This is the video of my presentation with Joppe at Agile Eastern Europe 2015.

The slides can be found here

The last couple of weeks, I have been in a few discussion (on and offline) around the salary of a scrummaster and an agile coach. (Some inspired by our community book on hiring)
In one of these discussions a European company asked me what would be a good salary for their scrummaster. In another a great agile coach (and dear friend of me) wanted to work as a freelance coach in a new country and had no idea what was an acceptable daily rate. Another company was about to start an agile transition and wanted to find the right balance between paying a decent fee and hiring as many great coaches as possible.

The problem that all these people had, was the only decent information they found, came from the USA and did not feel adapted to the rest of the world. And my personal information is, well is just about me and my friends.  And then my friends Sam & Karen launched their salary survey for South-Africa. I thought, why not launch a similar survey but then globally.

And so I did. you can find my globally survey here

Update:
I received a few questions about the survey.

– Who has acces to the raw data?
Me, Karen, Sam. In the future I will probably ask my father to help me with the statistics.

– Where will you publish these statistics?
The statistics will be send out to the mailing list and then published on my blog.
I will only publish data about countries I have at least 10 people. Otherwise it feels like not statistically relevant. And it helps to keep more privacy.

– What about totally transparency of agile?
It’s always a trade off between transparency and privacy. I know that some people hoped on full acces to this data. I also know that others are really scared about giving data about their income away.

– What countries do you have data on?

Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, South-Africa, Spain, Uk, Ukraïne, USA.

Most countries don’t have 10 people yet. So I hope more people will make publicity for it. As I really want to publish some nice data.

Feel free to add your question about the survey below. 

yves

For years my friend Johanna has been pushing me and bugging me and mostly been telling me nicely: yves you should set up a mailing list.
And every time I was convinced, I ended up creating another interactive mailing list to discuss topics I like. Because I preferred interaction over a one way mailing list. Over the years I created these discussion lists.

agile games
Visual problem solving
– Collaboration of topic
Pairworking
CoachRetreat

Until some time ago, leanpub – my favourite publishing tool- decided to no longer support their mailing feature and integrated mailchimp instead.
And thus I created my first real mailinglist and integrated that with the books I was selling.

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This is a video I think all change agents should see.
Quote= “Once you have a rigid way of thinking in your heard, you can’t change that, even if you want that.

What is even more interesting, is when he was able, oh well just watch the video….

I just got back from the first edition of GentM 2015. Today the topic was Social Togetherness.
A topic that I expected to be close to my heart because of one of the speakers Frank Van Massenhove.

I don’t know Frank personally, yet I have heard his story many times and it keep inspiring me.
For those who who don’t know Frank, he turned (one of the) worst FOD (ministries – is that an English word?) around to become one of the hottest places in Belgium to work for.
Inspired by semco, the new working etc…

Many people felt inspired by the talk, yet what also happened was that a few people wondered yeah but would it also work (fill in anything you want…)

Now I have been working as an agile coach for ten years, and more specifically the last 5 years helping large to huge organisations in that role. And then my role is partly a change agent.
Helping to turn an organisation into a new way of working, with a big mindset shift.

I helped companies around EMEA and at the same time I spoke at conferences in many different countries.

Two of the most common reactions I get are:

– yes this is fine in (name another country/company ), but this would not work in (the country /company of the speaker)
– yes this is all nice in theory, but in the real world...

And yes, I have to admit, when I read some books, blogs or hear about company x or y, that I think mm this would not work here.
Well, that never is about the other people, that is me being scared of trying.
And so when you think, what I heard at GentM, or what I read about Semco, or saw in the video of spotify, stop thinking it won’t work here. But look for the smallest step you (not your company, you), can make in that direction.

Thus this mean, I’m never frustrated about where my clients are and the speed they go?
No, I’m always frustrated. I always want to go faster. And that is good because that is my job. The moment I’m happy with where a client is, that means I stayed too long.

The story that Frank told today, is where he is now, and yes it’s the good part. I’m sure there were moments he was frustrated, I’m sure that he still has things he wants to improve and he might even feel they just started. That is not the point.

The first big change assignment I took in a large organisation, I felt frustrated about the speed. I felt frustrated about how little we achieved. I thought I was frustrated because I compared them to what I knew in other companies. It took me a few years to realise that was not really the case.

I compared my clients with:

a imaginary team existing of  
– the best developers from the best teams I worked with
– the best tester from a great team I worked with
– a great scrummaster (who is now working as an agile coach)
– a Product owner that is a combination of two great PO’s I worked with, mixed with the person who taught my PO training and wrote one of the best books on user stories.
– …

mixed with stories I heard at conferences, read online, and hopes I have build up over the years.

so really that is not fair to anyone. None of the teams I have worked with or any of my colleague coaches, will win this comparison. All teams will look pale compare to this imaginary team.

