Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

While driving back from the first European IgSummit (Innovation Games) I was thinking about what I like about this event and what is my prefered event.

  • A 2 or 3 day event with maximum 200 (preferable 160) people
  • The event happens in a nice environment, not a chain hotel:
    • koningsteen
    • SeminarZentrum Rückersbac
    • the organizers are staying at the hotel(except if they live nearby)
    • I can arrive on the first day and leave on the last day without having to loose another night not at home
    • WIFI is everywhere available for free (except in the restaurant, then people should eat and talk to eachother )
    • Coffee and other beverages are available all the time for free
  • the people:
    • 30% of the people I have never met on or offline.
    • 30 % of the people I only met online and never yet met offline.
    • 30 % I have met before.
    • 30 to 60 % of the participants are female.
    • 30 % of the organizers are female.
    • 30 % of the participants are not from the country the conference takes place.
    • 30 % of the organizers are parents.
    • 30 % of the organizers are single.
    • 30 % of the organizers are new to the organizer team.
    • 30 % of the participants are active developers
  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast.
  • at the start of the conference the law of two feet and other OpenspaceTechnology idea’s are explained and people are encouraged to use it all the time
  • a 30 minutes “keynote” from ThoughtJockeys. I have nothing against thoughtleaders, yet I prefer to learn from people who implement the idea’s from thoughtleaders and mix it with other stuff. Only 30 minutes as this forces people to prepare really well and to concentrate what they want to say. After that I want this keynote speaker to propose a OpenSpace Session in the afternoon, to have discussions about his idea’s.
  • Funny OHMPs (Official Half minute presentations about the talks)
    • a break of 20 minutes.
    • 6 x 15 min talks in 4 break out rooms.
    • announced 5 minutes breaks in between, so that people in the hall ways know when the next talk starts.
    • a one hour walking dinner:

      • that has food for everyone: vegies, carnivors, cheese lovers, allergic people etc…
      • people can take the food from different tables, not one or two lines.
    • a few 3 minutes lightning talks (without slides) in the mainroom.  No talks decided up front, no breaks
    • the rest of the afternoon, open space market
    • the event has a program for the children of the attendees. The childrens program is as much about fun as it’s about learning (just like the adults event)
    • the keynote speaker  of the first day has to deliver a workshop to teach the children what he talked the first day.
    • dinner with a stranger in the evening
    • second day keynote is delivered by a child, paired up with either a parent or another child.
    • rest of the day is like the first day
    • if a 3 day event, the second evening we do 3 hour games night
    • we end the last night (before the last day) with meetup at a karaoke bar where people use text related to the event instead of the original song lyrics.
    • At the end of the event a 30 minute keynote from a thoughtjockey that was at the event all the time and that has created a presentation, mixing thing she learned at the event
    • if the first keynote speaker was female, the closing one has to be male.
    • books:
      • everyone brings one book to the event and that is used in a swashbook reading session
      • a local book shop sells books, with a lot of books available of the speakers and participants
      • Authors offer Faq sesions on their books
    • During the full event an application is being developed that is put into production using contiunous delivery. The developer table is in the middle of the conference and dashboards about the application are visible at every location of the conference.
  • Feedback:



Yes I know this is THE list of the ideal conference for me. I am very well aware this is the blue sky scenario and these are only MY idea’s.
(Hey it is my blog )

Ale is one of these amazing conferences.

(XPDay Benelux, AgileEE, AYE are some of the others)

I am sitting in an aiport, alone, like I will be for the next 9 hours before I will be home, were I will arrive in a dark quite home as my loving family will be asleep.

I feel lonely, I feel sad: I know this feeling. I’m in what Jim McCarthy calls recoil.

Recoil is technically the word that describes what you get when you fire a weapon.

You get a push back. And every time you achieve or experience something amazing, you will get this feeling. I think it’s a feeling that creates adrenaline junkies. They go for their next shot of adrenaline, to avoid recoil.
The better way, is to accept recoil, as it’s a message that your body sends you that you experienced something great.

Will I go to a small little corner of the airport and cry? I sure feel like it.
yet luckily I have a better solution. What I learned from the core protocol bootcamps. Is that to deal with recoil, I should go on adventure. Go out and do something new.

To something crazy, let my life be guided by serendipity. In an aiport, I don’t have much options for that. I could think of passing security as an adventure, yet I have done this already many times and that is also behind me.
The best adventure I can think, is to sink myself in a book.
To what adventure has #ALE13 inspired you?



PS Here is some inspiration how you can spread the spirit from ALE and make the world resemble that better place ALE is.
The 9 nana’s

PPS If you want to follow my idea and our out of books:

1) Buy The Agile leanpub bundle. 12 books related to agile for 50 dollar. A lot of authors were at #ALE

2) Buy any of the books suggested by ALE13 participants.


