Archive for November, 2011

Todays Who Is, is about Dale Emery. Dale was invited by Laurent Bossavit and George Dinwiddie and by the unpublished answers of Elisabeth Hendrickson (As Dale also proposed Elisabeth, I had to choose an order.) I knew Dale from his blog, mailinglists, twitter, so I looked forward to his Resistance as a Resource session at Agile 2008, which did. Next to his agile work, Dale looks like  chameleon to me:  he has a blog about writing, created a board game.  Even the story why he created the game is interesting to learn about Dale’s dedication.

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

I grew up on a dairy farm in Maine, and when you grow up on a dairy farm, you work on a dairy farm. The year I was in 7th grade, I took on the responsibility to milk the cows. I would milk the cows each day before I went to school, and again after I came home. Do you ever have dreams where you suddenly realize you haven’t finished your homework, or you haven’t studied for a test? Well, my anxiety dreams are about unmilked cows in distress.

As our dairy business dwindled, I worked for my father’s nascent farm machinery business, assembling hay balers and small tractors and other equipment. Then, the summer I finished high school, I briefly worked in the last local shoe factory as a shoe laster. I would stretch and tie sneaker tops around a foot-shaped form, which would then be lowered into a mold and injected with the molten rubber for the sole.

From of these early jobs, I learned that I really, really don’t enjoy manual labor. I would much rather work with my mind, and with other people who prefer to work with their minds.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

I would like to have become a rock musician, but at the time I lacked the nerve to commit to it. If I had discovered earlier how much I (sometimes) enjoy writing, I might have become a writer. And I briefly toyed with the idea of studying biochemistry and nutrition.

I found my way to computing by accident. While I was in the Air Force in sweltering Sacramento, someone offered an assignment in frigid Fairbanks. On a lark, I jumped at it. While I was there I began plinking with NUTRAN, a dialect of FORTRAN with enhancements to analyze nuclear spectra. Then one morning my boss dropped his Commodore PET and a PET BASIC manual onto my desk and said, “See what you can do with this.” I played with that for an hour or two, and when I glanced at the clock, it was midnight. Midnight?! I’d been programming not for an hour or two, but for sixteen hours! I’d discovered the programmer’s trance, and I was forever hooked.

Given the serendipity of it all, I’d say that if I hadn’t been in IT, some other happy accident would have attracted me to something–anything–that kept my brain busy.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

My biggest challenge is enacting what I call The Woody Allen Rule. Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” At a glance, this can sound either snarky or obvious, or both. But for me it’s both profound and dreadful. There’s an old book of verses, called Archy and Mehitabel, written by a cockroach named Archy. Or rather, written by a reporter who died and was reborn as a cockroach. Each night, Arcny types a new story by jumping on the keys of a typewriter. One story is about a moth bashing himself against an electric light bulb. Archy talks to the moth and tries to understand why it would do such a foolish thing. Though Archy never does quite understand, in the end he acknowledges, “but at the same time i wish / there was something i wanted / as badly as he wanted to fry himself”. Those three lines send chills up my spine. Is there something to which I could commit myself so fully?

Another of my favorite pieces of fiction is The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro. The book is set in 1930s England, and centers on Stevens, a butler who can’t quite bring himself to risk love, or to express himself in the horrific political conversations of the day. The book, Ishiguro says, is an exploration of the ways in which a man might waste his life. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, and it’s chilling to recognize a similar tentativeness in myself.

So my challenge is taking the risk to show up.

One result of this challenge is that I tend to commit only to things I am /very/ confident I can deliver.

What drives you?

On my better days, what drives me is my desire to help. In particular, to help people be mindful of all of their abilities, some of which they weren’t aware of, and some of which they’d forgotten, and some of which they didn’t realize could help them here and now.

On my not-so-good days, which are becoming rarer in my middle age, I’m driven by my desire to be seen as helpful, which is very different from wanting to help.

What is your biggest achievement?

This is an interesting question for me, because my style is to work in lots of small ways, more or less in the background. I wouldn’t mind having big achievements, but I take great pleasure in creating or facilitating lots of small ones.

