Archive for June, 2012

Dusan was suggested by Nicole. Here is what she has to say about Dusan.

When I think of Dusan, the first words that come up in my mind are: Agilist, and gentleman.

I first met him in Chicago, at the headquarters of the company we were both helping to do a worldwide Agile adoption. Quiet, smiling, not wanting to interfere nor impose himself. This modest man in the back of the room turned out to be one of the Agile thought leaders in Eastern Europe. One who truly understands and lives up to the spirit of Agile. Working with Dusan was a great experience. During our calls, our travels… I learned a lot from him about the Eastern European culture. I enjoyed his stories about his childhood in a communist country. I liked the Slovak sweets he thoughtfully brought to our meetings. And I’ll never forget how he carried my suitcase all over Frankfurt, because a gentleman won’t let a lady do it herself!

Yves: I recognizes Dusan in what Nicole writes. He was a wonderful supporter of lots of the innitiatives I started. Not only was he one of the first to join the Retroflection team, he even proposed to [create t-shirts about them to distributed at ALE2011.


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

In my opinion I am very influenced by Gemini constellation I was born at. People born in this constellation are known as people who like to start new things with great challenge to finish previous one. Even I try to improve my habits, I am still good example of that.

I studied and designed electronics for six years, but then I switched to software development. By that I mean coding in hexadecimal code I started with. Not the assembler, coding in 21h 03h 13h.

The real challenge was to learn objective C++ as the next language. I felt absolutely lost. I wanted to use hexadecimal codes as I was much more effective using them. At that time I did not realize how often I will see this pattern of feelings later in my life. Well, official name is Satir change model.

Five years ago the book Scrum and XP from Trenches has landed on my desk. That changed my life for the next five years. It is unbelievable how much such short book can change. A life of developer has changed to a life of product owner, entrepreneur, trainer and agile coach.

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

Maybe I would be aquarium shop owner. Because of beauty and emotions you can create, because of a fish tank environment that is silent and bubbling at the same time. It is the environment that allows people to rest. And because it attracts people who create a community excited to share a knowledge and experience. Most of that is what I miss in IT.

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

I had great opportunity to work with engaged people who loved to create products and were keen to get any feedback for their work.

But in last few years of coaching I work with people who see just problems around them so they are not very interested in creativity. Maybe you know that sentence: “I am developer. Why should I care about XYZ”.

The good thing is I saw the both riversides. So I try to build a bridge every day. Piece by piece. In a peace.

What drives you?

Aha moment. The moment in which new things are discovered. Sometimes it is my moment, but I like more to see this moment on faces of people I work with.

In personal life, I am driven by my wife and two daughters. I need them to forget about work. And I am thankful for that.

What is your biggest achievement?

It is hard to mention just one if your work stands on four legs.

It is the solution I develop with my team. It exists in highly competitive area for fifth year. The biggest achievement is a knowledge I gained because of that.

Also, I am very proud we were able to engage agile community here in Slovakia. Because we see it as possibility how software will be developed here.

What is the last book you have read?

The last was about Steve Jobs. But mentioning it might sounds like a cliché.

So I would like to mention a book “Canada without maple sugar” written by one lady with origins in Slovakia. She moved to Canada with her family. It is about the life of people who emigrated from socialist Czechoslovakia to absolutely different continent, a different way of life, language, culture and economic reality. It is hard to imagine such a change.

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

“Where does your energy come from?”

This is the question many people ask me. I gain the energy from moving to the next crossroad. Maybe it is because of Gemini constellation I mentioned before.

Who do you think I should ask next?

I would be interested to read about

Tim Yevgrashyn and Paul Klipp.

  • Tim is an agile coach and an author of very interesting blog. He provides a lot to agile community.
  • And why Paul? I met him twice in AgileEE. He is a man with insights about running an agile company. Paul moved from America to Krakow in Poland. It is pity I live so close (200 kilometers) to Krakow, but without a chance to talk to him again.

Patrick was suggested by JB. Here is what JB has to say about Patrick.

I met Pat Welsh by pairing with him during the Agile 2003 conference. We instantly connected and in less than 2 years we had already taught several courses together for agile-minded programmers. Pat cares about improving working conditions for all programmers, helping them develop both technical and personal skills. Pat taught me to “release the outcome”, meaning don’t take responsibility for other peoples’ willingness to act on my advice. I am a much saner consultant because of what I’ve learned from Pat.



















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

I have a regular contemplative practice: meditation and yoga. Without them I would not be able to maintain my mental and physical health, and they inform most of my world-view and metaphysics. They have brought me to value affection, compassion, kindness, courage, integrity, accountability, humor, and connection much more than I once did.

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

I would have been a horribly drug-addicted famous rock guitarist and songwriter.

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

Self corroboration; seeing, honoring, and crediting my considerable talents, skills, experience, and judgment. It is ridiculously difficult for me to routinely recognize my worth. This makes my hyper-aware of others’ insecurities, and helps me understand when Professional difficulties have more to do with emotional maturity or emotional issues than any other root cause.

What drives you ?

The need to learn, the need to help others learn, the need to help our currently miserable learning systems evolve into gloriously engaging, fulfilling, fun systems, rather than our current educational model (which is, in my judgment, shaming, punitive, and drives students mainly to conform and perform).

The need to connect with others. The need to speak and be heard. The need for everyday poetry – the inherently metaphoric nature of deep truth.

What is your biggest achievement?

My awesome two children, and awesome community of friends and collaborators.

What is the last book you have read?

Just re-read Neil Stephenson’s The Diamond Age His prose is really quite glorious.

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

What kind of socio economic fabric is trying to evolve in this century? What are trying to become as a species?

  1. Here is what I know:
  1. Questions

– we are trying to evolve into something new. What is it? How it is different from our current situation? How might is be more advanced and progressive, rather as Democracy is superior to Tyranny? What will happen? Who will survive? How will they survive?

  1. So I have only hopes, fears, and vague hypotheses for you by way of answers.
  2. Hopes:

My hope is that small is the new big : big governments and big corporations end up becoming ineffective compared to emerging small entities, like bio-regional governments, cities or city states, and small companies. My hope is that in the future, our service economies are largely global, and our product economies are largely local. My hope is that in the future, we spend more of our money and time on children than on beer, sports, and cars. My hope is that in the future, we work to live, but we do not live to work. My hope is that in the future, we learn the power of contemplative practice, and we learn the deep meaning of these kinds of Zen aphorisms and questions:

  • “Don’t just do something, sit there!”
  • “You are not what you think. You are not what you feel. You are not what you own. You are not your job. You are not your salary. You are not your family. What, indeed, are you? Who are you?”
  • “What is the true nature of affection?”
  • “Why are we so bad at relationships?”
  • “Why does war exist?”
  1. Fears:

My fears are also many. I fear that at some point, the planetary ecosystem will reveal that it can only support less than a third of the current world population. So I fear that mass human die-offmight be inevitable.

  1. Prediction

My vague hypothesis is that a combination of economic collapse, disease, political change, war, and climate change will trigger Big Change. Essentially, I “predict” a violent Interregnum, followed by a global socio-economic reorganization.

Who do you think I should ask next?

Mike Hill

If you like these answers, you might want to buy our book: who is agile

I briefly walked into Deborah’s “Getting Unstuck, No More Buts!” session to pick up some Fearless Game cards 

Turns out that I walked in while she was talking about me.

I hesitated walking in,  to not disturb her class to much, turns out I was more surprised then she was…

That’s what Jim McCarthy would call a “Call Wood story”. (I can’t find an online reference, but somehow the people who are busy explaining the core, at one time are talking about another person, and that person miraculous shows up…)

Anyway she was talking about the perfection game and asked me if I had some references on my blog.


Here are a few references:

From 23 till 28 September We will have again a Open European Bootcamp In this camp people will learn a full week about creating teams.

Actually all the core protocols, were not created by Jim & Michele.

Jim & Michele decided 15 years ago to only do courses about creating teams.

They started out without a manual. Doing a one week training, were a groupd of people had the assignment to create a team by the end of the week.

After a few of these courses, they noticed, that similar things came back. So they started to write them down, and hand them on to the next group. And that is what they did for years. When things did not work anymore, or the current teams found something better, they left the old thing out and add the new thing.

After 15 years, I can assure you that the core is a powerfull set to use with teams.

I have to admit I am biased as I am a trainer now, but I can assure you, I would not have done that, if I would not have witnessed myself that in any training I followed I was teams emerging in less then a week.

let me repeat that:

You put a bunch of strangers together on sunday, and by Friday (And sometimes already by Wednesday) you have a rock solid team. And these teams, trust eachother more, than some of the groups I know that have been working together for 10 years.

And for those who doubt, yes that happened EVERY single time I saw a bootcamp. In a predictable way.

I know it sounds like a silver bullet. It’s sounds like sales oil.  yet that is my experience.


Brenda was suggested by Jean Tabaka. Here is what Jean has to say about Brenda.

I was fortunate enough to meet Brenda at Agile Beijing 2 years ago. During that time in Beijing, we had an opportunity to do some coaching and community building work together. Immediately, I knew I had met an incredible Agile force. Brenda has a passion around Agile that is sure to move not just teams and organizations but entire communities. I am so glad Brenda is a part of the “Who Is agile” book. You may not know her now. I hope some day you will. We are lucky that when we look at Brenda we see “Agile” creating a space in China and the global community.

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

I’ve been through tough swimming trainings in my childhood. I had to leave home at 6AM before all the neighbors got up. The coach was harsh, so that we could get better records. No matter how tired I was, there’s no escape for the next day. This experience influenced my character quite a lot. You need to be a strong kid to go through those years. What happens now is that I have a super strong heart beneath my smile that could not be knocked down easily.

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

Being in IT is a coincidence. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, giving kids the best guidance in their early life. Being a trainer is one step closer. Maybe it will be my choice for my a next job.

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

My biggest challenge is my looks. Very often, customers judge me from my young`looks. It’s still a good thing that getting used to being judged and sticking to what I can do makes me more mature.

What drives you?

I always believe that I was born to achieve something that I’ve not yet known. This belief drives me to follow my intuition to do the right thing and to do the thing right.

What is your biggest achievement?

Once I met a client on the subway. At that time the coaching period was already finished. But we still talked about Agile and software. I was so glad to know that even though the coaches were gone, the team still liked the Agile ways of working and was still improving by themselves. At that moment I felt a great sense of achievement because what I had been doing was really useful to people.

What is the last book you have read?

Making Software Just got the Chinese Version last week for which I was one of the translators.

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

What does Agile mean to your personal life?

Continuous improvement, responding to change, etc. All the Agile values and principles apply to individuals. Actually, to be a good Agile Coach, you need to be agile yourself first.

Who do you think I should ask next?


Do you like these answers? Then check out our book where we will have 89 people answering these questions.

This is my presentation as I delivered it to Vlerick Management school as part of their Lean Leadership in ICT day.

I forgot to mention that I offer Free Life Time Support on everything I do.

I also mentioned Real Options during my presentation. Here is a video of me explaining Real Options and how to do that in ICT.
The slides about Real Options can be found here

Actually the situation has changed since the taping of the video, we are now aiming for 89 people who answer the questions. (With 89 being a fibonacci number )
You can buy the who is agile book here.

I first met Portia at SPA in 2007. But it wasn’t until she started creating games with Pascal & Vera that I learned about her passion for games & fairy tales. Another nice example of someone following her passion and coming out with great products. Portia is a passionate coach who understands the language of C-level managers having been one herself. When you meet her, you won’t forget her. And I would not be surprised if she would not forget you.

And now it’s even better. Portia wrote an agile book. And what a book. I’m convinced The dream team nightmare is THE best agile coaching book.

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

I didn’t always study and work in the field of IT. My first degree was in English and French during which I spent a year out in Paris, France as an English language assistant.

My most memorable moment was during my first lesson when an African young man asked me, in French, “Will you give me a lower grade because of the colour of my skin?”

My brief language assistant training hadn’t prepared me for this. I was so surprised by the question that I had to re-parse his question several times in my head to be certain I’d heard correctly. I’d grown up with prejudice in many different guises, so his question struck a chord.

And so I drew on my limited life lessons up to the tender age of 19 and replied gently, yet firmly, “When you are in my class, the only thing that matters is how much you want to learn. I will help you if you are willing and your grade will reflect your endeavour.”

Looking back, that year abroad marks the starting point of my passion for the love and science of lifelong learning. That’s when I began my lifelong pursuit of realising human potential, that in others as well as in myself.

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

Most probably a teacher and a writer related to social enterprise. In practice, I have similar roles in IT: as a trainer, coach and international conference speaker (presenting in English and sometimes even in French!) as well as being a blogger and storyteller of Agile Fairytales.

As for the social enterprise element, I collaborate through giving and sharing what I have whenever I can by making my games available under the Creative Commons licence. It’s my small way of “doing good”. Great things can come from humble beginnings I’m told.

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

It’s tough to admit this, but my biggest challenge is myself. I’ve come to realise that the only thing standing between us and our dreams is ourselves. It’s easy to make excuses about why we don’t have the things we feel we deserve.

Using the concepts from Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, I’ve come to realise that both our span of control and sphere of influence are much bigger than we think. If we put our heart, mind and body into our endeavours, we can achieve what we need to be happy.

I’ve also come to realise that the value of our life’s journey can be amplified with love, patience and understanding of others and, most importantly, of ourselves. After all, only you can change yourself for the better.

What drives you?

The thought of succumbing to the fate of an adult sea squirt. Did you know that once an adult sea squirt finds a rock or some place to live out the rest of its life, it ends up devouring its own brain and nervous system since it no longer has the need to think and learn?

To avoid becoming a human zombie, you have to use it or lose it. This can be hard work at times and that’s why I invest so much effort in making learning fun. It keeps me growing regardless of which way the tide is flowing.

What is your biggest achievement?

To love what I do AND be doing what I love.

It’s taken me years to realise that I’d always had the power to create my dream job. Bit by bit, with each day that passes, I’m realising that dream to a greater degree. Work is the means by which I become more competent, develop my creativity and my ability to innovate. Most importantly, it’s the main vehicle by which I achieve my life’s purpose of serving others.

My work requires me to be many things, such as trainer, coach, speaker. It’s also a source of great inspiration for my blogging and storytelling.

I have a theory that for a human being to make the most of their human potential, they have to love what they do and do what they love. For most of us, one eventually leads to the other. In my opinion, these are the two pre-requisites for achieving “flow”. Flow, in turn, leads to achievement, excellence and fulfilment.

What is the last book you have read?

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s about the journey and adventure of a woman experiencing a thrisis (a midlife crisis in one’s thirties). Elizabeth is a funny, quirky and talented storyteller. She tells it like it is, warts and all. Although I’m not a religious person, Elizabeth’s story has helped me better see the interconnections between spirituality and Systems Thinking, how we are all part of a greater whole. It has shown me how we can apply the principle of Global Optima, not just to our decisions and processes at work, but to our daily lives at large.

I strongly recommend seeing and hearing Elizabeth Gilbert in action on

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

Q: What is your worldview? A: “Enough is enough” by which I mean I think there is enough of what we need to go around. And if we choose to share, then we will discover there is actually plenty. That’s how I strive to operate at work and at home. Instead of hoarding resources, information and opportunities, I choose to share. I call it “sustainable philanthropy”.


Who should be the next person to answer these questions?

  • Martin Heider: A larger than life fun-seeking and appreciative coach who constantly challenges people to be the best they can be.
  • Katrin Elster: A fun-meister who’s crazy about creativity, people and play 🙂
  • Vera Peeters: For co-creating The XP Game, the first Agile game I ever played and marked the start of my personal and professional Agile adventure!
  • Pascal Van Cauwenberghe: For co-creating The XP Game and showing me that doing what you love is a reality we can all make happen if we choose to!

If you like these answers, you might want to check out our books. Who is agile
Portia also answered Jenni’s Question: Where do you go to learn? in the book.