Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

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.



The last few weeks, I was discussing about the concept of thoughtleaders.

For me the idea of a thought leader, is that one person has a brilliant idea, she spreads that idea and she creates a tribe of people following that idea.
Our current culture is one of worshipping these people and they are instant famous (for 15 minutes or for eternity)
I personally have a few problems with this.

  1. I don’t like the worshipping part. As humans these are not better or worse than other people.
    It actually puts a lot of pressure on these people and for some people it even creates the impression that they are god. We have seen a few examples of brilliant people who did stupid things on a personal level. I think our system of worshipping is partly to blame for that.
  2. What is worse for me, is that this is a very limiting model.
    It means that only brilliant people can come up with idea’s: bummer for me, I’m not brilliant. And bummer for you, 50% of the people their IQ is below average.
    (Ok sorry, of course not my readers, you are all above average )
  3. I believe that most ideas are actually created by networks of people.
  4. The ideas created by many people are of higher quality then when they are created by one person.
  5. On top this all, you can’t copyright an idea, so for me it’s wrong that one person can dictate how their idea should be used.

That last point is interesting to think about, because one if the side effects of this is the law of raspberry jam: The wider you spread it, the thinner it gets. Many thought leaders, try to counter this point by dictating that you can only do x their way. And yes, I have seen enough people trying to change something before they understand it, to understand why ThoughtLeaders ask this.
















All of this has inspired me to think, there should be another model, instead the model of thought leaders, we should have ThoughtJockeys.

What is the idea of a ThoughtJockey, well one part is, its created by a bunch of people. So Instead of me telling you what it is, I point you to a document that was a created by a bunch of people. I want to encourage you to:

1 read it completely

2 Adapt the parts that you think should be adapted

3 If you agree or if you changed something, please add your name to the contributors list.

Yves, wait are you tell me the full internet has editing rights?


Isn’t that insane? What about the hackers, spammer etc?

That’s why I call it an exercise of trust.
I want to see what happens, and where it takes us. And yes, when (not if, when) we will take action. Let’s for now see what trust can create.

As my father wrote a few years ago, most laws are created by a bunch of people over many years and that make them much better then just ideas of one or 2 people.

Please check with me, what’s happening….

Alistair was invited by Henrik, Michael and our 100th reader : Volha Ikhelis
Does Alistair still need an introduction? He was one of the co-authors of the agile manifesto and one of the co-organizers of the event that led to the manifesto. The more I get to know Alistair the more he surprises me, or should I say, the more he surprises me, the less I am surprised by him?

Alistair hardly ever choses the easy path (and I only say hardly, because I’m trying to never say never again, damn done it again…)

Writing about:

[You might disagree with how he does it, I believe he is doing it for the right reasons. (Or as I heard Jerry once said, certification will happen, you can’t stop it, you might as well do it yourself and try to do it right. )]

What I liked most from him, is his explanation about shu-ha-ri and the shoe-box

Update: this was posted on my blog, the day that Alistair did his first class in French. Being succesfull as he is, he is not afraid to start from scratch and risk to fail. RESPECT

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

Living around the world as a visitor in so many different cultures (8 countries and more cultures) makes it nearly impossible for me to impose my own culture on anyone else. Hence, my Crystal Clear work is so culture-accepting and culture-adaptive, as is pretty much all of my advice.

Being continually rejected by schoolmates after moving from Dacca (Bangladesh) to Cincinnati made me trust in myself for my own actions.

As a result of these two, I am almost entirely self-contained in forming my own opinions, and almost never try to convince anyone else to follow my ways.

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

Either a psychologist or a technical salesperson / manager. Understanding how people think is my main interest, so quite possibly there. The technical salesman thing was a likely way for me to get a job, and we all know how easy it is to get stuck in a job. Don’t do it.

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

Challenge in what respect?

  • At age 3, I was in a fire that nearly killed me, and spent the next year in the hospital, and had skin graft operations for years after. And why was it a good thing for me? My mother says I was a little thug before the fire, and well behaved afterwards. Imagine how I’d be today if I hadn’t become “well behaved”!?!
  • At age 7, I moved from a British grammar school in Bangladesh to grade school in Cincinnati. I dressed differently, spoke and move differently, had been taught different material up to that point, and was two years younger than my classmates. That was tough. And why was it a good thing for me? Because it taught me it was OK to be different, to trust my own opinion of things.
  • I twice had to tell my boss or sponsor (when I was a consultant) that he/she was asking for something completely non-sensical, and put my job on the line, once just shortly after I moved my family to Switzerland, once on my first freelance consulting job. Both were career threatening. And why was it a good thing for me? Because it taught me it was OK to be honest about giving my boss bad news.

What drives you ?

Curiosity. Why does this work and that doesn’t? Might it be possible to do <something or other>? Can it be done better? My first boss said, “If there’s a known way from A to B, Alistair will find another way.”

People. I have a fascination with the way the mind links with reality. It manifests as a person does almost anything. I used to refer to it as the boundary between mind and computer, but it’s more general than that. It is also the boundary between a person’s mind and mathematics, the boundary between rational thinking and emotion, the boundary between a person and a problem the interface between a person and a piece of software, the interface between a person and almost anything.

What is your biggest achievement?

Probably helping kick off the Agile movement, which has revolutionized software development around the world; currently, defining the learning roadmap for the International Consortium for Agile, which may have a similar effect for education standards beyond just software development.. I have a hard time imagining achieving anything like that in the first place, so it’s hard to imagine anything bigger.

What is the last book you have read?

Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore

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

“Choose one word to describe people.”

Rubber-band: it’s not being itself unless it’s being stretched. (Ditto people; ditto rubber-bands)

Who do you think I should ask next?

Jeff Patton

May, 2012

If you like this, you might want to check out our book, which contains similar answers from 89 people.Who is agile

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 )

The next person in my series of Who is, is Ralph Miarka. Last year I worked with Ralph for an international contract.
In contrast with my other coaches collegues, I  never met Ralph before we worked together. That was kind of scary. Will it work? Will I like him? Will he like me? Will our styles match ? Will our styles be different enough?
After the bumpy ride this (every?) coaching assignment was, I can clearly say yes to all of these.(Ok the wil he like me, I’m doing a calculated guess.)

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

My dad, certainly, has influenced my in who I am with two things he kept saying and asking:
  • Write it down to be clear what you want
  • How do you know this is the right solution?

On the one hand I did a PhD in formal specification based on that and on the other hand, I kept asking the second question also to all my students and I keep asking it today as a coach.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?
Difficult – I wanted to be in IT since I was twelve, when I joined the local computer club. Thinking about it, I did consider becoming a lawyer or a teacher, too 🙂

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

There are many big challenges in my life. One is, for example, to unlearn so many things that served me well before. For example, at school I was rewarded for giving very quickly the correct answer. Now I want to listen to people and support them in finding their most suitable approach towards a solution. I learn to be more patient and also to reflect on my own behavior more often.

What drives you ?

I’m passionate about development. That’s personal development as well as development in IT. I like to develop and I like to support others to develop. I thought I’m a teacher but then I realized that I’m an enabler for learners. And I like to see results. Finally, I’m happy when I hear appreciation for what I did. Because I like that I try to incorporate giving as much appreciation as possible in my life, too.

What is your biggest achievement?
Gosh – this question is too big for me. I achieved so much and I still want to do so much…
Getting the PhD was great though having a student coming up to me on his graduation, telling me that my seminars in the first year course defined how he continued to study was even more valuable and emotional. Taking over a project as project manager (not feeling prepared for it) and then being part of a team that excels and contributing to it, that was also great. Most of those team members are still good colleagues and friends.

What is the last book you have read?
“Kostenfaktor Angst” (“Cost factor Fear”) by Winfried Panse and Wolfgang Stegmann – about the costs (and benefits) of fear in the workplace

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

Why do you find it difficult to answer the question: “What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?”

Good question. There is something about the meta-question… and now I realized what it is. It’s the word “Should”. I don’t think you “should” ask me anything.

You “could” ask me a myriad of things though.

  • Starting from “What’s the current weather in Vienna?” to which I’d say “Sunny”
  • or you “could” ask me “Why do you find it valuable to do a Master’s degree in Systemic Coaching?” to which I could answer: “To answer this in depth would require a bit of time. I developed an interest in this topicwhen I was at University where I took a minor in Psychology. I’m curious about learning why we humans behave and interact as we do. I’m interested supporting people to uncover their own potential. This education also helps me to unlock more of my own potential. I find this program to be fun and very engaging too. Sure, I also hope to increase my market value through an increased set of skills.”
  • or “I heard you broke your rip recently. How did you do that?” and I’d answer with a big smile: “I tried to learn to fly and I didn’t succeed.”, hoping that would leave you puzzled for a moment 🙂

So, as I said, I “could” think of many questions you “could” ask me but I don’t think you “should” ask me anything 🙂

Who do you think I should ask next?

David Harvey and Joseph Pelrine – both acted and act as great mentors for me

Sometimes when I say I use agile idea’s to raise my kids, people look at me like I’m totally crazy.
Although I don’t want to go into that,  I do want to explain a little more what I mean with using agile to raise my kids.

For me agile is about giving a team the tools to become self organizing and to take responsibility.
The same philosophy I used to raise my  kids.

No I’m not a person that gives his 7 year old the right to do anything he wants. Just as any parent, I have my command-and-control moments & I also have moments I gave my kids too much freedom and not enough support.

Recently we started using an actual scrum technique for helping Joppe (7 year old) with his homework. When we moved to Bordeaux, he got a large amount of books and assignments from his Belgium school. This had to keep him in sync with their work, so he can stay in his class next year.

Although it was a large amount, we never actually counted the pages that needed to be done. (As I said sometimes I don’t give enough support.)

Every Wednesday when there was no school in France) my wife helped Joppe to do more homework as on the others days. Although he liked doing the work, getting started was never easy (Not even when he asked to do some more work.)

A few weeks ago, Els told me, she was afraid he might not finish everything.
I started at the same place where I would start with a scrum team.

Facing reality!
What is the work that needs to be done? Joppe and I started counting the pages in all the books.
8 books with in total
884 pages that had to be done this year. Wow, I never realized that  7 year old kids do so much work in a year; (And that is not counting the books he finished in Belgium)

We then counted the pages he had already done (or better the pages still left to do.)
286 Ok that is a lot less.
(We have no idea how much of these 600 pages he did in Belgium and how much here in Bordeaux.)
Although the work is coming from 8 different books, we thread them all as one list. (As one product backlog.)

And yes we know that filling in a math page will take him longer as reading some dutch. We ignored that fact, and look at each page as the same. (Mainly because the effort to find this out, is too much compared to the benefits.)
(yes some scrum teams are doing the same.)
We now know the ultimate end date. 2010/08/31 (The next day joppe will go to his old class in Belgium)

That gave us 286/70 (number of days)  = 4 pages a day. That was the amount of pages, Els aimed for the Wednesday. But in this case that was for every day. I started to see why we felt he was getting behind.
Doing 4 pages a day also was a big risk. Then he would not have any slack + no holiday.
We actually wanted him to finish the 2010/07/31
That gives us 7 pages a day.
Once Joppe knew this, everything became a lot easier; No longer constant pushing and pulling from our side.

Although this was not a target set by him, he felt he could do it and he engaged in the work.
It still is hard to get him started, once he is started on his first page, he will rather go for 10 then for 4 pages.

On top of the target, I also created a burn down chart, that I update to show his progress.
Actually that is not completly true. Joppe keeps track of the pages he does every day &  calculates the total.
(More math exercise, with a real goal.)
We started on a portable whiteboard, the small amount (7 a day) makes it impossible to update.
The google doc version is actually much easier;
I also used the burndown chart to explain the complex topic of sustainable pace.

Update:Next up is start using the referee cards with my kids