I am proud to have received the Agile Alliance‘s Ward Cunningham Gentle Voice of Reason award in 2007. I’m told that I was under consideration for the Gordon Pask Award, but didn’t quite fit the criteria. The Gordon Pask Award is for “up and coming” folks in the Agile world, but by 2007 I had been right there in the midst of the Agile community for seven years. So the award committee created a new award. What touches me so deeply is that the award directly recognizes exactly the values I most want to create in the community: Compassion, empathy, respect. Sometimes in a moment (or day or week) of passion about some idea, people’s expression of respect falters. I like to show, and to help people learn, that passion and respect are not only deeply compatible, but also mutually supportive.

What is the last book you have read?

Lois McMaster Bujold’s Borders of Infinity. I highly recommend Bujold to anyone who wants to study the art of writing, whether fiction or nonfiction. Bujold is a master of word choice and sentence structure. She often chooses a word that is both uncommon and familiar, to create exactly the right nuance of meaning with an economy of words. Oh, and her stories are fun and funny and thoughtful and emotional.

The latest nonfiction book I read was Community, by Peter Block. At the heart of the book are “six conversations”–conversations about invitation, possibility, ownership, dissent, commitment, and gifts–that can help build community. Block starts each conversation by asking a few “powerful questions“–questions that are ambiguous and personal, and which provoke a certain amount of anxiety. One of his questions has been on my mind: “What is the gift that you currently hold in exile?” You can see how this relates directly to my biggest challenge.

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

One question you should definitely /not/ ask me is Block’s question about gifts, “What is the gift that you currently hold in exile?” If you were to ask me this anxiety-provoking question, I might answer something like this:

The gift that I currently hold in exile is my belief that idealism can be profoundly practical. For example, I believe that every behavior has a positive intention. On the face of it, that sounds awfully naive and hopelessly idealistic. I admit it’s idealistic–perhaps the most idealistic thing I believe. I even admit that it might not always be true. But I have also found it to be wonderfully practical, especially in those moments where I’m most likely to doubt it. This (hopelessly idealistic) belief invites me to seek a positive intention, or to imagine one. I don’t always succeed. But I succeed often enough with my idealistic notions, and with such beautiful results, that I want to invite people to remember their own faded idealism, apply it anew, and look for the practical wisdom it carries.

Who do you think I should ask next?

Brian Marick, who is never content to let a conclusion rest unquestioned. It’s delightful when he jiggles people’s “settled” ideas. Except when he jiggles mine–that’s just annoying. But it’s important.

J.B. Rainsberger, Steve Freeman, and Nat Pryce, who continue to explore TDD and offer fresh ideas (just when I thought I was getting the hang of it).

Elisabeth Hendrickson, whose passion and skill at helping people translate their old skills into an Agile way of working are second to none.

Last week I published an Agile Thursday Quiz about Scrum of Scrums
Here are my answers:

What is the purpose of a Scrum Of Scrums
A, B, C, F
Allows clusters of teams to discuss their work
Informing other teams what slowing your team down
Informing other teams about team decisions
Inform other teams when you will be put something in their way

A: I see A also as a correct answer as it’s usually one of the only places were teams interact. Yes if the discussion takes to long it should be taken offline and be discussed in another meeting. (This is why multiple choice is bad for agile quizes..)

F: That last sentence has confused lots of people. Yes it is said in a negative way. Hopefully you will inform another team also when your team does something that unblock them. But when you would block hem, it’s important to let them know ASAP.


Who attends the Scrum Of Scrums
Preferable D (at worst C)
One designated person of every team
A rotating role within every team

Everyone else is free to follow; Yes usually Scrummasters and ProductOwner follow a SoS, yet, it’s not intented for them.
Communities of Practise might be other places for likewise people to meet.


Links about SoS
Boris Gloger has 3 secrets for a good Scrum of Scrum
Xavier Quesada has tips to make the Scrum of Scrum info visual
Mike Cohn has some advice on how to conduct the Scrum of Scrum

What is for you the purpose of a standup:

B,C, E
Inform your co-workers what you are working on
Ask for help when you are stuck
Know what your co-workers are working on

Taking decisions could be part if you do it quickly.
It is a place where you can discover that a decision should be taken. (That is not the same)
>> In that sense you could say that my answer is different from that of the SoS.
(Which is OK for me, I don’ think one size fit’s all answers are healthy)

Links Daily Standup:
Wikipedia on Stand-ups
Martin Fowler on why it’s not just about standing up
Mike Cohn on the Daily Scrum

