Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

This year it’s 10 years ago that I started working full time as what we now call an agile coach.
Agile coaching is change management, it’s helping people from where they are to somewhere else.
That somewhere else, is a place neither of us know.
Partly because I don’t know yet enough what is their current place, partly because they don’t understand what agile really means.


So one of the typically questions I get is: give me an example.
In these 10 years I have worked for the industry automating food factories, healthcare, postal service, banking, insurance, energy services, consumer service and a few more.
When I gave examples in the first years, I was giving examples about one of these companies I helped.

Yet, when I speak for a few hundred people, most are not in the same industry as most of my examples. And even when they were in the same industry, people came with excuses why my example was wrong for their company. For me that was fine. My examples were never intended to be used as best practises in your company. Their are intended to inspire people, so that they can adapt them and find their own solutions.

So gradually over the years I started to use a different story telling technique.

Most of my examples are now about my family.
Because I consider my audience smarter then me and capable of translating examples of my personal life, to their work situation and find their own solution.

I have the impression this works better.

yes, there still are laggards who don’t want to change and think that some of the new idea’s in this fast changing agile world are crazy and won’t work in their company.
That’s fine. I prefer to spend my energy helping people who want to change, that is still most part of the world.
(And they prefer to spend their time with something they know. That is fine too.)

Look at the picture above: I’m pair working with my daughter. Who is the expert on the picture? yes it’s my daughter. Although I have build a lot more castles then she has, and I have a lot of years more experience, she was really the expert. Next time you are pair-programming , think about my daughter and what you can learn from her …
I don’t even have to explain you what you can learn from this situation. I know you are smarter then me and you will find the lessons you need.

Or as my father says: you don’t have to believe in the sea to get wet, you do have to get in to get wet. Meaning, what you learn of a situation is related to the energy you put in.

If this post inspires you, please share your personal stories. How do you apply agile in your life?

This is the video of my presentation with Joppe at Agile Eastern Europe 2015.

The slides can be found here

In December 2014 I delivered a keynote at FailingForward.
This one was special for me, as my 12 year old son joined me on stage.

Here are the slides:

I already blogged about the preparation and Joppe’s (big) part in the preparation.

Last week I spoke at Failing.FWD
Although I speak regular at many events around the world, this was a special one for me.

Partly because it was about failing. Dealing with failure and seeing failure as something positive has been one of my favourite topics since I burned down my parents house in 1991.

Yet that was not the main reason why this presentation was special.
I had a co-presentor. Now for those who follow me, know I make a lot of publicity for PairCoaching, so having a PairPresentor is also nothing new. What made it special, was it was my 12 year old son who joined me on stage.
And we did the presentation in English. A language he did not learn at school yet. So his English is mainly “television & music” English. Ah, it’s wonderful to live in a country where most television has subtitles and is not dubbed.

During the day and the weeks before I received a lot of questions from friends about this presentation, I wanted to group some of the answers here.

How were you invited to this conference?
As Greet De Keyser said in her presentation, people should ask what they want.
When I saw the program of the Failing.FWD conference, I tweeted something like: Damned this is a conference I would have wanted to talk. And then Karen one of the organizers replied: oh you were on our list and we still have an open spot.
Getting what you want, is that simple!

Did they agree on bringing your son?
This is a nice example of “asking for forgiveness instead of begging for permission“.  I’m a professional speaker. It’s my responsibility to make a great talk. I don’t need to ask people if the content or style of my talk is ok.
yes, I did tell Karen I wanted to bring my son and I told her it was possible that he would be on stage with me. I guess, she trusted me. A BIG THANK YOU to Karen, Ann and the full Failing.FWD team for trusting me.

How did you prepare?
The million dollar question.
After I got accepted and before I started to prepare my talk, I received an e-mail from Joppe’s school that the school would be on strike.  So I asked Joppe  if he wanted to join me in going to a conference -that was in English-. I assumed his English would have been good enough to follow a few sessions. He said yes. And he said yes with an enthusiasm, that triggered me in asking him if he wanted to join me on stage. Without blinking he said yes. I replied, you realise we will talk in English, he looked at me and said yes with a big smile on his face. Ah, the youth and it’s innocents enthusiasm.

