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.


The people that know me, know, I have been talking very openly about this event for years. I even did a talk at a few agile conferences called: what I learned from burning down my parents house.

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 happend, 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 adres of our apartment noted in my agenda, turns out that was of the venue FAILURE IX

The adres 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.

So, where did you fail lately?

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?

Yes.

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:

 

Once you know how to create a team using trust, you can think about distribution or scaling. If you haven’t figured out to build a team with trust, colocation will only help partially…

A few days ago, my twitter friend (How do we call this, a Twiend?) Lamazone, asked the question:

“Dear entrepreneurs , young and experienced, how do you network?”

She received some great answers, yet I noticed that I network in a different way.
When I look at networking, I never see this as a way to find new customers. For me, networking is about connecting with people. Getting to know new people and learn from them. And in that sense, like Rosemie Callewaert  wrote, you can’t do “no networking”.

On top, I think that networking happens differently for introverts and extroverts.
For clarity, the definition between introvert and extrovert that I use, is where do we get our energy from.

An extrovert, gets her energy from connecting with people.
And introvert, gets her energy from being alone. It’s not that an introvert can’t connect with people. it’s that this costs her a lots of energy.

When I was in school I was  100% introvert, I spend most of my personal time alone reading books.
Today, I  have changed a bit in a sense that how I behave really depends on the context.

In some context, I will go back to my old behaviour and I need alone time to charge energy.
In another context, f ex an agile conference, with a lot of friends, I will spend hours talking, discussing etc…
In contrast to a full introvert, at agile conferences, I will actually get energy from these discussions. Which is why I can hang around in a bar till 3 am, and get up at 7 am, full of energy. (the fact I don’t drink any alcohol helps too ;-) )

Another aspect that has a huge impact on how I network, is my personal situation:

As a father I want to spend a part of my time with my three rather young children (11,9,6).
On top of that my partner works with people who have autism and is doing that also at evenings and weekends.
Since 1998, I have my own company, which means that next to networking, I also need to work for clients and run my own business.
Some of my friends say that work-life balance does not exist. And yes, I do believe that all aspects of my life are mingled. (Or fused as Jurgen calls it so nicely.)
And yet, I have to prioritise where I spend my time on.
When my wife has an evening, shift, I can’t put my kids in bed and be at evening event.
This means that integrating work-life has some limits for me (this might be different from you)

And thus I started looking for other ways to network. Either take my family with me, or find ways how I can do some of the networking at other moments, or from home.
This is the list I gave to Sofie.

A: At the clients I work, I  have lunch with people. One on one conversations to build relations.
I go very far in that, I have lunch with people from my teams, yet also outside these teams. Most of the time I pay for these lunches. I learn something in most of the lunches.

B: lunch with a not so stranger: at least once a month, I have lunch with people I used to meet professionally. Having lunch during the day, is now working better then going to evening events. (I used to prefer these on the nights my partner was working late, now I take care of my kids…)

C: I follow a lot of courses, both in as outside my expertise. Partly to learn, partly to meet people with who I share an interest. (As Ine Matuvu Dehandschutter said)

D: I give a lot of presentations myself. After them people come to me. And they ask me things, makes it easier when I am in an introverted mood.

E: I give Free Life Time support on everything I do. That way I help people and my network grows.

F: When people ask me a question, I first wonder, who would be a better person to answer this question. When I find someone, I link these people.  Even if I don’t know the person who I think could have a better answer. This way I make my network stronger and I delegate work. (Which is how I keep my own time under control) When the other person does not want to answer, I will still give an answer. yet that happens les then 20% of the time.

G: I’m active on mailing lists and other online groups, to answer questions from people.

H: Because of conferences and mailing lists, most of my network is outside Belgium. I stay connected with them using twitter and facebook. It’s not as good as having a coffee or lunch, yet it keeps a high trust relation with many people.

I: When I read a book I like, I keep a log of things I don’t understand while reading. When thing are not answered at the end (which usually is, as I ‘m not the smartest person there is.) then I contact the author and ask her my questions.
Using the author as an extended part of my brain.

J: When people do something I like: I thank them for that. When I can’t do that myself, because of time or place difficulties, I buy a book on amazon that I think they will like. I never tell them it’s coming, I just send it to their office.
(If they like it, I ‘m asking them now to pay it forward and send a book to someone they think does something nice/great.
And yes I even do that with people I have never met.

K: After I had a conversation with someone, I connect with them on linkedin. (yet, I never connect with people I never met.)

L: lean coffee’s: either organise one when I’m at a conference or follow the once that get’s organised in the cities I am.

