Archive for the ‘PairCoaching’ Category

As much as I like reading, my deepest way of learning, is by doing.
Yet if I have to learn everything from my own doing, that would be a local optimisation.

One of the reasons I like to do pair work , is that by pairing with another coach, I learn by tapping into her knowledge/brain. This year, I’m working with a large client, together with +15 coaches. And next to pairing, we also teach each other by swapping (war) stories.

The last months, I wondered if other people would be interested in these kind of stories and would like a community book with tips for coaching.

So I have two questions for you:
– Would you be interesting in buying such a book?
you can tell me at the leanpub waiting page
– Are you coaching people and would you like to share a story or two?

please leave your name and e-mail here

As I have already a large WIP with current community project, I will only start this one, when I have many people interested in the book, both from a reader perspective and a writer perspective.

For me it seemed that at #ALE14, failing was one of the themes.

When I noticed that many people said: yes talking about failing is easy when it’s only a small failure, but what about a real big failure?
That’s the moment I decided to have a lightning talk about the moment I burned down my parents house in 1991.

The people that know me, know, I have been talking very openly about this event for years. I even did a talk at a few agile conferences called: what I learned from burning down my parents house.

Yet at #ALE14 talking about it (almost unprepared) on stage and feeling the reactions, made me very emotional.
Thank you. I’m still get tears in my eyes when I think about the support I felt from the audience .

As a thank you, I want to talk some more about failures.
About some of my failures during #ALE14. I learned from the fire that failing is OK. And although I learned that from a big event, I want to use the small failures I made at ALE14 to talk about how I deal with failures now.

It started with my proposal for ALE14.
I made 3 proposals for ALE14. They all needed more work. Work I did not do: FAILURE I

I don’t know exactly why it happened, yet I also did not follow up on these proposals: FAILURE II

I also got feedback on one of them, feedback I did not understand. I asked a question. And did not follow up on that either. > FAILURE III

As a result my sessions got rejected. (One session got resurrected during my holiday, I guess I was lucky)

Last year I did sponsor ALE13 to promote the idea of PairCoaching. This year I forgot to contact the organizers FAILURE IV
On top they decided not to contact the old sponsors, and when I found out, I left it like that (FAILURE V)

I knew already for a very long time I wanted to go to ALE in 2014, yet I only booked my plane like in the last week FAILURE VI

At the first edition of ALE, I shared a room with Chris Matts and that was a wonderful experience. So ever since I decided to do this again when I can, only know I completely forgot with who I would share a room this year FAILURE VII

After a day or so and a few embarrassing tweets where I had to acknowledge this, I finally realised I found the person thanks to a message on linkedin and I found back I did that with Sergey (For me FAILURE VIII as I should have realised this earlier)

I thought I had the address of our apartment noted in my agenda, turns out that was of the venue FAILURE IX

The address I did found back while being outside the hotel, was not complete and did not work with google maps FAILURE X

In the end I never paid Sergey (FAILURE XI)

And while writing this blogpost, I realised I still did not mail Sergey to fix this FAILURE XII

Also with Sergey we hardly talked when we came at the apartment so my apartment sharing did not get the results as before . that is because we did not really exchange expectations FAILURE XIII

When I arrived in Krakow I was extremely tired and most of the first day, I felt I was in zombie mode FAILURE XIV

At the last day, when I did my 30 second pitch for my talk, I asked people to think about a bad habit, and then I asked them to share it with a neighbour. That was bad. I should have said: if you feel comfortable, it would be nice if you can share it with someone else in the room, that you trust. Asking people to share a bad habit with a random stranger, is good for some people, yet others prefer it do it with someone they know. Thank you Paul Klipp for calling me out on this. > Failure XV

I have not posted the blog post about the ALE14 books yet as I promised. >> FAILURE XVI
And the biggest of it all: I did not call my children on the first 2 days while I was at ALE14. >> FAILURE XVII
I can continue for a while like this, and I already know what the default reaction of a lot of people will be: Yves these are not all your fault. Some of them could be blamed on -FILL IN THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BLAME-

I don’t play that game. I prefer to blame myself. Not because I’m on the SHAME stage of the responsibility model.
I do that because if I look at a situation from a point of view that I failed, I can also see what action I can take to avoid this in the future.
And that is the game I’m playing.

