the way ALE has done it. All people helping this movement have changed their own (and this industry)  status-quo. No longer cogs.  At least not the way expected.

I don’t know much. I’m still in a early phase of knowledge, I know that. I have a long road to walk ( I wouldn’t like it to be the other way), but one thing I’ve seen- all that I’ve learned this years about motivation (mastery, purpose, autonomy?), self-organizing, cross-functionality, sense of urgency, ability to take decisions and act, trust, focus, commitment, respect, friendship, support, courage, openness… all of that I’m seeing it daily through ALE.

Sometimes I think that Agile, Scrum, kanban.. it’s all an excuse for ALE. Maybe not an excuse, maybe a small and useful argument. Maybe a starter, but now it has a bigger meaning.  ALE is about excelling people.

I’m not writing this to convincing you to go. I know I’ll be there. As I will next year. And, as Jurgen Appelo said, I will, in 10 years, say -” I was there when it started“. ALE isn’t a institution. ALE isn’t about the money. ALE is a Movement. Belief.  ALE is all the people that are part of it. I am ALE.

and you know why?

Because we care.


From → Agile

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