Archive for the ‘Who is ?’ Category


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.


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?

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?


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.

When I contacted Ionel, he had already heard of Who is agile, (which is always nice for our team’s ego), but more importantly before we asked him about being in the book, he offered to translate it to Romanian. More, when he sent in his text, he had it already completely formatted it using Markdown, the language that Leanpub uses.


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

In my professional career I was mostly influenced by the books I read and by making mistakes and learning to do the right things in a hard way. And this was because when I started my career back in 1998 it was hard to have a mentor in software engineering in my town: Cluj-Napoca, Romania. There were only a couple of software companies (and all of them were doing cheap outsourcing). There were no solid mentors and coaches to learn from. So I found my way mostly by trial and error. This is the main reason I am so enthusiastic now about working with students and junior programmers, supporting internship programs, and doing all I can to make sure the students that come into our company have a coach assigned to them. Above all, they are all encouraged to find mentors and develop their network.

Only a few people know that I am in the process of polishing some of my ideas. I have discovered in me other abilities and I am fighting with the enemies I see in my life: self-sufficiency, my ego, not enough questioning of the status quo, a mindset that is not agile enough, confusion, lack of enough mentors and living in a world that continues to lose traditional values without putting anything else in place. When I started to admit and recognize these enemies, I found in me the power to win the battles and a desire to make myself available for others that might be in the same situation but do not admit they are.

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

I love medicine, especially prevention. I think I would be a good cardiologist. These days I would love to be much more involved in our church: I love theology, an emotional love not necessarily an academic one. So maybe I would become more involved in worship someday.

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

I have so far identified these 3 big challenges, all equally important:

  • I am not good at taking fast decisions and sometimes thinking fast enough. I am constantly trying to improve that. It’s good because it motivates me to measure my progress. As a side effect it’s great to see how I improve my measurement skills.
  • I am fighting with myself to welcome change more often than I do in this moment. There is a part of me that wants to change or accept change but there is also this emotional connection to the way I always did things. This is good because it allows me to understand others and to understand how to better coach this agile mindset and why agile needs to be a transformation of your mindset much more than an adoption of some techniques. So for all the readers that feel this is a challenge I recommend a recent book:“An Agile Adoption and Transformation Survival Guide” by Michael Sahota.
  • Improving my management and leadership abilities while keeping up with software development trends and my passion for code; In this moment (2012) I am more of a manager and software developer and less of a true visionary leader.

What drives you?

The purpose of our lives shall be to serve others. It’s not so easy, and I don’t want to do it always. It’s time consuming, sometimes incredibly time consuming, emotionally exhausting, mentally draining and sometimes you feel disappointed if you compare your expectations with the changes you see in those you try to serve. So it’s about a way of ‘Pay it forward’ that in my case means to help others for the love that Jesus put in me, for the blessings that he put in me. I see these blessings with the purpose to transform myself to be a blessing for the others, so not me, but God’s power continues to be recognized as the source of all the blessings. When I fail to pay it forward, I remember that around 2000 years ago there was an act on the cross that continues to pay forward and to change the lives of millions of people all over the world today. God alone offers forgiveness and real hope, which we in turn can offer to others.

What is your biggest achievement?

Understanding the purpose of my life, understanding that being successful and fulfilling the purpose of my life are not at all the same thing; so when I realized that I also understood that what I want is to be faithful, not successful, and that actually I want to do less in life by focusing on what matters most for this purpose.

What is the last book you have read?

I usually read 4-5 books in parallel, but on different days and different subjects, so I always maintain a linear progression on both software engineering and other non-technical areas that I am interested in.

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

Why do you want to continue as a development manager when there are a lot of opportunities to develop a more comfortable career as a developer or consultant?