What is the role of a ScrumMaster

B, D, E
Teaches the teams about agile (scrum)
Removes impediments for the team
Facilitates meetings

Links Role Scrummaster

Role of the Scrummaster
7 responsibilities of the Scrummaster
John Hill wrote about the empowerment of the team by the Scrummaster

At a client we did a ScrumOfScrum to enhance the communication between teams.
These different teams work in different places of the building. (Part of the problem)
This had as an effect that the SoS always started late. One team member took charge and started to gather everyone at the start.
Although it only removed a symptom, it worked.
(I support idea’s from teams to encourage them to come up with more idea’s.)
And then that person moved to another part of the company. (For reasons not related to the SoS)
Now the SoS started even later. I once waited longer then the time it took to hold the SoS.
The next one I canceled after waiting for 5 minutes.
I had a mail in my drafts for a few weeks explaining What is a Scrum of Scrum etc…
I did not send it as I did not like the patronizing message it would send.
I do not like mail, because of the distributed way of teams, mail was a good way to distribute the message.
Then a teammember send a remark about the SoS. That triggered some questions in me.

And then I realized I had been planning to create a large agile quiz, to use with this team. And I had been postponing it.

Combining two challenges into one solution, I created a small quiz about Scrum of Scrums.

This is the quiz. (multiple answers possible)
Please answer in the comments. I will publish my answers later, together with a few links.
The idea is to create discussions.

What is the purpose of a Scrum Of Scrums

A) Allows clusters of teams to discuss their work
B) Informing other teams what is slowing your team down
C) Informing other teams about team decisions
D) Report progress to management about the project
E) Give management time & place to put pressure on the teams
F) Inform other teams when you will be put something in their way

Who attends the Scrum Of Scrums

A) Scrum master of every team
B) All team members of every team
C) One designated person of every team
D) A rotating role within every team
E) Product Owner of every team
F) R & D manager

What is for you the purpose of a standup:

A) Report to management
B) Inform your co-workers what you are working on
C) Ask for help when you are stuck
D) Take decisions on issues
E) Know what your co-workers are working on
F) Have a time to chat with eachother

What is the role of a ScrumMaster

A) The manager of the team
B) Teaches the teams about agile (scrum)
C) The secretary of the team
D) Removes impediments for the team
E) Facilitates meetings
F) Is responsible for teams commitments

I plan to publish one small quiz about every week called Agile Thursday Quiz

The next person in the #WhoIs serie is a women I don’t think I have met. (Or it would have been in sessions at one of these large agile conferences.) Which is another reason why I selected Michel Sliger. (It’s WhoIs, not WhoHaveIMet ), her book is on my suggestion list for managers learning about agile. I first contacted Michele, when I launched the idea of an agile quiz 11 months ago.  It’s a nice example of a community thing I try to launch that completely failed. Nevertheless, Michele was one of the few people who did answer that mail.



Michele doing volunteer work at the Denver Dumb Friends League, a non-profit animal welfare organization.

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?
I classify myself as a non-practicing Buddhist. Meaning that I eat meat and don’t meditate regularly, but otherwise feel guided by the Buddhist philosophy and values. I guess you could say I am a bad Buddhist. But I keep at it.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?
I’d be in New York working on Broadway productions. Probably not as an actress, since I can’t sing or dance, but certainly as part of the crew. I love the theater! I spent four years in Drama classes in high school (shades of Glee) then volunteered in local community theaters as an actress, props master, and stage manager. The strangest role I had was as the silhouette of the ghost of Elvis, and the strangest crew job I had was as props master for a play that had scenes in a topless bar. The costumer had an easy job on that play, while I had to find and fill over 100 bottles of "liquor". It’s amazing what you can do with food coloring and tea.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?
I have a lack of patience for the absence of civility and manners. I have met open hostility regarding agile more than once, and while I welcome skepticism and civil discourse, I don’t feel much like engaging with those who can’t be both passionate AND respectful.

I don’t know that it’s been good for me at all, unless it’s as a personal sanity regulator. I would like to be more compassionate and patient, and model calm polite discussion while ignoring these societal slights. I would be a better Buddhist if I could do this, and a better agile advocate. I’m working on it. It’s something I want to overcome.

