Archive for January, 2012

Peter was proposed by Don Gray. I know Peter from Agile Scouts. His top 200 Agile blogs was one of the reasons I started the WhoIs serie.  I have not met Peter in person, but we are reading eachothers blog and tweets. I know he is looking forward to have his answers published. We both share the same idea that the WhoIs should be fun. He send me multiple pictures, all pretty hilarious.
An agile coach with a supersonic crossbow, wow…

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?
The biggest influences in my life are good books and education.
First off, good books: People may look at my copious amounts of writing and think that I tend to be very light-hearted (which I am) and somewhat surface level (which I am), but I’ve spent more of my adult life in education than many people that I know. I’m a HUGE consumer of books. Books on technology, social media, and software development are my daily reads. Frankly, one of the reasons I wrote a book “The Scrum Pocket Guide is really a response to the plethora of 300+ page management and software development books that line my bookshelf. I wanted to write something pragmatic, useful, and easy to consume. It’s only 50 pages after all. I’m a huge consumer of philosophy, social science, and even theology books. They bring the rest of the human issues to light and round out the technological slant that I generally have.
Second, higher education: I have a Computer Science and Engineering undergraduate degree. But most people don’t know that I also have three (3) Masters degrees in social sciences: M.A. Counseling, M.A. Education, and a Masters Divinity in Theology. Just think about how much time I have spent in higher education! Learning everything from the human aspect of communication and counseling, understanding empathy, root-cause issues, and communication techniques. What about education philosophy? Everything from different learning styles, to personalities, to education techniques for every group of people. What about Theology? How our ideas about God transform our morals, ethics, ethos, and our worldviews? Mash all of these together and I think you begin to more fully understand the nature of man, his drivers, his personalities, and the deep parts of the soul that make people work.
I always encourage people to “grow their craft” . I believe you become ineffective the day you stop personally striving to learn and grow yourself. Armchair theorists and philosophers have no place in my worldview. That’s why being an Agile Coach  is a perfect fit for me as a role and a passion. I love working with people and technology. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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

I can’t imagine a world where I would be without IT. I love technology, social media, people, and coaching teams to agility. I’ve been doing it since I was a developer back in the mid 90’s. Ever take the Strength Finders test? Well I’m a: Futurist, Competitive, Communicative, Significance, Individualization. This means that I look for the best in people, I want to win, I love to collaborate, I want to do something important for myself and others, and I care deeply about others and their goals. Being an Enterprise Agile Coach allows me to do all of that!!!
But… if I were to stretch my thinking, I think I would be in some sort of medical field, helping others… and probably over time, finding Agile-approaches to doing medicine…

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

My biggest challenge was pushing myself through a decade of higher level education. Knowing the challenges, the TIME COMMITMENT, and the long late nights of studying it was hard to keep a positive attitude about it at times. Thank God for Agile practices though. I planned accordingly, used a personal kanban board and completed my education and learned discipline, time management, and work-life balance that you can’t learn from a book. Nothing worth working for that is hard will yield little. You learn through the process, you grow as an individual, and end up on the other side grateful that you pushed yourself to do that which is hard. I will soon be embarking on a doctorate in the next couple of years. Why? Because it’s so much fun to learn.

What drives you?

Goodness. Have I covered this enough? Learning and growing. I’m addicted to information. My blog, is a testament to that. I love gathering data, radiating that data and information, and seeing what happens. Some could call me an education junkie. Sure. That works for me. Now, if you actually get some time to sit down with me, you’ll see that I’m a full-of-energy and passionate guy. I may even be a little ADHD, but never had anything diagnosed. I just love to work, seeing the fruits of my labor, and #winning at life.

What is your biggest achievement?

Pro-creating. I have the most beautiful daughter in the world. Thanks to a willing participant in my wife, I did that which far exceeds my greatest successes in business. The second biggest achievement is getting married. But that, my friends, is a story for another time.

What is the last book you have read?

