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Interview with Stefan Wolpers, the initiator of the Agile Camp in Berlin

Agile, why? What is your background?

Stefan Wolpers: Well, Scrum found me back in 2006 when the Development Team of my then client asked me to become their Scrum Master and talk some sense into the founder.

At the time, I had no clue what that would entail, but I wanted to help and agreed anyway, and I have been working in the industry ever since as Scrum Master, Product  Owner, or agile coach. Typically, clients fall into two categories: fast-growing, venture capital-backed startups, or large (non-tech) corporations. In both cases, dealing with culture while introducing Scrum has been my focus.

I love sharing knowledge and creating community, thus providing others with new perspectives and opportunities—which is also reflected in my engagement in the agile community: I blog, I curate the ‘Food for Agile Thought’ newsletter, I host a global Slack community of agile peers, and I am the founder of the ‘Agile Camp Berlin’ conference.

Why Berlin and why the format Barcamp and not a conference?

Stefan Wolpers: There are two reasons that speak for Berlin: a) Berlin as a startup-hub has a diverse community of product-minded people, and b) I live here which makes organizing a barcamp so much easier.

Where do you see the advantages in a Barcamp format?

Stefan Wolpers: One of Agile’s first principles is self-organization. Moreover, since I believe in eating your own dog food, an open-space is hence the right community format.

What was the most unique/brilliant/best moment you witnessed at the Barcamp 2019?

Stefan Wolpers: I fondly remember how well everything fell into place, given that the Agile Camp 2019 was a new event, with a new organizing team at a new venue.

What do you think will make this Bar Camp different than any other? And why will it even be better than in 2019?

Stefan Wolpers: I do not know whether the ACB20 will be better than the ACB19. Of course, we like to improve this year’s edition for the benefit of the community. 

What would you like people to bring to the Barcamp?

Stefan Wolpers: I would like them to embrace open-mindedness, try new things, and push their comfort zones a bit. The ACB20 will be the ideal place for that: you will be among friends in a safe place.

And what would you want them to take with them home after?

Stefan Wolpers: I like them to take home a lot of new experiences and the confidence to try some of the new things they will learn starting on April 20th, 2020.

Any other suggestions to a first-time Barcamp goer?

When in doubt, watch what others do and mimic them. No, I am just kidding. Come as you are and be yourself. The rest will fall in place.

What is your experience and learning from 2019, and what will change with the Barcamp in 2020?

Stefan Wolpers: A lot will change: We are skipping the 2019 differentiation between “normal sessions” and games, we will have the ACB20 party on the venue, and we will open at 7 am to offer more time to meet new people over breakfast. 

Also, we are currently talking to several coaches who would like to offer day-long workshops on Thursday, April 16th, 2020, the day before the ACB20. 

What kind of participants do you expect? As Berlin is an international and start-up city, do we expect a meetup of the local agile community?

Stefan Wolpers: The ACB20 has a pan-European appeal. Last time I counted, we had registrations from more than 16 countries. It will be very diverse—as it should be. 

The topics in the agile community are changing very quickly, what will be the hot topics that you expect that will be present at the Barcamp?

Stefan Wolpers: My tips are Scrum Values, self-organization & culture, Liberating Structures, Design Thinking, and Scaling Agile—a classic that should not be missed.

How can someone interested get involved? Are there tickets left? Will there be sponsoring?

Stefan Wolpers: There are no tickets left at the moment—the ACB20 is sold out. For tickets that probably will be returned we created a waiting list for those who like to join.

Regarding sponsoring the ACB20, we already can announce that Leanovate and codecentric AG will again be sponsoring the Barcamp. Nevertheless, there are several other sponsoring opportunities. As a prospective sponsor, please do not hesitate to contact us.

What would be the way to prepare for ACB 2020?

Stefan Wolpers: As an attendee, please submit your attendee profile and propose a session.

What is your wish for ACB 2020?

Stefan Wolpers: My wish for the ACB20 is positive feedback from the community so that there will be an Agile Camp Berlin 2021.