It’s for me, for the people that I work with and at the end for any employer that wants to achieve results through motivated people. For me because as a manager I have better chances to develop my emotional intelligence and fulfill my purpose: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”. And it’s for the people I work with because I value people, I love to understand their problems, sometimes to be that mentor that above the technical issues and company’s language tries to be that human being that the people love to talk with, to get honest feedback, a kindly encouragement, the feeling that he/she is not just an employee, a resource in a chart but a valuable person that is unique, that has abilities put in him with a purpose and that at the end no one but him needs to discover these abilities and ideally use them in a pay it forward mechanism for the others.
And it is for my employer, that will definitely have motivated people and thereby at the end extraordinary results. It’s such a good feeling to add value to your employer, at the end it’s a pay it forward again, a pay it forward for the trust and confidence an employer put in you or if this is not the case, the feeling is even greater: you were able to respond with love, passion and results to someone that appears to be totally money-oriented, stressful or ridiculous.

Whom do you think I should ask next?

  • I was inspired in my career by reading the books of Scott Ambler.
  • I was introduced to Agile by a great person and an excellent coach, actually one of my former bosses who has already been recommended for ‘Who Is agile’ by other people: his name is Fabio Armani.

August 2012

Cluj-Napoca, Cluj, Romania

Agustin Villena was suggested by Gustavo Quiroz. Here is what Gustavo has to say about Agustin.

I met Agustin briefly in Buenos Aires during Ágiles 2008 but we really had the chance to talk during Ágiles 2010 in Lima and also in Agile 2011, where he did a great talk about the wonderful work he had done helping the victims of the 2010 Chilean earthquake using Agile & Lean principles. He has done a lot to grow the Agile community in Chile and I always look forward to having great conversations with him whenever our paths cross.



























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

I was active member of the Scout Movement for 15 years, first as Boy Scouts and next Rover Scout from 1986 to 1990 and Scout Leader from 1990 to 2001. These 10 years in a slum at Santiago de Chile (in La Pintana neighbourhood). That experience in teamwork, social innovation and practical enterpreneurship was the base to my search for real collaboration, creation of value and wellness through new technologies.

Inspired by that experience, one of my greatest dreams is to run a Software Studio for young people in slums, as a way to help them to integrate and thrive in knowledge society.

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

I’m not an “IT guy”. IT is one of my hobbies and an enabler to explore many things. Since I was a kid, my greatest hero in history is Leonardo da Vinci, who excelled in every field that he explored. In our days, with today’s enormous body of knowledge is very difficult to be like Leonardo as an individual, therefore my current approach is to collaborate with experts in education, creativity, design thinking, etc., to form multidisciplinary teams, in some sort a “Da Vinci team”

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

In Chile we have a saying: In house of the smith, knife of wood, saying that many times you don’t apply to yourself what you are other helping others to do. I help others to make some order and insight on their everyday workflow using approaches like GTD or Personal Kanban, but since I’m so interested in several topics, is very difficult to me to do so. 🙂 In short, my biggest challenge is and will be applying to myself the same practices that I recommend to others. I’m really convinced of their value, but is very hard to be objective with oneself and make improvements without external feedback.

I really need an agile coach for me!

What drives you ?

As I learned in the Scout Movement, to leave the world a bit better that when we enter it

What is your biggest achievement?

That depends on what you understand “to be big”. In numbers, it was the agile solidarity project known as chileyuda where hundreds of volunteers from many disciplines (developers, designers, social media experts, public relations experts, etc) built a website to organize the information about the effects of the Chilean earthquake of 2010 in only 6 days. We presented that experience at Agile2011 conference

If you are referring to my most important achievement for me, is my family (wife and kids).

What is the last book you have read?

In the fiction field, the book was Anathem by Neal Stepehson. In the technical field, currently I have three bedside books:

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

  • What are you pursuing now

My current effort is to strengthen the agile community in Chile, of which I am founder, to become a self-organized force for the continuous improvement of how to work in Chile, not only in IT but in all knowledge related professions, and through that, make our country a better and fairer place for everyone.

  • What do you think the current state of the agile movement?

In Chile we are far from the center of the agile movement. On the one hand this has led to a delay in several years of influence in our software and knowledge industry; but, on the other hand, we have the chance to learn from the mistakes of other communities and have a broad view of what comes from the first world.

I watch a lot of Cargo Cult in the agile practice, repeating patterns of the methods we criticized before, as professional certifications with no real value (like the ill-fated CSM), imposing “agile” processes on people, and not opening our eyes to the sister disciplines of which we have much to learn, such as Design Thinking, the Open Source movement, Sociocracy and many others.