  • A few years ago at AgileCoachCamp2010 Marc Bless walked around and asked people to give them a name of a book. just one book. He had one extra rule. The book could not be on his list yet. I stole that idea and recreated booklist with people at conferences like
  • agile 2010
  • agile 2011
  • aye 2011
  • Stoos Stampede 2012


So I’m created a list for ALE2013. Same rules apply:

  • You can only present one book
  • it can’t be on this list (or any of the other lists.)
  • it should not be an agile books (it can be)


What book do you want to put on the ale2013 list?





A few years after AYE, I finally have been able to go to PSL. I could not resist to also start a booklist here. As these days, we get knowledge not only by booklists, I’ll add a few videos.

Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Decisive: How to make better choices in life and work by Chip & Dan Heath

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick M. Lencioni

Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behaviour: by Peter Hruschka, Tim Lister, Steve McMenamin, James Robertson, Suzanne Robertson, Tom DeMarco

Clear Leadership: Sustaining Real Collaboration and Partnership at Work by Gervase R. Bushe

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge

Non Violent communication by Marshall Rosenberg

Personal Kanban by Jim Benson

At the last dinner Matt Paid it forward.
It reminded me of Aaron’s last wish



I talked about a company called /UT7 that does not have a shared vision and uses Satir model. Read about /UT7 at infoq




Other lists


I created a PSL Twitter list (if you have been to PSL, let me know and I’ll add you)

In the hot tub (where else?) we also talked about some of the projects I started.


This year we celebrated the 10 anniversary of  XP Days Benelux.

I know that being from Belgium and the fact that this was my first agile conference makes me biased. And one thing I know about being biased, is that knowing you are biased, does not help …

Let me tell you a bit about one of the aspects that makes XP days benelux so unique.

OOMPS, or fully “Official One Minute Presentation” (sometimes replaced by OHMP, I let you figure out the difference on your own)

I have no idea who came up with the idea and only a small idea from where she or he stole it. I vaguely think it was a Dutch person, yet does it really matter? (It’s probably a person that will refuse a statue anyway.)

At the start of a day, the organizers ask all participants of the day to come forward an do a one minute sketch. A sketch to promote their session of the day.

Now over the years, at XPday benelux, this has turned into an art itself.

What else can you say about people that:


Crazy? probably, so what?

Informative? Year after year, the sessions with the best OOMPs, are sessions I love. (remember I said I was biased)

Serious? Yes, distilling a 1 hour session in 30 seconds of fun is hard work. And yet is wurth it.

Fun? oh yes

If you help organizing a conference, come have a look at xpdays and steal their OOMPS. If you can manage to recreate a similar atmosphere around it, you have just made your conference X times better.


For the 6 year in a row, I created a new year video with our last years pictures.

Last year, uploaded the video on the 20 december. Funny enough, the most important event of the year still had to happen. On 25 december, Els asked me after 15,5 years to marry her.

Although I

  • followed 3 kids in different stages of their life
  • helped a distributed team to publish 5 websites in 4 different countries
  • inspired 13 online collaboration projects with 146 people
  • spoke at multiple conferences
  • published our book: who is agile
  • launched an agile book bundle to sell 10 agile books for 50 dollar.

    our marriage was clearly the family event this year.

  • The song is a 10 year old dialect song. We selected it, because it’s related to our marriage in multiple ways. A lot of it is hard to translate in English and I would like to thank my FB friends: Jan Van Hecke, Frank Louwers, Jurgen De Smet, Hans Warie, Hannah Verbeke, Johan Tré, Peter Verheyen, Thomas Bouve, Robrecht Demurie for helping out.
    Happy New year and I hope we meet again next year.

    Let’s all have a playful 2013


    At Xp2010 I missed the my agile suitcase presentation. I heard it was one of the best sessions at the conference. So when Martin & Ole proposed it for XPDays Benelux I voted for it. To my surprise they asked me to be part of it.
    I created the talk on the train on my way to Agile Tour Strasbourg. I looked for pictures on my way back. I have annotated the presentation, so you can understand it without me doing the talking.

    As I have been doing a lot the last weeks/months, I was looking to find people from countries we don’t have yet in “Who is agile”. I came across Asad. He got recommendations of being the first agile person in Iran. He founded IranAgile. And not just that, he translated Henrik’s Scrum and XP from the trenches, to persian. Having the ‘Who Is agile’ book translated in multiple languages, I know how much work that is. I also know a lot of translators of ‘Scrum and XP from the Trenches’, and they are all great agilists. So I started to follow Asad on twitter. Unfortunately most of what he says is not in English, but the few things he said I understood and I agreed with.

