Archive for the ‘ACC’ Category

I met Paweł in Kiev at the first Agileee conference.
And he helped me to get to Accde10.
I still remember that when he picked me up at the airport, I hoped (wondered) whether we would have enough to talk about before we arrived. Oh yes, we actually stopped just before arriving to have a meal together and have some extra time to talk. It was the best way to start an unconference.

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

I think the thing that has triggered a change in my attitude to software development was a project I was writing some 7-8 years ago. It was supposed to be an agile project, because the company I was working for claimed to be using Feature-Driven Development. But nobody really knew what that was supposed to mean. We (a 2-person team) had a fixed time (one month), fixed initial scope (getting bigger and bigger at every review meeting), and we were supposed to write a system critical for our customer. So to make it in time, we were working 12-14 hours a day, including weekends, sacrificing code quality just to make the thing work. In the end the software kind of worked (yeah, it took weeks afterwards to make it stable…) I then had a short vacation and the project was passed to a regular team. The new developers “liked” my 2500-line class called ‘BusinessProcess’ so much that when I got back from my vacation the source code printouts were pinned to the walls of their cubicles. You can imagine how I felt, so promised myself I’d never ever be ashamed of my code. So that’s how I got interested in agile practices, and started trying out XP. This is how my journey with agile began.

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

I like linguist, so perhaps a language scientist. Making google translate less funny and more useful for slavic languages could be fun 😉

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

Harmonising managing my company, doing real work (training, coaching, coding), spending time with my kids, doing typical chores and still being able to find some time just for myself. And it is good for me – I’ve never been particularly good at managing my time and tasks, and with so many things to do every day, I’m just forced to have everything scheduled. Because of that I’m now much more organized than I used to be.

What drives you ?

Seeing and working with people who care. Here at Pragmatists we managed to build a work-, learning- and self-improving-oriented culture, so it’s relatively easy for me to have a good drive.

What is your biggest achievement?

Certainly my company and how it works. Looking at my colleagues: their enthusiasm, willingness to take responsibility, coming up with improvement ideas. Pragmatists is for me a living proof that agile mindset not only helps create great products, but also generates a great environment to spend time in.

What is the last book you have read?

Just finished The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. A great and inspiring read. Even though my company is not a startup, a lot of the ideas can be directly used or adapted.

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

Why did it take you over a week to come back with the answers?
Hm, apparently there’s still a long way before me until I really learn how to self-organize and get everything done…

Who do you think I should ask next?

Portia Tung – I met her some 5 years ago and I really liked her approach to teams and work. She was infecting with “do the things you love” idea. I would really like to read her answers.

Henrik Kniberg has started an initiative to translate the Agile Manifesto into multiple languages.

At ACCDE10 this picture was drawn as a universal version.


John’s session at ACCDE10 about leaving your comfort zone was the right session at the right time for me.

I like getting out of my comfort zone. To hear that so many coaches (all?) have that experience was already a good insight (It also made me realize the opposite is true for a lot of the people I coach)

Moving with my family to Bordeaux is really going outside of my comfort zone.

(And even much more for my kids, my partner and our family then it is for me.)


I know that me getting out of my comfort zone is related to being one of the youngest kids of my class and related to the experience I had when I burned down my parents house.

(Come to my session with Robin Dymond at Agile 2010 if you want to know more about that experience.)


Talking with so many coaches about this was a real eye opener.

Especially as I had been thinking about the subject as the result of my gestalt course and our family move. Thank you John for organizing this and everyone else that interacted.


statements I remember:

1) Getting out of your comfort zone is important for personal improvement
2) When you do experiements as a coach to learn people about this, people might see things differently, because of their earlier experiences.
3) Give people a safe environment so they can learn to push their boundaries.
4) People need to feel safe to move out of their comfort zone.
5) The Safety Zone is bigger then Comfort Zone
6) Stepping out of your Comfort zone increases the size of Safety Zone

7) Staying to long in your Comfort Zone decreases your safe zone.
7) Safety zone != Safe zone

8) Safety zone is perceived


Sometimes we coaches are telling the clients, that their safe zone no longer exists.

People might not get the message and be angry at us. (They think we are the problem) Where in fact we are only the messenger.

The trick is to have games or workshops that people realize

A) their safety zone no longer is a safe zone

B) We can help them finding a new Safety zone that is a safe zone.


It was again nice to see that whatever I’m learning that I can use as a coach I can use as a parent to.

I felt really sorry to leave before the end, but I had a session immediately after it, and there were no breaks in between the sessions.

As in agile, we do a retrospective every 2 to 3 weeks, it is very important to make sure it does not become boring and dull.

yes I have done boring retrospectives. (Haven’t we all?)

Last year I gave a talk at Agile Tour Toronto about how to make your retrospectives the heart of your agile proces. That talk was based for 75% on THE book about agile retrospectives. I created this talk as I don’t like bad retrospectives. (And I had done too many of these myself)

It changed a lot for me.

Today I want to write about last week’s retrospective, as an example:

I started with a kind of temperature reading:

– How do you feel inside this team

– How do you feel inside this company

Two numbers (on a scale of 1/10) written anonymous on a piece of paper.

Then I asked everyone to write down one appreciation for another team member.

One rule: you had to talk about someone who was not yet selected.

The appreciation was written on a small green star card.

The appreciation cards at ACCDE10, reminded me of this technique.

Then we did a fist of five on  the sprint. How did people felt about the sprint and what we had obtained. Fist (0 fingers) is bad, 5 fingers is the best. We had only 4’s and 5’s.

This team was doing very badly one sprint ago. They had taken on a difficult challenge and they made it. I choose this technique to make them realize this.

Then we did a kind of locate strengths interview.

Team members had 10 minutes to interview another team member on the last sprint.

I gave them a few questions to start with (the questions came of the Agile retrospective book. If you like this technique, you’ll have to buy the book 😉 )

After these 20 minutes, everyone had 1 minute to say what he had learned during this interview. Because I only had one hourglass of 1 minute, it forced people to talk min and max one minute (we had to wait for the hourglass to finish anyway).

For some people the 1 minute was not enough, for others it was too much…

Then I asked people to think for 3 minutes about how they personally wanted to improve the way they worked in the next sprint. Then I gave them another 1 minute to think about how we would be able to see this. And then another minute to think about who could check in with them.

Then they had 30 seconds to talk about their challenge, the way to verify and select a  buddy.

As I wanted to do a lot in this retrospective, I used this kind of timeboxing.

After that I invited them to a glass of champagne.

They done great last sprint. Achieving a big challenge should be celebrated.

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Mike was the facilitator of ACCDE10. Read my post with my impression of ACCDE10.