Avanscoperta Retreat #3

Avanscoperta Retreat #3 – Cross-Company Collaborations

Retreats always comes in threes! 🙂
And that’s with this spirit that we organised our Retreat #3 once again in the city of Bologna. Bologna, again?! Well, we did try to escape to somewhere more exotic this time around (closer to the water for example… ) but eventually the capital of Emilia-Romagna, foodies’ paradise and very well connected with the rest of mainland Italy, remains the city of choice for our annual Retreat.
Not to mention its proximity with Avanscoperta’s HQ in nearby Faenza, where everything began just over 10 years ago.

Not only the most awaited-for event we Avanscoperta organise every year, our Retreat becomes the perfect space to put faces back to Slack icons and emails, have valuable conversations with the people we work with on a daily basis, create new opportunities, learn from each other, have some goddamn fun… what’s not to like about our Retreat, really? 🙂

For the first time, as our range of action has been slowly but steadily expanding and going beyond the Italian borders, we also had a foreign participant, one of the latest addition to our team of trainers and experts, the self-proclaimed DDD Care Bear Marco Heimshoff, all the way from Germany, who helped us taking our Retreat #3 to an international level.

The facilitator of the event was Tobias Goeschel, German too, who’s been part of Socrates Germany from the get-go and he’s currently a consultant at Codecentric.

Before digging into what this 3rd Retreat has been for Avanscoperta and all our Learners, let’s briefly recap what happened on the last episodes and what took us where we are now.
Fasten your seat belts!

It’s not Avanscoperta Retreat without the Silent Coyote!
Previously on: Avanscoperta Retreat #1 and #2

Our first Retreat (January 2018) was focused on providing our trainers with some teaching tools, and therefore we arranged for a 2-day “Training from the back of the room” workshop with Teri Frith (next edition: Bologna on 8-9 June 2020).
You can check out a full report of Avanscoperta Retreat #1.

On our second Retreat (January 2019) we opted for an Unconference / Open Space Technology format, allowing discussions and exchanges to pop up naturally throughout the two-day event. With the help of Erin “Folletto” Casali, our facilitator, we had a spontaneous two-day discussion on how to craft better solutions when it comes to training programs, clients, software… and everything in between!
You can check out a full report of Avanscoperta Retreat #2.

Time for our Retreat #3!

After two fruitful years of learning how to get better at teaching, exploring topics and exchanging ideas, we’ve decided to focus our attention on an area of expertise that sometimes seems to be “given” by a lot of companies and professionals alike, and that is what we define cross-company collaborations. What do we mean by this?
We’re talking about what happens when different companies work together on one same project.

As Avanscoperta, with an inner team of 4 people making the magic happen, our network of collaborators and trainers is made up of experts who have their own company and therefore a topic such as cross-company collaborations is really our bread and butter.

We do work with so many different professionals when it comes to public and private training, consulting and software development that it was the right time to put the smartest people together in one same room.
The goal? Explore pros and cons, limits and possibilities of collaborating among different companies on one same project (or, for that matter, on multiple projects, as it often happens).

To summarise the “why” behind this topic: we’ve seen this coming to life so many times lately that it became very pressing to find out more about this topic and in order to do so…
Who you’re gonna call? Your Learners!

Let’s go!

The first hour-or-so of each of our Retreats is a carrambata where you see those old friends you haven’t seen in a while, something which really helps create that “familiar” and friendly environment we want to keep at all of our events.
A quick intro by Avanscoperta Founder Alberto Brandolini, welcoming all Learners to AC Hotel Bologna (where the Retreat is being held) and off we go!

The format: EventStorming Big Picture and Unconference / Open Space Technology

This time around, we experimented a mix of formats with the idea of creating a common shared understanding of the topics we wanted to talk about (using EventStorming’s Big Picture) and after that, we asked our Learners to list all the topics they wanted to talk about in a board aka marketplace with time slots and rooms, and so the Unconference could begin.

I know it’s only an EventStorming… But I like it!
Unconference: The Market Place

Just after lunch, our Learners started populating the Unconference board and proposing topics in a pure Market Place fashion. Some of the topics offered for the two days were:

Decisions in the land of cross-company fuzziness / How to drive safely through cultural changes within a team/company / Fostering collaboration with working agreements / Getting rid of bad customers / Remote working and Distributed teams / The Avanscoglomerate / Better date finding and handling / Bursting the bubble / The hand-off and Space for partially finished deliverables / Cross-company team: How to slice work and responsibilities to work effectively?

Let the ideas flow – It’s Avanscoperta Retreat #3!

The Unconference lasted for the whole second day of our Retreat too, and so that’s where we could keep digging deep on these interesting topics offered by our Learners during the Marketplace.

The Avanscoglomerate!
ROTFL… literally!
Light, Camera… Action!

“If it’s not somewhere on the internet, it never happened”. Isn’t it true? Well then, we took the opportunity of having the vast majority of our Learners aka trainers in the same room to steal 5 (sometimes 10) minutes of their time to record and produce some promo shots for their upcoming workshops we’re organising with them and that will take place in the coming months.

The results? A lot of laughing, “let’s do it again” and eventually a couple of nice clips you’ll see on our YouTube channel.

Our trainers happily took the offer to be part of this activity and the clips provide a quick insight on the content and key takeaways you’re gonna get for each one of the workshops we’ll be presenting in the coming weeks.

Some of our Learners in front of the camera!

Thanks to a trusted and long-time photo-and-video partner and professional aka Maicol Rossellini (his are the wonderful “official” pics you can find here, as well as all the “official” pictures we took throughout the years during our events), we managed to put everyone at ease in front of the camera and… ciak! 🙂

Planning our Retreat and other fun bits

For the first time, we decided that a change of location might have been beneficial, and in some respect this was true: moving from our long-time partner Camplus Bononia, where we’ve been hosting not only our past Retreats but also a lot of workshops, we’ve landed at AC Hotel Bologna by Marriott, closer to the city centre.
Professional staff, good conference facilities and in-house catering made the event run smoothly so that we could focus on producing awesome ideas and actionable outcomes on these two days with our Learners.

For the dinner, one of the most-awaited moments of every Retreat, we’ve shortlisted Trattoria Dal Bissanot, where the group could keep the conversation going after a short stop for an aperitivo in via Mascarella, one of the most vibrant streets in central Bologna.
We enjoyed a typical Italian meal with good red wine, a few mirtos and had a great time with all of our Learners. Sometimes, these are the moments when the best conversations happen.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Pictures! 😀

Like for any other Retreat, “what happens in Bologna stays in Bologna”… Fear not, it was a night to remember!

DDDino, our now 3-year-old Mascot, wouldn’t miss our Retreat for anything in this world (yes, not even for being saved from extinction. It told us so). And for this little funny angry pet… it always loves being at the centre of attention!
Will it be because for over 65 million years nobody cared about it and its fellow DDDinos? We will never know.
To keep it calm we had to create a Twitter account, an Instagram account and who knows what’s next!

The craziest Dinosaur on Earth… DDDino!
What’s next?

As a learning point for our next Retreat: a clear invitation and explicit instructions on what needs to happen will make things better and align all participants.

Like after each and every Retreat, there’s a lot to do behind the scenes right now. We’re aiming at putting into practice some of the learnings and ideas shared during the two days into practice, and if you’ve been following us… you know we’ll be sharing the concrete outcomes of this Retreat in some form in the next months.

Thanks all for being part of it and… Keep following us! 🙂


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Watch the official pics of Avanscoperta Retreat #3 (credits: Maicol Rossellini).

This blog post was curated by Alessandra Granaudo and Enrico Meloni.

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