Archive for March, 2012

I don’t remember where I met Joke for the first time. I do remember that at Agile 2008 in Toronto she recommended two books to me. Innovation Games and a book about building bridges. I had read Beyond Software Architecture of Luke Hohman and I had the small innovation Game booklet in my bag. I had never heard of Gojko. I’m happy she convinced me to read his book.
That conversation is a typical conversation with Joke. Although she is very smart and knows more than most people I know, she talks about other people. I still remember XPday Benelux 2008. She had been doing an internal presentation about her power workshops at a client we both worked for. Xavier had convinced her to bring her material to the conference. During the conference there was a session cancelled. Joke proposed fill in for that session. Her session was selected for Mini XPdays 2009 (which is a "best of XpDays", 6 months later.) Joke is also the first person who negotiated a Who Is release date without having sent any answers to me. That says as much about my trust for her as her negotiation abilities.

 

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?
 
Even though I mention it in my bio, most people don’t know that I studied art and have an MBA. I am actually a Master in Visual Arts with a specialization in Graphical Design. After those studies I decided I didn’t want to do the graphical work itself but wanted to become the person in an Advertising Agency bridging the gap between the customers and the designers. Someone advised me to take an MBA and so I got into the Vlerick Management School for an MBA in Marketing Management.
 
When I graduated the head professor confessed that he had taken me on as an experiment, never having had an art student applying for an MBA before. He concluded it had been a success to create diversity in the group and add someone with a fresh and creative view on things.
 
With these diplomas I searched for a job and ended up in a web agency, the Internet at that point being a whole new world to most people.  My background in design and marketing brought me into the field of website usability, user experience, later acceptance testing, then analysis and eventually I got to know Agile.
 
If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

From all this you might conclude that if I would not be in IT, I would have been in advertisingWho knows?
 
What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

My biggest challenge is not to doubt myself. People who know me might burst out in laughter hearing me say this because I have been called the ice queen and was asked where I was hiding my whip. But in fact I am, in my own way, very insecure. Yes, if you would compare me with most other people I would probably score high on self-confidence. But in my own eyes I am insecure which keeps me modest and open to continuous improvement.
 
What drives you?

In a way it is the same thing that challenges me. Once I get into a comfortable position I get bored and feel like I have to get to the next level so that I can doubt myself again, improve, get comfortable again, get that urge to do something more and so on.
 
What is your biggest achievement?

One day, getting frustrated while sitting through the umpteenth meeting resulting in nothing, I started summarizing the items that came out of the discussion on post-its, sticking them on the wall behind me. My colleagues started directing their attention to that wall, pointing at it, asking to move and add things. We managed to keep focused on the topic and our directed thinking resulted into a plan so that at the end of that meeting everybody walked out having a great feeling about the fact that something had been decided.
 
From there I worked towards the concept of what someone at some point started calling, ‘Power Workshops’, which are about organizing and facilitating workshops and are based on the lean and agile principles of teamwork, cooperative exploration, discovery of knowledge and visual representation of information. I’ve found that they are the most effective way to kick start an ICT project and offer the minimum amount of analysis up front necessary to reach a common understanding of project goals, scope, cost and duration between business and ICT resulting in a Product Backlog and basic idea of an architecture needed to start Agile Development.

My work in this area has been recognized with awards, endorsements and invitations to speak at international Agile conferences.
 
What is the last book you have read?

The last book I read is "The Fountainhead” a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand. It speaks of an era where the mass keeps on copying the old ways and is scared of change and new things. The writer uses the topic of modernistic architecture to bring her views on change and what drives it to prove that all big thinkers and all improvements are always condemned and unwanted at first, but eventually get recognized.
Makes you think of Agile versus Waterfall, right!?
 
What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

Ask me why it took me so long (8 months since you first asked) to answer these questions. Well I’ve become a mom a while back and although it wasn’t my intention to put my career on hold, somehow it kind of happened. You get less sharp, you evolve slower, I didn’t come up with new things, which I could share with the community and thus didn’t feel like I belonged in this book for the moment.  But things are changing and besides the fact that I am pregnant again I have set some new goals I want to work toward this year.
 
Who do you think I should ask next?

This shouldn’t come as a surprise: Xavier Quesada Allue.

 

If you like these answers, you can by our book: who is agile.

Carlo was invited by Oana. Carlo is one of these people I know over twitter.
What I find interesting about Carlo, is that he is calls himself a developer and a system administrator. A DevOps avant la lettre. On his website he mentions he uses Pomodoro Technique. Which is not so strange knowing he is Italian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Many people who know me as an IT professional ignore the tremendous impact that my wife Karina has had in my life. To make a long story short: she held my hand, in the last 8 years, while I learned how to be proud of myself – and not ashamed.

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

(Bio Time! 😉 At 18, I was sure I would have become a journalist – possibly a Robert Fisk, or a Ryszard Kapuscinski. When I did actually study media and journalism (and learned about news-making routines, construction of reality, self-censorship) all poetry vanished. I did not want to be “part of the machine”. Still, I was fond of semiotics,  and international relations. This somehow led me to a sincere involvement with grassroots activism and free software. I started to “do web” more seriously around 2000.

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

I want to change the world – to make it a better place to live. This is my BIG BIG challenge. And it’s been on the top of my list for the last 20 years 😉
In my current daily IT job, while designing and developing what we call “sustainable IT solutions I feel that I’m part of this “global effort. Delivering real value, delighting customers, respecting co-workers, creating win-win-win situations, … – I am giving my small but concrete contribution.

Whenever I manage to perceive myself *aligned* with this goal, and with all other people walking the same path, I feel just great – smiling, light, energized. And of course this is something good – for me and for those around me.
(I’m constantly training my eyes and heart, to discern this alignment, and to stay aware of this sense of belonging. There are mountains of injustice, violence and hypocrisy which populate our towns and lives – and they are very good at hiding the beauty and the happiness.)

On a much more trivial level, I’d like to list a couple of other challenges I’m facing.

First, I strive to better organize my time and activities, to achieve the highest productivity, value generation and sustainability. I’m not that bad at it, but I know I can do much better. (I’ve recently assisted a great on-line presentation by Aslam Kahn about personal flow, personal flow of waste, … )

Second, I’m looking to find my balance, in an actual context, where I need to be a charismatic leader (and not just only a servant one) without letting my ego expand too much and narcissism prevail.

These challenges are very good, since they’re part of my walk of continuous self-improvement. I’m very happy to see myself getting slowly better and to be able set the bar each time a little higher.

What drives you?

Passion.
Desire of growing, of evolving.
The pleasure to learn.
The will to feel proud of myself.
The beauty of sharing.

What is your biggest achievement?

Generally speaking, I love it when others appreciate something I do (and I’m happy if they use it, practice it,  enjoy it :-).
A couple of years ago, my team and I had designed and released an extension to a very popular opensource CRM.  It became the most downloaded plugin for that software] and it was then included in the successive release. This was a big satisfaction – and a win-win-win-win-win situation  (for me, for my team, the company I worked for, that CRM company, that CRM community, …) 😉

Last year, I had made plans for moving to a different job, in a bigger company. Two members of my team came to me and said “We have something for you. We want to make our own company. But we need you.” That’s how Devsum was born in summer 2010. We’re small, lean, and proud 😉

What is the last book you have read?

I’ve recently read Jim Womack Gemba walks. An Agile enthusiast and practitioner for a few years, I’m getting more and more passionate about Lean. I’m currently reading Stephen Denning “The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management”. (Both of them on my Kindle).

More recently, I just finished reading Lean From the Trenches by Henrik Kniberg, and I’m reading the amazing Managing yourself and others (Quality Software) by Jerry

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

It took me two months to answer to your eight questions. If I’m to formulate the questions too, we’ll end up being in 2012 😉 Anyway, your questions are great. As others mentioned before, there’s many more you could eventually ask me, but none that you should 😉

Who do you think I should ask next?

Please send these questions to Claudio Perrone. Already known at the international level, he is doing an amazing job, especially with lean tools applied to the IT domain.

And send them also to Jacopo Romei. He’s not so famous outside Italy, but he’s a very smart, skilled and creative agile coach – and he’s very active in grooming the Italian agile community.

If you like these questions. You can read Carloz and similar answers in our book Who is agile.

Jukka was invited by Esther. She says: Jukka has boundless curiosity about how people and organizations tick. What I wonderfull way to describe someone. Interesting is the least you can say of Jukka. When you look at Jukka’s Linkedin profile, you see he was

and now

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

I went to Helsinki Upper Secondary School of Visual Arts for high school. The school had a strong emphasis on visual arts (maybe 1/4 of the classes was something related to arts and creativity ) and it had a big impact on me. The atmosphere at school was quite unconventional as high schools go (at least so I think) and we were provided a quite a lot of freedom (/w responsibility) on choosing our studies and where to spend our time.

A part of my open-mindedness and creative out-of-the-box thinking has likely been influenced by my years doodling stuff and hanging out with the creative and interesting people there.

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

Most likely an architect or engineer, but possibly a mathematician or physicist. Before high school I was striving to become an architect due my interest in arts. It would have been quite natural job selection as our family has a background in construction and engineering.

The employment situation at the time for architects wasn’t too good in Finland so I decided to pursue my childhood passion – computers and information science at the Helsinki University of Technology.

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

I become absorbed in new interesting things very easily. When I find something interesting, other things that I have been focusing on all fall to the background.

I get a huge boost of energy when I learn or do something new, whether that is doing gymnastics, a new book, playing chess or giving effective feedback to colleagues. Because of that good feeling and energy I get a lot of done in a short amount of time.

The drawback is of course the lack of attention to other things – for instance I might realize after a month that I have not finished some other things I had picked up earlier (read a book, create a new training module). This makes me sad as it means at times I have a lot of WIP or loose ends. For example I have a huge (and I mean huge!) pile of books that I’ve started with enthusiasm but haven’t finished.

Overall I think this habit is good for me, because I love learning and making associations. Reading and trying a lot of different things I get new insights about how things relate to each other; and I can help others by pointing out to sources of information on different subjects.

What drives you?

The thing that has always driven me is challenge. If there’s a challenge it is highly likely that I will be very motivated on what ever the challenge is about. Learning is another big thing for me, I love learning new things and I have almost endless curiosity :). Having a new insights is so big a boost for me, that I’m almost addicted...

Something that I’ve found more and more motivating during the last couple of years is helping other people.

When I see someone become more motivated, satisfied, happy and energetic, I get a huge boost of energy for myself.  I don’t know whether this is the cause or effect of my focus from coding and solving technical challenges to helping people and coaching people.

What is your biggest achievement?

Tough question. When thinking of my life, no specific one achievement jump to my mind. What I do recall, is  the many many hours spent on pondering and working on some challenges or doing something else I enjoy.

For me, the destination is not that important, it’s how I got there that I remember and value.

One the my journeys that I treasure is my personal transformation from an expert to a coach – the biggest achievement is that I decided to start this transformation. There’s many great learnings and insights I’ve had during the years on this road – and still learning! 

What is the last book you have read?

Well well.. 🙂 Does a partially read book count ?

The last book I read fully was The Anatomy of Peace by Arbinger Institute. It is an outstanding novel that helped me understand how I am not only responsible of my actions, but also of my feelings and how this revelation affects the relationships with people. It had a huge impact on my outlook on life.

After The Anatomy of Peace I’ve started about half a dozen books. Here’s the one’s that I am multi-reading and almost finished with:

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

What’s your last significant insight related to your work?

I got big insight from David Rocks’ school of coaching which is based on latest brain science; When coaching, stay away from details, concentrate on the other coachee’s thinking.

Questions about details like "What happened next? What are the different factors of that problem?" are usually not too useful in helping the coachee go forward. They lead to information exchange between the coach and coachee, rather than create insights or momentum.

As a coach I don’t need to know the details of the dilemma, the coachee knows all of that already. In fact, my goal is not to know about coachee’s problem, but help that person go forward. For that I need to help that person come up with new insights about the situation. For example asking questions related to the coachee’s thinking has much higher probability on creating an insight for the coachee ("Where is your thinking right now on this issue? What have you learned? What else?").

The insight was not really while hearing or reading about this, but as I started trying this out. I’ve have great results trying this approach. You can read more about this from Quiet Leadership or Coaching with the Brain in Mind by David Rock.

Who do you think I should ask next?

Bas Vodde, who a nice wise guy living in Singapore.  I’ve known Bas for many years and I’ve never won an argument with him :).

 

If you like these answers, you can find more in the “Who is agile” book. Jukka also answerd the Ola Ellnestam’s question: What is your favorite question right now?

Last weeks Thursday I published another ATQ this one about Daily standups. The questions came from Simon Baker. Here are his answers: (I added my comments with his, to show there is not one truth)

1. What are the goals of the daily stand-up?

a) Share status information.

b) Report progress to the manager.

c) Identify impediments.

d) Set direction and synchronise the day’s activities.

e) Remove impediments.

f) Assign work to people.

Correct Answers:

a) Even when there’s promiscuous pair programming, it’s useful for individuals to hear fresh updates from their team mates (especially at the start of the day) to get a sense of overall progress towards the goals. It’s also helpful to share anything interesting and relevant that people may find  generally useful.

c) Impediments can’t be removed if nobody knows about them. It’s therefore important to make people aware of new impediments and raise early awareness, and also update them on progress to remove existing impediments.

d) With an understanding of current status the team can organize itself to provide assistance where it’s needed and work collectively to maintain the flow of work to done and move closer to achieving its goals.

Incorrect Answers:

b) The daily standup is the team’s forum for communicating the latest useful information to one another and collectively coordinating their activities for the day. It’s not a meeting for people to report to a manager or leader.

e) Removing impediments takes time and happens outside the daily standup.

f) Work is not assigned to people. People volunteer. The team is meant to be self-organizing and should decide for itself how best to deploy in order to achieve its goals.

Remarks from Yves:

F) >> this is were you see that details are important. When you assign the work in the team by the team. You could say it F is also ok. (Although I prefer people sign up themselves)

2. What do people talk about at the daily stand-up?

a) Impediments that are causing delays.

b) Percentage complete on work in progress.

c) What will be attempted today.

d) Solutions to problems.

e) Ask questions to clarify understanding.

f) What was accomplished yesterday.

Correct Answers:

a) People actively working to remove impediments and clear obstacles blocking stories provide updates on their progress.

c) Individuals state succinctly what they’ll be working on today.

e) It’s often necessary for people to ask clarifying questions of others to get a clear understanding of what’s been said. If a discussion develops about problem solving it should be taken offline and continued after the daily standup.

f) Individuals provide a bulletin on the progress they made yesterday. This is headline information and not details. It can be helpful to summarise the acceptance criteria satisfied (providing the acceptance criteria are expressed in a meaningful way).

Incorrect Answers:

b) Progress isn’t reported by the percentage done. As humans, we’re very good at knowing when something is started and when something has been finished, but we’re terrible at knowing anything in-between. It can be informative to talk about progress in terms of the acceptance criteria satisfied or outstanding (providing the acceptance criteria are expressed in a meaningful way).

d) Make people aware of any new problems but the daily standup is too short to fix problems. Discussing potential solutions and agreeing a way forward is done outside the daily standup.

Remarks Yves

B) Depends on how you look at progres. % progress on storys/task I agree.

If WIP is shown by one card per task/story. You do see some progress indication when some parts are done.

3. Why do people standup at the daily standup?

a) Stimulate a higher level of attentiveness.

b) More people can huddle.

c) Helps keep the standup short.

d) It’s easier for people to queue up to speak.

e) Avoid deep vein thrombosis.

f) It’s more sociable.

Correct Answers:

a) Standing up prompts people to engage as their physical movement stimulates a mental readiness, for a while at least.

c) Standing up provides everyone with a physical reminder to be expeditious. When people start fidgeting it’s a sure sign the standup is taking too long.

Incorrect Answers:

b) It might be possible to fit more people in when everyone is standing, and it might even make it easier for people to see the board, but in and of itself it’s not really a reason to be standing.

d) People don’t queue up to speak at the daily standup, the team walks the board, i.e. the story owners speak according to the order of work on the board. Typically, impediments are covered first followed by the stories in progress (including defects, systems work, and technical debt), either working down from the highest value story (story board) or working backwards from the done column (Kanban board).

e) While office workers probably do spend more time on their butts it’s arguably not long enough to develop deep vein thrombosis.

f) Sociability probably has more to do with how friendly people are, how well they know each other, how well they get on together, and whether it’s a safe environment than it does standing up.

4. What are the signs of a good daily stand-up?

a) Everybody gets to speak.

b) It happens at the same time every day, where the work happens.

c) It manages itself.

d) Afterwards, people feel energised and are clear about what they’re doing.

e) Stakeholders come to observe.

f) It takes less than 15 minutes.

Correct Answers:

b) Doing the daily standup at the same time and in the same place removes coordination costs and helps make it a habit. It also lets other people drop by and observe proceedings. A standup first thing in the morning provides a springboard for launching into the day. It makes sense to do it around the board because that’s where the information lives about what’s going on and it provides triggers on what needs to happen.

c) A good standup feels like it managed itself. I’ve seen daily standups done without any facilitation where people get to the point, share information, organise, and jump into the work day with clarity.

d) A good standup gets people energised.Maintaining a clear sense of purpose and urgency to make a difference rather than just get busy on activities reminds people why they’re dong what they’re doing and focuses their attention on what needs to be done to achieve the goals.

e) This may be a contentious view but I think it’s good to have stakeholders and people from other parts of the business present who want to hear about progress or relevant information. I include an ‘any other business’ piece at the end of the daily standup to allow stakeholders a few seconds to share relevant information with the team. Sharing information in the presence of stakeholders removes the need for other status meetings and reports.

f) The daily standup ought to be short and sweet. 15 minutes or less is a general rule of thumb, regardless of the number of people attending. Any longer than 15 minutes and energy dissipates and minds begin to wander.

Incorrect Answers:

a) Nowadays it’s common practice to talk about the stories rather than each person answer the three Scrum questions. Focus shifts from personal commitment to moving work in progress to done. This means it’s not necessary for everyone to speak at the daily standup. Perhaps the current story owners do most of the talking.

Remarks Yves

I do agree in general with the remark about A. Yet on not teams that struggle with commitment I can be good to have everyone speaking. And if people don’t speak, what they have done should have been discussed (f ex if the paired, their pair should have spoken)

Some URL’s about Daily Standups

See what wikipedia has to say about standups

A few years back Simon wrote a popular article about Standup’s.

Jason Yip wrote a few patterns about Standups (on Martin Fowlers blog).

Also Mike Cohn wrote about standups

On the first wiki (from Ward) there is also a page about standups

Even on Methods and Tools has an article on Daily Standups (from Mike Vizdos)

Big Visible has a post on extreme standups

Also the website Extreme programming has a post on standup meeting

Because of my work on the “Who is agile” book I did not publish new ATQ in a few weeks.
A lot of people struggle with a standup. As with a lot of things, it’s simple but not easy.
For this ATQ, Simon Baker helped me out with the questions.

1. What are the goals of the daily stand-up?
a) Share status information.
b) Report progress to the manager.
c) Identify impediments.
d) Set direction and synchronize the day’s activities.
e) Remove impediments.
f) Assign work to people.

2. What do people talk about at the daily stand-up?
a) Impediments that are causing delays.
b) Percentage complete on work in progress.
c) What will be attempted today.
d) Solutions to problems.
e) Ask questions to clarify understanding.
f) What was accomplished yesterday.

3. Why do people standup at the daily standup?
a) Stimulate a higher level of attentiveness.
b) More people can huddle.
c) Helps keep the standup short.
d) It’s easier for people to queue up to speak.
e) Avoid deep vein thrombosis.
f) It’s more sociable.

4. What are the signs of a good daily stand-up?
a) Everybody gets to speak.
b) It happens at the same time every day, where the work happens.
c) It manages itself.
d) Afterwards, people feel energized and are clear about what they’re doing.
e) Stakeholders come to observe.
f) It takes less than 15 minutes.

I met Jenni a few years back at XPDay Benelux. She did a wonderfull session together with Portia Tung. I have to admit I was at the session because of Portia. I was so impressed with Jenni, I went to her flirting with your stakeholder session the next day. I left even more impressed. I had numerous online conversation with Jenni since. I was really glad when Nicole invited her.

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

Many people do not know that I had a sister who died in a car accident. She was nearly 18, I was 20. That was the first time I’d experienced a death of someone close to me. I felt a lot of guilt at the time – she was a much happier person than I was. And being the only surviving sibling, I felt a bit lost dealing with my and my parents’ grief. Of course, this is a sad story, but it has had a major influence on my life. I really appreciate who my sister was, and afterwards I can see that I appreciate others so much more, I think, than I would have without having gone through this loss. Living each day to the fullest is not a cliché for me. It’s helped me to make some courageous decisions.

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

Hmmm, I guess I am now working in IT, aren’t I? I’m helping project teams improve their communication and collaboration. But I don’t have an IT background, so I don’t necessarily identify myself as “in IT.” I think that if I had not discovered Agile, I would still be working with executives and organizations helping them communicate the benefits of their products and services to end-user customers. I like what I do now much better. It’s more challenging, more interesting and I can see a greater good created by using Agile methodologies within the entire organization.

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

My biggest challenge right now is to continue to integrate in Denmark. I moved here from the U.S. in 2008 (for love). My Danish is not quite fluent yet, but I’ve made major steps. My next goal is, in two years, to be doing my work completely in Danish if that is what the client prefers. Really learning the language is good for me because it’s been an unexpected “test” that I think helps keep my mind sharp. Isn’t that what they say, you should challenge your brain by learning another language? It’s either that or crossword puzzles

What drives you?

Two things: my desire to share what I know with others to help them align with goals, create meaning for their stakeholders, and build trust within the organization, AND my perfectionist tendencies, which are not always a good thing. I want to do the best job I can at all times. Making my clients happy is critical, but making sure I feel I’ve done my very best is even more important to me.

What is your biggest achievement?

Helping raise my independent, clever, curious son. He’s 24 now and it’s so great for me to see his transformation and know that I played a part in that.

What is the last book you have read?

Fiction: Fire dage i marts, about a woman’s relationship with her mother, grandmother, son and boyfriend, and events that span four days in March – in Danish.
Non-fiction: SWITCH, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath about organizational change.

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

Q. Where do you go to learn?
A. Many places: conferences (especially the smaller ones), books, courses, blogs, twitter…but conversations, really deep conversations, with others both in and outside of the Agile community, seem to be where I learn most.

Who do you think I should ask next?

There are so many smart, talented people in this community. How about:

  • Ole Jepsen – my partner in all things, and the man that brought “Agile” to Denmark.
  • Martin Heider – young, energetic, helping lead the Agile movement in Germany.
  • Michael Sahota  – okay, I just feel good hanging around Michael. His focus is on using games as a way to align with strategies and get people really communicating.
  • Portia Tung  – her ability to get at the heart of the matter and work with teams to find answers is uncanny.

If you like these answers, you can find more in the book: who is agile. Jenni also answered Lisa’s question: What are you looking forward to most in the next few months?