M: When someone I know, went to an event or training I could no go to, I ask whist she learned there and we have a conversation about that. (Thank you Chris Matts for this powerful trick.)

N: When I meet someone new or see someone back, I try to ask them: what did you recently learn that you think I should learn.

O: I launch a lot of community events, where I actively look who can help me. Learning and connecting while doing still works best for me. In other words, I grow community builders.

P: I look what my problem is and then I ask for help to anyone I think that can help me. Even if that means contacting some famous (agile) person that I never met before on or offline. 80% of the people help me and a lot became friends.
(People sometimes tell me, for you it’s easy as you know all these people. No, I usually don’t know before and NO it’s not easy. I have to overcome my own shininess all the time. (Thank god for e-mail, which makes it easier…)

Q: when I read a book and I love the content and want to learn it better, I make a presentation about it. Explaining something from someone else, makes me understand it better. And it helps me connecting with new people. A huge thank you to Pascal Van Cauwenberghe for that.

R: I don’t look to create my own content, I prefer to work as a ThoughtJockey and promote idea’s of others.

S: when I go to a conference, when my family can’t join, I share a room with anyone. There is something magic about sharing a room (and if needed a bed..)

T: I try to listen more then talking, which I don’t always succeed, as this post is a nice example of ;-)

U: I also share my mistakes. Nothing creates more connection as being open about the failures in my life.

V: I create event types like CoachRetreat : where I look for other facilitators who take it around the world.

W: I created a serie of books about interesting people: who is agile

>> Yes that is a lot of ideas: where do I keep time?  Simple, most of these things I can do either on a train or in the evening at home, when my family sleeps. It’s not that nice for my partner I don’t go to bed when she does, yet I do sleep at home most of the nights. That’s a lot more then some of my peer agile friends….
Oh I and I do all of this while walking on my walking desk, which gives me the energy to do this

;-)

 

These are the slides fro my GrowthHacking presentation about hacking my eduction.

 

What a year 2013 has been.

At it’s start, I thought this was going to be a slow year.

 It started with a client who had financial troubles. As any coach will tell you, it does not make any sense to help people working better together, when they worry if they can keep their job.

And yet I had faith for my business, although that could have been inspired by visiting the holy wall in Israel before delivering a personal agility workshop ;-)

And what a year it became…

  • We have published on Retroflection one tweet every day to make people think. Started on the 1ste of Januari 2010 and still going strong.
    A big thanks to our 58 people big Retroflection team. (That said I always look for people who can bring new questions and statements …)
  • We had 9 CoachRetreats organized in 6 countries. A HUGE thank you to Oana Juncu who is the driving force behind this.
    Another big thanks (just a little bit smaller then the one for Oana) for all the local organizers.
    As already 4 CoachRetreat’s are planned for the start of 2014, CoachRetreat seems to take off. My personal goal for 2014, is to train as many women CoachRetreat facilitators as men.
  • ThoughtJockey.org was launched as a trust experience and so far, I can still stand behing what is written.
  • Thanks to some more help, 3 more books were published with my name on it.
  •  A client where I did a small assignment to help a team split in two, turned into a big assignment. We started a re-organization of a 150 people company. I have now trained 4 feature teams and started a traject with the executive committee. A big thank you to Hans Vranken (CEO) & Nathalie Servranckx (CIO) for trusting me. An even bigger thanks to the teams doing all the hard work, in ever changing circumstances.
  • We put the PragAuthor.com project in the freezer. I hope to unfreeze it as an open-source project, when my WIP is lower.
  • I helped out my friends of co-learning with 2 Budget Games: one in Aalbeke and one in Heule
    Thank you Jurgen De Smet, Erik Talboom, Luke Hohman ,  all co-facilitators. A big applause for the first time facilitators of the city of Kortrijk. Wow.
    If you like BudgetGames/Innovation games, please contact Luke or me, as we are looking for 1000, yes thousand people for BG in San Jose at the end of Januari 2014)
  • For my personal training, I wanted to learn about Tribes and squads from the sources and I worked a week at Spotify
    A thank you to Henrik Kniberg for bringing me in contact with Spotify. A bigger thank you to Joakim Sunden, Christian Vikström, Jimmy Janlén for letting me around your Spotify teams and learn at the heart of your tribes and squads.
  • Problem Solving Leadership: one of these trainings that has a huge impact, for years to come. Thank you Jerry Weinberg, Johanna Rothman, Esther Derby for such a wonderful experience. Thank you my co-participants for a wonderful week
  • All the conferences that invited me. Thank you for your trust. I had a wonderful time at each and every event I was.
  • Dear smaller clients, I did no have much time for you, yet each of you gave me so much energy and idea’s. Thank you.
  • Personal Coaching session, I’m probably most proud of this work:
    • A person who returned to his previous job after figuring out, that was better suited.
    • A few persons who changed jobs
    • One person moved to another country
    • One person contacted after every coaching session, the next day. He had already done what he had promised to do by the next session and in most cases, had already gone a few steps further.
    • Even better are the people, who found a better work-life-balance and because of that, became more productive.
  • Thanks to my own investment in a walkingdesk, I have stepped + 4.000 KM this year, most of these while working at home.  For those who wonder that is +5.500.000 steps. (This also means I worked to much :-( )
  • I tried to give away the PairCoaching.net domain, I failed to create a community around it.
  • I sponsored ALE2013 to make publicity for the PairCoaching concept 
  • I was blown away by three great books. ( I read more but these three are amazing books)
  • Three great projects I supported this year:
    • RobotTurtles to teach young children (from 3 year old till 10) the basics of programming
    • Programming For kids: a book to teach children (as young as 8 year old) how to programming in Ruby
    • Rethoric: a game to teach people (children + adults) a better way of talking in public

