Archive for June, 2010


At ACCD10 one of the sessions was a Marshmellow Challenge. This TED talk shares some of the lessons learned about the nature of collaboration.

As an agile coach and Core Trainer, I’m not surprised that the best results are created by teams that are working in small iterations. (Not aiming for the single right plan.)

Also interesting is that CEO’s become a lot better when executive admins are added. (Because they have facilitation skills..) Interesting that is why facilitating skills are so important for Scrum masters.

Warning: sales pitch ahead… 😉

After read Software for Your Head (or better trying to read the book the second time) I wanted to go to a McCarthy Bootcamp.

The only BootCamps they had at the time were in the States. Flying to the states made the course a lot more expensive for me. Nevertheless, In 2005 I went to a one. It turned out to be a triple one. (3* 20 people getting trained.) It had a big impact on both my professional and personal life.

I liked it so much, I started to organize them myself in Europe. In November 2007 I organized the first European Bootcamp. Although I had some challenges to organize it. (Jim got a heart attack just before the training), the training was a succes. So much that the next few European bootcamps organized themselves.

In 2009 I focussed on consultancy and this year I got a few request to reorganize a European bootcamp.
Today I’m announcing the next European McCarthy Bootcamp.

From 5 September till 10 September in Cromac France

If you are interested, hurry up as some people have already find out through the website, before I even announced it.

I guess my Core protocol article for Methods and Tools has something to do with it. Thank you Franco.

Already a few years I’m reading the internet magazine "Methods And Tools"
When Franco asked me this year if I wanted to write an article for the summer edition, I was delighted.

Very quickly I was stuck. Jim and Michele had written Software for Your Head. It took me 5 serious attempts to read the book. I only did this because I loved Jims earlier work
The idea of the core, I liked from the start, but I could not get it. (Or I was afraid to try it.) My first bootcamp changed made me understand what was the core. When someone like Jim who wrote a great book before had failed writting a book about the core. Who was I to claim to be better?

I realized I wanted to do this with a team. So I asked a few booted people if they wanted to help me. Lot’s of great idea’s where gathered, but again the article did not get started.Then one day I was in the car while my wife was driving us to some great place to visit in France , I started writing,  … I was happy I had started. I knew I was in a flow.

I still was not happy about the format. Before I finished what I had to say, I got a great idea about making it a conversation. And before I even had the time to finish my rewrite, Emmanuel Gaillot pushed me some do the conversation in a more natural flow.

In retrospect it would have been better to finish one version and then perfect it to another version and then another one.  At least I would always have a version to publish. On the other side I would have wasted time writing it in a way I already knew I was not happy to publish it.

At the same time I was writing the article, multiple people where editing and changing my language into understandable English. I started by asking perfection games to diffent people, then I realized I trusted them enough to give them full editing acces  to my document.
This is when google docs showed his full force to me. At multiple time we had 3 or more people editing the same document. (In total we had more then 3000 versions)

Most of the people that helped me out where that are using the core. I also asked for help from agile guru’s  when I started mixing agile and core idea’s.  On top of the questions I asked I got some great advise on how I could make the text even more readable.

In the end 14 people helped me out. (And that is only the people that had read write acces to the document, much more people had given feedback on printed versions.)

In order of the time people got involved:
Jim & Michele MccarthyEls Ryssen, Paul Reeves, Emmanuel Gaillot, Christophe Thibaut, Adam Feuer, Ralph Miarka, Mary Poppendieck,Gino Marckx,Alistair Cockburn,Philip Almey, Lillian Nijboer, Esther Derby.

One thing I regret, is that the article does not mention the agile games group I created last week.

I hope you enjoy the article:

Update: The text version can be found here.

Please tell me what you think of the conversation style we used. Does it distract you, does it keep your attention?
Anything else? please leave a comment…

Ken says that school kils creativity because making mistakes is considered bad.

I would  add that working together is illegal in school. It’s called cheating. In our industry, we need people to work together and be creative.

This is one of the reasons why I love using game to teach agile. For me this encourage people to use other parts of their brain.

Today I am wearing the t-shirt of AgileEE 2009

As by coincidence, they published a video online about last year, to make publicity for this year.

Agileee is calling you! from Alexey Krivitsky on Vimeo.

I enjoyed the conference a lot last year. I told  Alexey and Nataly I’m looking forward to be speaking therr this year again.

Today I was watching a deck of cards created by Industrial Logic

It made me think of something I had been thinking for a very long time.

In the agile community we use a lot of games.

