My opening keynote at Scrum Day France – The future of work

I made it, 2 minutes later and the doors of the Thalys would have been closed. I’m on my way to Paris, where I have been asked to provide the Opening Keynote for Scrum Day France.

Human imagination onsteroids!

The Eiffel Tower. Although I have seen it a dozens times, the size of it keeps intriguing me. It’s one of those monuments that are all about the human imagination. Paris seems to be the perfect place for my talk “The future of work is about being more human”. I found a great pizza place with an Eiffel Tower view and for the first time in quite a while I was pleasantly surprised by the house wine, could this be the start of a perfect trip?

Patterns of failure

I got my hopes up too early, even worse: I’m starting to see a pattern here. Out of the last 10 hotels I stayed in, at least 7 of them had dysfunctional airco’s. Let’s add one to that list. I stayed at the Sezz, the room looked amazing, but the combination of a hot day, a dysfunctional airco only blowing warm air, and a room under the roof, was doomed to provide me a short night, yet again.

Speaking of patterns, I always book room + breakfast when I’m teaching or speaking even when there’s a light breakfast at the workshop. But I have never ever gotten to the point of having that breakfast. I’m terrible at it, really, in the morning: I’m like a stressed Duracel Bunny ready for action so somehow I never make it to the breakfast area. New hotel, new talk, new plan, breakfast at your door. It worked, I finally learned my lesson, perfect!

A quick check out and a short 10min walk to the Scrum Day France venue.

Let’s check out the venue.

I met up with Xavier Warzee, president of the Scrum Alliance User Group France. More than 500 attendees where about to listen to a new talk I just finished on the train. Worried, perhaps a bit, but on the other hand a topic I love to talk about.

The future of work is about being more human.

My opening keynote was about the challenges that lie ahead of us in the creative digital economy and how our organizations need to become endlessly inventive, highly adaptable, and truly inspiring. That the future of work is about being more human, about mind-power, excitement and creativity, and how Gamestorming is taking the industry by storm.

After the introduction and a message by all the sponsors all nicely suited up, I think I took the venue by storm in my blue pants and funky green polo. The photos aren’t published yet but I was able to find one via twitter.

My worst nightmare

I’m on stage, my worst nightmare, a handheld microphone instead of a normal headset or clip. A pointer in one hand, a handheld microphone in the other: mobility zero. I need my hands to move freely around as they are an extension of the way I talk and express myself. If they’re locked in a certain position the rest of my body gets nervous++. But if that wasn’t enough I could never figure out at any point during my talk wether the handheld needed to be closer or further away from my mouth. With 500 people in a wide room, I needed to pay attention, which quickly resulted in my attention span going 50% microphone 50% talk… So if you are a conference organizer: order a headset, they make our lives so much easier!


I did two quick polls in the audience. First, who had already heard of Gamestorming and about 10 out of 500 people raised their hands so I really was a bit surprised. Second, same question but about Innovation Games and that ended up in let’s say about 1/4 of the attendees. Still a long way to go…

The feedback door

The nodding and picture taking suggest the talk went more than ok for a first run. A quick glance at the Feedback Door confirmed this and made me smile

Iteration two

Time for some slide and storytelling improvements and then I’ll see you at Agile Israel 2012 on June 26 where I’ll do a talk and 2-day workshop about Gamestorming and Innovation Games.

It’s the System, stupid! Must read!

As a Systems Thinker you gotta love this story. I had to leave for Belgium right after my opening keynote, duty called. I arrived in Paris Nord station two hours earlier than the Thalys I booked way in advance. I looked for the support desk, found this glass office with the logo of Thalys on it and asked to exchange the ticket for an earlier one. The lady behind her desk got angry and yelled that I needed to go to the Thalys desk, I pointed out to the Thalys sign next to her but she got angry and just pointed in the direction I needed to go. Support desk 2, found it! Same question, I wanted to exchange my ticket for an earlier train. She responded that I needed to call the phone number on my ticket. I looked a bit confused, asked her to repeat again. She did, with an angry voice. I remarked that I did not understand why I had to call a number when I was standing in front of the Thalys support desk in the train station in front of the Thalys I wanted to take. She snapped at me but said she could arrange that but a ticket exchange would come at a cost. No problem, I said. She responded that I needed to look for the Thalys train chef and that he/she would do that for me. Still a bit confused, I double checked that I really needed to find “a person” “somewhere”. She pointed. Somehow pointing seemed a very well practiced skill in Paris Nord. I went to look for the right train, asked the first “Thalys train person” (how would I know what a Thalys train chef looks like) and explained my problem. Yes, he got angry and… pointed… in the direction I needed to go, followed by the words “lady”. Looking at 3 Thalys ladies in the near surrounding I decided to pick the cutest one and bingo found our missing train chef. Explained, for the n-th time my problem after which she explained that it would be way too expensive to do so. I looked confused, also yet again. So I asked how much is it, very expensive she said, me getting grumpy. She looked it up and she smiled and said oh no it is only 25 Eur. Fine, do I pay now or on the train, on the train it is. The train ended in Brussels and she didn’t pass along to collect the 25 Eur as she said, so I left the train, no train chef to see, left the train station.

I’m not sure what the exact lesson is that I should have learned here… but I don’t blame the frustrated angry pointing-obsessed Thalys crew, it’s the System 🙂

See you next time!

Upcoming training

After the keynote several people asked me if I had a Gamestorming / Innovation Games course planned in Paris in the near future. I hadn’t, but the good news is that Xavier Warzee is helping us out to arrange one in Paris soon. Meanwhile you can always follow our Gamestorming course here in Belgium or, for the die-hards, we also have yet another Gamestorming retreat coming up.

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Categories: Management Innovation


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3 Comments on “My opening keynote at Scrum Day France – The future of work”

  1. Mira
    March 30, 2012 at 11:42 #

    Hey Maarten, nice post!

    About ticket story.. looks like a simple innovation game. Never-the-less you did provide a feedback 😉
    Yet a facilitator is missing – did you double check the back side of your ticket? Could be that the rules were there, next to the phone number.. cause it sure looked like tempo was controlled – to avoid explosion the last player was smiling 🙂

    Cheers, Mira


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