Archive for the ‘TheCoreProtocols’ Category

Today Emilie tagged me in an answer to a tweet from Maria Kedemo

I’m always flabbergasted when I’m tagged as an answer to a conversation. Especially when it’s a conversation between two smart people like Emilie and Maria. I have been following both of them for a while. If you are not following them on twitter, stop reading and follow them. I’ll wait.
Done? No, I’m serious, please go do this, it will make your live better.

yes I understand Maria’s concern. I love feedback after a talk. I need feedback to improve. Yet just a score does not help me.

At least 10 years ago the xpday benelux conference, started to use the core protocol: perfect game as a feedback mechanism of the conference.

The agile program board of #xpdays . The card double as feedback forms...

On this picture, you can see the full schedule of the conference hanging as cards on a board. At the front of the card, you have a description of a talk.

IMG_3004

People were encouraged to take a card as a kind of entrance ticket for the talk. For each talk we had a maximum number of cards as the session could host people.

Yet the most genius part was the back. It had a perfection game on the back.  


perfectionGame

I don’t have a picture of such a feedback form. so this is a picture of how the perfection game works.

For those who want to learn more about where the perfection came from, you can read an article I co-wrote on methods and tools about the core protocols.

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

Dinner with a not so stranger

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

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

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

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

Will you perfect that idea using the perfection game?

I’m a book lover.
For me, agile does not make much sense without technical excellence.

Two weeks ago two friends had an interesting discussion on twitter.

This conversation inspired me to publish lists of technical books to read.

As I have not been programming a lot the last years, I only know must read technical books from years ago.

 Instead of this being a problem I thought let’s turn this into a positive thing, so asked a few agile technical friends if they could send me their list of top 10 technical books to read. With the reason why….

 The idea is to publish these lists on my blog, about one a week. (similar to how who is agile started).

This was the list that Christophe tweeted:

The last couple of weeks, I have been in a few discussion (on and offline) around the salary of a scrummaster and an agile coach. (Some inspired by our community book on hiring)
In one of these discussions a European company asked me what would be a good salary for their scrummaster. In another a great agile coach (and dear friend of me) wanted to work as a freelance coach in a new country and had no idea what was an acceptable daily rate. Another company was about to start an agile transition and wanted to find the right balance between paying a decent fee and hiring as many great coaches as possible.

The problem that all these people had, was the only decent information they found, came from the USA and did not feel adapted to the rest of the world. And my personal information is, well is just about me and my friends.  And then my friends Sam & Karen launched their salary survey for South-Africa. I thought, why not launch a similar survey but then globally.

And so I did. you can find my globally survey here

Update:
I received a few questions about the survey.

– Who has acces to the raw data?
Me, Karen, Sam. In the future I will probably ask my father to help me with the statistics.

– Where will you publish these statistics?
The statistics will be send out to the mailing list and then published on my blog.
I will only publish data about countries I have at least 10 people. Otherwise it feels like not statistically relevant. And it helps to keep more privacy.

– What about totally transparency of agile?
It’s always a trade off between transparency and privacy. I know that some people hoped on full acces to this data. I also know that others are really scared about giving data about their income away.

– What countries do you have data on?

Australia (<5), Austria(<5), Belgium(16), Brazil(<5), Canada(9), Chile(<5), Denmark(<5), Finland(<5), France(9), Germany(10), Hungary(<5), India(<5), Israel(<5), Italy(8), Latvia(<5), Lesotho(<5), Luxembourg (<5), Netherlands(6), New Zealand (<5), Poland(<5), South-Africa (<5), Spain (<5), Sweden (<5), UK (8), Ukraïne (6), USA (19).

Most countries don’t have 10 people yet. So I hope more people will make publicity for it. As I really want to publish some nice data.

Feel free to add your question about the survey below. 

yves

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

 

Working together with a person and a team, goes much better when trust is higher.
The agile manifesto says it prefers teams that are physically together .

And for a long time I was convinced that for creating a great team, you had to put the people together. Yet gradually I saw (and worked with) great teams that were not physically together.

It took me a while to realise that what was really needed was trust. And yes the easiest and most know way to build trust, is being physically together all the time.

So let me be very clear, I am in no way advocating to be less physically together.

Yet in this global world, sometimes the best people to work with (best in every possible way) are living in another continent. And then, we have to look at different ways to create trust.

I that sense agile teams can learn a lot from open source teams. Most open source teams work in a distributed way. From what I understand, some (even among the best OS teams) have never met.