What drives you ?
The desire to learn. If I won the lotto tomorrow I’d probably go back to school, pursue a PhD, and generally just seek out people to collaborate with and learn from. When I was a kid I saw a Twilight Zone episode called "Time Enough At Last" that I really related to: this notion that if the world ended and one survived, you could sit around and read whatever you wanted, as much as you wanted, for the rest of your life. Bliss.

What is your biggest achievement?
Going it on my own and creating my own company. It’s been a wonderful learning experience! I have a much greater appreciation for folks who work in sales, marketing, accounting, advertising, graphics, legal, content, editing, and so on. I didn’t have a clear sense of all the work that went into supporting me in doing the work I love until I had to do it myself.

What is the last book you have read?
Oo, that’s a tough one. I guess it depends on what you mean by "read". I can’t seem to finish any non-fiction work-related books lately, and instead read portions here and there. So I’ve finished big chunks of

Those are the ones sitting around my house that I continue to iterate through a bit at a time. I clearly have a problem with WIP being set too high.

The last fiction book I read was "The Passage" by Justin Cronin. It’s like Stephen King’s "The Stand" minus the religious aspect plus a hybrid compilation of vampire books minus all the teen angst minus all the "nice" vampires plus a bit of Michael Crichton‘s "Andromeda Strain." Ridley Scott bought the movie rights, so it should be a doozie when it gets made. I’m going to download Robopocalypse next!

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
If you could have any super power, what would it be? (Will you ask everyone this? I bet the answers would be really interesting!) [Note from Yves: It would have been interesting, but so are most other questions everyone answers. Maybe people can talk about their SuperPower in the comments.]

I think most consultants wish for teleportation, which makes a lot of sense. But I’d wish to stop time. I’ve got an endless backlog of things I need to do and never enough time to make a dent. First thing I’d do is finish all those books I’ve got in process!

Who do you think I should ask next?
Linda Rising! I adore her. She brings such a fresh take on things, and makes learning so much fun you don’t realize it’s even happening.

Did you ever wish you could stop the time? Or do you ever wish you could take back something you said?

During McCarthy bootcamps we experimented with 2 protocols that allowed you exactly that.

The Click protocol let’s you stop the time.

When the team met with their black hats (managers), anyone in the team would say CLICK! At that moment the managers freezed for 30 seconds. During these 30 seconds the team can discus anything without the managers hearing anything.

Compare this with a pauze button on a DVD-player (thank to Vickie Gray for the metaphor)

After the 30 seconds the managers unfreeze automatically.

What is the sense of doing this?

Where you ever in a situation where you are asked a question that you did not expect?

That’s when you need to use CLICK!

Instead of answering without thinking, you can consult your team. And if 60 seconds are not enough, you can re-click when the previous click is finished.


At any moment between click! and the automatic unfreeze, you can also say UnClick, which will unfreeze the freezed people.


Any moment between Click! and the unfreeze, I can say rewind till x and the unfreeze will happen at the moment you say.

So rewind, let’s you also go back in time.

Imagine you say something stupid. When you realize you did something stupid, you say:

Click, rewind to before I said X

For me that is a great way to experiment reporting to a manager.

I even know a couple that uses it when they have have discussions between them. (Yes admit it, when you discuss with your partner you say stuff you know are stupid while saying them. ) Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say: stop I ment something else.
Yes it’s still worse as not saying anything (During an argument I doubt most partners are able to completely ignore the stupidity you just said. At least they know that you think it’s a mistake and want to correct it.)

The next person for the WhoIs is George Dinwiddie. George was one of the first I invited. Later he was also proposed by Esther Derby and Don Gray, which is the reason why I posted his answers this late. George is one of these people who seems to be omni-present.  I think he is on every mailing list I am. (And probably a lot more) And usually he is very active on these lists. But active in his own way. Asking questions, or saying things that make me think. Think really hard. I am on way too many mailing list to be healthy for me. So sometimes I ignore posts from most mailing lists. But when I notice that a few people I respect start to write lots of answers, I start to read the thread. George is one of these people. George has his own unique style. A style I like. As a person, he is interested in the whole package, not just technical or people or process.






George is the person on the right …

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has
influenced you in who you are?

