As a coach, I decided some years ago, that the books I read as a coach, I want to have in my possession. I decided this because I try to learn something from every book I read.
The number of books that I really have to say, I did not learn anything from is very very low.
During my coaching, I referred people to the different books I had read.
I know that not every one likes to read as much as I do, yet in every organisation there is at least someone who loves to read.
And gradually I began to bring books to the clients I was coaching.
Every company/person has their own proces for lending books.
I call my proces: the library of trust.
Here is how the Library Of Trust works:
You select a book you would like to read
You take a picture of you with the book
You send this picture to my work and personal e-adres
You read the part of the book that interest you (mandatory)
You bring the book back
You ask me to take a picture of me with the book and send it to you (important, that way I have a trace it’s back)
I get two kind of reactions to this proces:
Wow cool proces
How many books have you lost already?
Ah that last question is interesting. I also bring my books to the XPdays conference and I leave them in the hotel lobby.
There I lost 2 books in the last 10 years. One of them came magically back the next year at the conference.
So I lost 1 book in 10 years.
The reaction of one of the people that asked me this question. Wow we have a very rigid proces and we loose about 1 book a year. I rest my case.
My friend and colleague Franky Redant said that the SCARF model kinda explains why. Something I let you figure out on your own.
As I wrote in my new years video mail, last year I had two pair of shoes that I wore out. (where I usually do + one yearwith a pair of shoes)
At the start of this year, I bought a new pair of shoes. I went to buy a new pair of shoes in the first weekend of the wintersales. At first, I thought I was lucky that my shoes broke down before. Until I entered my regular shoe shop. (As much as I like to create new habits, the last shoes I bought, I bought somewhere else and you know how that ended…)
I entered the shop and it was -predictable- full of people. And unfortunately in my size not many options for shoes left. Until I found some shoes, that looked different as what I usually buy, yet looked ok. When I put them on, I noticed that inside, the was a little heel. Which basically lifted my foot half a centimetre (or maybe even a centimeter.) It felt strange, yet the shoes fitted.
Side note: Now I personally am one of these men, who don’t like that women wear high heels. I actually think it’s rather foolish to walk around in stiletto’s of 5 to 10 centimetre. Especially when I see the narrow size of the “heel”.
When I tried the shoes, my thought was, you know what, instead of criticising, maybe I should buy these shoes and try a little bit what it means to wear heels. (Which at the same time felt rather ridiculous as it was only a small heel and it was inside the shoe.) Yes, yes, the stories I tell myself when I buy something.
Next monday, I wore the shoes to work and by the time I arrived, my feet hurted like hell.
I was barely able to move, I don’t even call it walking.
My internal message: “Well yves new shoes always hurt, so …”
Yves this is al very nice, what has this to do with agile?
Great question, let me tell you about an agile transformation I did a few years ago.
I worked for a very big international organisation (think x0.000 people) as part of a 3 persons coaching team. We were coaching multiple development teams.
There was another team that was thinking up the agile transformation. Some of the people of that team had been with this company for decades and had in this company only been thinking up policies and regulations. (Think project management Office style), some others had agile experience, yet never in this company. Together they came up with some way the teams were supposed to work. The coaches team realised very quickly that what they came up with did not work for the teams we were coaching.
A conversation I had recently made me realise they had split up their company in thinkers and doers. Something that might make sense in a factory (although Toyota shows us it’s not needed to be successful.) yet it for sure makes things harder in a company that does knowledge work. At a more recent agile transformation, we had a similar transformation team only there the coaches team convinced this team to organise themselves in a similar way as the development teams.
I’m not saying this avoided all problems, yet by walking in the same shoes they asked the developers to wear, they felt the same pain.That created trust in multiple directions.
Reader: Yves, before you leave, please tell us what happened to your new shoes.
Thank you for asking.
In the first week, I noticed that my heels were bleeding. I remember having sore feet, yet I don’t remember bleeding feet. Once the bleeding stopped, my children noticed that I walked strangely (basically put my heels down first and only the my toes.) At some point I realised it was no longer my heel that were hurting, now it was my ankles that hurted. At that point, my partner asked, no begged me, to buy new shoes. She wanted to avoid that I would damage my legs for every. Although I felt I should really walk a while into new shoes, every morning I walked or better stumbled the 1.200 steps to the train station, I wondered what “a while” really ment.
As a change agent, I know I’m asking a lot of people to change their habits, that is why I’m regularly changing my own habits. Asking people in a large corporation to make the switch to agile, is a big change. A change that hurts.
