What a week! The first ever openSUSE conference provided us, the multiplier team, with a great momentum to finally kick-off the team. So after a smooth Sunday on the conference with the nice lightning talks and Gianugo’s closing keynote we went for 4 days to some remote farm in Franconian Switzerland to work on a plan of what we want to do and how we’re going to do it. This is my personal travelogue.
Travel day. On Sunday I went home early from the conference. I tell you, 4 days of constant talking and sharing ideas with other humans is tiresome! Good that we choose a place to go to that is so remote that you have to hike there. I welcome another couple of hours doing non-geek activities. But first I have go to the main train station to buy some tickets for the team, then back to the office to unravel the rest of the conference party fallout and pick up everybody else at 9am. We are 15 people to go on the trip. So after everyone is in, and we pass on the luggage to Roland who goes by car, we head off to the central station. Then go to by Train/Bus to a small town (Gößweinstein) and from there hike to our destination: Gut Schönhof. Gut Schönhof is an old farm (still operating) that has some rooms attached. During the whole trip it’s the most beautiful weather and everything goes smoothly.
In Gößweinstein we had a quick look at the famous basilica and then went on along the river Wiesent. After a quick lunch stop at one of the local breweries (did you know that the Franconian Switzerland is the region with the highest density of private breweries in the world?) we arrive. The Schönhof people have prepared a couple of rooms and the barn for us. I decide to stay in the barn together with Tom and Robert.
By now it’s dinner time and it’s still very warm so we eat outside in the sun. The farm has also cows so we get the most amazing, fresh, organic steaks and fries you can imagine. Well-fed and satisfied we have our first session of talking. Mostly about what tasks everybody brings as baggage into the Team. After that the mood is slightly down because we discovered that some of us bring quite a lot. Anyway, this needed to be in the open so everybody knows what we can and can’t pick up. Then most of us quickly go to bed. After playing some cards for an hour or so with Klaas, Tom and Robert I go too.
The breakfast is as good as the dinner yesterday. This is not the usual supermarket stuff you get in the city. Superb self-made sausages, cheese and jam. Milk and Eggs that not long ago were in the cow/chicken and freshly baked bread/buns. Off to talking again, AJ and Michl join us today. This time we start to come up with things that we want to do in the future. The list is growing very fast. It contains very dull hands-on stuff like centralizing the widespread, messy developer documentation in the wiki but also cool new stuff like integrating the build service with the SUSE Studio Marketplace. This is awesome! We then start to pick out things to discuss in detail. Coolo is doing this as -1,0,+1 voting and it turns out that this works very well for our group. We pick 6 topics we want to discuss in detail.
In the coffee break some of us decide to explore one of the near by old castles.
We conclude the day by discussing some of the things in great detail. Everybody is eager to hand out Action Items and we wouldn’t be geeks if we didn’t drift off into implementation details all the time. But in the end everybody is on the same page. I must say, I expected productivity here but not that much. The people in the Team are all old dogs, but apparently old dogs that can learn new tricks! Everybody is very open minded, positive and honest.
Dinner and then we take the projector we brought and turn the barn into a cinema. I fall asleep shortly after the opening credits…
Today we are going to prioritize the tasks we want to do. But first things first. We talked a lot about what we do, what we want to do and so on. This morning is for the how. So we talk about development methods, structural things like communications channels, meeting culture and things like this. In the end we agree on trying one of the hip agile methods. It fits us perfectly because the general direction we worked out by now for the team is “Growing Community by Enabling Community”. This will require us to jump from task to task and from topic to topic. Everybody is very eager to try this out.
Now that we know how to do things and what we want to do we start the prioritization. We again do this by a -1,0,+1 vote. This is it, our first sprints are set and over Dinner we split up into 3 groups and have our first planning phase. Time to check out the second castle that is around the corner. We arrive there by nightfall so there is not much to see. But we find a nice tavern in the valley for some beverages. During the evening Vincent and Lubos get into an ice-cream eating contest.
After they battled it out we head home through the dark forests. 15 people and 2 flashlights but we make it back. That was fun!
Wrap up time! We want to leave at 11am so we can be at the office at 4′ish. A lot of us have more travel to do afterwards. There are bits and pieces here and there we still need to talk about but mainly we gather the next steps we want to do, like when to meet, how to tell the world about this team event and “marketing” in general. We also do a small retrospective on this kick-off and try to come up with a nicer name than multiplier team. At 11 we do the obligatory group photo and afterwards head out to the next bus stop in Pottenstein. We go the hike route, mostly on the road. 100 meters out i manage to trash my camera by smashing it on the pavement. The rest of the walk I talk to Egbert about the ongoing Board effort to establish an openSUSE foundation. He was long enough in the X.org board who also started a foundation and has a lot of insights. At around 3pm we arrive in Pottenstein and an hour later we part at the central station again.
Conclusion: Holy Moly! This was productive! This is a bunch of people that will do great things for the openSUSE project. Not that they did not do so already, most of them are already leading figures in the project, but together we will rock the boat for sure. I’m looking forward to work with these guys to grow the community by enabling the community!