We have:

I wondered if there was a mailing list for Agile Games. I had been looking before but never found one.  So after a brief check on twitter, I created one myself.

We now have a google group to talk about agile games

In just a few hours already 66 people joined me on the list and are talking about the first agile games they played.
We have a nice diversity of people: people that have created some of these first games, others that are facilitating and even people that never played an agile game but are eager to do so…

People from Argentinia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, UK, US and that is just from the people I know…

All of that thanks to lot’s of people on twitter that retweeted my message.

I hope you join us also

Google Groups
Subscribe to AgileGames
Visit this group


An old scrum exercise, still helpfull for new scrum masters and teams. The rules to play this with your team can be found at William Wake’s site: Scrum from hell.

Technorati Tags:,Agile,Standup

When I started my own company one of the reasons was, I wanted to educate myself more then the average company would let me do. I set my goal to spend between 10% and 20% of my revenu (not profit) on educating myself. For this I am traveling the world to learn from the best.
Next to all the conferences I went to, I was in training classes from Joseph Pelrine (Csm), David Hussman(Coaching), Jeff Patton(csp), Robin Dymond(csm), Mike Cohn(user stories + Agile Planning), Rachel Davies (retrospectives), Emmanuel Gaillot(Retrospectives), Vera Peeters, Pascal Van Cauwenberghe, Jim and Michelle McCarthy(Core Protocols), Dr Covey sr(seven habits), Dr Covey Jr(the speed of trust).
(sorry if I forgot your name).
I also did a 1 year training on leadership and a two year training on Gestalt therapy. I try to read 30 pages a day. (that is harder since I have kids).

I even did a Prince2 training, to understand it better.

Of course I also learned a lot of PairCoaching together with people like Ignace Hanoulle, Els Ryssen, Jim & Michele Mccarthy, Paul Reeves, Victoria Gray, Pascal Van Cauwenberghe, Vera Peeters, Johan Peeters, Xavier Quesada, Joke Vandermaele, Jef Cumps,Tiago Garcez, Michael Sahota, Deborah Preuss, Ralp Miarka, Jurgen De Smet, Robin Dymond, Philippe Launay. (I limited this list to agile people)

If my clients are happy that is because of these people. These were all courses I have selected.

And I do have more ideas:

Aye conference (when they organize it when I can go without missing my son’s birthday)

Innovation Games





Appreciative inquiries

Improvisation theater

Mastering the requirements workshop


Finish my gestalt therapy course

People I wish to follow at least a one day workshop from:
David Anderson, Alistair Cockburn, Lisa crispin, Esther Derby,Jutta Eckstein, Henrik Kniberg, Alexey Krivitsky, Diana Larsen, Tom and Mary Poppendieck,JB, Johanna Rothman, Jean Tabaka, Mateo vaccarini

These are the agile trainers and techniques I could come up with in 5 minutes.

I know I have forgotten a lot that I would add if I think longer, but that is not my point, I believe very much in you don’t know what you don’t know and in open communication, customer collaboration. Will you tell me what course you think I’m still missing? What is the course you love or can’t afford to go to?Where do you want me to spend money on?


A few projects back, I was working with a team, that had a build server, they had automated tests, but they did not seem to care about them. At least not as much as I wanted them to care about them.

Mm, how do I motivate teams to care about their builds?


One of the things I came up with, was a Croissant build.

A croissant build is when we had enough checkins during the day (that was the teams size + 1) (yes I know that is not much, but I have to start somewhere)


And the build was never red (broken build) for more then 30 minutes

or yellow (failed tests)  for more then 1 hour.

I as a scrum master brought croissants the next day.

It helped to show people how I important I found the build (I paid the croissants out of my personal money)


What I don’t like about it, is that it thinks that motivation is extrensic, where I know it is intrinsic. To have less of this problem, next time I use this, I will ask the team what they define as a croissant build.


Question I received after explaining this to other people:

1) Shouldn’t a build be green/blue all the time?

Not in my opinion, if a builds stays green all the time people have been too carefull.

(hence are not innovative enough)


2) They run all tests on their machine and see if it is broken there.

True I want people to run test locally. But I prefer them to run the test of the modules that the are working on. Not all tests, all the time.


3) Should they not run all test before checking in?

Well I want people to check in as fast as possible:

    • Write a test
    • Make it green
    • Refactor.
    • Run the related tests
    • Do a get
    • Run the related tests
    • Checkin


4) My team has to much trouble syncing, when we checkin more often, won’t be have more problems?

