Archive for March, 2013

On the 1ste of January 2010, I started the twitter account @Retroflection. Already 1179 days in a row, this twitter account tweets a something to think about.
Although I started that alone, quickly people asked me if they could join. At this moment , we have 53 people who collaborate in it.
Recently this project resulted in a website, that can give you random things to think about.

A few weeks ago, inspired by this small success, I looked how I could go a step further. On my train home, I asked myself,  what I have learned today/this week.
I called it #FridaysLessonsLearned

I hope the name (twitter tag) says it all.

Yes every Friday, I will stand still and think: what have I learned this week?

These are my lessons:

15 March: I (re) learned to ask more question in person ( and not in mail).
23 March: I need to CheckOut faster and Pass more
29 March: Discussing to convince someone that I am listening to him , is proving I am not.

Yesterday Cesario Ramos & Gitte Klitgaard joined me.

Will you join me next Friday?

 

 

At one of my clients after a we did a work retrospective, my PairCoach and I decided to launch another work retrospective, yet now concentrated on the demo. We planned this after the team had been receiving negative feedback on their demo. For the record I have to mention that the demo (or show and tell as they call it), the team did just before the retrospective, was one of their best.
At the start of the retrospective I told them I liked the demo, yet, I was sure they could still improve. So the theme of the retro was now:

“Invent the demo you are proud of.”

Just like the work retrospective, the format was quite strict.

  1. Set the stage: here we asked about how safe they felt inside their team/company.
  2. Select a partner with who you will work this retrospective. To make an even team, the Product Owner joined the team.
  3. As a (full) team select one story that we demoed this morning
  4. With your partner prepare a new demo for that story
    ( 5 minutes)
  5. explain Perfection Game
  6. First duo does their demo (the rest of the team writes a personal improvement in the format of a Perfection Game while the first team does it)
    (max 5 minutes)
  7. re-prepare your demo based on your previous plan and the PG both of you wrote down.
    (max 5 minutes)
  8. second demo + PerfectionGame for others
    (max 5 minutes)
  9. re-prepare your demo based on your previous plans and the PerfectionGames both of you wrote down
    (max 5 minutes)
  10. third demo+ PerfectionGames for others
    (max 5 minutes)
  11.   re-prepare your demo based on your previous plans and the PerfectionGames both of you wrote down (max 3 minutes)
  12. fourth demo

Although the team was annoyed about doing a demo retro after a much better demo, they took the challenge and they did 4 very creative demo’s.
They selected a kind of technical story about webservices. If you would ask me, I would not even demo this. Why?  Client don’t understand it, there is no real business value etc etc.

In retrospect, that is exactly why this was a perfect story to do this kind of demo retrospective.
Why? I saw people role play what is happening behind the scene. I saw people explaining with a physical map. etc etc.

To some people it’s annoying to do 5 times the same demo in less then 1 hours yet, that is exactly how most music bands rehearse. Playing the same 3 minute song over and over and over and over …. I like a good rock concert.

The French group Indochine, did a major gig in the Paris “Stade de France” on June 26 2010.
Although they had just finished a tour in France and they had perfected their setlist during that tour. They decided to rehearse in a separate location, where they could mimic the size of the location. As they had never played this size of stadium, they rehearsed offsite in a real size location for 4 days.
That’s the way to create great gigs and great shows. Now you know you have some idea’s how you can do the same for your teams demo…

 

 




Selecting the last person for volume one was really hard. Do we want a big name? Or a newbie? What about one of the original Agile Manifesto authors? Today our backlog contains 217 people. How do you select “the best person” to end the book with?

While working on one of the previous versions of the book, I asked for help from the Leanpub team. And then it struck me. ‘Who Is agile’ has become what it is today thanks to Leanpub. As an author, I’m in love with the lean publishing service that Leanpub offers.

During the last ten years I discussed the process of book writing with many agile authors. Almost all said that writing a book can not be done in an agile way. I did not want to agree with that. Only when I failed to write the Agile Games book was I ready to agree. And then Elisabeth helped me discover Leanpub. Peter is a great example of a Lean Startup Product Owner. As a user, I get so exited about their product that I keep throwing ideas at them. Peter always answers in a nice way and still he keeps the focus of his team real tight. It’s not that he ignores all the ideas. Sometimes someone on the Leanpub mailing list has a genius idea and within a day the feature is implemented. Yet, for most other ideas, Peter gently explains why the feature is not a priority. So far, I have always agreed with him, though I might not like always it.

His blog post about his desk setup, was the direct push to install my own walking desk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

When I was in university, I did a double-major in Computer Science and Psychology, which is itself an odd combination. However, I spent so much time taking various courses that interested me (Philosophy, Japanese, intellectual history, etc) that I was less than one semester of credits away from 2 completely separate degrees! (I took about 6 years worth of classes for my B.Sc. degree.) I think the breadth of what I studied before choosing Computer Science and Psychology has really influenced me. Also, it was cool to be the only Psychology student I knew in the Faculty of Engineering 🙂

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

I probably would have gone into graduate school in cognitive psychology, studying brain function.

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

My biggest challenge is choosing to work on the right things, and in reducing product features to their essence before building those. I have so many product ideas at any given time (both for features of products I’m working on, and for totally new products) that it’s really tempting to get distracted, especially since I work with very talented people who can code almost anything. So I need focus.

This is a good thing for me since, frankly, it’s a luxury. It’s the ultimate example of first world problems. However, it is still a problem and a challenge. And unlike many problems, you do not know (and can never know) if you got the right answer. Even if you succeed in something, you could have been more successful in one of the n other things you didn’t do, or didn’t do as well as you could have. Opportunity cost is expensive!

What drives you?

If I think deeply about some seemingly solved, mundane problem, I typically get really unhappy with the current state of the art in it. Two examples of this are book publishing and project management. Both seemed to be solved problems, and yet both are really broken in many ways. And in both areas you’ve seen a bunch of new startups lately, and the problems are still pretty unsolved! (Of course, hopefully Leanpub solves one of them 🙂

So, in terms of what drives me, I’d say that I end up getting strong opinions about some problem, and then wanting to build what I consider to be the right solution for it. And if I think that something is broken for me, and if I think I can see a clean solution, then I get motivated.

What is your biggest achievement?

Leanpub is my biggest achievement, but it’s a shared achievement between me and Leanpub’s cofounder Scott Patten, as well as the others like Ken, Len and Steve who are working or have worked on it.

In terms of my biggest essentially personal achievement, it’s my first book Flexible Rails. I was living in the middle of nowhere, working remotely for a Silicon Valley startup, and I had a young son. And thanks to wife’s support and patience, I managed to find the time to write and self-publish it (iteratively, in a very Leanpub style [before Leanpub existed], shipping 23 versions in about 2 years) before having it traditionally published.

Flexible Rails was the first thing that I did–completely outside of any structured environment like university or being an employee–where I had enough courage of my convictions to build and ship something. In school or as an employee you are given objectives and then you try to meet or exceed them. And over the course of high school, university and then being an employee I got pretty good at that. But it’s a very different challenge to do something completely on your own: not only do you need to come up with the idea and be able to execute it, you also need to maintain the self-belief that what you are doing is worthwhile, and that you will succeed. (Incidentally, this external feedback and motivation is, I think, one of the most important aspects of Leanpub.)

What is the last book you have read?

I think the last book I finished was Trevor Burnham’s CoffeeScript book, which was really good. I’m currently reading Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Berlin Johnson.

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

That’s an interesting question. My guess is you get lots of pretentious answers 🙂

I guess since Leanpub is bootstrapped by the consulting work of Ruboss, the question would be “Do you have any advice for someone considering bootstrapping a startup?”

My answer would be that doing product development and doing consulting are very different skills, and to not underestimate how much learning is involved in growing a consulting company. (This was also something that I knew very little about when starting Ruboss!) When picking a rate to bill your time at, do NOT assume you can bill 40 hour weeks, or even 30 hour weeks! It turns out that companies have overhead, and that your billable hours are very different than the number of hours you work.

And then once you know how to handle that challenge somewhat, and run a reasonably successful consulting company, the hardest thing is turning down work at your consulting rate in order to do product work. But the product work is the real reason that your company exists, so you need to solve this problem daily!

Part of my solution to that has been to raise our rates until we had enough time, and to focus on our best clients. However, finding a balance is always tricky, especially since you try to be nice and fair to your clients. Also, you need to manage risk, etc…

Whom do you think I should ask next?

I think you should ask:

 

Peter is the last person added to the global book Who is agile

if you liked his answer or the serie. Please buy the book.
In the book Peter also answer Michael Dubakov’s question: Can introversty be a good CEO?

It’s not a secret I am a big fan of retrospectives. A big fan as I think it’s the regular standing still that helps a person/team/company improve.
I’m actually convinced it is better to start unprepared and stand still every 2 weeks, then to take weeks or even months to prepare. With retrospectives, we react to reality, not plan what we foresee.

Over the years I have helped a lot of teams & companies by facilitating retrospectives for them.  For  some companies it’s a yearly proces, for others, a one time event and luckily for most a recurring event.

From time to time, you see teams that are fed up with a weekly retrospectives.
– nothing ever changes !!
– why are we the only ones that have to change?
– we never get time to implement the idea’s we have!!
etc etc

My experience as a coach is that most of these remarks are wrong. yet I also know that from the teams perspective, they are correct.

As much I like to challenge teams, I also listen to them.
(Not really a contradiction as I have to listen to challenge them )

one of my favorite retrospectives to deal with this, is a work retrospective.

 

Set the stage:
Any activity to set the stage can work here. These days Check-in is my favorite

Gather Data:

Let everyone in the team write down one or two action that they think should be solved and only take about an hour.

These tasks should not be know bugs that we should solve, yet really improvements that can help the team.

>> 5 minutes for this

People present one post it in a round robin way.  When we did the whole table, we start again with the first. You stop after 2 round or when no one has any post it’s left.

>> Time depends on the size of the group


Select a partner + a task:

Every work is done in pairs. As this is an ultra short timebox, this is very hard. As I want the best quality, we do pairprogramming.

Some people prefer to select a partner and find a task together. Some people prefer selecting a task and then a partner. I’m very flexible on this, the timebox is already hard.

Just do it:

People get 1 hour to do what they want.
I encourage them to work in small steps.
Whatever they do, they need to check in after 1 hour or throw it away.

A mini demo:
We come back to the team and we show what we have done.
>> max 5 minutes per pair

Experience:
In most teams there are people who hate this. In lots of cases these are also the people that complain most that they never get the time to do anything.
I ignore them in this exercise. The rules are the same for everyone.
(That’s why I use lots of different retrospective formats.)

Usually there are about the half of the teams that have been able to do something useful. And when this happens, everyone in the team is teached it’s possible. (They might not be ready for it, yet people in their team have delivered something useful in one hour.)
And this is not me convincing them, their team has done it.

I once had a team complaining for 3 months that the homepage of their website was unstable because of unstable web-services  In 1 hour, 1 pair had identified +60 calls to web-services and they had fixed 40 of them. The updated was life in the hour. The next day, one of the developers, took the time to fix the other 20. We won that extra hour back in the same week, as our testers lost less time.

Every time there is a pair that is not ready by the demo. They keep working while their colleagues are demoing. I make it very clear that they won’t be able to demo. That usually stops them from working. I do this as they now pay attention to their team mates that were able to split in smaller tasks.
Almost every time I have a very good personal coaching chat with one of these developers about that.

Sometimes there is also a pair cheating and they show something they have been working on secretly. I don’t say anything about that. At least the secret project is now out. 😉

Remember, it’s not a competition. It’s about solving a problem.
In a normal retrospective, we also limit the number of things we aim for.
Here we use a set based design.
We go for multiple idea’s and we are happy when we achieve one or two.
(And yes sometimes every pair succeeds.)

 

 

The agile community in Belgium(Benelux) started somewhere in 2001.
There were three kind of ways we interacted:

  • Pairprogrammingparties: People meeting at the backroom of a café/restaurant, where they programmed the whole evening in pairs.
  • agile evening events: companies that had a problem, provide us with a room, food & beverages and we came with a bunch of people interested in agile. We discussed, played a game …
  • the yearly xpday benelux 2 days event

All that was completely self-organized. We had enough companies interested and we lots of different topics.

Gradually, the focus of the regular people came on the yearly event. I think that pretty quick after the mini-xp days (which is basically a best of the previous xp days) was started, the monthly evening events died.

The nice thing about the Belgium agile community is that every times this happens, there is someone who stands up and starts to organize a new kind event.

 

Years ago we had Jurgen De Smet launching Agile in Belgium.
A few years back, we had Mark, Bruno & Xavier launching the agile beer drink ups.

 

My lessons learned:

  • As this was taking place at a customer I am currently helping, I did not really wanted to facilitate. Yet I never really made a clear decision and thus no clear communication. That ended into a lot of confusion for many people. That was a big mistake.
  • I had lots of facilitation stuff in my car, I did not bring it to the office, thinking I will have time. When we have 3 hours and lots of games to play, we can’t loose time. Another facilitation mistake.
    • In XP: the customer is the bottleneck. That was a take away that links two idea’s I like.
    • things to think about:  as part of a debrief we discussed that it’s better to start then to think. Someone repeated that as: in agile there is no thinking.
    • While driving home I realized that as these days I do facilitation most of my days and thus when I go to a local event I avoid more of the same. Ignoring the fact that I learn a lot by doing facilitating my own community.
    • As being an agile adapt for quite some times, I am always looking for new games and things to learn. yet sometimes it’s good to remember that a lot of newbies, don’t know the basics games like the XP game, the leadership game or the bal game.

yes I play these games with almost all my customers, yet I should not forget to play it also for the community from time to time.

  • A few years ago, I have decided to drop out of a lot of evening events, in favor of my family. Last year I realized that this decision made me miss a lot of local agile friends. In return I started having lunch with at least one agile friend a month. Tonight I realized I want to open this up. hence: alunch  short for agile lunch. Watch this blog, my twitter feed for an announcement in the next days.

 

 

Aslam was proposed by Henrik and by Maritza.

This is what Karen Greaves says about Aslam:

Aslam is a developer at heart, but able to speak to senior managers to help them solve their problems. He’s most at home pairing on complex problems and helping others learn techniques to take their coding to the next level. But that’s not what I most enjoy about Aslam. For me (and my business partner Sam) he is our business mentor. He is always willing to listen to your concerns and give you open feedback, to help you find the right path. He is humble and doesn’t judge. Every discussion with Aslam, leaves me feeling calm, in control and inspired to try something new. Sam and I have come up with nicknames for Aslam. I call him buddha, and she calls him Yoda. If you meet him you will know it’s not because of his pointy green ears. He definitely deserves to be featured in “Who Is agile”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

There are 3 very distinct moments that made me aware of the fragility of life. Strangely, these moments made me realize how small yet significant I am in the big scheme of life.

The first moment was in 1986 when I was in my final year of high school. My older brother was beaten by police and arrested during a political protest against the apartheid government. He remained in detention without trial for 6 or 8 weeks. It was the first time I went through distinct emotional phases of fear, anger, despair and sadness.

In 2000, my wife almost died while being pregnant with my first child. My child was born 2 months premature, spent the first 2 months of his life in an incubator. I recall being told by our doctor that they will save my wife first, then my child. That was surreal, to say the least. Anyway, I became a father, walked into neonatal ICU, peered into an incubator at a 1.2kg human being that looked older than my father. I had no idea what to do, so I went home. It’s insane trying to figure out being a father when you have no opportunity to bond physically.

More recently, my second child suffered a brain hemorrhage at the age of 1 month. She had less than 5% chance of survival. Five days later she awoke and started feeding again. That was scarier than the medical trauma 5 days before. She is now 8 years old, has a terminal liver disease and lives life from a wheel chair. I learnt that “being in control” is an illusion. We can only react to things that happen.

Oh, and what most people don’t know is that I married the girl that I fell in love with in high school, and we have been together for more than half of our lives. If that doesn’t define who I am, then I don’t know what will 🙂

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

The obvious candidate would be to be a medical doctor which is the default career in my family. My parents were both doctors and so is my brother and his wife, and there are enough other medics in the extended family to host a conference. But I was quite determined not to be a doctor, so I studied Electronic Engineering. But, my first job was writing software far from transistors and op-amps. So, software development is my alternate career . If I hadn’t done software development, I’ve often thought of going into animation. I think the fluidity of the medium is similar to code – just magical.

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

Oh no, that’s not a fair question. All challenges are equally big! If it’s not big, it can’t be a challenge, right? Seriously, one of my challenges is trying to be a parent. Oh boy! Just when you think you’ve figured it out, you find something unexpected that humbles you. It’s the mirror of my life with no photoshop effects. Consequently, the challenge I give myself is to understand myself, my behavior and my feelings. A lot of Why did I do that? is asked frequently within me. Right now, for all the questions, in all those contexts, there are a few things that are gaining some clarity. I hope that this clarity changes my behavior so that I am a better person. Ahhh, so that’s my biggest challenge. I take back “all challenges are equally big” 🙂

What drives you ?

The notion of something being impossible excites me. Nothing should be impossible. In a pure scientific sense there are things that are not possible, but from a practical sense, even impossibilities can be converted into something that is practically useful, even if it is not ideal. I love the promise of simplification. I guess what ultimately drives me is that I know that it is just a matter of time when the simpler option will emerge. The trick is being patient, that’s a slow feedback loop. So, being patient drives me.

What is your biggest achievement?

I don’t like to rank achievements. I think all achievements should be celebrated equally. I have learnt that even “small” achievements caused big changes in the journey of my life. The frustrating aspect is that I seem to have very little control over the feedback loop from achievement to realization of value. For example, understanding pointers, and pointers to pointers in C resulted in a decade of elegant problem solving, and not to mention the deep appreciation of a garbage collector. Or perhaps that I do understand that multiplication is short-hand for addition and decades later, I can try to find creative ways to help my daughter understand such crazy, abstract concepts as increasing in discrete and exact quantities.

What is the last book you have read?

Fred Brooks’ Mythical Month Essays (again). And also Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. Last night, I finished reading Roald Dahl’s Danny, Champion of the World with my daughter. That’s the best father/child book ever (read it with my son too). At the moment I am reading Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselvessci-fi/fantasy is like mental detox material for me.

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

If you had a chance to do a heavenly trade-in of Justin Bieber, for whom would you trade him? Bob Marley ‘cos we still need to drive them crazy bald heads out of town.

Whom do you think I should ask next?

Samantha Laing and Karen Greaves of Growing Agile. I have seen them convert their own scary ideas into reality, taking leaps of faith, tripping and getting up – and smiling most of the time. Just insist that they steer clear of that agile games thing 😉

Yves first met Maria at AgileEE 2009 where she gave a presentation on clean code Although Yves did not see her presentation, he does remember having some great conversations with Maria. Although she may be a tad shy, she has much to offer and is very smart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Growing up in the Romanian country side is the thing that influenced me the most. It’s also where I learned a lot about collaboration, team work, having fun while working, learning and teaching.

Ever since I was little, I was involved in farm activities and in cooking. Many modern people run away from such activities; I think it’s a shame because when you’re a kid these things are fun. In my case, I was very lucky with my parents. They knew how to create an environment open to experimentation, where I could try out recipes and help with house work without ever thinking of it as work. I’ve also learned a lot from my mother; she is a real modern manager because she always needed to hire people, make sure they know what they’re doing, keep them happy so that they would come to work again and minimize the costs and risks. Of course, I knew nothing about all these things when I was helping her, but I know now it helped me engrave collaboration and team work into who I am.

It also helped because I didn’t usually watch TV. Instead, I was outside or reading until I finished hundreds of titles from my home library.

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

Probably a writer, possibly writing children stories.

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

I think I understand how teams and collaboration works, and when I see it happen it’s fantastic for everyone involved. But it’s challenging to get people there. My biggest challenge is to figure out ways to help them feel better while working.

It’s a good thing because it makes me learn how to transmit this message better.

What drives you ?

I am convinced that I can change the way people feel about work. I believe in communities and collaboration and I think there’s a lot more to do in this area.

What is your biggest achievement?

This is a difficult question. I’m very proud about starting the Romanian Agile/Lean community in 6 cities. I was content to see how the teams I helped became self-organizing, including the Mozaic Works team. But my biggest achievement is still a work in progress, changing the way people perceive work is not a simple goal.

What is the last book you have read?

Eragon, the final volume. “The Money Lab”.

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

What helped you the most with your achievements?

There are more answers to this questions. I love to learn, especially by doing. Being self-taught. Perseverance.

Whom do you think I should ask next?

 

This TED video is very interesting as she talks about her trust and how it helped her in her life. It was interesting to hear talk about a job that gave predictable income, yet is not seen as a real job. A wonderful story.

About a failure of 25.000 sales, that inspired her to ask for money and went for crowdfunding.

  • Asking makes you vulnerable
  • crowdsourcing vs couchsurfing
  • muscians are connectors and openers.
  • the internet are talking us back
  • How do we let people for music …

 

>After seeing this, I set again the minimum price of our who is agile book to 0.
>Let’s see what happen.
I thought some more and realized that is not what Amanda was saying. I’m actually already giving the full content of Who is agile away on my blog (just as she does) By selling the book at another channel, I ask people who like it, to support it and who want a more convenient way to read it, the possibility. I set  the price now to 4.99, which is the most common price people paid for it.

 

y

 

Meet Sergei. (Actually Sergei Sergejev, is the Estonian version. The English version is is Sergey Sergeev.) Yves has been following him for a while on twitter. (He tweets both in Russian and English.)

Sergei was one of these people, who made his answers in a very agile way. He wrote them then rewrote them and then created another update.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sergei in front of a Tupolev 134-A

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

One of the biggest secret influences in who I am is my family’s aviation roots. My grandfather was an IL-2 pilot and instructor during WWII and a civil pilot afterwards. He served a total of about 35 years in the air and in ground control after retirement.

My father is also a pilot, a 1st class captain, flying 15 out of total 30 years on Tu-134 – a plane with the fastest landing speed. It is also a plane with the most beautiful engine sound and exhaust trace. My mother was a stewardess 🙂

The way I was raised had a lot of influence on situational awareness, plan B and C calculation, situational analysis and a habit for detailed preparation for doing stuff. I’ve heard many stories of different extreme situations my father and other pilots faced. These included stories of root cause analysis of in-flight problems and even disasters. At a very young age I learned how different chains of simple failures result in disasters and how a certain amount of discipline and preparation is needed to avoid those.

I believe it made me a good tester and now a ScrumMaster. Many things in modern development processes remind me how pilots work – flight planning sessions, checklists, team work, status checks, automation, continuous learning and certification, etc.

Check out this video and see what real team work in a Tu-134 is like 🙂

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

As a kid I wanted to be an engineer/construction worker and build huge buildings. I guess cranes on construction sites near our home were so compelling. According to my parents, my first well spoken word was crane.

Before university I was seriously considering becoming a doctor, but studying about 8 years with little government support looked hopeless and I chose to study IT Systems Development. When I have a bad day at work I still wonder what it would be like in the hospital…

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

One thing about implementing agile involves discovering the inner human beings in yourself and in people around you. To this day one of my biggest challenges is improving my communication and social interaction. As a ScrumMaster/coach you have to listen a lot, try to understand problems people have and you need to keep the discussion productive and constructive. With each discussion I become a better human. Sometimes I fail and learn from it. Sometimes I surprise myself by how I speak and manage to help people learn something new or help them solve problems. This makes me keep wanting to work even after very hard and stressful day. I like it.

What drives you ?

Curiosity about how other people live, how different parts of our planet look. I want to travel to lots of places around the world. It would be also fantastic to live for a few months here and there, but backpack traveling is also fine. I adore how Mary and Tom Poppendiecks travel together 🙂 This pushes me to do my work better and helps me outline my career.

From my school years I felt that I needed to do something that makes an impact, something that makes our lives easier and happier. This is why I wanted to be a doctor. I guess I still am one – when I was a tester I was giving diagnosis for programs and now I examine and help teams. Helping in general and being part of something that helps people drives me.

What is your biggest achievement?

I believe my biggest achievement is not achieved yet. If you insist on selecting what is my biggest achievement so far, it is this: to have the guts to stay true to my values and to be open and vocal on things that bother me. Most of us have values, but the number of people afraid to raise their voice keeps on amazing me. These “achievements” evolve everyday. They help me to understand who I am and what I want and to keep right people around me. Life is easier as you focus on things that matter with people you are well connected to. You see where to improve and you remove waste from your life. Besides being essential in personal life, it’s a very cool thing at work – you end up with people who respect you and are passionate about the same things.

What is the last book you have read?

A signed copy of “Lean from the trenches” by Henrik Kniberg. I recommend it. At the moment, I’m reading F*ck It. The Ultimate Spiritual Way by John C. Parkin. A funny and interesting book on applying Lean principles, removing waste and keeping focus among others, in everyday life 🙂

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

How do you feel being part of “Who is agile”?

I found “Who is Agile” via twitter and read about several people, lighthouses of lean and agile. When I got a letter from Yves I was quite surprised: “Who?! Me??!!”. But having a rather turbulent Scrum experience and knowing from first person conversations that my thoughts align well with what other rather well known and respected agile & scrum folks think, I do realize I am part of this boat.

What worries me is that it seems Agile was hijacked (at least in the enterprise) and often means some top-down, command and control ScrumBut thing with bonuses attached to burndown charts and velocity values and 20+ people teams working on weekends to fulfill the commitment. Because of this when you say you’re a ScrumMaster or Agile Coach many IT people treat you like a money-eager consultant, religious fanatic or a person who failed to understand programming and was placed into managerial role (and whom they won’t ever respect).

I like context-driven school of testing and as they say – everything has its own context, everything depends on a context; there are good practices in context, but there are no best practices. I acknowledge that certain teams won’t make it, or lets say won’t make it far or as fast as other teams would, with certain approaches because of organizational impediments and cultural differences. I love people who say “no we’re not doing agile or scrum, we took something here and there and we’re fine”. It’s their context and, actually, looks like what agile should be – being free and flexible.

That being said I’m cautious with being labeled Agile, but I’m happy to be on this boat so far and it feels good to be able to clarify my views in the Who is Agile series 🙂

Whom do you think I should ask next?

There are already so many people interviewed, so it’s a hard question.
Mikalai Alimenkou, from Ukraine, who runs a very interesting twitter feed, runs several agile development and testing courses and who also organises several conferences. He seems to be the kind of person for Who Is Agile.