This is why I like to say: “blame it on me”, some people think it’s a joke. It’s not. I like to be blamed. Especially when the critic is concrete. That means I can look at the situation, see my part in it and turn it around.

So, where did you fail lately?

One of my main drivers to start my own company was that I wanted more training than my previous employers gave me.
For 15 years I had a rule that I invested 10 to 20% of my revenue in training.
It was a combination of reading books, evening events, conferences, training & coaching.

The last years I have added community activities to that. I have learned a ton from creating

and mostly the teams that helped me with them.

Actually, I learned so much by working with great teams and their trust, that I decided that the next years, I want to experiment with how I will learn new things.

I want to learn by doing, instead of purchasing training. I will be helping multiple teams or organisations for a short while. This means I will contact companies that work in special ways or are doing stuff in a creative way. My current idea is to do actual work for them for a week.

Last week I came up with the name Au-PairCoaching for this and then asked on twitter what that made people think:

Here are the reactions:

Nicole Rauch: To me that sounds as if the coach would move into my house and live with me for a while.


  • Holger Oem: The coach is very young, has no experience on his job but is willing to do anything to help
  • Zurcherart: 19 year old learning a foreign language by coaching your children
  • George Dinwiddie Someone cheap to spend all their time babysitting the children (development team) for years.
  • Leo Exter :  Um. The stuff cheap-and-nasty romance novels are filled with.
  • RonJeffries: A young woman who doesn’t speak my language, won’t watch the kids very well and will get mixed up with my husband.



Nicole reaction, was in sync with what I thought. It’s not moving in in your house, yet moving in with your team/company.

Holger’s reaction is both good and bad.
– Although I still see myself as young, I doubt my children agree with that.
– I do have experience, I actually think I will bring lots of value.
– yes, I come to learn at the same time
– yes, I am willing to anything to help

Steve’s (Zurcherart) reaction makes me think, I burned down my parents’ house at 19. Not sure you want that 19 year old person in your company 😉
I consider working people as adults, I don’t want to treat them as children.
I want to learn, yet more the company culture then the language.

George reaction: mmm, not really want to be seen as cheap, usually people don’t listen to people they consider cheap consultants.

Leo’s reaction: I wonder if that is good or bad. these novels are popular.

Ron’s answer is really disturbing. (Thanks Ron, I like it when people push me.)
The part about not speaking the language will be true most of the times. I might miss local nuances. (It’s the main reason why we say that a CoachRetreat is done in the local language.)
I really want to do the job well. I wonder, is this the general experience with au-pairs or just rumors?
The last part; it took me 16 years to convince my wife to ask me to marry her. I’m not going to jeopardize our relation buy fooling around. And I doubt that is what au-pairs actually do. (Although It might be a secret wish of some men hiring an au-pair.) I will check with my wife to see if she has some similar concerns.

Do you know of other people doing this?
When I asked for help on the draft of this talk, I learned about a people who did something similar.


So Yves, how is your initiative different, how is it unique?

  • I’m talking about coaching, while most others was about programming
  • I have 3 children (and a lovely wife) that I want to give a lot of love, attention and support. This means I don’t want to go away for months in row. Just like with the training I want to replace, it’s maximum 1 week every 2 months.
  • I will be picky on the companies I pick. I want them to be a-typical. As I will have regular clients at the same time, I can afford that.
  • With that family to support, I won’t work for free
  • I will do paircoaching: One of the things I am really careful about is so called seagull coaching. dropping some shit on a team and moving on without seeing the consequences.
  • I give freelifetime support in this week
  • As I haven’t been part of what the others done, I don’t know, all the differences. I will write about it at the end.


Do you care if people are actually using what you are saying? You said it was about learning, so if you learned something and the company is not taking your advice, are you happy?