In our community we are convinced that Agile is not just a way to make better software. It is a culture that goes far beyond the field of IT, fostering respect for people and self-organization towards the benefit of society.

Whom do you think I should ask next?

  • Luiz Parzianello: Brazilian agile coach, one of the guys that I’m always following to get his breakthroughs
  • Juan Palacio: An Spanish agile though leader, author of and creator of the open certification
  • David Alfaro: Founder of the “Costa Rica Agil” agile community


If you like these answers: please check out our Who is agile book














In 1998 I became independent. As I work usually at my clients side, I have invested a lot in computers, yet almost nothing in my local office. I bought a desk from IKEA and used some second hand desk I got from friends & family.

About the time we first started talking about changing our house, I read about a standing desk. For someone who was a former DJ  and now sitting most of the time, that appealed to me. As a DJ I had a standing desk 😉

I was not sure about standing, I’m not as young as I was when I was DJ-ing all night.
Then I came across the idea of a walking desk.

The idea, is that you walk about 1.6 miles (2.4 km) an hour, while working. The theory behind, is that our body is more made to walk then to sit still. The minute I saw this, I was immediately sold. That is what I wanted in my home office.

When we started to discuss the plans of new house, I mentioned that to my architect. At that moment I was convinced that I should first have my new office and only then invest in a walking desk. Fast forward to the moment I saw the blog post from Peter. Peter is the ceo of Leanpub, the company behind the tools we used to produce our book: who is agile.

When I saw the video, it struck me. I was doing BDUF. I was designing an office for a walking desk, without knowing how it worked. I told Els (my wife) the same day, I’m going to buy the walking desk now. With that experience I will know how I should arrange my new office.

At the start of the x-mas holiday I went looking for a treadmill in Belgium that I could use in my office. In the US, there is treaddesk. Unfortunately no information to buy it in Belgium.

I finally ended up on a website with lots of treadmill and prices. (Tip for websites of shops: If you don’t show your prices online I don’t consider you a serious choice.)

As I had never run on a treadmill (yes, I am ashamed to say, that in all my staying in hotels, I never made use of these facilities.) I did want to go to shop to try out the different types.
I explained what I wanted to do, the shop owners had never heard of a walking desk. Yet they were very helpful. They explained what parts I had to de-assemble (or better not assemble when setting up the treadmill.)

I selected the T830 treadmill from DKN technology

Peter his second video, convinced me I also wanted an adjustable desk. I wanted such a desk, so that I can both walk and sit at the same desk, without having to touch my setup.
I only found one company (Steelcase) that delivers such a desk in Belgium.

After almost 2 months of working on my initial setup (2 normal tables on top of each other) my adjustable desk arrived. Already now, I know that this is how I want to work.

What about typing and mouse movements?

A lot of people ask me if I can really type or work with a mouse that way.

Check out our 2013 new years video. I finished the last 2 minutes while walking. And that was in the first week of having my treadmill.

This text has been typed while walking. If you might see spelling mistakes, this has more to do with my knowledge of English then the walking desk.

Actually, the last month I sometimes felt I had a problem standing. And then I realize I had been standing for 10 minutes and I had forgotten to turn on the treadmill.

Remember these “I will be 5 minutes at my computer and then you look up 3 hours later” moments?  I typically don’t turn on my treadmill for that. Now after 10 minutes I realize it’s taking longer. And then I make a conscious decision: stay on my desk and turn on my treadmill or actually stop working.

Other advantages?

I can focus on work much longer as before. (25 min VS 3 hours)

Want to know more?

Here is a video I shot from my computer, while walking

Here are some pictures of the walking desk in multiple setup’s.

Do you really move more?

I have a Fitbit One stepcounter since the 24 December.

Since then I stepped 800.858 steps.

That is 588 KM in 55 Days. (Remember most of day I am working at client side)
Yes not all these steps our on my treadmill desk. I still walk while waiting for my train.

Yet I know that before I had a walking desk. I NEVER arrived at 10.000 steps a day. Now I am almost never below 10.000.

Side effect: I never was a runner. I never had either: the energy, the courage and the times I tried it, I never had the physical condition. Since I have my walking desk, my condition has improved so much that it’s actually possible for me to go for a run.