And this is just (yes one of the few places where just is the correct word) the professional side.

On a personal level, we now have 3 children in school.

  • Geike learning how to read and write.
  • Bent working really hard and great at reminding me to slow down.
  • Joppe finding his way in life, enjoying friendship and gradually receiving more freedom.

If I wanted signs that my children will turn out ok, I have now all I need: at the latest family party, they all started dancing and enjoyed it very much. As a parent that is all I want!

As for the relationship with my wife, we did not take that much relational time as we should have. Yet after 17 years I still love my wife. Els let’s go dancing more in 2014.

We will be building a new home in 2014. I hope your life wil be as constructive.

Yves

As I wrote some time ago, the next 2 years, I want to learn by working a week at certain companies. The idea is that working a week at a company, will teach me stuff I can’t learn by following a course. Last week I spend at Spotify.
Usually, when I learn something, it takes me a while to see what I have learned.

This month will be crazy with a reorganisation and a lot of community activities.

As it might take some time to write stuff down, here are already my first impressions:

The question I received most was: how did you get in?

That’s easy. I asked.

Tip.
When you want to know how it is to work at a company, ask your network for help.

  • Spotify invests a lot in making a great working environment
  • Spotify has whiteboard walls everywhere; yep you can take that literally.
  • Meeting rooms have a large screen and video camera, to connect to the other offices
  • Almost all desks can be turned into standup desks. (Unfortunately I saw no walking desks)
  • Don’t bother breaking in to steal machines, the employees that don’t take their laptops with them, they put them in big safes.
  • The company is growing very fast
  • They hire smart people from all around the world.
  • Having a coach lead a retrospective as part of the hiring process is a smart way to learn about her.
  • Spotify is a very creative company, with a lot of ideas.
  • The squads focus mainly on adding value
  • Hackweeks with people from multiple squads seem like a great idea to try something
  • I never saw so many people wearing T-shirts from their company. Lots of people really proud that they are working at Spotify.
  • When I go to my profile page, I (we) can now undelete lists that I mistakenly have deleted.
  • They understand what MVP means. I saw a demo of something a Squad has implemented. A very cool idea, working for only a few bands. Lucky for me, one of them is one of my favorite bands. Unlucky for me, it was only targeted at US customers. From what I understand the way it was implemented, was totally not scalable, yet, they could show how the feature worked.
  • Writing an (interal) improvement game document seems like a good idea.
  • My personal idea, is that their biggest problem is they have more ideas than time and people to make them. (Nothing really surprising. Most companies have that problem.) They attack it by hiring a lot of people and let them work in self-organising squads in sprints.
  • When I go working one week in a company and the weeks before it’s clear that my main contact will be ill, I should make sure I have a backup for my backup contact.
    > On Wednesday, my two main contacts were both ill. I was not prepared for that. In the end, everything was fine, yet I think I could have been more productive for Spotify.
  • I should take more pictures. Now I have ideas of what I should have taken pictures of.

All in all, I was very happy that I did this.

A: the experiment was successful

B: Spotify is an awesome company, and a perfect choice for this experiment

Yesterday the Belgium program Volt had a small item about the walking desk. (Thank you Renaat Toppets for warning me)

 

Let’s do a perfection game on the program.

