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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

Lean Kanban Central Europe Leadership Track

Lean Kanban Central Europe Leadership Track post image

There’s a question I get asked pretty frequently: which conference I would recommend to attend. Of course the answer is always contextual but surprisingly often after some further inquiry I recommend Lean Kanban Central Europe.

On one hand it’s the content. Even today I remember all the keynotes from the first LKCE three years ago. That’s how much that stuck. Since then the program was only getting better. Then, there is exposure to new ideas. Lean Kanban series of conferences are surprisingly consistent when it comes to bringing to the mix new concepts, models and methods. One can bet that that thing which sounds so fresh on one of big Agile events was covered in extent a few years ago at Lean Kanban tour.

Then of course there is networking. With three hundred people networking is of very different quality than at the events that attract a thousand people or more. Everyone is more accessible and it’s not an ultimate challenge to track down someone who you really want to chat with.

The post wasn’t meant as a just an infomercial of LKCE. The conference, as every good event, evolves. One change that we introduced this year are consistent tracks and track chairs. This means that there’s always someone who made final decisions for the part of the program. This also means that there’s even more space for radical ideas as we as the program board aren’t driven by the consensus that much.

The track I’m honored to lead is the leadership track. One thing I didn’t want to do with it was just to throw a bunch of great speakers and just let them do their magic. What we’ll have instead is a theme and different ideas on leadership evolving around the same theme. Of course we still have a bunch of awesome speakers in the first place.

This approach means that everyone who will choose to stay throughout the whole track will get a consistent experience, while being exposed to different ideas. In fact, when working on the track I was thinking of it as of a mini-conference on its own.

The underlying theme for the track is broadening understanding of what leadership is and what approaches and tools we may use to let it emerge in our organizations. Esther Derby will kick off the track explaining that leadership at all levels isn’t just a nice theoretical concept or wishful thinking. At the same time the challenge is that there are no recipes that allow us to easily build such an environment. If there was such a thing as a track keynote it would be this one and I can hardly think of a better candidate than Esther to deliver it.

With no recipes we aren’t left alone in the wild though. We do have models and methods that, if understood correctly and used mindfully, can help us to shape the organization to steer emergence of leadership. When I think about people who easily mix different models and methods applying them contextually to provide most value Liz Keogh is on the top of my list. That’s why I asked her to cover that part. At least a bit of exposure to systems thinking and complex adaptive systems seems inevitable.

By that point the balance of the track will have swung toward more systemic approach to leadership. In that context however we can’t forget that at the end of the day it all boils down to people dynamics. That’s where Marc Burgauer will kick in with his message about how trust, connections, blame and fear of shame play pivotal role in building leadership across organization. Marc does an awesome job bringing people perspective into discussion.

The only missing bit in that mix is a practical story that shows how one may use all these building blocks to create a culture where leadership emerges and thrives. I tasked myself with that. On one hand at that point my job will be super easy as Esther, Liz and Marc will have covered the important parts and I’ll just build the connection between my story and earlier sessions. On the other, matching such a lineup of speakers is a challenge by itself. I guess my inner speaker now hates my inner track chair.

Of course leadership track will be competing for attendees attention with other awesome tracks. It was never our goal for LKCE to make choice between sessions even remotely close to easy. I do hope though that there will be some people who will choose to stay with us through all the leadership sessions. Especially that it is the shortest track of the event. As you can see though there was a lot thought invested to provide additional value for those who would be at all sessions.

The track is more than a sum of its sessions, it’s a product of interactions between its parts.

Have I just brought systems thinking again to the discussion? Oh well…

I hope this is one more argument to join LKCE this year. I’d love to see you there and I’d love to get feedback about the final outcome.

in: kanban

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