Archive for July, 2010

Smart Design: The Breakup Letter from Smart Design on Vimeo.

Also read Jean Tabaka‘s: LoveLetter that was inspired by this technique


Thanks to a tweet from TomMertens I found this TED video. Barry’s book is sitting at my desk. As the GameStorming book might arrive too late to read on the plane to Agile2010, this might be a good replacement.

Twitter – Murder Bittorrent Deploy System from Larry Gadea on Vimeo.

The upcomming book from Dave Gray & Co sure looks interesting.


The web connects the globe, but most of us end up hearing mainly from people just like ourselves. Blogger and technologist Ethan Zuckerman wants to help share the stories of the whole wide world. He talks about clever strategies to open up your Twitter world and read the news in languages you don’t even know.

As I live in France, I notice the same thing. If I check news sites, I mostly check Belgium sites.

What has this to do with agile? As an agile coach for a globally distributed company, one of the things I do is create bridges between the different teams.

What I will be thinking about today is:

The trouble with bridges is:” you need people that want to cross them.”

Cultural change is free from Mindfields College on Vimeo.

John Seddon explains why targets make organisations worse and controlling costs makes costs higher.
This elegant dissection of the organisational madness that pervades our culture was given at the 2009 conference of the Human Givens Institute.
Target Obsession Disorder laid bare.

Very funny speaker, that makes me thinking about my work as a coach.
Most used word: it’s absurt
– you want someone to do a good job, design a good job
– Electricity and telephone is the same, except in one you don’t tough the wire
– this is how change in the public sector is done:ideological, not emprical and wrong
– cost is not in activity, cost is in flow
– managers believe in standardization because ihey think it gives them control , that is not true, it creates waste
– targets make your system worse
– you can’t do the wrong thing right
– S.M.A.R.T.: why not D.U.M.B
– we are now using the brain not to survive in the system but the
– three things every manager needs to know about targets
* targets make things worse always
* there is no reliable methods for setting a target
* when you use measures derived form the work, in the hands of the workers doing the work: you achieve a level of improvement you never dreamed of setting of a target (that is agile all the way)

– people work harder but are less stressed (mm,watch out for an update on my agile with kids post for more on that.)
– when you change the system, their behavior changes
– have you ever seen a 5 years plan to say: we are getting worse
– you can’t get rid of waste, without knowing what causes it
-we need human solutions to human problems

I am convinced that all kinds of diversity, helps teams to better achieve what they have to achieve.
I blogged earlier about diversity in Agile
this slideshow (that I picked up from a Brad Felt blogpost, explains why some of the general idea’s is wrong about math and IT.

This makes me think about a part of the book blink, the chapter where Malcom talks about the IAT tests on how we link black and white people to good and bad. A student that took that test daily all of a sudden had a different score (which was a very unusuall), it turned out he had looked at the olympics before the test. If we are surrounded by examples, our brain sees the world different; Now that is why I work on the diversity in agile project.


Nice talk from David Hussman
Great quotes:

  • A skeptic wants to learn: a cynic has lost hope.
  • When estimates become promises, fear comes to live.
  • a daily assassination
  • After explaining for the sixteen time what a story point is, I thought was is the point…
  • Listen to your customer, don’t always do what they say(Alan Cooper)
  • How long does it take for an agile team to find their groove: 4 iterations. (Ward Cunnigham)
  • he explains ways to use red and green cards similar to referee cards
  • the agile mountain
  • the only code that has no bugs is no code
  • it was a social norm to lie to each other: did you test that? “yeah I tested that”
  • When you break up the rolling stones, you don’t get 5 super band, you get a bunch of old guys…

I started to create the blog post this the talk before I heared the whole talk, why? because I trust David.

Sometimes when I say I use agile idea’s to raise my kids, people look at me like I’m totally crazy.
Although I don’t want to go into that,  I do want to explain a little more what I mean with using agile to raise my kids.

For me agile is about giving a team the tools to become self organizing and to take responsibility.
The same philosophy I used to raise my  kids.

No I’m not a person that gives his 7 year old the right to do anything he wants. Just as any parent, I have my command-and-control moments & I also have moments I gave my kids too much freedom and not enough support.

Recently we started using an actual scrum technique for helping Joppe (7 year old) with his homework. When we moved to Bordeaux, he got a large amount of books and assignments from his Belgium school. This had to keep him in sync with their work, so he can stay in his class next year.

Although it was a large amount, we never actually counted the pages that needed to be done. (As I said sometimes I don’t give enough support.)

Every Wednesday when there was no school in France) my wife helped Joppe to do more homework as on the others days. Although he liked doing the work, getting started was never easy (Not even when he asked to do some more work.)

A few weeks ago, Els told me, she was afraid he might not finish everything.
I started at the same place where I would start with a scrum team.

Facing reality!
What is the work that needs to be done? Joppe and I started counting the pages in all the books.
8 books with in total
884 pages that had to be done this year. Wow, I never realized that  7 year old kids do so much work in a year; (And that is not counting the books he finished in Belgium)

We then counted the pages he had already done (or better the pages still left to do.)
286 Ok that is a lot less.
(We have no idea how much of these 600 pages he did in Belgium and how much here in Bordeaux.)
Although the work is coming from 8 different books, we thread them all as one list. (As one product backlog.)

And yes we know that filling in a math page will take him longer as reading some dutch. We ignored that fact, and look at each page as the same. (Mainly because the effort to find this out, is too much compared to the benefits.)
(yes some scrum teams are doing the same.)
We now know the ultimate end date. 2010/08/31 (The next day joppe will go to his old class in Belgium)

That gave us 286/70 (number of days)  = 4 pages a day. That was the amount of pages, Els aimed for the Wednesday. But in this case that was for every day. I started to see why we felt he was getting behind.
Doing 4 pages a day also was a big risk. Then he would not have any slack + no holiday.
We actually wanted him to finish the 2010/07/31
That gives us 7 pages a day.
Once Joppe knew this, everything became a lot easier; No longer constant pushing and pulling from our side.

Although this was not a target set by him, he felt he could do it and he engaged in the work.
It still is hard to get him started, once he is started on his first page, he will rather go for 10 then for 4 pages.

On top of the target, I also created a burn down chart, that I update to show his progress.
Actually that is not completly true. Joppe keeps track of the pages he does every day &  calculates the total.
(More math exercise, with a real goal.)
We started on a portable whiteboard, the small amount (7 a day) makes it impossible to update.
The google doc version is actually much easier;
I also used the burndown chart to explain the complex topic of sustainable pace.

Update:Next up is start using the referee cards with my kids