I’ve got a varied background, probably more than most people in the software development industry.  My undergraduate degree is in English, with a minor in Psychology.  Later, to have credentials in the work I was doing, I got a Masters in Computer Science.  I don’t think anyone has ever asked about that degree, though.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

Who knows!  I came to IT from electronics design and embedded systems. Yes, you /can/ design electronics with an English degree.  Prior to that I went in a number of different directions, including organic vegetable farming, theatrical lighting and sound, and television repair.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

My biggest challenge is that I’m not sharply focused on one thing. That’s a marketing challenge for my coaching services, as it doesn’t make me “the one person” to call for a particular situation or need. Instead, there are many situations where I can provide help. Indeed, I’m often brought in to help with one need, and provide help for other completely different needs, also.
I hadn’t really thought about how broadly I’m focused until Gary Brown of Carfax told me that I was one of the few complete Agile coaches–able to coach the process, the technical practices, and the interpersonal issues.  Since then, I’ve thought about that and realized it’s even broader.  I’m not strictly an Agile coach, as I’m more interested in helping software development teams and organizations improve their effectiveness than it pushing an Agile solution.  I also bring to bear systems thinking, team formation practices, and other approaches that can help improve the status quo.

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?” And the answer
is, “A European or an African swallow?”
The point being that whimsy and humor are every bit as important as weighty questions.  In the words of Walt Kelly, “Don’t take life so serious, son, it ain’t nohow permanent.”

What drives you ?

Two things: learning something new and helping other people.
My father was an academic (professor, and later a dean), so learning was as natural as breathing when I was growing up.  I was always an avid reader, frequently visiting the library and also reading whatever happened to be at hand, including Dad’s chemistry journals.  My father would advise failing students, “Don’t drop the course. Stick it out and earn your ‘F’. You’ll learn things that make it easier next time.”
My mother was always going well out of her way to help people in need, even those whom she barely knew.  She had many “children” from Brazil whom she’d helped when they came to the United States.  She not only built houses for Habitat for Humanity, but taught new homeowners the budgeting and bookkeeping skills to help them keep those houses.

What is your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement is an internal one: the changes I’ve made within myself.
Like my mother, I had a terrible tendency to “inflict help” on others beyond what they wanted.  Often I saw the process of helping in a technical light, that of “fixing the problem.”  That often works when the help is wanted, but can be a big problem when it’s not.
My biggest achievement is breaking out of that mold.  I’ve learned to better observe the invisible things, and the way things look to others.  I’ve learned to better consider the larger context and the needs of others as well as my own.  I’ve learned how to listen, and how to ask questions.
It’s these things that make me effective as a software development coach.  And, if I can learn these things, then I know other geeks can learn them also, and become more effective team members.

What is the last book you have read?

I have a bad habit of reading multiple books at once and sometimes never getting all the way through them end to end.  Right now I’m working on Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler.  After meeting Geoffrey Bellman at the Better Software Conference, I also started his book with Kathleen Ryan, Extraordinary Groups.  I think the last book I read straight through from cover to cover was Naomi Karten‘s Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals.

[Before I published his answers George send me this to add: ]

my latest “last book I’ve read” is The Cucumber Book by Aslak Hellesoy and Matt Wynne.  It’s a marvelous book!

Who should be the next person to answer these questions?

[George first invited two people who had already answered (and mention him)]

Don Gray, Esther Derby

And then came up with this list

Dawn Test Code (nee Dawn Cannan)
Dale Emery
Elisabeth Hendrickson
Diana Larsen
Ainsley Nies

Update: if you liked this, please buy the “Who is agile” book. It contains similar answers from other agilists. And George answer to the question: What is the gift that you currently hold in exile?

This year was the first time I was at theAmplifiying your effectiveness (AYE) conference.

This was a conference were the number of books that were mentioned at sessions was very high. (As in: in every session at least 3 great books were mentioned)

So here is a list of all the books mentioned at AYE:

Books mentioned by the 4 AYE hosts & participants: Don, Esther, Johanna, Jerry, Jeremy Lightsmith, June Kim,Todd Charron, yves

A BIG THANK YOU Andrea, Chris, Don, Esther, Jerry , June, Michael,Morgan, Rafael for helping me remember all those.


dear author, publisher, readers

I read a lot of books. I always have.

September 2010 I bought my first kindle. In less then a year, after reading 45 books, I prefer reading on a kindle. And not just because of the screen. Even more about the whole reading experience.

