Avanscoperta Retreat #5 - Where are we now?
Intro - A Learning Community Gathering
Back to April 2022 for our Retreat #5: two incredible days of Summer-like weather in Riccione, by the Romagna Riviera. We managed to fulfil an old dream of ours and get closer to the seaside… and how cool it was!
This time we picked a classy and stylish 4-star hotel with a swimming pool just by the seaside for our beloved Retreat: the Grand Hotel Des Bains. This really made a world of difference.
Since our community has grown internationally quite a bit in the last years, we also had non-Italian guests.
In a nutshell - our annual Retreat has always been the perfect time to put real faces and people back to their places, and this time around, after two long years of fully remote activities, this was even more special than ever.
The Open Space Format
After three physical retreats and an online one, we decided to stick to the Open Space format that allows people to decide on the agenda collaboratively and without a fixed upfront agenda.
Whether it’s a remote event or a physical one, we’ve seen that the best things happen when you put smart people in the same room, give them enough post-its and paper roll and space to think and talk, and just let things unroll (no pun intended).
With so many intellectually curious people in the room, we decided to adopt an even freer format this year, so there was no facilitator as such, but each participant contributed to the smooth happening of the event (special thanks to Simone Longoni for helping out).
The Topic: Where are we now?
The first thing, as usual, was to define a topic.
The invite read on as follows:
Where are we now? What happened in the past two years? Where are we going to?
What made us happy, and what scared us most?
What is our wish, and what do we want to do next?
The main goal of this edition of the Retreat is to gather all of you in a place, talk, drink a beer or coffee together, and have a good time.
How did it go on the two days?
All the elements contributed to leaving everyone with a smile on their faces for the whole duration of the event: excellent customer service and catering at the venue, a general widespread positive mood, the sun, the seaside within a 5-minute walk… everything felt very special.
On day 1, we kicked off with a short introduction by Alberto Brandolini, and off we went into proposing sessions for the open space.
We had three rooms for our conversations and a very special and much-appreciated “by the pool” location too! One could argue that those sessions were highly attended because of the location… but we want to believe it was for the proposed topics instead. :P
NEW! The facewall. They say you learn something from all the experiences, isn’t it? So one thing we did learn from two years of Miro boards is that you can have a frame (or, here, a piece of paper roll on the wall) for folks to put their picture (duly printed by the organizers) and write a few sentences about themselves.
Some of the people in the room didn’t know each other at all, so we felt it was a nice icebreaker and a good idea to allow people to know others in such “asynch” way too.
Our mascot DDDino did it too!
The market place
This year, as we didn’t have a specific theme, the sessions were indeed quite varied. With two of the most life-changing years behind us, there was a lot to talk about, even without having a very specific theme decided upfront.
And so some of the sessions we had during the two days were a mix of old and new topics:
- How to make online collaboration efficient
- Outcome metrics: how to bring the whys of user stories under constant monitoring - from day 1
- Tools and rhythm as enablers of interaction
- Never-ending project development
- Selling workshops
- Selling software without becoming the client
- Stable Teams No More
- Collaborate from everywhere
- Collaboration and partnerships in Avanscoperta’s ecosystem
- Fully distributed
- Diversity Equality Inclusion
- From workshops delivery to learning experiences
- Socially impacting opportunities for agilists
- UX/Dev collaboration
As you would expect at any open space event, there were a few moments of share back during the event, where we all gathered in the main big room. Here we could discuss what we learned, albeit briefly, with the rest of the group.
Some groups did take “minutes” or sketches of the conversation as it unfolded and some others went very freely into the discussion.
All the Fun bits
As usual, on the day before the first day of the event, we organized a dinner for those who had already arrived. First greetings by the seaside and the atmosphere was already special!
Riccione is a well-known holiday town and it gets totally transformed during the Summer holidays. Not this time, though, as at the end of April it felt like we had the whole town just for us, blessed by warmer-than-usual temperatures and a laid-back feeling that was the cherry on the cake of our event.
Goes without saying, walking by the seaside early in the morning (before the official program started) and playing volleyball once the activities finished have been the preferred activities by the majority of us.
It was strange to see an army of folks dressed in orange walking in the city; orange was the colour we picked for this year’s t-shirt. The writing? “I think you’re on mute!” - some kind of tribute to the endless hours we’ve spent on online calls in the past two years.
As usual, a lot of learning and more importantly a feeling of connection with our community. So we’re happy this event reinforced connections, made new ones possible.
Summary of previous episodes & Links
Retreat #1 (2018) Training from the back of the room workshop.
Retreat #2 (2019) Unconference / Open Space Technology on how to craft better solutions when it comes to training programs, clients, and software.
Retreat #3 (2020) Cross-company collaborations.
Retreat #4 (2021) Let's make change persistent.
Pics credits: Maicol Rossellini and Avanscoperta Team
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