Mini XP Day Benelux 2009: A Retrospective

What Went Well

  • Beating the traffic jams to arrive first at the conference center.
  • The helpful staff at Elewijt Center going beyond the call of duty. E.g. the night watchman doubled as barman to offer us coffee and hot chocolate before the bar staff arrived.
  • The organisers quickly self-organised and divided the work before and at the conference.
  • Preparing the Business Value Game just-in-time.
  • Organising the new version of the Business Value Game with Portia and Vera. We’ll publish this new version soon and explain the ideas in the closing retrospective more.
  • Talking with participants between sessions and after the conference.
  • Plenty of useful feedback about the conference and the sessions.
  • The retrospective dinner in Mechelen with the organisers.
  • The conference goodies organised by Vera and the traditional Belgian presenter gifts of Carolus beer and chocolate.

What Went Wrong

  • We started the conference late because many participants were stuck in traffic. Throughout the day, sessions started late and/or overran so that there was less time for breaks, lunch and some sessions.
  • Not enough time to talk to everybody during and (especially) after the conference.


  • Why so few participants from The Netherlands?
  • Many sessions got “Needs more time” as feedback. As these sessions were re-run, we’d expect that presenters would know how much material would fit. Or is this a case of “second-system syndrome“?

Lessons Re-Learnt

  • Agile, communication, collaboration, feedback and trust work when you need to organise something like a conference.
  • Interest in Agile methods remains high.
  • Participants report that Agile methods have improved how they work. At the least, they make issues a lot more visible. The difficult bit is tackling those issues, especially when they touch upon “sacred cows” like how the company is organised, how people¬† are rewarded, how to collaborate over departments, local goals…