Let me tell you a little story to tell you how far this goes:

A few months ago I started reading Continuous Delivery on the train in the hard copy version. In less then 10 pages I realized I did not like reading this version. I turned on my kindle and ordered the digital version. Less then a minute later I was again reading, but now on my kindle. Yep that is how I buy new books these days, on a train in the middle of nowhere, miles away from my computer.

I know that lots of publishers don’t like the way amazon treats them. To avoid working with amazon, they offer their electronic books on their website. Because they know people like reading on a kindle, they offer them also in the kindle format. From their point of view, problem solved.

I’m sorry that does not work for me. Let me clarify that. I’m sorry for your lost sales.

I think it’s time to talk about the reader point of view, I will give you a few examples on how the e-books experience is different for me then reading dead-tree books.


old books:  I order a book when I heard about it and I thought it would be a good one to read. The book sit on my stack ToRead, together with tons of others. Sometimes a book is out-dated before I even started, sometimes I’m no longer interested in the topic because I moved on professionally (most technical development books would go in that category)

kindle books: When I hear about a book, I send the sample to my kindle. I put it in the category ToRead (it now contains +200 books). When I pick up my kindle to read, I first finish the book I am currently reading. If I don’t have energy for that one, I go to my category Reading, (that has a WIP limit of 6) and I pick another book to read.

If the Reading category contains less then 6 books and I have energy for none of them, I browse my ToRead category and pick up a sample. I start reading the sample. When I finish the sample book and the books fits my current interest and energy level, I buy the book from my kindle. & I continue reading. Even when I am at home, I don’t go to my computer to buy a book.  If I would go to a computer (or similar device) the chance is pretty high I end up reading my e-mail, twitterfeed or anything else that keeps me from reading a book.


Old books: Most of the books I am reading, are business books. In an old book I would write notes on pages, I would underline stuff. That works fine in old books. Some people don’t like it as it “destroys” the book. I don’t mind, a book is a tool, it’s not sacred for me. Sometimes I add a dog-ear as a visual management tool to find an note back. That only works if I look in to the correct book. (Finding the correct book can take a long time…)

Kindle books: With my kindle (V3), I first select the text, then I start typing. I have to admit, using the small keyboard with his limited default characters took me a while to get used to. Now I love it.

  1. I can read it. I have a horrible handwriting and when I take notes in a sidebar with little place, it usually got worse.
  2. I can find it! I can search in my kindle for comments over all the books I have. No need to remember what book I read something in.
  3. I can share it! I have the choice to record my comments local or share it on the internet. This creates a total new experience. Other people react to what I wrote and I get a much deeper understanding of the topic. (the author is no longer the sole source of knowledge)
  4. With every public comment I make publicity for the book (it does not matter if I like the book or not). For me these kind of comments are recommendations on speed.
    Sharing comments on the internet does not work when I buy a kindle book outside amazon. So not only you have a high chance of missing out my sale, if you do get my sale, you miss out my referrals.


Do you now buy more or less books?
Yves you said you know have +200 books in your ToRead list. Does this not mean you buy less books then before?

Interesting question. The answer is both yes and no.
Yes: I don’t buy books anymore I won’t read.
No as I now don’t doubt anymore before I adding a book to my ToRead list. (in other words this list is longer as the books I would buy before (my kindle) ready to be picked up to read)
This has a significant influence on publishers statistics: books that are only bought for show, won’t show up. So in kindle stats you will only see books that are actually read (at least if people buy kindle books like I do, which I think they do.)
That was a nice consultancy answer, can’t you give me hard numbers?
You are right, we change artists always think that there is more then 1 truth.
You ask for hard numbers, well I have + 45 books in my Read category. I’m pretty sure I never bought 45 hard copy books in one year for myself.


If you are an author please talk to your publisher about uploading your books to amazon.

Update: I got a remark in a personal e-mail that the author did not have time to put into comments. That author said I was supporting amazon’ monopoly. And it was reducing competition.
I don’t think it is a monopoly, I think that Amazon is creating more competition, but at a different level. Dean Wesley posted a nice blog post today claiming that traditional publishers make more money with digital books then with paper books.

+ I want to stress that I ask for publisher to ALSO publish on the amazon site. Not for not publishing on other places.



Another Tuesday, another Who Is.