In one of my coaching conversation I had with a CxO some years ago, this persons brain physically hurted. Intellectually this person new it was the right thing to do. yet ignoring the old reflexes gave physical pain.
And that was a person who believed in agile, where a lot of people I’m coaching, are not convinced agile is a solution to their problem. (And who can blame them.) On top, everyone around them, sees they have a hard time, and all these counsellors tell them to stop and good look for a new job. (just like my partner asked me to buy new shoes…)
Now, it’s about a month ago I bought the shoes, my feet no longer hurt. I have to admit, I still realise about once a week, I have new shoes. Which tells me, these new shoes are not a naturally extension of my body yet.
It’s similar, to a manager that is pretty new to agile, although he actually likes it, when there is a crisis, they automatically start to micro manage their teams, not only honestly believing they are helping, mostly they don’t even realise they started doing it again.
So next time you help someone with a new process, please co-create it with them and walk a while in their shoes before you do. You will see, your new proces is accepted much faster…
After the strong CoachRetreats year in 2013, Oana and me slowed down a little. That resulted in only 6 CoachRetreats in 2014. The good part for me, is that these happened without any support of me. Self-organisation at it’s best. Now it’s time to find more people to organize CoachRetreats in other cities/countries. A big thank you to Oana and all local organizers for all their work in 2014.
As you can see in this years video, I did a presentation with my 12 year old son at Failing.Forward. it was a real nice experiment, especially as he did not yet have English at school and the conference was in English. The standing ovation he received at the end, told us it was a successful experiment. You can read about it (in Dutch) here
I have stepped 4.730.443 steps this year. That is 5.795 km, or 601 km less than last year, probably due to the fact I did not run this year. I also had two pair of shoes that completely broke down on me. Even when I was living of wellfare, I never had that. I guess the quality of cheap shoes has gone down dramatically… (Sorry Guido, I’m one of these men, who don’t like to spend money on quality shoes..) Or maybe that is because I did 5795 floors, which was 661 more then last year.
This year I found a developer helping me out to relaunch the PairCoaching community site. He has trouble setting up a wiki for the PairCoaching domain. Is there anyone who has experience with a setting up an open wiki, who wants to help out? The PairCoaching community will love you for it.
I started coaching CoderDojo and even took on the role of LeadCoach. My three children joined and two of them have brought in their own friends.
On a personal level, we now have 2 children with a double digit number.
Geike at age 7 already knowing very well what she wants and does not want to do.
Bent going alone to school by bike. Sometimes coming home alone and already studying before we come home.
Joppe going to a bigger school, 7 kilometers by bike with a bunch of friends. What made me most proud was he stayed with a friend who fell on the way to school, risking to be late for a test. Life is all about priorities. He has his priorities right.
The plans for our new home got accepted and although we did lose a lot of time for multiple reasons. We did make a progress and looking forward to see the new house grow this year.
Yet that was not the main reason why this presentation was special.
I had a co-presentor. Now for those who follow me, know I make a lot of publicity for PairCoaching, so having a PairPresentor is also nothing new. What made it special, was it was my 12 year old son who joined me on stage.
And we did the presentation in English. A language he did not learn at school yet. So his English is mainly “television & music” English. Ah, it’s wonderful to live in a country where most television has subtitles and is not dubbed.
During the day and the weeks before I received a lot of questions from friends about this presentation, I wanted to group some of the answers here.
How were you invited to this conference?
As Greet De Keyser said in her presentation, people should ask what they want.
When I saw the program of the Failing.FWD conference, I tweeted something like: Damned this is a conference I would have wanted to talk. And then Karen one of the organizers replied: oh you were on our list and we still have an open spot. Getting what you want, is that simple!
Did they agree on bringing your son? This is a nice example of “asking for forgiveness instead of begging for permission“. I’m a professional speaker. It’s my responsibility to make a great talk. I don’t need to ask people if the content or style of my talk is ok.
yes, I did tell Karen I wanted to bring my son and I told her it was possible that he would be on stage with me. I guess, she trusted me. A BIGTHANKYOU to Karen, Ann and the full Failing.FWD team for trusting me.
How did you prepare?
The million dollar question.
After I got accepted and before I started to prepare my talk, I received an e-mail from Joppe’s school that the school would be on strike. So I asked Joppe if he wanted to join me in going to a conference -that was in English-. I assumed his English would have been good enough to follow a few sessions. He said yes. And he said yes with an enthusiasm, that triggered me in asking him if he wanted to join me on stage. Without blinking he said yes. I replied, you realise we will talk in English, he looked at me and said yes with a big smile on his face. Ah, the youth and it’s innocents enthusiasm.
I prepared this talk like I prepared all my talks.
– I created the draft of the presentation on index cards. (alone)
– Then I rehearsed the presentation using cards (alone) a first time. (And adjusted the cards.)
I did these steps alone, not because I did not trust him.
In 2011 he helped a lot in creating our joined presentation about our life in Bordeaux, I knew having helping me to create the presentation would be a great asset. I did it alone because he still had some large tests at school and my partner did not want that I distracted him. (WorkLife balance is also challenge for him…)
I tried it a few times alone and then talked with Joppe about it. Just like last time, he had some great idea’s and the presentation grew. And then last Friday we rehearsed a few times & some more on Saturday. The first time saturday morning, was one of the first times the rest of the family joined in watching and he froze. he stopped after 5 minutes and refused to continue.
We talked a little bit about what to do when this would happen at the conference.
I still don’t know exactly what happened, yet I don’t want to pressure him in sharing something that scared him. I did tell him to not worry, if it would happen on stage, I would take over.
Next time we rehearsed the whole family was out. Although they came home while we were halfway, this time he continued and everything was fine.
In the meanwhile I was a more worried about the nr of slides (we had already 50 by now.) I got worried because a lama listening to the name Sofie (or is it a Sofie listen to the name Lama?) asked me about the speed of the presentation.
Sofie is the kind of women that with just a few words turns my world up side down (no, not that kind of upside down.)
I’m the kind of man that has a big EGO, yet I also know that I need to listen to women smarter then me. (I live with two of these)
In the dry-runs with Joppe, I realised that Sofie was right. In some places the speed was wrong.
So on Sunday, me and Joppe we worked on the pace and the order of one part of the presentation. Joppe’s help was crucial here, although at first I thought he did not well remember some of his lines, he made me realise that I got some parts mixed up.
So I went back to my walking desk and started to type out that part of the presentation. It was hard, now Joppe & Sofie were independently of each other partnering up “against me”, yet more importantly in favour of a great presentation.
It was already 15:00 and we needed to leave. I had agreed with the people from Failing.FWd we could do a try out on the real stage.
And then everything fell together, yet when we tried it out, I noticed again it was hard to remember the correct order (remember we had already been practising this talk a dozen times.)
And then I did the probably the opposite of what Sofie would have done, I added 3 more slides. And boom, it felt right. No time to rehearse the full presentation. I uploaded the slides to Slideshare, loaded the luggage in the car while dropbox synced and of we left for Genk. We were half an hour late, yet the lovely Ann Dries from Failing.FWD came out to let us practise on the real stage.
I wanted to do this, so Joppe could feel the stage and I hoped that feeling this he would talk louder. Joppe is rather introvert and when he talks to me, while other adults are in the room, I can hardly understand him. Ok, this is probably partly due to hearing loss as a DJ and some other ear damage, yet he talks rather quite. We practised a full Dry Run, without microphones and with my computer in front of us. I asked him to talk louder then he did and probably wanted.
We agreed with An that we would practise another time Monday morning , now with microphones etc etc..
Although lots of things went wrong (I’ll blog about these in the next days), we had a blast on stage.
Joppe spoke loud enough and it felt to me that the audience loved his style, right from the start.
So it was no surprise to me he got a standing ovation of the full audience.
I like this presentation of Emilie about demo’s. In a lot of courses people forget to talk about this. It’s simple to say: do a demo, hold a review. As most teams figure out, doing a demo is a lot of hard work.
For me it seemed that at #ALE14, failing was one of the themes.
When I noticed that many people said: yes talking about failing is easy when it’s only a small failure, but what about a real big failure? That’s the moment I decided to have a lightning talk about the moment I burned down my parents house in 1991.
Yet at #ALE14 talking about it (almost unprepared) on stage and feeling the reactions, made me very emotional.
Thank you. I’m still get tears in my eyes when I think about the support I felt from the audience .
As a thank you, I want to talk some more about failures.
About some of my failures during #ALE14. I learned from the fire that failing is OK. And although I learned that from a big event, I want to use the small failures I made at ALE14 to talk about how I deal with failures now.
It started with my proposal for ALE14.
I made 3 proposals for ALE14. They all needed more work. Work I did not do: FAILURE I
I don’t know exactly why it happened, yet I also did not follow up on these proposals: FAILURE II
I also got feedback on one of them, feedback I did not understand. I asked a question. And did not follow up on that either. > FAILURE III
As a result my sessions got rejected. (One session got resurrected during my holiday, I guess I was lucky)
Last year I did sponsor ALE13 to promote the idea of PairCoaching. This year I forgot to contact the organizers FAILURE IV On top they decided not to contact the old sponsors, and when I found out, I left it like that (FAILURE V)
I knew already for a very long time I wanted to go to ALE in 2014, yet I only booked my plane like in the last week FAILURE VI
At the first edition of ALE, I shared a room with Chris Matts and that was a wonderful experience. So ever since I decided to do this again when I can, only know I completely forgot with who I would share a room this year FAILURE VII
After a day or so and a few embarrassing tweets where I had to acknowledge this, I finally realised I found the person thanks to a message on linkedin and I found back I did that with Sergey (For me FAILURE VIII as I should have realised this earlier)
I thought I had the address of our apartment noted in my agenda, turns out that was of the venue FAILURE IX
The address I did found back while being outside the hotel, was not complete and did not work with google maps FAILURE X
In the end I never paid Sergey (FAILURE XI)
And while writing this blogpost, I realised I still did not mail Sergey to fix this FAILURE XII
Also with Sergey we hardly talked when we came at the apartment so my apartment sharing did not get the results as before . that is because we did not really exchange expectations FAILURE XIII
When I arrived in Krakow I was extremely tired and most of the first day, I felt I was in zombie mode FAILURE XIV
At the last day, when I did my 30 second pitch for my talk, I asked people to think about a bad habit, and then I asked them to share it with a neighbour. That was bad. I should have said: if you feel comfortable, it would be nice if you can share it with someone else in the room, that you trust. Asking people to share a bad habit with a random stranger, is good for some people, yet others prefer it do it with someone they know. Thank you Paul Klipp for calling me out on this. > Failure XV
I have not posted the blog post about the ALE14 books yet as I promised. >> FAILURE XVI And the biggest of it all: I did not call my children on the first 2 days while I was at ALE14. >> FAILURE XVII
I can continue for a while like this, and I already know what the default reaction of a lot of people will be: Yves these are not all your fault. Some of them could be blamed on -FILL IN THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BLAME-
I don’t play that game. I prefer to blame myself. Not because I’m on the SHAME stage of the responsibility model.
I do that because if I look at a situation from a point of view that I failed, I can also see what action I can take to avoid this in the future.
And that is the game I’m playing.
This is why I like to say: “blame it on me”, some people think it’s a joke. It’s not. I like to be blamed. Especially when the critic is concrete. That means I can look at the situation, see my part in it and turn it around.
Working together with a person and a team, goes much better when trust is higher. The agile manifesto says it prefers teams that are physically together .
And for a long time I was convinced that for creating a great team, you had to put the people together. Yet gradually I saw (and worked with) great teams that were not physically together.
It took me a while to realise that what was really needed was trust. And yes the easiest and most know way to build trust, is being physically together all the time.
So let me be very clear, I am in no way advocating to be less physically together.
Yet in this global world, sometimes the best people to work with (best in every possible way) are living in another continent. And then, we have to look at different ways to create trust.
I that sense agile teams can learn a lot from open source teams. Most open source teams work in a distributed way. From what I understand, some (even among the best OS teams) have never met.
The last years I created a few community projects, while not all have been huge successes , I think it’s fair to say that most collaborations worked well and in some we even had huge trust.
The strange part (for me) is that I don’t consider all these collaborations work of a team. That is, for some projects, people never really work together, they all work independently. For me that is one of the necessary aspects of distributed work: split the work in small independent pieces.
In all cases there was high trust in the core team. And for me, I considered my main task in building trust between me and the core team members.
Would that work be easier when people are in the same room?
And haven’t you met the full core team personally yourself?
In most cases yes. yet not always.
The details of the how will be for another post, yet my core aspect in it, is I start by trusting them by default. If I consider I want to work with someone, I need to trust them. And I ask them what they want to do.
But Yves what if they are not trust worthy ? Well their work will tell me.
Yes I had people who promised me a lot, and delivered nothing (or close to nothing). Yet that was clear very fast. And the more a person delivered, the bigger the trust that build in the team.
What about arguments?
Well people who I have never met, will indeed faster think that discussions means lack of trust. For me it’s even the opposite. People I don’t trust, I don’t even argue with them. I stop working with them. There are smarter ways then discussion and arguments, yet every team needs techniques to deal with multiple opinions.
These days we have a lot of technical tools that help to enhance communication.
It’s important to realise that we also have trust building tools like: