Archive for January, 2010

When I work as a trainer, at the beginning of the class I’m asking about my students what they expect from the course.

I write them down on a whiteboard or ask them to write them down on a post-it.

At the end of the course, we go over these and I ask everyone if they got what they wanted out of the course.

When I work as a coach, I discuss upfront with my customer what are the acceptance criteria for my position.
On one of my contracts, I did not have the acceptance criteria after 2/3 of the contract.

Instead of getting pissed of, I made me think about why I wanted AC.

As a developer I like acceptance criteria to look at what I have done and see if what I have done is what the customer wants. And I want this so that people can keep me accountable for what I did.

make your choiceCan this actually be done for the work as a coach? In my experience a change agent (which I think I am as an agile coach) what I end up doing at a company is totally not the same as what we planned for. So having AC for that sounds like a contradiction. Actually it is not, I think it is the same for writing software or even creating a house. Customers don’t know what they want until they see it. That is why in an agile team we do short iterations and demo’s. So that our customers can look at what they are getting and changing the direction. We still write acceptance criteria on the stories for these iteration.

Actually the AC move the customer away from how and bring them back to the what.

When a customer asks ”make my company/team” agile. He is focusing on the how. Agile is just a means to an end.
By asking them to come up with acceptance criteria for what they want me to do I am looking for what they want.

What do you think about this?

Are you using acceptance criteria for other things then users stories and what is you experience with that?

Update: For me this is totally in sync with Begin with the end in mind from Dr Covey

On the 1st of January of 2010 I launched the Agile Retroflection of the Day initiative.
Instead of waiting until I had the perfect idea, I launched it right away and I wanted to change it based on the feedback I got.
The feedback I heard most, was that "the rules" were to complicated.

So this is Version 3. An attempt to make it simpler. A big kudos to Deborah and Mike for helping me with doing that. 

-I tweet the retroflection question on Twitter in the morning
-You use the question (for yourself, at work, with others)
-Write down your story of how you used the question / what happened
– send me a tweet or email with
   – where you have written your story (blog, tweet, comment, etc)
   – your suggested "next question". Open ended questions are preferred, using "what" "how", etc,  not yes/no answers or questions with "why".
-I (re) tweet the link to your story.

Update: on 24 may 2011 an iphone app was released with questions of 2010

When I am delivering an in house training, I give one book for each participant. I prefer to give every person a different book. That way the company organizing the training has already a small library of agile books.

(If I give 10 times the same book it has the advantage of being able to start with a book reading club)

this is my current list of books that I distributed with an agile kick start training.

1 eXtreme Programming explained : Kent Beck

2 Agile Software development with Scrum: Ken Schwaber

3 The Toyota Way: Jeffrey Liker

4 User Stories: Mike Cohn

5 Lean Toolkit: Poppendiecks

6 Agile Coaching Liz Sedley and Rachel Davies

7 Agile Retrospectives Esther Derby and Diana Larsen

8 Working Effectively with Legacy Code: Michael Feathers

9 Scaling Lean & Agile development: Thinking and organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum Craig Larman and Bas Vodde

10 Agile Estimating and Planning: Mike Cohn

The intention is to deliver them a set of agile books with the basis stuff in it. And at the same time show them different ways.

So what books do you think should be in the library of agile teams?


As not all teams are big and need to scale, I sometimes take out Craig and Bas book and replace it by

The pragmatic Programmer Andy Hunt & Dave Thomas

I like both books. Although I think “Scaling lean” has so many tips that also small teams can use, the feedback I had was that it’s a book that small teams don’t pick up that fast.

I also sometimes replace The Toyota way with
Slack from Tom Demarco
The reason is that they are both very good general books (not just for software companies) and The Poppendieck book is already a good introduction to Lean for a software team.

Update: check out my list of books on librarything

At the end of 2007 and 2008 we made videos about these years as a kind of new years card.
This is last years video.
Click here for the high quality version on YouTube

It took a little longer as I started the Agile Retrospection of the Year.

