Archive for the ‘Self-organizing teams’ Category

Dear Friend,
You are receiving this message because I want to ask you a few things.
Currently I spend my spare time (next to organizing my marriage) putting a book together called  “Who is agile”. In “Who is agile”, you can read the answers of agilists to 9 questions.
The nice thing about “Who is agile”, is that it is written in an agile way, with one public release every week. And when you buy the e-book now, you get all the future updates for free.
Who says you can’t write a book in an agile way? If you want to do the same thing, check out our partner LeanPub.

The book has turned into a real community project. And now, I turn to my connections to ask for more help.
I would like your help to

  1. Spread the word of this agile community project
  2. Help us find other community projects that should be mentioned in the book
  3. Help us with the translations of “Who is agile”
  4. Buy the book yourself
  5. Send us ideas on how we can improve the book
  6. Send us a short paragraph about what you like about the book

1) Spread the word of this agile community project
For this community project to thrive, we need, aside from our core contributors, a network of people that publicly support us. Don’t worry we have enough energy to keep this going for a long time. (Our backlog contains 200 agilists.)
Will you please send out a message (mail, twitter, blog, facebook, linkedin) to your friends and ask them to check out this project.

2) Help us find other community projects that should be mentioned in the book
At this moment in the book, we mention 20 community activities. Twenty activities for a worldwide community that has existed for more than 10 years is not enough. I know there are more things going on.
Will you help us find out about them?

3) Help us with the translations of “Who is agile”
At this moment we are translating the book into:
Catalan, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish
These translation teams can use your help. And we would love to create other translations.
Will you help us find other translators?

(If you are French, you might want to contact Fabrice.)

4) Buy the book yourself
That is the easiest one. Will you go to and buy the book? You can set your own price between the minimum price and 29,99 Dollar.
What is the minimum price? Aha – this is where we make it complicated. We increase the minimum price by $0.50 (50 cents) every release (week). This week it is 3.49 dollar. A real bargain for a book that allows you the opportunity to learn about 80 agilists.

5) Send us ideas how we can improve the book
Once you have bought the book, we would love to hear about how we might improve the book. For example, the map, the book list and the question lists are created based on feedback from our readers.
Will you send us your most outlandish idea for Who is agile?

6) Send us a short paragraph what you like about the book
Every good book needs a few pages of people saying what they liked about the book.
We are not looking for cheesy marketing sentences. We are looking for real people expressing their genuine thoughts about our book. Will you send us your opinion about Who is agile?

Thank you so much for your attention and I hope you appreciate me sending this message.

With kind regards,
Yves Hanoulle (who could not have created this book without the help of
Andrea Chiou, Marcin Floryan, Peter Doomen and everyone answering these questions.)

PS A big thank you to Olav Maassen & Chris Matts whose mass mailing idea inspired to write this email. Please check out their Real Options book.

Update: If you are wondering why you are not in the book. Check back with me. You probably are on the backlog. To avoid a big stock of answers and waste, we only ask people when we can publish in the next month or so.

Update 2:  How to reach us? send a mail to whois at hanoulle dot be

Update 3: We have made another visualisation of the people in Who is agile  by using this map

At a client we did a ScrumOfScrum to enhance the communication between teams.
These different teams work in different places of the building. (Part of the problem)
This had as an effect that the SoS always started late. One team member took charge and started to gather everyone at the start.
Although it only removed a symptom, it worked.
(I support idea’s from teams to encourage them to come up with more idea’s.)
And then that person moved to another part of the company. (For reasons not related to the SoS)
Now the SoS started even later. I once waited longer then the time it took to hold the SoS.
The next one I canceled after waiting for 5 minutes.
I had a mail in my drafts for a few weeks explaining What is a Scrum of Scrum etc…
I did not send it as I did not like the patronizing message it would send.
I do not like mail, because of the distributed way of teams, mail was a good way to distribute the message.
Then a teammember send a remark about the SoS. That triggered some questions in me.

And then I realized I had been planning to create a large agile quiz, to use with this team. And I had been postponing it.

Combining two challenges into one solution, I created a small quiz about Scrum of Scrums.

This is the quiz. (multiple answers possible)
Please answer in the comments. I will publish my answers later, together with a few links.
The idea is to create discussions.

What is the purpose of a Scrum Of Scrums

A) Allows clusters of teams to discuss their work
B) Informing other teams what is slowing your team down
C) Informing other teams about team decisions
D) Report progress to management about the project
E) Give management time & place to put pressure on the teams
F) Inform other teams when you will be put something in their way

Who attends the Scrum Of Scrums

A) Scrum master of every team
B) All team members of every team
C) One designated person of every team
D) A rotating role within every team
E) Product Owner of every team
F) R & D manager

What is for you the purpose of a standup:

A) Report to management
B) Inform your co-workers what you are working on
C) Ask for help when you are stuck
D) Take decisions on issues
E) Know what your co-workers are working on
F) Have a time to chat with eachother

What is the role of a ScrumMaster

A) The manager of the team
B) Teaches the teams about agile (scrum)
C) The secretary of the team
D) Removes impediments for the team
E) Facilitates meetings
F) Is responsible for teams commitments

I plan to publish one small quiz about every week called Agile Thursday Quiz

This week I was ALE 2011. To remember and share my experience I will write an improvement game

What I like about ALE 2011:


  • I forgot about the failure cake

What I would like to see improved:

  • More people using “The Law of two feet” when they think they can have more value somewhere else. (It’s not restricted to the Open space sessions only)
  • Oomps (Official One Minute presentations about the upcoming talks)
  • Closing oomps: at the end of the day participants talking back what they learned from all the talks
  • an organized way of sharing rooms
  • An organized way of sharing Taxi’s, from and to the airport
  • A date more families come
  • the children room in a more central place
  • the children report back what they have done as part of closing oomps
  • the family program is on the official program (no second citicians)
  • we have a book swashing activity
  • we have bar activities (like agile quiz etc)
  • all groups of dinner with a stranger are smaller then 10
  • I would like to see less “Agile EGO” (We are agilist so we are better then the rest of the world) and more use of prime directive in everything we do.
  • People are funny without cynism & sarcasm
  • everybody understands what it means to have an open space conference
  • More butterflies
  • More Bees
  • No passive aggressiveness against people not from our community
  • a world café
  • more developers
  • more C-level people
  • a book shop
  • make it clear if participants will receive a notebook or not
  • We have 24 hour wifi
  • The Coffee and the rooms are on the same floor
  • the toilets are on the same floor
  • We should have some room for longer sessions (games?)
  • We should help new presenters
  • We should encourage speakers to do dry run’s

Personal improvements

  • I should have used paircoaching on the coffee mugs instead of so that more people understood this was a promoting of an idea and not a company
  • I buy less mugs then participants
  • I can withhold from jokes about Americans (Sorry Brian I was really happy you were at ALE)
  • I listen more when I meet awesome people
  • My family joins ALE 2012
  • My family is active in ALE 2012.
  • My phone keeps working during the conference
  • I check the feedback from my session at the door…
  • I should have thanked the organizers more…


My improvements are worth 1 out of 10 for me.(This means that ALE receives a 9 out of 10 )


Rini Van Solingen has interviewed me for his Groeten Uit Delft vlog.


UPDATE 2013/09/19: Although I started the brand PairCoaching in 2007, based on an article my father wrote in 2004, it turns out that Industrial Logic already used that name to reference how they worked with coaches in 2001. Although my father was already delivering workshops with my mother and with his brother since 1991, I don’t think he used the term PairCoaching before 2004. So the price for inventing the word goes to Joshua Kerievsky and his company.

I found this out after I gave back the website to the community.
This makes Joshua one of the few American’s that I know that did not sue.
(There could have been a discussion that I created a brand (unknowingly) on a name they invented before.) Which proves again to me that the agile community (and it’s leaders) talk before anything else.
Joshua, I bow deeply in respect. Both for your gentle mail and for invented the word that brought me so much joy.



This is a cool video on how to use a kinect with your wallboards.

Now as you know I am not a big fan of electronic boards, but with tools like this, you have the best of boths words.
Check out their website for more:

When will you implement this?

My ideas:

  • use this in combination with a real (paper) task board
  • use QR codes to recognise the stories.
  • Use this with a projector.
  • Use this in the teamroom to have people make changes while sitting down (wild idea that needs more thoughts..)

Agh I really want to try this out

Related to “Just do it” is this theme. The title is a quote from Grace Murray Hopper one of the amazing IT women (I added a book about her in the booklist at the end.)