Why do you do it?
It’s NOT  my intention to loose weight.
As a child I was always very very very thin (I weighted 27 KG – yes 27- when I was 11)
As a adult I’m weighting +80 KG.
In both occasion, people were telling me I should watch my weight.  They told me I had an unhealthy weight. In both occasion they had reasons. I have stopped listening to these people. I don’t care about my weight.
(When I burned down my parents house, I have learned that what people think of me, does not matter.)

So why do I walk while working?
I walk at my desk, because I’m convinced that my human body is not made to sit, at least not for + 8 hours a day.
Articles like this one confirm my bias.

Pictures of my walking desk

What do I have on my desk:


Thinks to improve

  • a real Laptop stand
  • Docking station
  • a monitor arm to easier position my screen.
  • a huge powered USB Hub
  • Move the lift buttons to the middle of the table. Now I can’t reach them from the other side (Done)
  • More light around my screens, to give me eyes more rest
  • a small network hub for extra pc
  • I know that DKN has an tablet app. It would be nice to find one that supports the T830. Now the treadmill display is below my desk. Not a big problem, yet a little annoying.
  • a better piece of wood to put on my treadmill and below my chair. (I never use my chair)


In the new home-office the treadmill is in the ground

2017-12-07 09.18.44

Articles that mention walking desk






 Examples of people on treadmills


People who disagree

Other related topics

Where to buy one


  •  69  days  > 1.029.401 steps     755 KM.   +/- 14.919 steps a  day
  • 104 days > 1.563.040 steps  1.148 KM.   +/- 15.029 steps a day
  • 188 days > 2.841.964  steps  2.092 KM.  +/- 15.117 steps a day
  • 202 days > 3.118.535  steps  2.294 KM.  +/- 15.438 steps a day
  • 279 days > 4.125.382 steps 3.048 KM.  +/- 14.786 steps a day
  • 342 days > 5.059.533 steps 3.730 KM.    +/- 14.794 steps a day
  • 363 days > 5.433.411 steps 4.004 KM       +/- 14.968 steps a day
  • 497 days > 7.250.225 steps 5.332 KM       +/-  14.588 steps a day
  • 903 days > 12.352.475 steps 8.996 KM +/- 13.679 steps a day 15.267 floors
  • 1.106 days  > 15.398.485 steps 11.221 KM +/- 13.923 steps a day 18.820 floors
  • 1.848 days > 26.794.661 steps 19.353 KM +/- 14.499 steps a day 27.526 floors


No wonder I’m much fitter. As I don’t care about my weight, I don’t track that. (Although my wife says I lost some weight.)

If you have a fitbit yourself, you can connect with me, and we can encouraging, stimulate, push eachother to keep stepping.




Martin was invited by Israel and Gustavo












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

Back in the ’90s when I finished my high school I wanted to be an airplane pilot, but for some reason I still don’t know, I studied Architecture at the university. After five years of architecture, with an average score of 8.7, I found myself getting bored. I decided to drop it and start Information Systems Analysis, which looked like the biggest challenge for me. I graduated from the university and specialized in Agile Development. A few years later I studied and graduated as a private airplane pilot.

Architecture gave me a lot of experience in the building industry and helped me incorporate a lot of design concepts while being a pilot helped me taste the feeling of freedom and happiness that I would like all knowledge workers to feel in their own jobs.

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

I would have been either an architect or a commercial pilot.

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

I’m currently going through a deep dive training and personal transformation to become a life and organizational coach. My biggest challenge right now for me is to jump over, not only the fence that takes me out of my comfort zone, but also the fence that is right at the end of my un-comfort zone, where my horror zone starts.

What drives you ?

I’m convinced that the world of work can be changed, I’m convinced that it actually need to be changed. But my feeling is that agile is not enough. There’s a lot of work in people relations area that has to be done – and in a lot of industries other than software. Only when people build better relationships between themselves and within themselves will we be able to say that we might produce deep changes in the way people work, turning their work into more fun-and-committed, happy-and-professional environments that would produce astonishing results.

What is your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement was to get married with the most lovely woman in earth, Daniela, my wife. My second biggest achievement was to fund Kleer, a participatory and open-minded Agile Training and Coaching company.

