For the second year in a row, I take a taxi from Tegel airport in Berlin late in the evening and spend half an hour being transported through the dark towards the Dorinnt hotel in Potsdam. There is something odd about traveling in dark, feeling the journey in your body but not seeing it with your eyes. I also know that the journey back will be the same, same darkness and same road, same weird sensation.
Maybe that’s why I can’t help but think that there might be something to it when last year Scott W. Ambler kept referring to “the real world” during his keynote (as opposed to us in the audience). Maybe Potsdam isn’t part of the real world? Do I really know if Potsdam exists if I don’t even know what the way to get there looks like? Later during the conference, a perfect walk in the sunshine and the cool air with the trees wearing their autumn colours, passing by beautiful buildings which seem to be part of a film set makes me wonder again: is this for real?
I also know that the people I met and bonded with so quickly are people I might never meet again. A transient and intense connection, because we are there and sharing the experience, but what do we have when the experience is over?
It could be that we’re all passing a portal to this imaginary land where people are friendly, where ideas have worked out perfectly, where teams perform the best they can and where software is cheap, fast and helpful to all of its users. Maybe Scott W. Ambler is right, the Agile Testing Days isn’t the real world.
It’s the entire point of the conference.
To be inspired.
It might sound weird, but I do want to believe that there is place for rainbows and unicorns out there. I want to hear from people excited about successfull experiments in their teams. It’s fun to know that somewhere, some technique helped a team get closer to their product owner. To be honest, I also love to listen to the person talking about his 145 people team with releases once every two years (they used to have it once a year, but you know, educating the users takes so much time…). Because when I talk to him about my 4 person team with weekly releases, I’m the one in unicorn land.
So that’s what you get when you travel to another place and attend a conference like this one: an exceptional experience. But what do you make of that? Your conference budget for the year all spent for a couple of days in the fairy tale world. What I’m trying to do to bring the magic experience back home is to pick one (just one!) of those lollipop-ideas and actually try it for real.
In the real world.
It might become my tale to tell next year.
(Speaking of bonding quickly, my new record is 2 minutes starting from striking a conversation in the ladies room to handing out my business card hoping intensely she would email me and not just throw it away)