I met Mary on twitter (Check out her lovely twitter handle), we had some discussions. And continued some of them by e-mail, which was a “better” platform for some of the discussions. After which we also met at XPday Benelux 2010

On her blog she has a new leaderships philosophy, unfortunately that part is only in Dutch.(hint-hint). You can find English articles on InfoQ

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

That I consider giving (many kinds of) love as the best way to go in life.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

I’m not actually in IT. I come from the business side and am a business architect who knows about IT and the high level technology bits.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

My biggest challenge is to make companies more agile. Although it would make me happier as well I feel my co workers would like that too.

What drives you ?


What is your biggest achievement?

What I’m really good at is being able to write stuff in plain Dutch (and English) and explain people of all walks of life most any abstract concept

What is the last book you have read?

A simpler way” by Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

Q: What do you think about these questions: A: they are unconventional and would love to know what other persons think of it

Who do you think I should ask next?

Wow, I know a lot of people who  are very noteworthy in the world of Agile. Let me pick someone who is not that ‘well known’ but makes it his daily business to help people and teams become more Agile: Gerard Janssen

Time for another Who-Is. Some time ago, I received within the same hour, the answers of both Oana & Jerry. They both proposed me to answer the questions also. My reaction to the first mail was, hey, this is something I do for the community, this is not about me.  When I received/read the second mail, my thoughts were mmm if someone would ask me who to ask next, my reaction would also be: “you“. My last thought was something like Ok I might do that. And then I forgot about it.

I knew I had to come up with a date for myself, but I didn’t. I already had too many answers coming in. Maybe I felt I had to be the last person answering the questions. In fact I was using LeanProcrastination. And it turned out fine, because a few days later I started adding publishing dates to my spreadsheet with people who wrote answers. I then realized that one of the publishing Tuesdays was 25 October 2011 (That’s right that was last week .) 25 october is a date that is rather important to me and to my parents. (And to some important Belgium people too.) I decided that I would publish my Who Is on my 40the birthday.

Update: Because of the unfortunate accident of Grant Rule. I have postponed this publication with a week. It’s less cool to publish this a week after my birthday. Some things are more important than being cool.


What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

I guess by now everybody already knows that I burned down my parents house. As that does not count, I think another thing that influence me a lot was the fact that I am born on this day.Why is my date of birth an influence?  Today  is almost at the end of the year. In Belgium, school classes are created based on calendar years. This means that I was almost 11 months younger then the oldest person in my class. It was not until my kids went to school, that I realized how this has influenced me.

Being one of the youngest persons in my class, I was always on the tip of my toes to keep up with my peers. This means that today I am very comfortable with going-out-of-my-comfort-zone. At Agile Coach Camp Germany in 2010 we noticed that a lot of agile coaches have this personality feature. In that sense I think I am a coach today because my parents decided to let me go to the year they let me to. (Thank you for that.)

When I was 14, I decided that I wanted to repeat a year. I had exams the last 2 years during holidays, and now I wanted to have a full holiday. [My English, French and German are not considered good enough to Belgium school standards.]

I told my parents and they accepted my decision.  It’s one of the numerous examples of my parents letting me fail.

It also had an influence on another level, I think that this is part of the reason why I read so much. I did not hang out with friends much when I was young, but I read every book I could. (During 2 years in my life I read one book a day.) Reading that many books and stories, is visible to anyone that has seen me talk at conferences. When I lead a session, or a keynote, I use stories to explain things.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

When I finished studying, I went to France working  2 months as a full time DJ. (I had being doing DJ work, while studying.) This was 1994, pre-commercial internet, pre-social media even pre-cell phones. The only contact I had with friends was doing expensive calls from a pay-phone. And my best friend, preferred F2F over phone-calls, how very agile of her.