What is the last book you have read?

The last book I’ve read is The tree of knowledge: biological roots of human understanding. by Humberto Maturana.

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

I would like you to ask “How would you take agility out of the software industry?” That is a great question, thanks for asking me. 🙂 Well, as I said before, everything is about human relations. I truly think that the results that the teams produce is directly linked to the relationships among the team members (individuals and interactions). Bad relations, bad results; great relations, great results. In order to move agility out of the software industry I’m helping as many people as possible to build solid and respectful relationships with themselves and others. Having solid relationships helps teams embrace change, fail fast, trust each other, respect commitments and share success.

Whom do you think I should ask next?

I think you should ask Juan Gabardini.

If you like this post: please check out our book: who is agile or check out the agile bundle: 10 agile books for 50 dollar

Masa Maeda was suggested by Gustavo Quiroz. Here is what Gustavo has to say about Masa.

I met Masa in Lima during Ágiles 2010, the 3rd Latin American Agile Conference, but it wasn’t until the next year, when I took his Kanban workshop that I got the opportunity to talk to him at length. He really struck me as an incredibly experienced guy with a diverse and extensive background in topics like software development, artificial intelligence, leadership, start ups, big companies, even NLP! I’m really looking forward to his new book on Lean Value Innovation.


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

I have actually had a myriad of influences, all of them with one common denominator. I am of Japanese-Hispanic descendant and even though I grew up in Mexico City education at home was primarily Japanese style. Just imagine, I learned to use chopsticks before silverware. I did my graduate years in Japan for a total of 6 years and have lived in the USA, whose culture I have absorbed intensely, since 1995. So I have the influence of three orthogonal cultures. This has given me openness towards diverse cultures.

From the academic standpoint I have studied and mixed applied, formal, natural, and social sciences as well as humanistic so my approach to what I do as a coach, consultant, and trainer is a combination of all of them. This has give me a broader perspective towards problems and solutions.

Although I was raised catholic my curiosity took me to lear about other religions and practice diverse meditation techniques. As result I am not religious but I definitely have a well-rounded set of values and principles that I live by.

Another main influence in my life has been the outdoors and martial arts. I have done almost anything when it comes to outdoor activities since very early age. From high-altitude mountaineering to rock climbing, cave exploration, white-ater rafting and other, I even went on a winter expedition to the Arctic and was invited to climb Mount Everest but that I couldn’t do because I got injured prior to the climb. Regarding martial arts I should probably practice Japanese style (I actually did a bit of Judo and Kendo) but what I enjoy is the chinese style and what I practice the most is an internal martial art known as Yi Chuan. This is important because it has given me a better understanding of systems thinking and lean.

I think all that gives me a very unique perspective to help my customers and their customers more effectively.

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

I am actually not in IT only! (laugh) I actually help customers outside IT as well. But yes, my main activity has to do with computers. I have three other choices: Medicine, Psychology, and Mountain guide. The first two I can still pursue and who knows, maybe someday I will; but my time to do the third one is gone and the outdoors are just a way for me to relax and recharge.

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

My biggest challenge these days is to make my company successful. Bringing lean and agile to many countries (Ibero-America, Northamerica and Asia) is not for the faint of hart, spirit, and both physical and mental energy. I am confident I can do it.

What drives you ?

Passion. I am very passionate of what I do because I want to help people, organizations, and economies improve, and what I do now is a great way to accomplish it.

What is your biggest achievement?

hummm… I don’t have one biggest achievement that stands out. I have been founding team member of companies that are successful and I am very proud of. I have helped change people’s lives for the better.

What is the last book you have read?

I read all the time and don’t keep track of it. Also, I don’t read linearly. Nonetheless the last linear reading I did was during my last trip to Waterloo and during the fights I read Ackoff’s F/Laws.

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

Q: What’s next? A: I am writing a book on Lean Value Innovation and am working hard to get it done and publish it. This book combines diverse aspects necessary to make an organization successful and has to do with a balance between people, environment, methods, and tools through innovation to create great, successful products and services.

Whom do you think I should ask next?

  • Donald Reinertsen

August 2012

Splitting time between: