Archive for the ‘Retrospective’ Category


We wish you a empathic 2017.
This is the 11 year in a row we created a video version of our life.

2016 was a rollercoaster year. After we realized that the technical debt of our current home was too big, we decided to build a new one in our garden. We started building that house in 2016. To limit the projects in progress, Yves put most community work in the freezer. We took similar hard decisions on family “duties”. The building of the house goes slower then when we would have been in our twenties, yet we managed to keep our family life rather sane.

This was our life in 2016, we are very interested in yours.
Will you share with us what gave rise to the highest emotions in 2016?
yes, we are serious. Let’s turns this blog post into a nice dialog.

Yves, Els, Joppe, Bent, Geike
Hanoulle – Ryssen

PS After ten years we have a small number of families and teams inspired by our video’s. Will you join us?

This year it’s 10 years ago that I started working full time as what we now call an agile coach.
Agile coaching is change management, it’s helping people from where they are to somewhere else.
That somewhere else, is a place neither of us know.
Partly because I don’t know yet enough what is their current place, partly because they don’t understand what agile really means.


So one of the typically questions I get is: give me an example.
In these 10 years I have worked for the industry automating food factories, healthcare, postal service, banking, insurance, energy services, consumer service and a few more.
When I gave examples in the first years, I was giving examples about one of these companies I helped.

Yet, when I speak for a few hundred people, most are not in the same industry as most of my examples. And even when they were in the same industry, people came with excuses why my example was wrong for their company. For me that was fine. My examples were never intended to be used as best practises in your company. Their are intended to inspire people, so that they can adapt them and find their own solutions.

So gradually over the years I started to use a different story telling technique.

Most of my examples are now about my family.
Because I consider my audience smarter then me and capable of translating examples of my personal life, to their work situation and find their own solution.

I have the impression this works better.

yes, there still are laggards who don’t want to change and think that some of the new idea’s in this fast changing agile world are crazy and won’t work in their company.
That’s fine. I prefer to spend my energy helping people who want to change, that is still most part of the world.
(And they prefer to spend their time with something they know. That is fine too.)

Look at the picture above: I’m pair working with my daughter. Who is the expert on the picture? yes it’s my daughter. Although I have build a lot more castles then she has, and I have a lot of years more experience, she was really the expert. Next time you are pair-programming , think about my daughter and what you can learn from her …
I don’t even have to explain you what you can learn from this situation. I know you are smarter then me and you will find the lessons you need.

Or as my father says: you don’t have to believe in the sea to get wet, you do have to get in to get wet. Meaning, what you learn of a situation is related to the energy you put in.

If this post inspires you, please share your personal stories. How do you apply agile in your life?


What a year 2013 has been.

At it’s start, I thought this was going to be a slow year.

 It started with a client who had financial troubles. As any coach will tell you, it does not make any sense to help people working better together, when they worry if they can keep their job.

And yet I had faith for my business, although that could have been inspired by visiting the holy wall in Israel before delivering a personal agility workshop 😉

And what a year it became…

  • We have published on Retroflection one tweet every day to make people think. Started on the 1ste of Januari 2010 and still going strong.
    A big thanks to our 58 people big Retroflection team. (That said I always look for people who can bring new questions and statements …)
  • We had 9 CoachRetreats organized in 6 countries. A HUGE thank you to Oana Juncu who is the driving force behind this.
    Another big thanks (just a little bit smaller then the one for Oana) for all the local organizers.
    As already 4 CoachRetreat’s are planned for the start of 2014, CoachRetreat seems to take off. My personal goal for 2014, is to train as many women CoachRetreat facilitators as men.
  • was launched as a trust experience and so far, I can still stand behing what is written.
  • Thanks to some more help, 3 more books were published with my name on it.
  •  A client where I did a small assignment to help a team split in two, turned into a big assignment. We started a re-organization of a 150 people company. I have now trained 4 feature teams and started a traject with the executive committee. A big thank you to Hans Vranken (CEO) & Nathalie Servranckx (CIO) for trusting me. An even bigger thanks to the teams doing all the hard work, in ever changing circumstances.
  • We put the project in the freezer. I hope to unfreeze it as an open-source project, when my WIP is lower.
  • I helped out my friends of co-learning with 2 Budget Games: one in Aalbeke and one in Heule
    Thank you Jurgen De Smet, Erik Talboom, Luke Hohman ,  all co-facilitators. A big applause for the first time facilitators of the city of Kortrijk. Wow.
    If you like BudgetGames/Innovation games, please contact Luke or me, as we are looking for 1000, yes thousand people for BG in San Jose at the end of Januari 2014)
  • For my personal training, I wanted to learn about Tribes and squads from the sources and I worked a week at Spotify
    A thank you to Henrik Kniberg for bringing me in contact with Spotify. A bigger thank you to Joakim Sunden, Christian Vikström, Jimmy Janlén for letting me around your Spotify teams and learn at the heart of your tribes and squads.
  • Problem Solving Leadership: one of these trainings that has a huge impact, for years to come. Thank you Jerry Weinberg, Johanna Rothman, Esther Derby for such a wonderful experience. Thank you my co-participants for a wonderful week
  • All the conferences that invited me. Thank you for your trust. I had a wonderful time at each and every event I was.
  • Dear smaller clients, I did no have much time for you, yet each of you gave me so much energy and idea’s. Thank you.
  • Personal Coaching session, I’m probably most proud of this work:
    • A person who returned to his previous job after figuring out, that was better suited.
    • A few persons who changed jobs
    • One person moved to another country
    • One person contacted after every coaching session, the next day. He had already done what he had promised to do by the next session and in most cases, had already gone a few steps further.
    • Even better are the people, who found a better work-life-balance and because of that, became more productive.
  • Thanks to my own investment in a walkingdesk, I have stepped + 4.000 KM this year, most of these while working at home.  For those who wonder that is +5.500.000 steps. (This also means I worked to much 🙁 )
  • I tried to give away the domain, I failed to create a community around it.
  • I sponsored ALE2013 to make publicity for the PairCoaching concept 
  • I was blown away by three great books. ( I read more but these three are amazing books)
  • Three great projects I supported this year:
    • RobotTurtles to teach young children (from 3 year old till 10) the basics of programming
    • Programming For kids: a book to teach children (as young as 8 year old) how to programming in Ruby
    • Rethoric: a game to teach people (children + adults) a better way of talking in public

And this is just (yes one of the few places where just is the correct word) the professional side.

On a personal level, we now have 3 children in school.

  • Geike learning how to read and write.
  • Bent working really hard and great at reminding me to slow down.
  • Joppe finding his way in life, enjoying friendship and gradually receiving more freedom.

If I wanted signs that my children will turn out ok, I have now all I need: at the latest family party, they all started dancing and enjoyed it very much. As a parent that is all I want!

As for the relationship with my wife, we did not take that much relational time as we should have. Yet after 17 years I still love my wife. Els let’s go dancing more in 2014.

We will be building a new home in 2014. I hope your life wil be as constructive.


At the start of 1990, I listened to a life concert that U2 gave in the Point Depot in Dublin. (I just found this back on YouTube, I did not even know there was a video footage of it. I only had this on tape)
During that concert Bono said “

It’s your future. The only limits are the limits of your imagination. Dream up the kind of world you want to live in – dream out loud. At high volume! That’s what we do for a living.

I was 18 and that statement made a high impact on my life.  I was happy to see Dream out loud came back in the lyrics of Acrobat. He actually added “don’t let the bastards grind you down” which is an important part of living your dream.

That last sentence, helped me during multiple periods in my life to break with people who prefer to remind the people around them that they should not dream. If a bastards keeps trying to grind me down, my best way is to break with them. Life is too short to be surrounded by people who limit their lifes and mine.

The limits sentence I tweaked a bit and it became my company tag line:
We are only limits by the limits of your imagination.

Next video does the same thing.
It reminds me of
– Bono’s message,
the 7 habits of highly effective people
– for me the best session from ACCDE10: getting out of your comfort zone

Thank you Vincent Vanderheeren (and his wife Maaike) to bring this video to my attention.

PS: And one of these people living her dream is Bonnie.
She moved to London to study and ended up kickstarting teastorks
If you like Tea. check out their kickstarter project. Only 23 hours left to support her.

This is blogpost III on work retrospectives.

At one of my clients, we are doing one week sprints.  Changing the way a team works every week, sometimes feels overkill. People want to see the effects of what they have.  For this we have decided to also try another kind of work retrospective.

A discussion workshop.

We don’t plan any actions in this one. We discuss some common statements. Actually common statement about agile that have been personalized for this team.

This was the format:

A) Checkin

mad, glad, sad, afraid


B) Discussion workshop

B.1 5 minutes explaining six different statements

  • we learn enough

  • it’s better to finish then to start

  • it’s important to be predictable

  • the quality of our work is excellent

  • in our team, we tell eachother everything

  • retrospectives are very useful


B.2 5 minutes silent sorting the statements: done by the full team, without SM or PO.


B.3 Divide team + SM + PO in two groups.


B.4 Take first statement


B.4.1 5 minutes of finding arguments

group nr 1: finding arguments why the statement is true

group nr 2:  finding arguments why the statement is false


B.4.2 Change groups (one person stays behind)

B.4.3 5 minutes of finding arguments

Group nr3 : finding arguments why the statement is true

Group nr 4: finding arguments why the statement is false


B.4.4 select your prefered position for this discussion. (might be the opposite of what you think yourself)

B.4.5 10 minutes of group discussion


B.5 second statement

repeat steps of B.4


Yves why do you still call this a retrospective, isn’t this just a workshop, training exercise?
Good question. I think it’s in between. We did this at the moment of a retrospective. We started by a check in that was very much related to the last sprint.
Second, as this is not yet a mature team, discussions are an important part of creating the team.
Discussions about more generic topics, instead of full force on hot issues in the team are more safe. So for me, it’s is part of improving the team. The big difference is that the improvement happen as part of the retro, that is why I put this inside my series of work retrospective.

Yves what is lacking, is a real conclusion/next step/action based on this exercice.
True. For the public version we want to play at conferences, we will experiment with an audience voting on who was the best debater.
Do you have a better idea how we could add a next step to this?

Last week I published the Agile Thursday Quiz about Retrospectives.
Here are the answers from Ben Linders. (who created these questions.)

1) When do you normally do a retrospective?
b is the best answer, all others are wrong or do not reflect the real intention of a retro.

2)  Who should attend the retrospective?
a and c are both valid answers, this questions aims to trigger reaction if the PO should or should attend the retro.

3) What is the best way to do a retrospective?

4) What happens with the actions that come out of retrospectives?
b is the correct answer, e is not wrong but doesn’t emphasize enough that it is the team who takes action

Where to learn more about Retrospectives:



A few of my example Retrospectives





For this ATQ, Ben Linders helped me out with the questions.

1) When do you normally do a retrospective?

a) Just before the start of a sprint, to prepare everything that is needed to do the sprint
b) After the sprint review of each sprint, when you have all the input that is needed to reflect and decide upon actions
c) As a servant leader you only do it when the team asks for it, and as often as they think they need it
d) The retrospective is a part of the sprint review, where you reflect on the product and the process
e) Between the planning game and the sprint review, so that you can do improvements during the sprint

2)  Who should attend the retrospective?

a) All team members
b) The scrum master and some of the team members
c) Everybody in the team, except for the product owner
d) Everybody who is attending the sprint review, to get as much feedback as possible
e) The product owner, team members, and their managers


3) What is the best way to do a retrospective?

a) There are many good ways to do retrospectives, the facilitor usually proposes a way to do it depending on the team needs and the issues at hand
b) You can use the the four key questions from retrospectives, as a minimum ask the team what went well and what should be improved
c) There is no best way to do a retrospective, as the purpose of a retrospective varies in agile projects
d) Team members should submit problems before the retrospective, and the scrum master decides what is most urgent to discuss
e) Most teams use sticky notes to collect actions what should be improved

4) What happens with the actions that come out of retrospectives?

a) They are given to the project manager so that (s)he can plan the actions and assign people
b) Team members will pick up these actions during the next sprint, to continuously improve their way of working
c) The scrum masters collects them and documents them in a report
d) There shouldn’t be much actions coming out, as the next sprint is already filled up with user stories
e) They are documented, and will be discussed in the next retrospective to check if they are finished

 Please add your answers in the comments and on monday I’ll publish Ben’s answers.

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…



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

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.)