I prepared this talk like I prepared all my talks.

– I created the draft of the presentation on index cards. (alone)
– Then I rehearsed the presentation using cards (alone) a first time. (And adjusted the cards.)

I did these steps alone, not because I did not trust him.

In 2011 he helped a lot in creating our joined presentation about our life in Bordeaux, I knew having helping me to create the presentation would be a great asset. I did it alone because he still had some large tests at school and my partner did not want that I distracted him. (WorkLife balance is also challenge for him…)

Then I created slides from my cards. I had +40 slides for a 20 minute presentation. Although that scared a few presenters around me, it’s part of my presentation style, which uses a mix of presentation Zen, Pecha Kucha and training from the back of the room.

I tried it a few times alone and then talked with Joppe about it. Just like last time, he had some great idea’s and the presentation grew. And then last Friday we rehearsed a few times & some more on Saturday. The first time saturday morning, was one of the first times the rest of the family joined in watching and he froze. he stopped after 5 minutes and refused to continue.
We talked a little bit about what to do when this would happen at the conference.
I still don’t know exactly what happened, yet I don’t want to pressure him in sharing something that scared him. I did tell him to not worry, if it would happen on stage, I would take over.

Next time we rehearsed the whole family was out. Although they came home while we were halfway, this time he continued and everything was fine.
In the meanwhile I was a more worried about the nr of slides (we had already 50 by now.) I got worried because a lama listening to the name Sofie (or is it a Sofie listen to the name Lama?) asked me about the speed of the presentation.
Sofie is the kind of women that with just a few words turns my world up side down (no, not that kind of upside down.)
I’m the kind of man that has a big EGO, yet I also know that I need to listen to women smarter then me. (I live with two of these)
In the dry-runs with Joppe, I realised that Sofie was right. In some places the speed was wrong.

So on Sunday, me and Joppe we worked on the pace and the order of one part of the presentation. Joppe’s help was crucial here, although at first I thought he did not well remember some of his lines, he made me realise that I got some parts mixed up.
So I went back to my walking desk and started to type out that part of the presentation. It was hard, now Joppe & Sofie were independently of each other partnering up “against me”, yet more importantly in favour of a great presentation.

It was already 15:00 and we needed to leave. I had agreed with the people from Failing.FWd we could do a try out on the real stage.
And then everything fell together, yet when we tried it out, I noticed again it was hard to remember the correct order (remember we had already been practising this talk a dozen times.)
And then I did the probably the opposite of what Sofie would have done, I added 3 more slides. And boom, it felt right. No time to rehearse the full presentation. I uploaded the slides to Slideshare, loaded the luggage in the car while dropbox synced and of we left for Genk. We were half an hour late, yet the lovely Ann Dries from Failing.FWD came out to let us practise on the real stage.

I wanted to do this, so Joppe could feel the stage and I hoped that feeling this he would talk louder. Joppe is rather introvert and when he talks to me, while other adults are in the room, I can hardly understand him. Ok, this is probably partly due to hearing loss as a DJ and some other ear damage, yet he talks rather quite. We practised a full Dry Run, without microphones and with my computer in front of us. I asked him to talk louder then he did and probably wanted.
We agreed with An that we would practise another time Monday morning , now with microphones etc etc..

Although lots of things went wrong (I’ll blog about these in the next days), we had a blast on stage.
Joppe spoke loud enough and it felt to me that the audience loved his style, right from the start.

So it was no surprise to me he got a standing ovation of the full audience.

Thank you Filip Bunker from Pitslamp for the great pictures


A few days ago, my twitter friend (How do we call this, a Twiend?) Lamazone, asked the question:

“Dear entrepreneurs , young and experienced, how do you network?”