What I started to do instead, is compare my clients to how they were when I joined.
F ex: at my current client, we now have the support of the CIO. That is something that I consider necessary for the kind of change we are trying to achieve now. And I have to admit, one year ago, I did not think we would have this already now. That is a huge achievement.

I can choose to complain about all the possible roadblocks and thing that go slower then I want, and yes I sometimes do that, because I need to let go of my frustration.

yet I love my job, because I am asked to help people to find a better working world.

Just as Frank, I meet a lot of good people that are capable of doing extraordinary things, if we allow them to think. And I know they are capable, because they do it. Unfortunately some of them don’t do it at work, but do it in some kind of volunteer work. And I’m totally not against volunteer work (I’m a coach for coderdojo, and I love helping kids discovering technology), yet I don’t like it when people do voluntary work because they can’t do what they would love to do at work.

 

Ask people their values, give them a why and trust they will figure out the how. (After all you hired them because you thought they were smart.)
Basically treat them as adults.

PS If you think they are behaving as children, ask me at the next GentM, about some of the times I treated my children as adults and what that resulted in… (Thanks Lamazone to ask me the questions that reminded me of these stories…)

The train station in my home town was finished in 1913.

A train station that is 100 years old that means that it’s no longer adapted to the current needs. Meaning, they have to replace the station. Yet a nice building of 100 years old, also means that the building itself is “protected”. (Meaning they can’t destoy the look and feel of certain parts. )
These two together give some interesting dynamics. The project to replace the trainstation is a very interesting project. In this blog post, I’m going to focus on the project management part. It’s interesting because the train station will not close down while they are re-building the station. Or should I say refactoring the trainstation?

Let me explain what they are doing. (If you understand dutch you might want to watch their introduction video)

The original building they will preserve. As the building is part of the unesco world heritage (or something similar)

Yet everything else, all the train tracks, all the platforms and the tunnel below, will be replaced.
Personally I don’t believe in recreating software. Every project I know that rewrote software from scratch, was a near disaster. I once helped to coach teams that would create a software platform, to replace a few websites. (This company had a website for every country they were active in.) The decision was taken a few years before I came to replace everything. They did not want to create a link between the old website and the new one. So replacing bit-by-bit would not be possible. They considered that linking the two security systems would be too expensive. Unfortunatly when they wanted to put the new website life, a lot was not ready. And to keep their deadline, they decided (as I had predicted, 2 years before) to still link the two security systems. Only now that was quickly done, and created it’s own kind of problems.

 

All this to say I prefer to replace software bit by bit. Sprint after sprint, or week after week. I was on a train ride with one of the managers of that same company and we passed this train station, and he proudly said; well agile can’t work for everything, they can’t use agile to re-build this trainstation. I told him that they were actually doing very agile stuff. They had killed platform 12 and kept the whole station running while doing that.

(Ok there was a shutdown for a day or so.)

 

The whole rebuilding of the station will take about 20 years. That can’t be agile.Or can it?  For me agile is about adapting to change. And interaction with your customers.

The replacement of the first platform (12) took much longer than expected. 22 months instead of 18 months.  The engineer who explained all this said: if we would have been able to stop the station it would  have been done earlier. Although I don’t know anything of building trainstations, I doubt that. Most projects take longer as expected. Especially when you are sticking to a plan that is not working. And this is where we come to the most interesting part. They did not stick to the original plan.
IMG_2859

 

For platform 10 & 11, they decided to change the plan. And instead of starting to build the platform from -1 and build it up till +1. They decided to start at ground level (level 0)  and build down and up almost at the same time. That way, they can keep their deadline of 18 months for level +1 (where the platforms are.) I am not sure if this also means they will make the deadline for level -1. And that is not really important, the biggest value for the trainstation is level +1 and level 0. If I remember correct, the lower levels are shops and parking spaces.

 

It’s important to notice that the way the station will look like, won’t change. It’s the techniques that they use to get there. (and probably some of the supporting structures, will be different.)

 

Like any big building that is created, they have a team of architects that are working full time. On a day to day basis this team takes decision on the infrastructure (read architecture) of the building. They don’t stick to a hug premade plan. The adapt.
If this can be done for a trainstation in use, why would that be a problem for your software?

 

  • I read a lot of books, I always have.

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.

Yves:
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…

 

In December 2014 I delivered a keynote at FailingForward.
This one was special for me, as my 12 year old son joined me on stage.

Here are the slides:

I already blogged about the preparation and Joppe’s (big) part in the preparation.