Great question.
Yes, it’s about learning, but learning as a coach: when I learn something that clients don’t use, I have not really learned anything. One thing that is constant in my life, is that I want to become more effective. Also  as coach. Not learn fake stuff, this is partly why this works better than training, I still have to be able to use what I learned in real life. In that sense, my learning will also be verifying assumptions that I already have.
or as Nicole rephrased it so nicely:
“Your notion of ‘learning success’ is when you learn something new, apply it and see that the other person reacts in a way that they feel helped. Of course, then you need the other person to be interested in what you are applying.”


You are talking about learning and you still want to earn money with it. Isn’t this some cheesy marketing scheme?

That is a hard question and one I have been struggling with for a while.
Let’s start by making clear, this is not about finding new regular clients. I will keep doing the work I am normally doing. For my clients in Belgium. If this blogpost is related to marketing, it’s about finding companies that I could learn from. The companies I am looking for, are different than my usual clients, if only because they are outside Belgium. For full transparency, the first of these companies I have already contacted and they have said yes. I will be helping them in October. After I come back to Belgium, I will do a retrospective with the coaches I have helped and plan a next iteration with another company.

The money part: can I charge for learning?
When I was at university, I had a friend who was studying at the conservatory. He practised playing guitar on the streets. earning money while he practised. He even told me, it helped him to practise longer and better. As long as he brought people value, they paid. I think that was smart. I’m sure you can find people around you that earn money while this perfecting their craft.
Update: It took me a while to realize his money scheme was different. His “customers” pay after the delivery of the songs. And they decide how much they will pay, after he has delivered. I will experiment with that.


Will you always move to the country, what about distributed teams?
Good question. I just finished reading: A year working without Pants from Scott Berkun. A wonderful book. In 2005 I was coaching an agile team that was distributed : partly in Belgium, partly in Yekatarinaburg. I loved doing that. I am interested in helping out a full distributed team like Berkun did. On top of it, it would be nice if I can work full time on my walking desk.

What do you hope to learn?

  • My current modus operandi; is to do long term assignments. I observe teams for a week and only then start giving ideas. Working for one week, I will need to change that.
  • Most of the companies that are calling for help are companies that want to change the way they are working. You can see it as a therapist helping people in trouble. I want now to work with companies that are doing great and that I will help to become even better.
  • I don’t know what I don’t know…

From the twitter remarks, it’s clear that the name au-pairCoaching is not the best name.
Will you help me find another name?

Current proposals:

  • BYOC (Bring your own Coach)
  • CoachOnTour
  • JourneymanCoach: invented by Olaf Lewitz
  • JourneyCoach: invented by Olaf Lewitz
  • CoachOnJourney
  • Distributed Coach
  • Remote Coach: invented by Olaf Lewitz
  • StageCoach: invented by Martine Vos
  • CollaborationArchitect: now used as part of Innovation Games certifications
  • CollaborationCoach
  • RemoteCollaborationArchitect
  • RemoteCollaboration
  • RemoteCollaborationCoach
  • CreativeCollaborationAgent: this is the name I have been using for a while…

After some soulsearching and discussing with friends. I decide to use Remote Coach. It fits well in all situations.

Do you know companies I should do this with?
Please tell me



Some years ago, I started

  1. I wanted to make publicity for coaching in pairs
  2. I wanted to make publicity for workshops done in pairs
  3. making publicity for the brand “Yves Hanoulle”

Since 2007, I have distributed  more then 5.000 coffee mugs and probably +1.000 t-shirts.


I think that it’s fair to say I succeeded in 1. A lot more people are considering pairing and the ones doing this before me, start to use the name PairCoaching.
Read the update I added on the PairCoaching video, to know who invented the term)

All using the same name, helps in selling the idea.
At ALE13, I explained I sponsored the t-shirts, because I wanted to promote 1. It was not about promoting the website with 2. (There are actually no workshops on the website at this moment. )

Figuring out if  I succeed in 2 is a lot harder. In a sense yes, I lived for a few years from those workshops. I still have requests based on the workshop on the website even if I don’t do any publicity for it. yet, my idea was to have lots of workshops and people on the website, with the only requirement, that the workshops were done in pair.

(Today I would add and using some training from the back of the room techniques.) If you look at the website, yes it contains lots of people, yet, the only person actively using it is me. Some years back I had some talks with JB, Johanna, Lisa and David (and others) about working together, yet I never fully went for it.

And I know why; although I’m pretty good at selling, I hate it. I could hire an admin to to all the boring stuff, still my business would be around organizing training. That would remove time from working with teams. These days I prefer to work with partners that organize the training and I create and deliver the training. On top of that, when I have an idea to get some great international person to Belgium, I drop a hint to my friends of co-learning, iLean etc, and they do everything. I don’t earn any money on this, yet they are much better at this, and we get all these great trainers to Belgium, which is more important to me.

I think with 3 the paircoaching website helped, but since 2010 years, my main website is htpp://

Add to this that at events like AgileCoachCamps, Ale 2011/12/13 and CoachRetreat’s people ask me if there is a place to discuss paircoaching. So far my answer was: No not really.
After a lot of doubting, I’m ready to give away the domain and have it used by the community for:

  • explaining paircoaching
  • discussing about how paircoaching can help you
  • give tips on how to sell paircoaching
  • maybe even some kind of public training offering (based on public services like f ex  eventbridge) (not just my events but from people around the world) >> to be discussed by the community
I will keep sponsering the T-shirts, and coffee mugs, making twitter publicity, yet I don’t have the time to work on the website.
If you are interested in helping out, leave me a message. If you think I am completely stupid to give away something I created say it as well.
If I talked to you about this the last years, I hope you understand, it took a while to take this decision. If you advised me against doing this (Yes, Johanna I’m looking at you. I hope you understand that for me doing well is more important then being business savy, …)

PS I don’t know if I had 50 coffees over the last 2 years, it sure feels like it…

At one of my clients after a we did a work retrospective, my PairCoach and I decided to launch another work retrospective, yet now concentrated on the demo. We planned this after the team had been receiving negative feedback on their demo. For the record I have to mention that the demo (or show and tell as they call it), the team did just before the retrospective, was one of their best.
At the start of the retrospective I told them I liked the demo, yet, I was sure they could still improve. So the theme of the retro was now:

“Invent the demo you are proud of.”

Just like the work retrospective, the format was quite strict.

  1. Set the stage: here we asked about how safe they felt inside their team/company.
  2. Select a partner with who you will work this retrospective. To make an even team, the Product Owner joined the team.
  3. As a (full) team select one story that we demoed this morning
  4. With your partner prepare a new demo for that story
    ( 5 minutes)
  5. explain Perfection Game
  6. First duo does their demo (the rest of the team writes a personal improvement in the format of a Perfection Game while the first team does it)
    (max 5 minutes)
  7. re-prepare your demo based on your previous plan and the PG both of you wrote down.
    (max 5 minutes)
  8. second demo + PerfectionGame for others
    (max 5 minutes)
  9. re-prepare your demo based on your previous plans and the PerfectionGames both of you wrote down
    (max 5 minutes)
  10. third demo+ PerfectionGames for others
    (max 5 minutes)
  11.   re-prepare your demo based on your previous plans and the PerfectionGames both of you wrote down (max 3 minutes)
  12. fourth demo

Although the team was annoyed about doing a demo retro after a much better demo, they took the challenge and they did 4 very creative demo’s.
They selected a kind of technical story about webservices. If you would ask me, I would not even demo this. Why?  Client don’t understand it, there is no real business value etc etc.

In retrospect, that is exactly why this was a perfect story to do this kind of demo retrospective.
Why? I saw people role play what is happening behind the scene. I saw people explaining with a physical map. etc etc.

To some people it’s annoying to do 5 times the same demo in less then 1 hours yet, that is exactly how most music bands rehearse. Playing the same 3 minute song over and over and over and over …. I like a good rock concert.

The French group Indochine, did a major gig in the Paris “Stade de France” on June 26 2010.
Although they had just finished a tour in France and they had perfected their setlist during that tour. They decided to rehearse in a separate location, where they could mimic the size of the location. As they had never played this size of stadium, they rehearsed offsite in a real size location for 4 days.
That’s the way to create great gigs and great shows. Now you know you have some idea’s how you can do the same for your teams demo…



After I launched, somewhere around 2007, I received an e-mail from a Dutch guy, asking if I was interested in organizing CSM training classes in Belgium for him. At that time I was not sure if I wanted to organize them. I did not know Bas and I was still wondering what kind of courses I wanted to organize. I let the moment slide and it’s something I regret. Meanwhile I got to know Bas. He has written a wonderfull book. (Actually their book was so big, they wrote a second book and I still can’t figure out which one I like more. Check out their writing on agile contracts.

One of Bas’ most well known artifacts is the Nokia test he invented. The history of the test is also worth reading. It shows so nicely how things get created and start to live their own life.
Bas was invited by Jukka.


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

Well… there is quite a lot that people usually don’t know about me and I’d actually like to keep it that way 😛

Thinking the question over, one thing that has influenced me perhaps most is moving and living in China (for a total of five years, after which I lived is several other countries). Many people know I’ve lived in China but most people don’t know how and why.

More than ten years ago, I lived and worked in Amsterdam. I had a good development job working together with close friends of mine and working on really cool stuff. I think I had a pretty good life. Yet, I felt restless and after a short 2-week visit to Beijing, I decided that it would be an adventure to go and live there. I told my friends and family about it. It came as a surprise for everyone (including myself). I’ll never forget my parents’ reaction which was: “Oh, already? Oh, China?” It was amusing as they knew I would probably leave Holland one day (as I always called myself a ‘world citizen’) but they never expected me to leave for China, and that soon.

I quit my job and half a year later I arrived in Beijing. I had just enough money for a hotel for about one month and a visa for 3 months and no job. This made life really simple: first find a place to live, and second find a job and visa. In that first month, I met my wife and started working at Nokia where I would stay for many years. I’ve never regretted leaving as nearly everything I am and I’ve done can be traced to that decision.

What I’ve learned from that is to appreciate the things you have. Many people don’t realize what they have until they lose it. And these can be very basic things, such as sitting on a toilet. I never appreciated that until I lived in a house with just a hole-in-the-floor-toilet. Likewise, I never really appreciated being able to adjust the shower temperature until I needed to run to the kitchen to adjust it (which isn’t nice in the winter).

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

I’ve actually considered that. When I was young, I got fired from working on a flower farm because I couldn’t do repetitive work without thinking. From that, I concluded that whatever I’ll do, I’ll need to do it using my head. I do love creating and building things but whenever I touch something physical, it tends to break.

So… I honestly don’t really know. Perhaps something related to economics

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

My biggest challenge is to fit all the things that I want to do in the time that I have. It is incredibly frustrating but it is a good thing for me as I’m happy that I can actually choose between things that I actually want to do.

To give an idea of the kinds of things that don’t fit:

  • I spend a lot of time teaching in East Asia as I had set myself the goal to introduce Agile development in East Asia and have been working on that for the last 5 years or so.
  • I enjoy thinking and working on our company Odd-e, which is an experiment in building a company that is not based on traditional organizational assumptions. An organization where people are truly free and can focus on the things they want to focus on.
  • I’m an active developer. Most of my development work is either internal or open source. We have so many ideas, I could actually do that full time!
  • In our company, we’ve talked about building a product ourselves. We have lots of ideas, but not too much time to implement them 🙁
  • My son is now 2 years and I wish I could spend all my time with him. It is great to have an excuse building things with Lego.
  • I’ve been working with some clients for many years and I wish I could spend more time on their transformations.
  • I got a library of over 1500 books. I didn’t even read half yet!

I try to do everything, but I can’t. I have to balance it but also make sure that I don’t lose focus either.

What drives you ?

I guess what drives me most is learning. I’m interested in almost anything.

The second thing that drives me is creating. I guess that’s why I like software development so much, it allows for lots of learning and lots of creating.

What is your biggest achievement?

I hope I didn’t achieve it yet.

I guess my biggest achievement is enjoying the life I have right now.

If I think about my professional achievements:

  • a couple of open source projects
  • worked on some cool products
  • lead a large agile transformation program
  • introduced agile in east asia
  • coached and mentored several really good people
  • wrote two books,
  • built the dream company for every developer (at least, for us)

then I wouldn’t call any the biggest

What is the last book you have read?

The last book I read was The Chip which was a wonderful book about the history of the integrated circuit invented by Bob Noyce (founder of Intel) and Jack Kilby. I like reading history books and “The Chip” was one of the better ones. The story and how it influenced our world today is something that every engineer ought to know.

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

This question is pretty good and this is the answer… (aaaah… stack overflow !)

Perhaps: “What are you doing right now that excites you The answer:

At this time I’m quite excited about Odd-e, which is a company that I started originally 15 years ago. Last year it started experimenting in new ways of organizing itself. The company is structured around self-managing teams with profit/loss responsibility. Currently we have 3 teams, one in Singapore, one in Japan and one in China. The company has no management nor any support functions, which creates interesting financial transparency. We try to structure the organization around the values and principles that we promote and it has been a lot of fun discussing in our company about how we could work differently. We might be starting two more teams in two more East Asian countries this year. Then we’ll have a rare company with rare coverage of Asia (as Asia is very diverse).

Who do you think I should ask next?

I think you should ask two people. They are my colleagues, but I recommend them for their experience and what they have done within their community.


Did you like these answers?

You might want to check out our book:who is agile

Dear Friend,
You are receiving this message because I want to ask you a few things.
Currently I spend my spare time (next to organizing my marriage) putting a book together called  “Who is agile”. In “Who is agile”, you can read the answers of agilists to 9 questions.
The nice thing about “Who is agile”, is that it is written in an agile way, with one public release every week. And when you buy the e-book now, you get all the future updates for free.
Who says you can’t write a book in an agile way? If you want to do the same thing, check out our partner LeanPub.

The book has turned into a real community project. And now, I turn to my connections to ask for more help.
I would like your help to

  1. Spread the word of this agile community project
  2. Help us find other community projects that should be mentioned in the book
  3. Help us with the translations of “Who is agile”
  4. Buy the book yourself
  5. Send us ideas on how we can improve the book
  6. Send us a short paragraph about what you like about the book

1) Spread the word of this agile community project
For this community project to thrive, we need, aside from our core contributors, a network of people that publicly support us. Don’t worry we have enough energy to keep this going for a long time. (Our backlog contains 200 agilists.)
Will you please send out a message (mail, twitter, blog, facebook, linkedin) to your friends and ask them to check out this project.

2) Help us find other community projects that should be mentioned in the book
At this moment in the book, we mention 20 community activities. Twenty activities for a worldwide community that has existed for more than 10 years is not enough. I know there are more things going on.
Will you help us find out about them?

3) Help us with the translations of “Who is agile”
At this moment we are translating the book into:
Catalan, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish
These translation teams can use your help. And we would love to create other translations.
Will you help us find other translators?

(If you are French, you might want to contact Fabrice.)

4) Buy the book yourself
That is the easiest one. Will you go to and buy the book? You can set your own price between the minimum price and 29,99 Dollar.
What is the minimum price? Aha – this is where we make it complicated. We increase the minimum price by $0.50 (50 cents) every release (week). This week it is 3.49 dollar. A real bargain for a book that allows you the opportunity to learn about 80 agilists.

5) Send us ideas how we can improve the book
Once you have bought the book, we would love to hear about how we might improve the book. For example, the map, the book list and the question lists are created based on feedback from our readers.
Will you send us your most outlandish idea for Who is agile?

6) Send us a short paragraph what you like about the book
Every good book needs a few pages of people saying what they liked about the book.
We are not looking for cheesy marketing sentences. We are looking for real people expressing their genuine thoughts about our book. Will you send us your opinion about Who is agile?

Thank you so much for your attention and I hope you appreciate me sending this message.

With kind regards,
Yves Hanoulle (who could not have created this book without the help of
Andrea Chiou, Marcin Floryan, Peter Doomen and everyone answering these questions.)

PS A big thank you to Olav Maassen & Chris Matts whose mass mailing idea inspired to write this email. Please check out their Real Options book.

Update: If you are wondering why you are not in the book. Check back with me. You probably are on the backlog. To avoid a big stock of answers and waste, we only ask people when we can publish in the next month or so.

Update 2:  How to reach us? send a mail to whois at hanoulle dot be

Update 3: We have made another visualisation of the people in Who is agile  by using this map

Crucial confrontations

View more PowerPoint from Yves Hanoulle
At Xpday Benelux in November 2011 , our session was selected among the 12 best sessions.
So Christophe Thibaut and me, we were asked to redo our session at Mini XPDays benelux 2012.
It was as fun as in November. As we warned our participants we had one exercise too much (we were still hoping we could do this, but we should have known better…) Anyway here are our slides.
As we said, we give Free Life time support.
The technique that was most appreciated was the click protocol

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?

Catia and Marcin started an interesting experiment, they called pair-writing.

Catia blamed me for starting that. I like being blame of things. Seriously. When it is my fault, it means I am in control and  I can do something about the mess people are in. (After all it was my fault.) Next to that, I have been blamed of much worse things then making people pair up.

I told Catia & Marcin I loved the idea, but I did not think it was pair writing. And then things became really interesting. One of them (the names are left out to protect the innocents ) said that before they could be pair-writing they needed first to increase the trust between them. Interesting because brought us back to the end of their discussion.

I have been reading and talking a lot about trust the last years.
My favorite one liner about trust is:


Trust is given, not earned.

Everyone with kids knows how hard this is.
As a parent I give a lot of freedom to my kids. Joppe loves climbing in trees. We let him, even if he climbs beyond the point we still see him. Does it scare me? Yes. Why do I let him do it? Because I trust he can do it. And because I give him trust, his confidence grows and he dares to do it.

Of course I did not trust him to do this, when he was 3. But it did not start when he was six either (when he started climbing trees.)

Now I know I trust people very quickly.  And yes I have already been bitten by that in my life (both personal as business life.) So what , I’m sure that even the biggest paranoids are not bitten less then I am.

Let’s take the example of our “The Core Protocols an experience report”, that article was written by 15 people. Some of them I never met. Yet I gave them all editing rights to a google doc. Some edited a lot, others send me some text and I added it myself to the article.

At some moments I was surprised about some changes. Yes at the end I asked people to be carefull about large refactorings. Yet I never have taken editing rights away. I will say more, I have no idea who wrote what.
Is it what I had in mind when M&T ask me to write the article? No. It is in no way what I had in mind.  It is 3008 % better.

Why? I trusted the people they would come up with good idea’s. Read article yourself and decide for yourself if it was a good decision.

Does this mean I still trust everyone? No. Some people in my life have proven that they can’t be trusted. They are removed from my list of people I trust. Can they get back up?

Yes they can, but depending on how hard they have been untrustworthy it might take a little longer.

Now keeping someone’s trust is hard. This year I have been together with my partner for 15 year. And yes, in these 15 years our relations has not always been as strong as today.

My question to C & M is: when you need more trust to write, why did it work to organize ALE2011?


Update: This weekend I re-read SLACK from Tom DeMarco and on page 152 there is the lovely parents rule:

Always give trust slightly in advance of demonstated strustworthiness.

Update: Although trust should be given not earned, I’m very sceptical when people say: “you HAVE to trust me on this”. To me it sounds like a partner who says: ” don’t you trust me?” It feels like blackmail. And I don’t trust people who blackmail me. And yes I ‘m wel aware of ways to say that, when it does not feel like blackmail. Yet in those cases, there is typically no need to say this. A better way would be: what do you need from me, so that you would trust me with this?