Back from first Coach Retreat ever…

A few months ago Jurgen asked me if I was interested in pair-organising a coach retrait.

Jurgen is a smart guy, he knows if you mention the word pair and coach in one sentence, you got my attention. So I went to his house and we talked about lots of different things and also a little bit about a coach retreat.

yes I admit, the word is a rip-off, of the famous code-retreats of Corey. Why invent a new name when a cool one is available?

Many people asked me at ALE2011, how will it be different from an agile coach camp.

Good question, I did not know the answer. aha, but after the first one, now I know…

I admit I have never been at a code-retreat. Stealing a name from something I have never been to is a risky thing. I have been thinking really hard. How did Corey make code-retreat different from the pair-programming parties we had in Belgium for a few years? Or the coding dojo’s and coding kata’s

One thing that sticks out is the: you throw your code away rule. mm, how can we do this with coaches. What can we create that we can throw away? It’s not like we create anything?

Should we write code, nah then the partners can’t join, nor the kids.

Ah now I had another problem, we said partners and kids were invited, but we wanted them to participate in the main program, instead of a side program.

One thing I love is to combine two problems into one solution.

Tada: let’s create ART are together.

This morning I arrived with a fully loaded car with paint, paintbrushes lots of plastic (to cover the floor of the nice office building we could use.)

We started with a group CHECK-IN. I always find I awkward when I initiate a group check in with a new group. And every time I am happy we did it.

One of the children said: I’m afraid I will be bored. An open and clear message without drama. I love that.

Then Jurgen told everyone the rules of open space. As a few partner and children had joined us, it was good to explain to everyone what to expect.

Before we opened the market place, I told them about an extra rule for one room. In one of the rooms, you could talk about everything, but you had to paint. You could paint alone or together as long as you kept painting while talking. I learned that idea from the McCartney bootcamps. While you paint, you use different parts of your brain.

The different with a bootcamp, was here, as in real code-retreat rule, you can’t take the paintings home. Throw away ART.

I think it resulted in pretty amazing talks (and paintings)

Was everything good?

Of course not, it was a first try out. It was not intended to be perfect. (That’s another spirit of a code-retreat we want to practice. Not show off)

I wanted to have the children and partners involved. And that worked fine. Well for a moment, but after a while kids get bored. We did have lego, we did have paint, we did have an x-box kinect. yet we did not have a nice kids program like at ALE2011.  And we should have had, so that partners and children could choose.

Oh and I wanted to end the day with a circle of questions but I forgot.

I also wanted to do something nice for the partners. I know that being a partner of a coach can be very demanding. I ordered flowers for all the participants. With the intention they gave this to their partner to thank them for their support for their coaching work.

Thanks to everyone who was at this first coach retreat.

(I’ll blog later about some of the great sessions we had.)

Update: The picture are now online