Archive for the ‘ALE’ Category

In 2011 I learned about the concept of dinner with as stranger.
At ALE2011, the organizing sofa of the dinner party had a few month to organize a large dinner party for an unknown number of participants (it was the first time of the conference) .
The concept of dinner with a stranger was their solution.

Dinner with a not so stranger

I love the concept. And when I love concepts, I try to replicate them.
I started what I called dinner with a not-so-stranger.
That is me having a one-two-one with an ex-collegue or someone I know from the community. For a few years I did at least one such a dinner every month. Working in an hard-to- reach-office put that to a temporary hold. I will restart that when I leave this client.

Yet yesterday I started something I will call dinner with a peer.

Let me give you some context. I’m part of a team of coaches working with 35 teams.
Every two weeks we work together a full day. I have regular 1-2-1 with my manager. And of course I have the occasional chat with my peers.

I realized that I (and probably most people I know) never had an regularly organized way of asking feedback from peers.
So from now on, I will experiment with “dinner with a peer”. On a regular basis I will go have a meal with someone in my team to ask for feedback.

Will you perfect that idea using the perfection game?

A few weeks ago at #ALE16 I gave a lighting talk to ask people to think about introverts in an agile world. Before I go into my idea’s I want to clarify what I consider an introvert.

For me, an introvert is a person who gets energy from spending time alone. (Doing whatever she wants.)
An extrovert is a person who gets energy from spending time with other people.

I do believe that introverts can act out extrovert behavior yet it costs them a lot of energy.
(Just like when an extrovert writes ideas down without talking, that is possible, yet it costs energy.)

I read everywhere...

That said it’s also spectrum, where people can be more or less extrovert or introvert depending on the environment they are. F ex: I think everyone in my highschool would probably call me an introvert. Where many people in the agile community could call me an extrovert. And both would be right.
Because in school for me talking to people did cost me a lot of energy. I was reading day and night (alone) and that was what brought me energy.

These days at most agile conferences, I get energy from talking to people.
I can spend almost a full night talking at a bar with agile friends, sleep less then four hours and still have energy (the fact that I don’t drink alcohol does play a role in that 😉 )

That’s why I call myself an ambivert.

Now that I have my definitions clear, let’s go back to my #ALE16 message.

Over the years I have seen our world more and more encouraging extroversion behavior.

We encourage our children in school to speak up. We have more and more group work in lots of parts of the world all encouraging extroversion.

And yes in the IT world, agile is doing it’s part of making our world more extrovert.

We want standup’s, we have retrospectives, we do lots of all hands meetings, we have pair programming, even mob programming these days. Open office plans*, all to use the power of groups.

When I look around me in the agile community, I see a lot of (great) agile coaches, and a lot of them are extroverts. At a level it feels like most of them are extroverts. That was not the result of my (short) #ale16 questionnaire. I expected 80% would say they were extrovert, and yet it was probably more like 50%.

I personally celebrate diversity. I know that some of the best scrummasters I have worked with were introverts. Yet they always had a harder time selling themselves (they hated doing that if they already saw the point in doing so…)

In IT (just like in any other world) we have lots of introverts. Somewhere between 30 and 50% of the people depending on what study you believe.

This means, that for team activities you have to take both introverts and extroverts into account.


  1. start by ordering Susan Cains quiet: kindle, dead tree or audible versions. (I have all three. that should tell you a message. )
  2. extroverts figure out what they want to say while talking. where introverts want to think things through. So how do you make them talk together?

    A simple yet powerful retro-activity is this:
  1. Let everyone talk in the first 5 minutes: let them state one word how they feel today. (Random order gives everyone time)
  2. Give everyone some post it’s.
  3. Give everyone a few minutes to write one or more post it’s (around a theme.)
  4. let one person state her most important post it.
  5. If someone else has the same, let them give it to you
  6. then do a tour around the table everyone stating their most important idea.

>> this way extroverts don’t have to wait too long before talking and introverts have time to prepare and you make sure everyone talks .


If someone does not want to talk, I ask again making sure I tell them their idea’s are important, yet I do respect their choice of not wanting to talk.

That is probably more shyness than introversion, or maybe they really think they have nothing interesting to add to the conversation, yet although I know that is almost always wrong, I respect their choice. By respecting their choice, they feel heard also. And some people need to hear the message of “your choice is important” a few times before they will speak up.

This is just one way of respecting introverts. yet it’s a technique that works in every meeting. More ideas can be found in a classic work of my friend Jean Tabaka.
Her book collaboration explained was my only/most important book in the first years I worked as a coach.

It sometimes feels like a lesser known book now, yet it is for me one of the must read book for every scrummaster, product owner and agile coach.

* I don’t want to go into the discussion of Open Offices and if they are good or bad for introverts. I think the main message  to share here, is that most open offices are not designed the way Open offices have been invented. When Open Office have been invented, they were surrounded by private offices, talking bubbles and even larger meeting rooms. Most Open Office I have seen, lack these features.

Thanks to Albina Popova, Gitte Klitgaard for reviewing this post. 


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?





Here are the slides of my ALE2012 Presentation about all the online collaboration projects I started.
Unfortunatly on the slide I only have pictures of 68 people. somehow I did not find out how to create a picture of 146 people in google picassa.
The presentation was originally called: “What I learned from Who is agile”, but when the ALE2012 organisation to talk for 1 hour instead of 30 minutes, I started thinking about more projects then just the book creation.

A few weeks ago, I asked the organizers of #ALE2012, if I could steal 5 minutes of the intro. I wanted to do this, because I had something I wanted to share, that I felt was really in sync with the spirit of ALE

This was this speech. (This was the first time I ever did a speech on stage, that I never dry-runned out loud. You will understand why by the end.)


My name is Yves Hanoulle.

Just like some of you, I’m here with my family.
I’m here with my family, because Sunday is the second of September. And in 2002, that second day of september was a special day for me and my wife Els.
It was a special day because we became parents. for the first time.

I would like my family with me on stage. We came to Barcelona with Geike who is 4., Bent who is 7 and Joppe who is 9. yet on Sunday when we will be driving back to Belgium, we will have a teenager in our car.
(Yes some of you know where this is going, please bare with me…)
I could say some things about being a teenager, but that would just be me. And for those who know me, I’m a community guy. And this a great community. So let’s show some hands:

  • Who was a teenager?
  • Who remembers being a teen-ager?

Now, on your chair, you can find a post it. I would like you to write down a word that reminds
you about being a teenager. It can be a negative feeling or a positive one. (I have extra post-its, so you can write more)
If you want, add your name or your e-mail to it.
When you are done, give it to your neighbor so Joppe can collect them in the middle of room.

And then later when he is at home, and he has a feeling, he can look at the post it’s and see he is not alone with that feeling. He might even contact you.

Now it’s not a coincidence that I brought my family to ALE2012.
Agile & Lean are about change. In a lot of cases it’s about changing a rigid organization with
rules invented by old people to the flexibility of your own decisions
(Or sometimes changing a chaotic organization without rules into less cowboy mentality.)

It’s not that different from changing from a boy into a man.

I think ALE is the perfect place to start that transition.

As a family we are still left with one challenge.
On Sunday we will be in the car almost al day. Now being in the car on your birthday, especially your tenth one, that really sucks. I’m sorry to use such a rude word, yet there is no other word for that.

That is why we leave earlier on Friday so Joppe can spend part of his Sunday at home or with
I don’t need to be on stage to tell you that. I can tell you that in person.
I asked to be on stage because of some of the most remarkable moments I had at agile
conferences. Moments where the whole audience stood up and sang.
In return for the car ride on his birthday, I would like you to sing for Joppe Happy birthday with
1, 2, 3
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday to Joppe
Happy Birthday to You


Joppe ended up with 88 post-it’s. I wrote them up in a g-spreadsheet that you can look at here.

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.



The 12th person on the Who Is serie is Jonathan Perret. Jonathan was proposed by Laurent Bossavit. The first time I knew who Jonathan was, was when he subscribed to a McCarthy bootcamp I was organizing. Unfortunately I could not go myself, but I have ran into him multiple time since. One of the most remarkable moments was when he did “Un kata marant” (A funny coding dojo) with Emmanuel Gaillot At Agile Tour Bordeaux. And funny it was. They had a bunch of code and tasks like: “rewrite your code so it LOOKS like ASCII art”. They did all of that without breaking their tests. I’m sure that Joshua –LimitedRedSociety- Kerievsky would have loved it.

You can find out about his creativity by downloading his free Ipad ArtGame called Nr 32

Jonathan is one of the people I hope to run into this week at ALE2011

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

My extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins…) is quite large, approximating fifty people, and yet close-knit.  Most of us meet at least yearly, and support each other whenever there’s a need.  I guess being part of such a group from the youngest age has made me feel safer in life.

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

That’s pretty difficult to imagine given that I was obsessed with programming computers ever since the age of nine, as far as I remember.  But I suppose I would have enjoyed being a fiction writer — I have always enjoyed stories and regularly fantasize about inventing and telling them.

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

My biggest challenge is that I seem to have a very small attention span. I tend not to stay motivated by a particular project or task for long, and quickly get distracted by shiny objects.  That’s a good thing because I’m in a state of constant excitement and learning, about one thing or another !

But what’s better is that it pushes me to seek people that complete me with their focus, and who appreciate whatever skills I can bring to bear given the right context.  For this reason I immensely enjoy pair programming.

What drives you ?

Smiles on the faces of the people I love. I could wrap this up in grander visions but that’s what it really comes down to.

What is your biggest achievement?

Helping build my family, day after day. Every time I feel a bit down and it seems I have not achieved anything of significance yet, I just have to think of my wife and my two daughters to know I have something to be proud of.

What is the last book you have read?

John Varley’s Gaea trilogy: science-fiction that manages to combine the kinky and the thoughtful in delightful and unexpected ways. A friend recommended it to me during a discussion where the topic of musical modes had come up, but I’m not telling more in case there are kids reading your blog.

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

How hard is it for you to write about yourself? Very! Finding words to express the jumble of thoughts that goes on up there takes me forever — I’d rather be coding ! But I’m not complaining, I do appreciate being pushed into it. I wish I had found more to write, though.

Who do you think I should ask next?

I have several names in mind, but I’d really like to read Arnaud Bailly’s  answers to your little questionnaire. I met Arnaud at the Coding Dojo, and feel lucky that we ended up working together for some time. I am constantly amazed at the amount of stuff that man reads !