What I liked:

  • I learned about a company that is selling walking desks in Belgium
  • they let people of a callcenter, actually use the walking desk
  • they have multiple people talk about their experience.
  • they ask the physiotherapist the advantages and disavantages of a walkingdesk
  • they made the the health issues from sitting 8 hours clear
  • they compared sitting a lot and smoking

 

What I would have preferred:

  • They would let multiple people use it for a few days.
  • They make it clear how long the people talking used the desk.
  • Also let people who have are actually users of a walking desk. ( instead of the people who sale the walkdesk)
  • use the word walkingdesk (or treadmill desk) like the rest of the world and not use the local brand name WalkDesk
  • When the physiotherapist talks about the height problem, the height of the walking desk is adjusted, so that the desk is at the correct height for Tatyana.
  • some of the footage shows people walking faster then the minimum speed. I walk almost twice as fast as what they see
  • they use a desk with an electronic lift instead of a manual lift to adjust height.
  • Mark Tijsman would know that although the desk is big, he can have a build-in versions.
  • The computer screens where set up higher.

my experiences about my walking desk, can be found here.

 

 

 

What if you would use #agile 2.0  to build a car and create one in iterations?

23 people, who never build a car, have put a working car together in 2.5 hours. They did not get instruction how to build it, they did get test explanations…

  • OO in manufacturing …
  • publishing code of the car on github and ask developersin the world to make a change…
  • they reduced documentation by pairing
  • they film every demo
  • every thursday, the team gets to play with the cars…
  • automated crash tests
  • 100 dollar houses with a door, a shower etc…
  • When you buy a wikispeed car, you can be the ProductOwner of your car and change the priorities…
  • The future of car manifacturing: R&D will be part of the line
  • Our computer tests are so similar to actual tests, we don’t have to do fysical tests anymore
  • we practise radical trust: our shop is always open.
  • extreme finance: We try to have enough money in the bank for the next week …

Lets look at:

If you like what you saw, please donate 10 dollars to this project.

Ask me again if agile can be used outside software…

I guess wikispeed is one of these companies I want to visit as part of my RemoteCoaching tour

Hé ALE people: what if building a wikispeed car at #ale14 would be the kids program?

if you like the idea: vote for this 

 

 

 

As a coach one of the things I run into a lot is the limited budget that companies have these days for training.

I’m always looking for tricks (let’s call them hacks) that will allow my clients to get more value out of their limited budget.

When I ran public training with PairCoaching.net (Before I gave the domain away), I quickly discovered that hiring public training rooms upfront was not smart for my business. Either the rooms were not needed, when I could not sell a certain training. Or they were too small when I had a huge success.
The hack I discovered at the time was to not book a room and then a week before the training was due, to contact a company I knew, and ask them if they had a training room available for that day and offer them a free place in the class in return.

I discovered this hack, when totally unexpected, I received new subscriptions for a training a few days before it was due. I had no idea what to do with the request. I was ready to send an e-mail to reject the subscription. As a last crazy idea I ask the question on twitter, does anyone have a room available on this date? And less then 5 minutes later, Jo replied to me: I have a board meeting in 5 minutes, let’s talk tomorrow (it was 8 pm at the time)

My luck had turned, instead of rejecting an interesting order, I now would do a training, in an office that is close to my home.
Even better, their office was at 300 meter of my children’s school. I could park my car with my training stuff on their parking lot, take my kids to school, and come back and install myself for the training. But wait, that was just the start, it got even better, during the break of the training, I started talking with Vincent. Vincent had started to work agile at OneAgency. We stayed in touch -remember I give free life time support on every talk I have- and a few years later One Agency became a client.

I’m telling this story because I want to turn on the heat on this way of working.

I know that when I deliver agile training, it’s best to take a team offsite. Teaching a team in an offsite location, changes the dynamic totally.

1) Everyone takes the training more serious

Managers think that when they do a training in-house, they can find the people when there is an emergency. That is 3589% true. Unfortunately in most occasions the interrupts are not emergencies. Sometimes, they are urgent, yet not important. Sometimes important, yet not urgent. Over the 15 years that I give training, the times that an interruption was urgent and important I can count on one hand. And I’m sure that in these rare cases, the people would have been able to contact the people in the room if we would have been offsite.

2) part of an agile training, is also building the team together. An offsite helps in creating such a team.

3) With some of my training, we do crazy stuff. Play with lego or blow up balloons, even -dare I say it-, even talk about emotions. All that stuff works so much better offsite. People are not afraid that the CEO will walk in and ask what they are doing. Especially if the training room is a nice glass room.

4)…

Now in the current economics most companies can’t afford an offsite training anymore.

As a change agent, I understand this dynamic and I want to see if I can’t turn these disadvantages on it’s head.

What if one company would offer their training room for free to another company, that would in return do the same thing for the first company?

It’s like professional CouchSurfing …

What do you think? Are you interested in this?

 

Yves

 

you want to build cool thing: you don’t give them a cool environment.
you give them less time…