Hard to say. I currently read multiple books at any given time.
Currently I’m reading:
David J. Anderson’s book on Kanban – I’m reading this for the 3rd time because it helps to be reminded of small facets of kanban to help a client I’m working with right now.
C. Stephen Evans Philosophy of Religion – A great book that was published in 1982. My second go at this one.
Daniel Pink’s Drive – Want to take a run on the wild side and take a peek into what motivates us? Totally worth the read. My second time reading this.
Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Generation – Fantastic book on how to build a business
Jack Welch’s Winning – Listened to the audio version of this book. Never do that! Jack is a terrible narrator. Read the book instead.

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

What fruit do I resemble and why?

I would like to think of myself as a coconut. K-thx-bye.

Who should be the next person to answer these questions?

Today I buried my godfather, Jacques Hanoulle. Actually my second Godfather. When I was four, I lost my Godfather and in the next year I asked Jacques if he wanted to become my Godfather. Although I don’t know why I took that decision at that early age. It was one of my best decisions in my life.

Today at his funeral, I called Jacques a change artist. He was a priest. A priest that made me realize the differences between believe, religion and church. Remembering these differences is something I can use a lot in the agile world.

In the agile world, we have:

  • the agile mindset (believe)
  • XP, scrum, kanban (religions)
  • the different alliances (churches)

They all deserve their place in this world. But it is important to know they are different. (And when I evangelize I focus on the mindset not the tools)

He was a change agent because he was a priest that was a member of the belgium socialist party. One that had a picture of Che Guevara in his office. Because he did crazy new things like inviting Jesus Christ Superstar into his church. (Was stopped by the church)

For twenty years he transformed his church into one big x-mas stable. Every year he added the things that happened that year into the stable: the landing of the moon, lady di’s wedding or the Dutroux affair are the more famous ones. He got a lot of press attention for this. Attention he used to bring up more questions then answers. (what was a recurring theme in his stable.)

Asking questions without giving answers: one of the biggest tools for a change artist.

He was also a pair-coacher, as he worked together with my father to teach. He even pair-coached with someone from the Liberal Union Associastion. A priest organizing a course on palliative care together with a liberal humanist. That’s another reason I called him a change agent.

He was not a saint, far from. But he showed me what it meant to be a change artist. And I guess that watching him preaching, taught me a thing or two about talking in public…

What role model did you have to become a change artist?


In the agile world we have a few exercises to show the effects of multi tasking.

Last year I when I did a personal agility workshop with Gerry Kirk, he teached me a new one. He learned it from Alan Cyment

It became my favorite exercise about MT.

We divide the  group in two. The two parts are standing in a row facing each other.
















We do 3 exercises in multiple ways.


  1. a complex hand exchange (like in a child song)
  2. Count from 1 till 10 with your partner using your fingers. (Person 1: shows 1 finger, then person : 2 fingers, person 1 shows 3 fingers…)
  3. “sing” a song. Person 1 says one word and then her partner says the second word and then again person 1.

The first round we do the exercise in sequence. First exercise 1, then exercise 2, then exercise 3.  What makes this exercises harder is that for each exercise you have a different partner. So after you have finished exercise 1, one row shifts one position to the left. (and the first person moves to the last position.) And the same again after you have finished exercise 2.

In the second round, people start the first exercise and when the leader says so, the group switches to exercise 2 or 3. Now this is when it becomes interesting as people have to remember where they were and they have to find their new partner and remember at what part of that exercise they where.

This exercise reminds most participants about their worklife. Always changing priorities, finding partners back. Before you can do a small task, the priorities have changed again.

One of the interesting things about this exercise, is that everytime I did this, in the first round all 3 exercises are finished in less time then finishing the first exercise in round 2.

So switching priorities does no help, not even to give the impression that things move faster.







Lyssa career is a nice example that people can recover from Command & Control.  (Paraphrasing her words, read her book coaching agile teams  if you want to now more about it.) I first met her through one of her articles about conflicts. We exchanged some e-mails. I was too late to be a reviewer of her book. It did not matter, I read it multiple times after that. I still owe her a text for her website.

Everytime I see her, she (like a lot of people in our community) is smiling.   And she proposes as the next person someone with the same name as on of my kids. How touthful of her…

This WhoIS  has less funny links  as what I used to do. I spend my WE doing a coachRetreat and working on the book version of WhoIS. On top of that today my godfather died, so I did no take time to be funny.

The Who Is book will contain an extra answer from everyone, so subscribe, once I have 50 subscribers I will publish the first version. (And as I am using LeanPub, you will be able to download the new versions as they appear.)