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

    Many people in Iran know me as an Agile evangelist. Not many people know that I’m also a music lover. I love new age music especially Micheal Cretu’s music.

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

    I would have been a musician.

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

    As the founder of the Iran Agile community my biggest challenge is to make people and organizations realize that Agile can work in our culture.

    What drives you?

    I really like to help people. People who know me closely know that I will always be at the forefront of the Agile movement in Iran.

    What is your biggest achievement?

    My biggest achievement is that I have started the Iran Agile community. The Iran Agile community has been helping small and large organizations understand and adopt Agile.

    What is the last book you have read?

    Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Mart Lindstrom , Paco Underhill

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

    Q What’s your passion?

    Helping and coaching people to build better products.

    Whom do you think I should ask next?

    There are many people I would like to suggest. Here are a few:

    • Henrik Kniberg from Sweden who helped us to run the first Agile course in Iran
    • I would also like to recommend Faisal Mahmood from the UK who has been helping us reach our goal by doing several Agile courses in Iran.

    June 2012

    Tabriz, Iran

    Update: if you like this, you can buy the book: who is agile here.

    Israel is again one of these people my friend Xavier told me about.
    What I find interesting about Israel is that he is active in the agile community and he is a professor at the university. Yes you can find agile people in very suprising places…


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

    Having grown up in a family of software developers and after finishing high school I wanted to continue with a college degree in software development. My first semester at college I failed some subjects which was devastating for a kid that was never used to failing at school before and who was used to being one of the best students of class. I remember that as a kid I was frustrated and embarrassed and that I seriously thought about changing to another career. Probably changing career would have taken me to a different path in life, a path away from software development. Fortunately I decided to continue and it didn’t take me so long to find the rhythm of college to enjoy and discover the big passion I feel until today for software development.

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

    Not easy to know but probably teaching. That is something I also like a lot and probably if I had not been in IT, I would be teaching.

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

    Listening without interrupting. I am still working to improve this aspect of myself, because when working with people, coaching or teaching, you need to listen more than talk.

    What drives you ?

    Love for family and passion for technology

    What is your biggest achievement?

    I think I have had some good achievements in my life but having nice kids and family is one of the biggest.

    What is the last book you have read?

    Definitely it’s not going to be the last one :-), but I recently read Open Space Technology A User’s guide by Harrison Owen.

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

    What has your passion for IT driven you to do that you hadn’t thought to do before?

    I like to build and grow communities. I worked as a founding member of the organization team of the the Latin American agile conference (Agiles2008).  I still help on the organization of this conference.
    I also started the agile community in my country Bolivia and more recently I organized courses and events for the first Agile Open Bolivia that took place in 2012.

    Whom do you think I should ask next?

    June 2012

    Cochabamba, Bolivia

    If you like these answers, please consider buying our book: who is agile

    In 2009 out of the blue I got a mail from Iceland. I was intrigued by the company and the person that contacted me. When I went to Agilis 2009, I had lots of great talks with Peter and his collegues. He told me how he helped Iceland deal with the crisis using OpenSpace Technology and agile. An amazing person.

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

    I think playing basketball as a teenager taught me valuable lessons and has influenced many aspects of my life. Key lessons:

    1. If I practice I will get good, and it means I have to do it all the time. Without pretending to be top notch at anything I can very much relate to Malcom Gladwell’s idea that you need 10,000 hours to become world class. Today I mostly practice by reading books and trying things out, and I do it every day.
    2. Dealing with pressure and pulling through at the right time. I find myself thinking about games I played in the past, for example standing at the free throw line on crucial moments. These kind of situations started to become easier as I did them often – bringing us back to point (1).

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

    I think I was destined to be in IT. I still remember when I first saw the ZX Spectrum 48k at my uncle´s house. I was 10 years old and I still remember the strong feeling of curiosity I experienced, it looked very powerful :)

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

    My biggest challenge is developing a business. It is a good thing because I have realized that being in business will be a life long learning journey and as long as I live I will have something interesting to do.

    What drives you ?

    I am driven by three things:

    • Learning: I want to understand how the world works and I think being in business is a great platform for that.
    • Legacy: I want to have leave a legacy of both ideas and businesses.
    • Role model: I want to be a role model for my three kids and I want to explain to them how the world works with all my learning and prove it with the legacy.

    What is your biggest achievement?

    Starting a business.

    What is the last book you have read?
    Just finished listening to Influencer: The Power to Change Anything and reading Sense and Respond: The Journey to Customer Purpose.

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

    Q: What do you want?
    A: Freedom.

    Who do you think I should ask next?

    My business partner Daði.

    If you like these answers, please check out our book: who is agile It contains 88 people answering the same questions. And one extra question from Petur.