She received some great answers, yet I noticed that I network in a different way.
When I look at networking, I never see this as a way to find new customers. For me, networking is about connecting with people. Getting to know new people and learn from them. And in that sense, like Rosemie Callewaert  wrote, you can’t do “no networking”.

On top, I think that networking happens differently for introverts and extroverts.
For clarity, the definition between introvert and extrovert that I use, is where do we get our energy from.

An extrovert, gets her energy from connecting with people.
And introvert, gets her energy from being alone. It’s not that an introvert can’t connect with people. it’s that this costs her a lots of energy.

When I was in school I was  100% introvert, I spend most of my personal time alone reading books.
Today, I  have changed a bit in a sense that how I behave really depends on the context.

In some context, I will go back to my old behaviour and I need alone time to charge energy.
In another context, f ex an agile conference, with a lot of friends, I will spend hours talking, discussing etc…
In contrast to a full introvert, at agile conferences, I will actually get energy from these discussions. Which is why I can hang around in a bar till 3 am, and get up at 7 am, full of energy. (the fact I don’t drink any alcohol helps too 😉 )

Another aspect that has a huge impact on how I network, is my personal situation:

As a father I want to spend a part of my time with my three rather young children (11,9,6).
On top of that my partner works with people who have autism and is doing that also at evenings and weekends.
Since 1998, I have my own company, which means that next to networking, I also need to work for clients and run my own business.
Some of my friends say that work-life balance does not exist. And yes, I do believe that all aspects of my life are mingled. (Or fused as Jurgen calls it so nicely.)
And yet, I have to prioritise where I spend my time on.
When my wife has an evening, shift, I can’t put my kids in bed and be at evening event.
This means that integrating work-life has some limits for me (this might be different from you)

And thus I started looking for other ways to network. Either take my family with me, or find ways how I can do some of the networking at other moments, or from home.
This is the list I gave to Sofie.

A: At the clients I work, I  have lunch with people. One on one conversations to build relations.
I go very far in that, I have lunch with people from my teams, yet also outside these teams. Most of the time I pay for these lunches. I learn something in most of the lunches.

B: lunch with a not so stranger: at least once a month, I have lunch with people I used to meet professionally. Having lunch during the day, is now working better then going to evening events. (I used to prefer these on the nights my partner was working late, now I take care of my kids…)

C: I follow a lot of courses, both in as outside my expertise. Partly to learn, partly to meet people with who I share an interest. (As Ine Matuvu Dehandschutter said)

D: I give a lot of presentations myself. After them people come to me. And they ask me things, makes it easier when I am in an introverted mood.

E: I give Free Life Time support on everything I do. That way I help people and my network grows.

F: When people ask me a question, I first wonder, who would be a better person to answer this question. When I find someone, I link these people.  Even if I don’t know the person who I think could have a better answer. This way I make my network stronger and I delegate work. (Which is how I keep my own time under control) When the other person does not want to answer, I will still give an answer. yet that happens les then 20% of the time.

G: I’m active on mailing lists and other online groups, to answer questions from people.

H: Because of conferences and mailing lists, most of my network is outside Belgium. I stay connected with them using twitter and facebook. It’s not as good as having a coffee or lunch, yet it keeps a high trust relation with many people.

I: When I read a book I like, I keep a log of things I don’t understand while reading. When thing are not answered at the end (which usually is, as I ‘m not the smartest person there is.) then I contact the author and ask her my questions.
Using the author as an extended part of my brain.

J: When people do something I like: I thank them for that. When I can’t do that myself, because of time or place difficulties, I buy a book on amazon that I think they will like. I never tell them it’s coming, I just send it to their office.
(If they like it, I ‘m asking them now to pay it forward and send a book to someone they think does something nice/great.
And yes I even do that with people I have never met.

K: After I had a conversation with someone, I connect with them on linkedin. (yet, I never connect with people I never met.)

L: lean coffee’s: either organise one when I’m at a conference or follow the once that get’s organised in the cities I am.

M: When someone I know, went to an event or training I could no go to, I ask whist she learned there and we have a conversation about that. (Thank you Chris Matts for this powerful trick.)

N: When I meet someone new or see someone back, I try to ask them: what did you recently learn that you think I should learn.

O: I launch a lot of community events, where I actively look who can help me. Learning and connecting while doing still works best for me. In other words, I grow community builders.

P: I look what my problem is and then I ask for help to anyone I think that can help me. Even if that means contacting some famous (agile) person that I never met before on or offline. 80% of the people help me and a lot became friends.
(People sometimes tell me, for you it’s easy as you know all these people. No, I usually don’t know before and NO it’s not easy. I have to overcome my own shininess all the time. (Thank god for e-mail, which makes it easier…)

Q: when I read a book and I love the content and want to learn it better, I make a presentation about it. Explaining something from someone else, makes me understand it better. And it helps me connecting with new people. A huge thank you to Pascal Van Cauwenberghe for that.

R: I don’t look to create my own content, I prefer to work as a ThoughtJockey and promote idea’s of others.

S: when I go to a conference, when my family can’t join, I share a room with anyone. There is something magic about sharing a room (and if needed a bed..)

T: I try to listen more then talking, which I don’t always succeed, as this post is a nice example of 😉

U: I also share my mistakes. Nothing creates more connection as being open about the failures in my life.

V: I create event types like CoachRetreat : where I look for other facilitators who take it around the world.

W: I created a serie of books about interesting people: who is agile

>> Yes that is a lot of ideas: where do I keep time?  Simple, most of these things I can do either on a train or in the evening at home, when my family sleeps. It’s not that nice for my partner I don’t go to bed when she does, yet I do sleep at home most of the nights. That’s a lot more then some of my peer agile friends….
Oh I and I do all of this while walking on my walking desk, which gives me the energy to do this




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


    This our my slides for My presentation on the Microsoft Webcafe today at PHL.

    – Did you recently joined a new team?
    – Do you plan to join a new team in the next years?
    – Do you plan to welcome a new team member in your team, in the comming year?
    If you said yes to one (or more) of these questions, you should watch these slides and you will learn about the power that a junior team member has.
    A power that that senior’s don’t have. A power that will help you to grow yourself and your team.
    During the preparation of this talk, with all the feedback I have received, I decide that I should turn this into a book.
    If you are interested, please go to the leanpub website and tell me about it..

    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.

    Henrik was proposed by Mary. Scrum and XP from the Trenches, Henrik’s first book, was a game-changer at multiple levels.

      • The book was available for free on the internet.
    • It was translated into 12 languages.
    • It did not give any theory, Henrik “only” gave examples of what he did.

    Henrik also started an iniative to translate the manifesto.

    At the moment I am writing this, Henrik is on a 6 month round-the-world trip with his wife and 4 kids. Wow and I thought I was pushing limits moving with my 3 kids to Bordeaux for 6 months.

    (Update: he wrote what he learned about the trip here. )

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

    I spent the first 15 years of my life in Japan, spending the summers in Sweden. This has influenced me in many ways. My bicultural background helps me see things from different perspectives, and being fluent in English (I grew up attending international schools) has helped me a lot in my current career.

    And I’m a pretty active musician. I play a bunch of instruments and record songs and play in several bands. One of my bands does a lot of wedding gigs, we’ve probably done over 100 wedding parties by now! Music has always been my oasis, a creative haven that provides instant flow, and shuts off that voice in my head that is constantly analyzing and reasoning about my current client, my next talk, my next article, or whatever. When working from home I take a short break every hour or so and pull off some riffs in the studio, great way to stay energized!

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

    After high school, I thought I was going to become a musician, but then I realized that music might not be as fun if it is “just a job”. I pictured myself sitting in dusty studio hours on end creating silly commercial jingles or something just to earn my keep. I figured that if I have some other line of work instead, I could play music just for fun, and not worry about the commercial aspects of it. So I thought a bit about what other stuff I’m good at and like doing, and decided to pursue computer science. Turned out to be a good decision!

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

    Raising a big family while staying sane, happy, and relaxed. With four children age 1-8 that is a challenge! I want to have time for them, but I also want to have time for work, friends, and hobbies.

    The good thing about having kids is they keep me from getting over-focused and working too hard. In fact, as I write this I’m on an extended break, travelling around the world with the whole family for 6 months. That’s both fun and challenging!

    The kids also help me become a better coach. Raising kids and coaching teams is surprisingly similar – for example, both kids and adult teams are happier and more successful when they are allowed to take responsibility and manage themselves rather than being told what to do. I’m constantly learning things from my kids that I can apply at work, and vice versa.

    What drives you?

    Learning, creating, and teaching.

    These things fit together. Learning helps me to create. Creating makes the learning stick. Teaching drives me to deepen my understanding.

    What is your biggest achievement?

    I’ll mention two:

    1) Raising 4 kids that so far are happy and healthy.

    2) Improving the software development profession, and the lives of the people involved. People all over the world tell me that my work has helped them improve things like product quality, team motivation, customer satisfaction, and even work-life balance. I’m proud and humbled (and sometimes a bit frightened) at how many people turn to me for advice, and how many people I’m reaching through my coaching, talks, and writings.

    What is the last book you have read?

    I recently finished Reamde, an awesome nerd-thriller book by Neil Stephenson.

    I’m currently halfway through Welcome to your Child’s Brain. Helps me understand how kids reason and learn, and how I can become a better parent. Very fact-based book, lots of mythbusting too. Love it.

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

    You coach, program, teach, draw, raise kids, write books, play music, and build companies. What’s the trick? How do you learn so many things?

    1) Follow your heart. Do things that you are interested in, things that make you feel inspired.

    2) Be self-aware. Don’t say “I don’t have time”, because you have 24 hours per day just like everyone else. Notice instead how you are spending your time. Ask yourself how you would like to spend it instead. Keep asking that question, and keep adjusting and optimizing how you spend your time. When you do the things that you love doing, you get good at it automatically. Not only that, you feel good too. And inspire those around you.

    3) Focus on learning. Every time you do something (draw, write, cook, juggle, whatever), think about what you learned, and how you can do it better next time. Meet others who share your passion, compare notes and help each other improve.

    I asked a really good barber once “How come you are so good at your job?”. She responded without hesitating: “Because I love what I do. And because I’ve been doing it for half a century”.

    What are some of your favorite quotes?

    Here are some quotes that resonate deeply with me. I guess I should limit the list, but I really do like all these quotes so I’ll give them to you and let you filter the list yourself (images/originals/icon_smile.gif) (Note from the Editor: why filter out such wisdom?)

    • “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    • “I don’t know what the key to success is, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody” – Bill Cosby
    • “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans” – John Lennon
    • “Do or do not, don’t try to convince everyone else.” – Unknown
    • “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
    • “Every block of stone has a statue inside of it” – Michelangelo
    • “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand” – Unknown
    • “We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” –Charles Kingsley
    • “There are no interruptions, only mismanaged inputs” – David Allen
    • “It’s not information overload, it’s filter failure.” – Clay Shirky
    • “The most important decisions you make are not the things you do – but the things that you decide not to do” – Steve Jobs
    • “A bad leader does the same task over and over. A good leader delegates that task. A great leader makes that task unnecessary.” – Unknown
    • “Imagination is more important then knowledge” –Einstein
    • “Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire” – William Butler Yeats
    • “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery” – Mark van Doren
    • “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    • “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” – Aristotle
    • “The core skill of innovators is error recovery, not failure avoidance.” – Randy Nelson, President of Pixar
    • “It is never too late to have a happy childhood”

    Who do you think I should ask next?

    I’d suggest one of these inspiring fellows:

    If you like these answer: you can find more in our book  Who is agile. And the extra answers to

    Ola’s Question: What is your favorite question right now?