Archive for the ‘coach-retreat’ Category

Yesterday Oana Juncu and me organized a Coach Retreat in Paris. Lots of people asked me about the format. This is version 2 of the Coach Retreat format. I expect it to change a lot the coming years, only step by step. We have already lost of idea’s and the trick will be to be patient and only change in small steps.

In agile we use a lot of double loop learning. While writing this up I realize that CoachRetreat is quadrupple loop learning. Not because I want mine to be bigger/better etc, it’s because I stand on the shoulders of giants.

Rachel Davies invented Coaching Dojo.

Coray Haines co-creator of Code Retreat.

Coach Retreat = Coaching Dojo + Code Retreat
(Oana invented this tag line, did I mention already I love working with people smarter then me?)

Very nice yves, could you know become a little more practical?

Yes: 1 hard rule, at coach retreat we speak the local language. (In this case French)

We started with a group Check-in

We had 6 situation agile coaches encounter at clients. These 6 situation we put on the walls of our retreat center. We asked our coaches to DotVote on the situations. The winning situation we worked on the whole day.
Really? Work the whole day on one situation?
yes, one situation. That works fine for code retreat, so we do the same.
Well you don’t have to copy everything from Corey do you?
True, but we should not reject anything without trying too. Actually the coaches in Paris initially had the same reaction you had. Yet we stuck to our plan.
That does not sounds really agile…
I actually think it was, read on and then judge.
Just like CodeRetreat we work on the same story but with different techniques.


We experiment with one technique during 65 Minutes.

5 minutes explaining the problem
10 minutes of working
5 minutes local debrief
10 min replay with the same actors
5 min local debrief
10 min replay with the same actors
5 min local debrief

15 min of group debrief (retrospective)

>> this is the first learning loop (actually the second but that will become clear later)

Then we redo the story with another coaching technique.
In total we do 4 to 5 different coaching techniques==> this is the second/Third learning loop.

His were the coaching techniques we used this CoachRetreat


We ended the day with a Circle of Questions

The click rewind is where the first learning loop comes into play. Because anyone can stop what is gong on, while it is going on and people replay what they did, you have a learning loop right in the action.

The fourth learning loop is when we will have more CoachRetreats. Then we loop at CoachRetreat level.

Already after the second sessions, people that said that they did not wanted to replay the same story the whole day had changed their mind. Participants found lots of value in the replaying of the story and experimenting with coaching styles.

One of the places were people did coach, we asked everyone (even observers) to paint.

I have also created a google group for CoachRetreat:

something I forgot:

  • use #MyDailyThankYou
  • mention I give FLS (Free Lifetime Support) on everything I do.
  • mention that I’m writing the Who Are agilist book with answers from Oana, Rachel & me (together with already 27 others..)

I already received a request for a CoachRetreat in Bordeaux & Lille, Montpellier. Where do you want to organize one?

My professional life started in 1994 by doing software support for a small (7 people) IT company.
The company had a DOS program for insurance brokers. Most of their users were people who did not know much of computers.
Philippe hired me to offer free support to these people. Making his customers life as easy as possible helped the company a lot. We went from a 200 (or 300, I don’t remember anymore) customers to over 1400 customers in little over a year.
When I later started my own company in 1998, I decided I would take this to the extreme:

I offer Free Lifetime support on everything I do.

A few examples to show that I take this pretty serious:

Free support for

At ALE 2011 I did a lightning talk to challenge every consultant or consulting firm to do the same thing. If you support this idea, you can tag yourself with this tag at entaggle

As I love recursive things, I do give FLS to this post about FLS.
my SLA? I guarantee a reply in 48 hours. And usually it’s a lot faster then 24 hours.

And now it’s my turn to ask for help: Will you help me finding someone who wants to create a logo for FLS?

Oh and when I say LIFE, I mean mine, not yours. 😉

A few months ago Jurgen asked me if I was interested in pair-organising a coach retrait.

Jurgen is a smart guy, he knows if you mention the word pair and coach in one sentence, you got my attention. So I went to his house and we talked about lots of different things and also a little bit about a coach retreat.

yes I admit, the word is a rip-off, of the famous code-retreats of Corey. Why invent a new name when a cool one is available?

Many people asked me at ALE2011, how will it be different from an agile coach camp.

Good question, I did not know the answer. aha, but after the first one, now I know…

I admit I have never been at a code-retreat. Stealing a name from something I have never been to is a risky thing. I have been thinking really hard. How did Corey make code-retreat different from the pair-programming parties we had in Belgium for a few years? Or the coding dojo’s and coding kata’s

One thing that sticks out is the: you throw your code away rule. mm, how can we do this with coaches. What can we create that we can throw away? It’s not like we create anything?

Should we write code, nah then the partners can’t join, nor the kids.

Ah now I had another problem, we said partners and kids were invited, but we wanted them to participate in the main program, instead of a side program.

One thing I love is to combine two problems into one solution.

Tada: let’s create ART are together.

This morning I arrived with a fully loaded car with paint, paintbrushes lots of plastic (to cover the floor of the nice office building we could use.)

We started with a group CHECK-IN. I always find I awkward when I initiate a group check in with a new group. And every time I am happy we did it.

One of the children said: I’m afraid I will be bored. An open and clear message without drama. I love that.

Then Jurgen told everyone the rules of open space. As a few partner and children had joined us, it was good to explain to everyone what to expect.

Before we opened the market place, I told them about an extra rule for one room. In one of the rooms, you could talk about everything, but you had to paint. You could paint alone or together as long as you kept painting while talking. I learned that idea from the McCartney bootcamps. While you paint, you use different parts of your brain.

The different with a bootcamp, was here, as in real code-retreat rule, you can’t take the paintings home. Throw away ART.

I think it resulted in pretty amazing talks (and paintings)

Was everything good?

Of course not, it was a first try out. It was not intended to be perfect. (That’s another spirit of a code-retreat we want to practice. Not show off)

I wanted to have the children and partners involved. And that worked fine. Well for a moment, but after a while kids get bored. We did have lego, we did have paint, we did have an x-box kinect. yet we did not have a nice kids program like at ALE2011.  And we should have had, so that partners and children could choose.

Oh and I wanted to end the day with a circle of questions but I forgot.

I also wanted to do something nice for the partners. I know that being a partner of a coach can be very demanding. I ordered flowers for all the participants. With the intention they gave this to their partner to thank them for their support for their coaching work.

Thanks to everyone who was at this first coach retreat.

(I’ll blog later about some of the great sessions we had.)

Update: The picture are now online