Being away from my friends, made me think really hard about my future. Did I really wanted to have a life of getting up halfway the day and work till 5 or 6 in the morning? I have some friends playing in Belgium rock bands. I had been going with them to their rock-concerts and festivals for the last 4 years. I knew that my life in these 2 months was more or less the same as they had. (Or worse because most concerts are finished by before 3 am) Yep life of a rock musician is a lot less glamorous as most people think. They are people with ups and downs, with their doubts, relation issue’s, bad-hair day, illness, … (Oh and they have to go to the toilet just like anyone else…)

It was not so much the limited amount of money I made. As I had been living of well-fare (375 euro a month) for 3 years, I was really happy with the money I made these 2 months.  I was wondering about the hours and the nightlife. Which was kind of crazy, as I was a night-owl (I still am). But I was not sure how I could combine this later with children. I was single and 23 years old. Wondering about how to combine my work-life with children. Begin with the end in mind. It was part of me already then. Kind of funny if you see that as a change artist I have been popping in and out of planes a lot the last 4 years. Yep, my partner had some though years supporting our children.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

As you might have guessed from the last answer, my biggest challenge is keeping my work-life in balance and keeping a sustainable pace. I’m fortunate to be together with a partner who is as stubborn as me and who pushes back when I start let my balance move too much into one or another direction.

This is a good thing as most of my clients and I would say the majority of the working people (maybe I should even add my children with their full lifes) share the same problem. Which makes it easier for me to understand their problems when I am trying to help them.

What drives you ?

While doing this, I realize that what drives me for this project, is getting to know new people. I’m very exited when I get a proposal to add someone I don’t know, or only know by name.

Outside this project, learning new things is the global factor that unites most of the things I have done in my life.

What is your biggest achievement?

Being able to look back at the burning down of my parents house, now 20 years ago and seeing it as one of the best events of my life. It has become something I am proud of, so proud that this year I organized an event to celebrate the fire. Ok, this is more an achievement of my parents, who never ever blamed me for the fire.

Staying together with Els for the last 15 years, is probably the hardest work I have ever done. (A very rewarding one, but hard work never the less.)

What is the last book you have read?

Personal Kanban as preparation for the personal agility workshop I created with Gerry Kirk,

Lift Off (Diana Larsen), seeing the impact of agile retrospectives on my work, this is a book I had to read. And wow, I think it will have a huger impact on the agile world. (As this was a draft I can not give you a link…)

What’s mine is yours. About collaborative consumption.

Training From the back of the room, finally took the time to read this one. (As Gerry and I had agreed to use these techniques for our workshop.) I already use lots of these idea’s in my training for years. It’s nice to see there is a theory behind it and even better to see how I can improve my trainings and talks with it.

The Creating Time: wonderful book about the core protocols. Again a draft book.

Continuous delivery: one of my clients struggle with this, so I thought I should know more of it.

Reading right nowHow to run your business like a girl. I bought that book a year of 3 ago to read on the plane. (Together with 7 other books) I finally started to read it, on my way to the AYE conference. The book is targetted at women, but hey I want to learn from women too.

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

You seem to invest a lot of time into creating communities, why do you do that?

Creating communities, is for me asking for help on steroids. It’s win-win-win-win. (win for me, win for the other person, win for the community, win for our clients)

When I started to go to more and more international agile conferences I had no overview of what conferences existed. I did not have time (neither the desire) to keep a personal list up-to-date, but realized I was not along with the problem. Creating an agile google calendar and share it with everyone that was interested in that data was the natural thing to do.

In this particular case, the “What’s in it for me?” is pretty obvious, I have a google calendar that has up-to-date information about conferences and 62 people help me keeping it up-to-date.

In ALE2011, Chris Matts reminded me about another advantage: XpDay London used the calendar to make sure that their date did not collide with another conference. (The people from AgileEE go even further as they put all their options onthe calendar.)

If you look at all the initiatives I started they have the next things in common:

  1. I have a personal problem
  2. I realize I’m not alone
  3. I create a walking skeleton version of a solution
  4. share it with my network
  5. spend a lot of time with my network to refine the solution
  6. give my network free access to what I created
  7. lots of time and energy
  8. sometime later, the network takes over
  9. I thank the people that spend energy on the project
  10. Make a lot of publicity for the community
  11. When people ask me for a descision, I give the question back to the community.

Who do you think I should ask next?

Most people answer this questions with people they know and respect. I want to turn this around, I prefer reading about people I don’t know. Ever since I started Who-Is, I have been careful to make sure that I invited a very diverse set of people. (That is why you see a lot of people I invited) At this moment I think we miss Asian people, actually we miss a whole set of non-English speakers. (Which I don’t have a big network of.)

F ex: right now ALL the answers are given by white people. Yes already very diverse, still I think we can do better. Please use the comments, to tell me what communities we are missing?