Yes and no. You might have more often a problem, but the problems will be smaller and easier to solve. So the time you loose will be less. (On team level) On a personal level, the faster you check in, the bigger the chance is that you won’t have the problem but somebody else (who is waiting too long to check in.)

So no reason not to check in early.


5) What if after a while my teams get’s croissants every day, that is expensive.

You make the rules stricter.

Now it is

-more checkin’s every day

-less time to fix (this depends on the time the builds run)

-same rules but now for a week, instead of a day

-let them come up with some rules.

I’m actively involved in a group called Diversity in Agile.

When we announced our first release, focussing on women we got a lot of strong reactions, both negative and positive.

Someone (Sorry I forgot where I read it, tell me who you are and I link back) said an interesting thing:

He said when my daughter would get an award for doing a math exercise correct, were all the boys in her class had the same result, I would be upset.

When I read it, I felt like, yes me too.  It stayed in my head.


When I was home last night, putting my daughter to bed, I realized why.

I have two boys 7 and 5 and a 2,5 year old daughter. Ever since she was a baby, my daughter loved pink. A real girl. We saw the difference right from the start. Geike will come to me every day to show her dress and ask me ‘beautifull?’ or ‘sexy?’.

I keep telling her, I find her beautiful no matter what clothes she wears. Last night she did something cleaver with a book and I told her she was smart. She did not want to hear it.

What I notice is that this little 2,5 year old, keeps asking for confirmation on how she looks, but does not like it when I give her similar confirmation on her intellect.

All that said, Geike is the most geeky of all three. She will play with phone’s, computers everything she can get her hands on.


That experience made me link 2 things:

– The report that was published yesterday: Why so few women?

– And the In Search of meaning video I posted earlier.

In the research they say that women/girls are not that much encouraged (as boys) for their math skills, but when they are encouraged, you see much higher percentage of women doing science. In the video Victor Frankl shows that you have to aim for a higher target to get where you want to be.

If I combine these two I would say, yes you need to give girls some kind of awards for doing something at the same level of boys.

Before everyone jumps all over me, I agree this sounds wrong to me.

I does show that we should be very careful at how we say things to women and girls from a very early age. I do this with my children and it is damn hard.

(It is also a reason why I will not make a comment about a new look of colleagues, even though I know some like that.)

Back to the diversity in agile project. When we prepared our first project, we had lot’s of discussion internally because we did not want to make it an award.

The first release we are executing now: interview 12 women and show these video’s at agile 2010. (We will use other media also)

Some of the other wilder idea’s are create some visual network of people (not just women) to see how is connecting to who, just an idea not yet clear how to do this, give us some iterations to figure this out.
I admit. We made some crucial mistakes when this was announced. I did not see them before. (I like to take action and adapt based on the feedback.)

We used the word nomination. It looks like most people link nomination with an award. I can see that. We changed that.

We call part of  the website YourTeamNeedsWomen. That gives the impression to some people that it is against men. I can see why.


When I take a few steps back, I see also something very funny.

– Last year, there was a whole war going on on Twitter, when the PaskAward (you can find the FAQ around the Pask Award here.) was given. Reason: again no women that received the award. The reaction from the jury was: we did not receive any candidates that did something that deserved the award.(That is what I recall, sorry if I misquote this.) I wanted to assume that was true and at the same time it was strange that for 5 years in a row, no woman did receive the award.

– A lot (all ?) of the strong reactions agains “Diversity in Agile” I see, is that people say you can’t create an award just for women.
==> See a similarity in these discussions?

We agile community we don’t like awarding people for what they do.

I know that the PaskAward committee is thinking about stopping it.

As I commented on that blog, I don’t think they should. I do think they should listen to some of the critiques they get. I will add some more energy here: Damn it, don’t give up , that is too easy.

All of this reminds me about one thing what I like about the agile community but what I see us failing in all so often.
Respect for people. This is not in words part of the agile manifesto, but I think most people would agree with me, it is there in spirit.

The principle that comes closest:

Build projects around motivated individuals. 
Give them the environment and support they need, 
and trust them to get the job done.

Me: I believe in this principle. And it might be a reason why I don’t send enough positive vibes to agile community projects I like, and I do send things I don’t like. (I want to send more positive energy, but I know I failed at that.)


I know that for the Diversity in Agile project we do want more people helping out and finding the right way to support diversity.

So if you have idea’s please join the discussions on the google group.

If you don’t have the time and energy, we still would love to hear your idea’s, but think about this principle and send us a perfection game and then let us decide what to do with it.