A special case of perfectionism is people waiting for permission . Complaining that their bosses take to long to take decisions, or that they are moron’s that don’t take the right decision. Complaining does not help your situation.
Agilists are professionals. Professionals take decisions for their work.

Most perfectionists look for some kind of recognition. For some of them that locks them from starting anything without permission.
In reality most chefs are very happy when people come with solutions instead of problems.
Even happier when they execute things and report on the progress.

Some managers have not enough experience with this kind of behavior. Maybe you are a manager and this idea makes you afraid. What will people think of me as a manager when my people take decisions?
Will they consider me as a good manager?
Hold this thought for a while.
Let’s first focus what this could mean for your time.
– A lot less boring meetings
– A lot more time to do all the things that you are supposed to do. And you know do in the evening.
– You will finally have time to help your boss be successful.

⇒ Imagine you can focus on helping and making your boss successful.

Now go back to that thought you had before.
How will she think of such a manager?
Right, she will want more managers like you!

Do you see a pattern?
A perfectionist boss, creates perfectionist teams.
This is called team==product.

Agile Techniques Supporting “Ask for forgiveness instead of asking for permission”:

  • Retrospectives
  • Self-Organization
  • Refactoring
  • Visual Management
  • Small Iterations
  • Continuous Integration
  • Unit Tests
  • TDD
  • BDD


Just as there was a risk with “yes we can”, long term vision might block people block from starting. I call this the perfectionist syndrome. People rather do nothing than doing something wrong.
Well, in reality never taking any decision is worse than taking a wrong decision sometime.
The cure for this syndrome is “Just Do IT” A lot of books about starting your own business (see the biography), tell you the same thing: better start.

Just start doing something,as whatever you do now, it will be wrong anyway!
Ok that might feel bad. Stick with me for a second. If you take for granted that you will be wrong whatever happens, you will feel better if actually, what you do is wrong. (In the sense that, you did expect it to go wrong anyway. )

And if, by fortune, you are right, it will be a bonus and you have all every reason to have started !

The benefit of starting before you think you know what to do, is that your customer will discover what he wants by you showing him what you’ve got. (And you will discover it at the same time.)
yes, just like you, I want my customer to know what she wants before I start. Unfortunatly customers never do. When I show her what I have done. She looks at it, sees something she does not like and then tells me what she needs. Then I make a new version and we start over. After a few versions, we together create something my customer really likes. (This is true even if I am the customer.)

A lot of agilists, react to BDUF, which is the best know part of perfectionism. That is the old model perfectionism, the “Active perfectionism”.
In agile teams I see the same idea popping up: “ I can’t start with a scrum-board as I don’t have the right material/software etc…
The right answer is “Yes you can. Just DO IT.”

Just look at your todo list, GTD cards, backlog, what is blocking you from starting? Really? Are you sure it’s not resistance?
In Do the Work, Steven Pressfield goes over the different reasons of resistance.  Are your blockers really blockers or only resistance?

Look at your list again. Forget what block you and just DO IT.


Agile Techniques that support Just Do it

  • Continuous Integration
  • Refactoring
  • Unit testing
  • Daily Standup’s


Games that teach “Just Do IT”:

Thanks to Jurgen & Oana for reviewing this post.

Quote: A self-organizing system is one where the system structure appears without explicit intervention from the outside system.
Although I love what he says I’m not agreeing with that quote. Not all self-organizing systems are self-created. Not even in this video. Sugata did create the environment in which these things happen.

Like he says himself: it only happens when you have multiple children at computers.

Rules from his finetuning:

– groups of four
– own groups of four
– each group of four can use one computer
– You can exchange groups
– You can go to another group, peer over their sholder, come back to your own group and claim it as your own work

He also says it when he says he is building Sole’s (Self-organizing learning environments)
Let’s say that again: he is building self-organizing (LE).
yep you can create environments where self-organisation takes place.  It’s not rocked science, it still has to be done. That is what I (and my collegue coaches) are doing in the agile world.

Best Quote: “the granny cloud” look at minute 12 for them.

Ricardo Semler uses self-organisation everywhere in his company. If you want to know more, read his Maverick book. A great book to learn more about using agile and lean idea’s everywhere. (And Ricardo did this before anyone had heart of agile.)

Update:If you were in my talk please rate my talk