Archive for January, 2011

I talk around the world at conferences about agile, leadership etc.
Getting a session accepted is in itself an art.
When I proposed my first agile session together with my father, years ago at Xpdays benelux. We decided we would propose a session and only when it was accepted we would create the session.
The session was rejected. When looking back at it, they were right. We had only a vague idea.
The rejection gave me a lot of energy and we created what became the very succesfull leadership game.
Before we proposed the game the year after that, we had already played it. And before the conference we did another dry run.

I see the agile 20xx conferences as the big agile conference. Almost like the father of the agile conferences (with Xp20xx as the mother)

Because of that I only propose sessions that I have delivered at other conferences and I know they work.
This year that way of working has given me lots of problems.

I received reviews that troubled me. They troubled me so much that I wanted to withdraw my 3 sessions.
I will use Christopher Avery’s Responsibility proces to explain what happened.

Lay Blame
When I first received some of the remarks, I felt badly treated by some anonym review.
Now I have big respect for reviewers as they have to review somewhere around 40 session proposals.
From these 40, they can only select I think 10 or so for a stage.
That means they will have to reject 3 out of 4 sessions. (The numbers could be higher and the rejection % even much higher)
When you have to reject that many, in my opinion you look for any reason to reject. Instead of helping to improve my session.
The language of some of the reviews (not comments) were not really helpfull.
F ex “put effort in the submision please”, that remark was done on a proposal where I had already spend more then 40 hours.
More, I had already received 5 comments on the session and had adapted my session every time, always within 24 hours. I knew I had put in effort.

Yes I blamed that anonymous reviewer.

Slowly I started to create my story.

  • I did put in a lot of effort
  • The session is already 2 years old, I don’t need my session proposal to create my session as so many other clearly did.
  • I’m not a native English speaker so my English is not good enough
  • I’m concentrating on my new job
  • This year I’m focussing on work/life balance
  • I find the agile games book I’m working on, more important then updating a session proposal
  • If I create more session proposal feedback on a lot of session, maybe I get more feedback that actually helps me to improve my session.

>> All true, but non of these stories did help me to improve my session.

Then I arrived at the island of shame. I might be a good presentor, I’m not good at writing session proposals.They will never accept my sessions at Agile 2011.
Oh yes. I have also a uncertain boy hidden in me. My track record has given me the confidence that I am a good speaker. The hassle I have everytime to get my session accpeted, has not yet given me the confidence to see myself as a good session proposer (especially as every conference has it’s own strange proces) So shame is pupping up every time I propose a session.

Of course that is also not helpful in improving my session.
Somewhere in the proces of twittering about it, I remembered a coaching session I had with my personal coach. Then later that day, I was talking about at my client about  the Responsibility Proces, I realized I had to I started to think about this to see where I was.   Aha but I know that proces, I know I’m on the shame island. Knowing that moved me to the next island.

The next step is obligation. What could be obligation. I did not know. I’m not sure it is because it is a hard step for me or because of the recognition I kinda skipped this step al together. I started to think about writing this blog post.

I think a typical obligation step would be: I followed their proposal proces, I rewrote my proposal taking into account all the comments I got. And still my proposal is bad. I did everything they wanted me to do.

And then it struck me, that is what Lisa Crispin is tweeting me about: yves forget the proposal website, make a video and say what you want to say about the session in your video.

And that is what I have done.  5 minutes after I added the link of the video to my session proposal, an old friend contacted me. After chatting for 2 hours with him about all kind of stuff, I look at my proposal again and a new text flew out of my fingers. I’m much happier with the current proposal of my talk about Trust

That is Responsibility.

I would like to thank

Update: Today I was reminded about the great post that Mitch Lacey did last year.

It’s the time of the year again where I propose sessions for conferences. Agile 2011 is one of the few conferences where I want to speak this year.
(Yes I’m taking my work/life balance serious this year.) Although my partner disagrees, she thinks I’m spending way too much time on these session proposals.
I’m also taking the feedback serious and try to rework what I have. Lisa Crispin poked me to create a video. This is the result.

My proposal can be found at the Agile 2011 submission website

Question: Yves did you realy walk over a fire?
Yves: yes, I followed 3 sessions of firewalking in my life. This is a picture of one of these:

The last few weeks, I have been picking up my life in Belgium again. While I was doing that lot’s of announcements came into my inbox:

Geoff Watts was interested in following a course on Visual Facilitation and decided he would organize it himself.

I have huge respect for this kind of course organization; (Done a few of these myself.)

Here is his announcement:


    • As subscribers to the site, I thought you might be interested in something that I am organising. Please note – this is not a service that I am selling. It is a course I am organising so that I can attend 😮
      Due to the amount of time I find myself in front of a flipchart, I have personally decided to invest in my facilitation skills. At a recent conference I attended, I saw first-hand how impressive some other coaches outputs from openspace sessions and they all had something in common – they have attended a course in Visual Facilitation by a company from Germany.
      I have booked a trainer to come over to England for 2 days (28th & 29th March) and a venue in a hotel in Birmingham (The Apollo). I have a few spaces available on this course if anyone wishes to join me and a few other coaches/trainers. The cost will likely be about £500
      The details of the course can be found here and if you would like to chat more about it then please feel free to drop me a line either by email or by phone (07717 111199

The site for AgileGames2011 also went online.

  • I wanted to let you all know that registration has opened up for the
    Agile Games 2011 conference being held in Boston, Massachusetts April
    The really big announcement is that we managed to get a nice discount
    for very early registrations. The price is $295 for people buying by
    1/24. That will be the absolutely cheapest price for this conference.
    you can see more details here:
    we’ll be having one more big announcement next week when we officially
    open our "call for games". I will keep this group posted.
      -Brian Bozzuto, Co-Chair Agile Games 2011

I heard that 2 bootcamps are being organized. (Did not receive any links yet.)

After one year of Retroflection of the Day I decided to keep it alive for at least another year. (I would love to have more people asking open coaching questions as the current 20 people are temporary out of idea’s. Contact me if you want to participate.) More good news about that project in the coming weeks.


A few deadlines for upcoming agile conferences:

– Agile 2011 end next monday
– Xp2011 ends today

  • Reminder. January 7 is the last day for proposing sessions for XP2011 conference in Madrid Spain on 10-13th May.
    XP2011 is the 12th international conference on Agile Software Development and will be hosted by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in Spain. The conference brings together both industrial practitioners and researchers in the fields of information systems and software development, and examines latest theory, practical applications, and implications of agile methods.
    The conference has a strong research bias. We’re looking for various session types:- instructive tutorials, exploratory workshops, innovative demonstrations, visible posters, industrial experiences, and more. Get the details on session types at at
    This conference is a non-commercial conference organised at a university by a team of volunteers, we hope you understand that this limits the speaker compensation package we are able to offer. There will be 1 free registration for each tutorial or workshop that is accepted (hotel and travel costs are not included). Presenters of other session types will be offered significant registration discounts.
    Please submit details of your session proposals online at by Jan 7.
    .. and pass this reminder onto friends and colleagues too 🙂
    Rachel Davies
    General chair, XP2011 conference


The Agile Games mailing list has already 259 active users. in less then a year.


What a great start of the year. If now I find time to propose a session on agile games for agile 2011.

How do you look at reading?

– When my 8 year old is annoying, I ask him to do something useful, like reading.

– When I am reading a business book, some people look at me as if I am doing something useless.

Reading books is a habit that takes a long time to develop. I’m not talking about the skills to read. I’m talking about getting used to pick up a book where ever you are. I read at least 10 pages a day in a book.  That is 3650 pages a year. People ask me all the time, how do you have the time? I don’t. I TAKE the time. I read books, anywhere I can.

I’m convinced we all read much more then people twenty years ago;
– status messages on twitter and facebook
– your daily tons of email
– blog posts
– On- or offline newspaper
– Your favorite magazine(s)

So it’s not about finding the time to read, it’s about choosing what to read. If you are reading that many things, you can read a few books a year. If you can’t read 10 pages a day, start with 1 page a day, right now

have fun reading