What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?
I am a singer and learning to sing in a chorus is an exercise in shining and blending. Back and forth, letting your voice shine while blending with the others, weaving in and out with the other voices in the choir. Singing in a choir also takes tremendous attention and hard work – it’s not for the feint of heart! My choral experiences have taught me discipline and they have solidified my already strong blue-collar work ethic (that I learned from my parents). Most of all, singing in a choir had taught me about exquisite moments of pure joy, when the harmonies come together just perfectly, when the emotion gets conveyed and everyone in the performance hall can feel it. Bliss!

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?
I wanted to be a marine biologist but may parents strongly discouraged me because they thought I wouldn’t find a good job after all of that education and training. what really sealed my fate, though, was chemistry and really, anything mathematical. I just could not figure that out (still can’t). So, my days as a biologist were numbered. Although my undergraduate degree is in Management Information Systems, I never really had my heart set on building IT systems. I was always more interested in the business-end of the systems and drove people crazy by asking “why?” all the time. They fixed that, though. Even in my earliest jobs after college, I was constantly assigned as the project manager – because I was loud and could organize things (especially people). So, I got buried for the next 15 years in project management process and paperwork and didn’t have time to ask “why?” anymore. Six years ago, agile restored the ability to ask questions that matter and I am forever in debt to agile for that.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?
My biggest challenge is that, sometimes, I trade being kind for being right. I can be really scathing and too-blunt sometimes, and I can cut people down with just a slantwise glance. I work to improve this all the time. I even have a coaching structure to help me – it’s a big art-glass heart necklace and I wear it to remind myself to bring my heart and kindness along for the ride. I’m still going to be forthright because I believe that often serves people the best. It’s just forthright-ness with more kindness.

What drives you ?
What drives me is the absolute waste of human potential I see around me everyday. I keep thinking, “if we could recapture and inspire even just 10% of that wasted potential, there is nothing on this planet we couldn’t do.” This is why I’m so passionate about agile coaching. Agile coaches are in the perfect spot to either uphold the broken systems that waste our human potential or liberate people from those same systems. I’m for the latter. I work hard to give agile coaches the skills they need to liberate!

What is your biggest achievement?
“Waking up” enough to see that my dear friend was also my life partner. I credit agile with this, too. When I stopped being a project manager and (nicely) bossing everyone around, I learned that it’s essential to slow down and get genuinely interested in people. So many discoveries awaited me when I started to really *see* people! And, it allowed me to really see him, the man who was right by my side already. We’ll be married 6 years this next April and I am thankful every day that agile helped me wake up.

What is the last book you have read?
OK…I have to admit it. Summer is trash novel time. I just finished the entire Black Dagger Brotherhood series, including the “Insider’s Guide.” That’s how hooked I got. The novels are about a group of warrior vampires and their mates. I have a new bookshelf in my room because my husband was getting tired of the stacks of books on the floor. It’s full of all the books I have in progress. The shelves are overflowing.

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

What’s next for me is to continue to pay attention and sense what the agile coaching community needs most next. And, then work with whomever I need to so that we can provide that thing – whatever it is. The important part is sensing what’s really trying to happen rather than simply having my own path and foisting my ideas on the community. This is a wonderfully creative and illuminating place to work from. And, it’s the source of creativity that allows me to join my whole life together – work, family, play, learning – all of it.

Who do you think I should ask next?
Bent Myllerup

Yesterday Oana Juncu and me organized a Coach Retreat in Paris. Lots of people asked me about the format. This is version 2 of the Coach Retreat format. I expect it to change a lot the coming years, only step by step. We have already lost of idea’s and the trick will be to be patient and only change in small steps.

In agile we use a lot of double loop learning. While writing this up I realize that CoachRetreat is quadrupple loop learning. Not because I want mine to be bigger/better etc, it’s because I stand on the shoulders of giants.

Rachel Davies invented Coaching Dojo.

Coray Haines co-creator of Code Retreat.

Coach Retreat = Coaching Dojo + Code Retreat
(Oana invented this tag line, did I mention already I love working with people smarter then me?)

Very nice yves, could you know become a little more practical?

Yes: 1 hard rule, at coach retreat we speak the local language. (In this case French)

We started with a group Check-in

We had 6 situation agile coaches encounter at clients. These 6 situation we put on the walls of our retreat center. We asked our coaches to DotVote on the situations. The winning situation we worked on the whole day.
Really? Work the whole day on one situation?
yes, one situation. That works fine for code retreat, so we do the same.
Well you don’t have to copy everything from Corey do you?
True, but we should not reject anything without trying too. Actually the coaches in Paris initially had the same reaction you had. Yet we stuck to our plan.
That does not sounds really agile…
I actually think it was, read on and then judge.
Just like CodeRetreat we work on the same story but with different techniques.


We experiment with one technique during 65 Minutes.

5 minutes explaining the problem
10 minutes of working
5 minutes local debrief
10 min replay with the same actors
5 min local debrief
10 min replay with the same actors
5 min local debrief

15 min of group debrief (retrospective)

>> this is the first learning loop (actually the second but that will become clear later)

Then we redo the story with another coaching technique.
In total we do 4 to 5 different coaching techniques==> this is the second/Third learning loop.

His were the coaching techniques we used this CoachRetreat


We ended the day with a Circle of Questions

The click rewind is where the first learning loop comes into play. Because anyone can stop what is gong on, while it is going on and people replay what they did, you have a learning loop right in the action.

The fourth learning loop is when we will have more CoachRetreats. Then we loop at CoachRetreat level.

Already after the second sessions, people that said that they did not wanted to replay the same story the whole day had changed their mind. Participants found lots of value in the replaying of the story and experimenting with coaching styles.

One of the places were people did coach, we asked everyone (even observers) to paint.

I have also created a google group for CoachRetreat:

something I forgot:

  • use #MyDailyThankYou
  • mention I give FLS (Free Lifetime Support) on everything I do.
  • mention that I’m writing the Who Are agilist book with answers from Oana, Rachel & me (together with already 27 others..)

I already received a request for a CoachRetreat in Bordeaux & Lille, Montpellier. Where do you want to organize one?

This weeks Who Is is Dennis Stevens. Dennis was proposed by Don Gray. I personally don’t know anything about Dennis (which makes it exiting to have him in Who Is).
On his websits I find a few intriguing things about Dennis, one he combines PMI & agile and he did Lean Value Stream mappings in 1994. They year I started to work…

This is what Don said about him:  I like Dennis approach to introducing managers to both the benefits of improving their work systems and the practical approach of continuous improvement.

Announcement: the Who is Series will be turned into a book, pre-register at Leanpub

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

I played the violin in high school. I was a four time all-state violin player and a National Scholastic Orchestra Award Winner as a senior. I was also the student conductor of the high school orchestra for two years. Then I was a music major at Florida State University where I learned more about conducting and performing. Although I wasn’t talented enough to be successful in a performance career, my experiences had two huge influences on me. First, I learned to balance individual preparation with the teamwork of performing as part of an ensemble. Second, I learned that every role in a production has a high level of craft to it. What looks easy from the outside is very challenging to perform at a high level. I carry the lessons I learned with me into my coaching and consulting interactions.

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

I would have been a high school teacher and baseball coach. I love baseball and I find creating a passion for performance and teaching solid fundamentals a successful and rewarding strategy.

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

I am actually an introvert. This leads me to be very prepared when I get in front of a group of people to teach and interact from a coaching standpoint. It also allows me to step back and observe the interactions of the people around me because I don’t need to be in the center of it.

What drives you ?

Learning how to improve the situations and challenges I see around me.  From Business Analysis, Project Management, Product Development, Testing, and Organizational Leadership I try to understand why non-productive behavior makes sense and try to find better ways to do the work and ways to communicate the better ways. People shouldn’t have to live and work under unreasonable circumstances when healthier and more productive ways are within reach.

What is your biggest achievement?

Raising my children.

What is the last book you have read?

Gerald Weinberg‘s Perfect Software and Gojko Adzic’s Specification by Example. Probably written 30 years apart, both contain an awful lot of pragmatic and useful information regarding testing software.

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

Where will you be in 10 years? I will be working in organization’s trying to understand why they operate the way they do and hopefully leading efforts to improve performance. I will also be coaching young kids in basketball or baseball.

Who do you think I should ask next?

Shane Hastie

The next person on the WhoIs list is Vickie Gray. I met Vickie when I went to Texas for my first McCarthy Bootcamp. She was one of my five trainers. Although she technically is not part of THE agile community, I think her mindset is more agile then most of us. She is one of the persons I will ask for help without hesitation. When she does not have time, she will flatout say, without making drama. For that alone I dare to ask her for help more then anyone else. When I asked Jim & Michele over for the first European bootcamp she and her partner Paul helped me out when Jim was prevented from coming.  I was again amazed by her use of the Investigate protocol. As our own personal “Wood Come Story” (inside joke for bootcampers) her book Creating Time was released just in time…

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

I teach yoga. The whole person approach of yoga changed how I saw myself in the world and influences how I see others, especially my clients. It’s so easy in IT to become just a head, all logic and curiosity, with an occasionally distracting body we drag around. That’s how I lived for years – completely in my head. Finally I was experiencing enough physical problems I couldn’t ignore it any more. Over the years I’ve tried all kinds of approaches to keep my body reasonably healthy and have settled on yoga. And when I teach it keeps me moving forward with my own practice.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?
I may have become a university professor or writer

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?
Not being distracted by interesting new things. Innovation is important working with IT and people, and keeping the balance between bleeding edge and patience keeps me focused on what’s important for me and my clients.

What drives you ?
A sense of justice and optimism. I believe we are all capable of so much more than we believe ourselves to be, and we have everything we need right now to be awesome. I’m also attracted to new and shiny things. I’m not afraid of being an early adopter. It’s fascinating to get glimpses of what is possible as it’s emerging.

What is your biggest achievement?
Learning to love someone without reserve.

What is the last book you have read?
More Time to Think from Nancy Kline

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
Sneaky! That’s my question! How about “How will the world be different because you’re in it?”
And the answer is, the people I touch, and the people they touch, will have an experience of their real potential for greatness, and real, tangible evidence that they can accomplish what they want to. Unequivocally. Every time.

Who do you think I should ask next?
Glenda Eoyang

The answers of last weeks ATQ, can be found on the Agile Manifesto page

I on purpose don’t copy them as the page contains a lot of detail about what these statements mean.

I mixed the answers with some statements of the Software Craftmanship manifesto

Another agile related manifestos is the Declaration of interdependance


This video is a nice example of a person who is better prepared then she knows.
Maria Joao Pires was expecting another Mozart concerto. You can see that from the moment she realizes this, she is blocked. Then Ricardo Chailly – while conducting his orchestra- convinced her she could do it. My guess is, his trust was enough for her to try.

For todays ATQ I did not receive any quiz about agile. One of the things I do as a coach (I did not learn it from Lyssa Adkins but she made me aware of it.) is when a teams is stuck, I ask them to go back to  the agile manifesto. Read the first page and read principle page and see if we can find an answer in there for our problems.

So I thought why don’t I do the same thing for my problem here. Why don’t I open the mainfesto and see if I see a sentence about which I can create 4 questions.
I looked. And I saw 4 statements.

Do I(we) really know the statements that well?  Try to select the right 4 sentences without going back to the manifesto.

  • Statement 1:

1) Individuals and processes over interactions and tools
2) Interactions and processes over individuals and tools
3) Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
4) Individuals and tools over processes and interactions
5) Processes and tools over individuals and interactions
6) Interactions and tools over individuals and processes

  • Statement 2:

1) Working software with lots of documentation
2) Working software over comprehensive documentation
3) Working software with as little documentation as possible
4) Working software without documentation
5) Well-crafted software over comprehensive documentation
6) Well-crafted software over working software

  • Statement 3:

1) Productive partnerships over customer collaboration
2) customer collaboration over contract negotiation
3) Productive partnerships over contract negotiation
4) customer partnerships over contract collaboration
5) customer partnerships over contract negotiation
6) Productive contracts over negotiation collaboration

  • Statement 4:

1) Creating a plan over following a plan
2) Following a plan over constant changes
3) Responding to change over following a plan
4) Steadily adding value over responding to change
5) Responsive changes over perfect plans
6) Planning for changes over following responsivenes