Rebellious Agile in Romania – #ACCRO17

Rebellious Agile in Romania – #ACCRO17

150 150 Adam Michalczyk

In the life of a trainer – travelling has its special place. Special like getting a ticket for speeding. This time, however, I was looking forward to this trip.

Agile Coach Camps are one of the kind. Professional and full of enjoyment. It feels great to meet people with shared values. Ones who are focused on perfecting their craft and devoted to making the world of software development a better place. They usually travel covering their own expenses to spend the weekend away from home. Instead of watching CSI:Miami, coding, walking the dog or partying all night, they choose to learn and share their experience with the community.

What was exceptional about Agile Coach Camp Romania 2017 (#accro17)?

The dream.

Before coming to Romania, I had a dream of driving the legendary Transfăgărășan road. It’s been built in 70’, climbs up to 2050 m and crosses high mountain ridge. This engineering monument took tons of dynamite and a couple of human lives to make. Top Gear described it as the most beautiful road in Europe.

ACCRO venue is just 3km away from Transfăgărășan. What could go wrong? I had a car already rented when I found out that the road is closed till 30th of June. Bad luck.Though there is a good reason why. The top part is wrapped with rock solid snow cover even until late June. But I still wanted to check it out and drive as far (fast…) as possible.

The reception.

We were five legal aliens on Romanian soil. Berthold (@bertholdb) from Germany, Silvana from Czechia, Magda (@dziamka), Andrzej (@azinczuk) and me (@zajonchek) from Poland. None of us was particularly skilled in the Romanian language. So imagine how welcomed we felt when everyone switched to English when we arrived at Albota. This kind of care and respect is deeply touching. Throughout the whole event, we could take part in conversations as changing the language was the immediate reaction every time. I felt really special like when I got the first sweet from my grandfather 🙂

The location

The ACCRO was held at Pastravaria Albota in the Făgăraș Mountains, central Romania. The airport in Sibiu, the biggest city nearby, was our starting point. Driving by car to Albota gave us an opportunity to observe the wonderful landscapes. Enjoying the view was very easy – the noticeable thing in Romania is an almost complete lack of billboards and advertisements to which we’re so used in Poland.

The Transylvania region is famous as the land of Vlad Palovnik, also known in popular culture as Count Dracula. He was a very successful leader, though his methods were far, far from Agile. Maybe apart from the fact that he incrementally slain his opponents…

Pastravaria (trout farm) Albota is a pleasant, family friendly touristic resort. It’s been built around a nice set of ponds with trouts swimming happily, without knowing their fried destiny. Those who know me probably won’t be surprised that I enjoy eating. At Albota about 70% of the food they serve is local and definitely delicious. The service is amazing as well. Also, we had an opportunity to enjoy a bonfire which is a traditional part of Romanian camps. Whispering water. Fish jumping. Clean rooms. Almost no distraction. The setup that’s perfect for ACC. The only downside was the 50m distance between conference rooms reserved for our event.

The content

Agile Coach Camp is held in the format of Open Space. It promotes interaction, as it’s a conference made out of the coffee breaks.

The Friday evening started with an opening World Café session. It’s a good icebreaker that helps with getting to know each other and share experience around agility. We discussed topics like ”Describe your agile experience” or “What Agile means to You?”. There was also a small session of “What do you expect to take from ACC?”. We spent the rest of the evening partying like we usually do during Camps ;).

On the first day, we did a proper Open Space. Opened by Silvana Wasitova (@wasitova), in her gentle and touching style. The topics discussed covered Agile in: HR, scientific research, personal life (with the use of Management 3.0), remote teams, AMA Product Manager, The role of PM in Agile, training games (about technical debt and self-organisation).

The second day was significantly shorter and devoted mostly to closing things from Saturday. We also had an amazing session on using games in training by Berthold Barth (@bertholdb). The technical debt game was repeated by Andrzej due to the high demand from participants. It was a day full of one-on-one interactions after a very intense Saturday. I also had an insightful and interesting discussion with Adrian Bolboaca (@adibolb) on Code Retreats and the teaching styles.

The dream come true. (Romania, land of possibilities)

After the touching closing of Agile Coach Camp Romania 2017, we jumped into our car to find a place to lay our heads for the night. It was around 3 pm, so Magda and I decided to explore how far we can drive the Transfăgărășan. Initially, we planned to take a cable car up to the top of the ridge, so we wanted to check it out. We drove the curvy, good quality forest road to the  Bâlea Cascadă, the lower station of the cable car.

The road signs indicated that the high road pass is still closed. A huge piece of the concrete roadblock wasn’t looking particularly optimistic as well. But seeing local cars completely ignoring all of these restrictions gave us a spark of hope. It seems that Romanians and Poles have a similar approach to treating rules more as a general guidance than a law one have to obey 😀 So we followed thinking that maybe we’ll bump into snow but at least we’ll have a taste of driving the famous beautiful road. What’s the worst that could happen?

The road curves were unspeakably amazing. In my opinion, Transfăgărășan is worth adding to your bucket list. The sad part to keep in mind is that many lost their lives to build this wonder that we so much enjoy today. After reaching the top, we also discovered that the local businesses are definitely in bloom. We bought some delicious sausages and goat cheese. Romania for the win.

So, how was it?

After ACCRO 2017 I became a true fan of Romania. A country with such a history, beautiful sights, welcoming people and exceptional food. It is definitely undervalued travel destination.

They also do Agile. The issues they face are no different than anywhere around the world.

Traveling for Agile Coach Camp Romania 2017 was a proof that you should expect the unexpected. Getting oneself in a different language context helps to open up for different points of view.

Big thank you for the great event: Adrian Suciu (@adysuciu), Alina Lolot (@AlinaLolot),  Adrian Bolboaca (@adibolb) Lucian Adrian‏ (@lucianadrian) Cristi Cîrnicianu (@kristeeahn), Tudor Tofan 

The text was concieved with amazing help from Magdalena (@Dziamka).