Technorati Tags: ,,PairCoaching

On the first of January I started the agile retroflection of the day series.

You can read about the original idea here. We are less then one week far and I’m already writing about version 2.0. (who says we can’t upgrade in production? 😉 )

Update: Version 3 was just published

Yesterday Simon assumed that only one person was allowed to write down an opinion. That is not true. I actually would love to see multiple people writing about the same topic on the same day. I have been thinking about launching multiple opinion threads. I am afraid if I create more then one threat that one of them would die because persons would always know someone else was also writing about it.

While I was thinking about this, a crazy idea came to my mind. Why not create a male and a female answering thread.
I’m one of these men that promotes women working in agile. (to not get sidetracked on why, I promise to write about why later.)

So these are the new rules:

  • you have been asked and you want to write about the next topic (you don’t know yet what it will be). Tell the requester ASAP if you want to do it or not (if you know someone else ask that person.)
  • At the beginning of your day
    • read my tweet to know the retroflection of the day (I don’t send it by e-mail)
    • Ask a same sex person if he/she wants to answer the next one.
      • do this ASAP as this will help you finding someone else in time. When that person can’t do it tomorrow.
      • If it is Friday that is even more important so that we can warn both the Saturday and Sunday person (the hardest days to find someone)
      • Send me an e-mail with who has accepted it. With his/her e-mail twitter account, blog link
    • Blog your answer
    • tweet a link to your answer to @retroflection.
    • send me at least one retroflection I can add to my pool.

Other then the sex there are no restrictions on who can answer. You don’t need to be a coach. I love to see team members like developer and testers answer these questions. Just like PO and SM’s that are no coaches. (I want to hear much more stories from the trenches)

It’s tempting to start a threat just for these people. I’m not doing that because the people I want to hear, are on a project for a long time, and that might make it hard to select a larger number of different people to respond (yes I know that is judgmental of me)

If you are do have an opinion about a topic and are not selected, please don’t feel restricted. I think it would be lovely to have a lot of people blogging about the same topic. For one it tells it is a great retroflection, so hopefully it encourages more people think about it. And if more people are blogging about it, when people read multiple opinions they even think harder about it.

I from my site will  link the blogs on Delicious and add the people to the Retroflection Opinions list.

At this moment the women are behind a few opinions. Yes I want them to start from the first tweet, this way we have a lot of opinions. And with only 5 opinions to catch up that should happen pretty fast.

Update: On 24 May 2011 an iPhone app was released with the questions of 2010


On my desk I have a set of cards from FranklinCovey.
Every day I select a new card at random. Whatever the message on the card, I try to make this the motto of my day.

This year, I want to create a similar experience for agilists around the world. That is why I created a Twitter Account for an agile Retroflection of the Day.

Every day in 2010 I will tweet one message to think about in your team, company, life,…
It will be general questions and very specific ones.

I also hope to find an agilist every day that wants to blog his “answer/opinion” to the retroflection of the day.

If you have idea’s, remarks or want to be one of the coaches that blog an answer feel free to mail me at retroflection at

Update: A short chat with Mike Sutton made this idea a lot better.
This is the version One:

I tweet a retroflection.
An agilists writes an opinion on his blog.
He sends me the link to his opinion. He sends me a new retroflection. And the name, e-adres of another agilist that wants to answer another retroflection.
(He has to check this.)
I’m tweeting the link to the opinion.
I add the retroflection to my pool of retroflections

The next day I will tweet a retroflection out of my pool. I will send a link to the new volunteer.
When she posts her opinion and send it to me I will tweet this also and add her retroflection to my pool…

==> UPDATE 2.0 See my newer post for the version 2.0
==> UPDATE 3.0 See my newer post for the version 3.0

I hope you will follow our list of retroflections on twitter.

Update: On 24 May 2011 an Iphone app was released with the Retroflection questions of 2010