Mix-it Lyon 2018: With Love and Pancakes

I am in the Lyon airport, waiting for a rescheduled flight to Amsterdam. This gives me some time to share my thoughts on speaking at Mixit 2018.

a picture the beautiful city of Lyon by night.

I have been to Lyon together with Emile Silvis, since we were invited to host a workshop on System’s thinking, making Causal loop diagrams. In addition to that, I gave a lecture on Large Scale Scrum. 

The conference is organised in the main building of the campus of the CPE (Ecole supérieure de Chimie, Physique et Electronique). Lots of talks on technical subjects. The location reminded me of my student days, wandering through these classrooms and auditoriums, the worn out toilets, the warm smell of linoleum and dust. The organisation was perfect. A big cheer to Matthieu Petidant and his crew. food and beverages were abundant (what else to expect in a food-culture country like France?).

Our Workshop went down very smooth. Some 40-50 people attended and the results where excellent: Every team produced great insights in unraveling the problems occurring at some imaginary fin-tech company we presented in “the banking innovation’s case”. Good learnings for everyone. Emile’s explanation was well paced, clear and to the point. Some of the attendees shared with me they will definitely use this technique in their daily work.

I also had a valuable learning as I approached a team consisting of four French ladies. I noticed they were talking, but they did not have any written post-it on the table yet. Before offering the help I thought they needed, I listened a bit to their conversation to see were I could tap in. They were talking about personal things, working situation, problems they faced. My assumption was they did not like the workshop exercise, since they were all working outside of the IT industry and the case we presented was an IT one, it probably just was not appealing to them. But as I decided to interfere, something interesting happened: one lady thanked the other three, and proposed them to now look at the case presented. I was baffled! How foolish had I been thinking they were just trying to fill their time with smalltalk! It was clear to me they were in need of more in depth knowledge of each other’s backgrounds prior to start working as a team. Brilliant lesson in controlling my impatience!

For those who attended the workshop: You can find the case here and the solution diagrams here.


Following the workshop, I gave a one hour presentation on LeSS (introduction). In French: Scrum à l’échelle. A good preparation for the lecture I will be giving in Kiev on the Project management day in may. I’ve got some good insights on what I can improve. In general the message I got was that Scrum and Agile are still in such poor state, that scaling is too far fetched in the eyes of all attendees. Off course they recognise they need to face the problems caused by copy-pasting (dysfunctional) Scrum, but LeSS is the not a realistic option. They understood that the deep cultural change required to make such a change successful is a very difficult one in a country with a strong comand-and-control history. Back on the terrace drinking beer, Emile and I concluded that it makes sense for the LeSS organisation to put a mechanism in place to increase the chances of success of LeSS transformations.

Thanks Lyon, it was great fun!





One thought on “Mix-it Lyon 2018: With Love and Pancakes

  1. Hi Roland,

    I think I must’ve been one of the four women you describe.
    I think I can offer a bit more insight into the situation you read.
    Our group had trouble getting a head start with the exercises.
    The theoretical slides went by quite fast, and it was difficult to wrap our heads around the system. Although we knew we could try and re-do, we were finding it difficult to agree on ways to display the information.

    We digressed at a point where we weren’t sure how to progress, and towards the end of the workshop, Emile came along and offered some guidance, which was really valuable help.

    As an aside, the presentation / ice-breaker was a great start to the workshop, but we barely got to know each other, which also might explain some small talk during our hesitation in the exercise.

    I’m not sure whether or not our blocker was that the case was ‘IT-related’, I’d suggest we just didn’t have enough time to practice the mental gymnastics of causal loop diagrams. Maybe hand-outs would have helped. Maybe we should have signaled for help earlier.
    I really liked the way you collected feedback at the end, maybe that can be an additional contribution.

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