The last years I created a few community projects, while not all have been huge successes , I think it’s fair to say that most collaborations worked well and in some we even had huge trust.

 

The strange part (for me) is that I don’t consider all these collaborations work of a team. That is, for some projects, people never really work together, they all work independently. For me that is one of the necessary aspects of distributed work: split the work in small independent pieces.

 

In all cases there was high trust in the core team. And for me, I considered my main task in building trust between me and the core team members.

Would that work be easier when people are in the same room?

Yes.

And haven’t you met the full core team personally yourself?
In most cases yes. yet not always.

The details of the how will be for another post, yet my core aspect in it, is I start by trusting them by default. If I consider I want to work with someone, I need to trust them. And I ask them what they want to do.

But Yves what if they are not trust worthy ? Well their work will tell me.

Yes I had people who promised me a lot, and delivered nothing (or close to nothing). Yet that was clear very fast. And the more a person delivered, the bigger the trust that build in the team.
What about arguments?

Well people who I have never met, will indeed faster think that discussions means lack of trust. For me it’s even the opposite. People I don’t trust, I don’t even argue with them. I stop working with them. There are smarter ways then discussion and arguments, yet every team needs techniques to deal with multiple opinions.

 

These days we have a lot of technical tools that help to enhance communication.

It’s important to realise that we also have trust building tools like:

 

Once you know how to create a team using trust, you can think about distribution or scaling. If you haven’t figured out to build a team with trust, colocation will only help partially…

These are the slides fro my GrowthHacking presentation about hacking my eduction.

As I wrote some time ago, the next 2 years, I want to learn by working a week at certain companies. The idea is that working a week at a company, will teach me stuff I can’t learn by following a course. Last week I spend at Spotify.
Usually, when I learn something, it takes me a while to see what I have learned.

This month will be crazy with a reorganisation and a lot of community activities.

As it might take some time to write stuff down, here are already my first impressions:

The question I received most was: how did you get in?

That’s easy. I asked.

Tip.
When you want to know how it is to work at a company, ask your network for help.

  • Spotify invests a lot in making a great working environment
  • Spotify has whiteboard walls everywhere; yep you can take that literally.
  • Meeting rooms have a large screen and video camera, to connect to the other offices
  • Almost all desks can be turned into standup desks. (Unfortunately I saw no walking desks)
  • Don’t bother breaking in to steal machines, the employees that don’t take their laptops with them, they put them in big safes.
  • The company is growing very fast
  • They hire smart people from all around the world.
  • Having a coach lead a retrospective as part of the hiring process is a smart way to learn about her.
  • Spotify is a very creative company, with a lot of ideas.
  • The squads focus mainly on adding value
  • Hackweeks with people from multiple squads seem like a great idea to try something
  • I never saw so many people wearing T-shirts from their company. Lots of people really proud that they are working at Spotify.
  • When I go to my profile page, I (we) can now undelete lists that I mistakenly have deleted.
  • They understand what MVP means. I saw a demo of something a Squad has implemented. A very cool idea, working for only a few bands. Lucky for me, one of them is one of my favorite bands. Unlucky for me, it was only targeted at US customers. From what I understand the way it was implemented, was totally not scalable, yet, they could show how the feature worked.
  • Writing an (interal) improvement game document seems like a good idea.
  • My personal idea, is that their biggest problem is they have more ideas than time and people to make them. (Nothing really surprising. Most companies have that problem.) They attack it by hiring a lot of people and let them work in self-organising squads in sprints.
  • When I go working one week in a company and the weeks before it’s clear that my main contact will be ill, I should make sure I have a backup for my backup contact.
    > On Wednesday, my two main contacts were both ill. I was not prepared for that. In the end, everything was fine, yet I think I could have been more productive for Spotify.
  • I should take more pictures. Now I have ideas of what I should have taken pictures of.

All in all, I was very happy that I did this.

A: the experiment was successful

B: Spotify is an awesome company, and a perfect choice for this experiment

As a coach one of the things I run into a lot is the limited budget that companies have these days for training.

I’m always looking for tricks (let’s call them hacks) that will allow my clients to get more value out of their limited budget.

When I ran public training with PairCoaching.net (Before I gave the domain away), I quickly discovered that hiring public training rooms upfront was not smart for my business. Either the rooms were not needed, when I could not sell a certain training. Or they were too small when I had a huge success.
The hack I discovered at the time was to not book a room and then a week before the training was due, to contact a company I knew, and ask them if they had a training room available for that day and offer them a free place in the class in return.

I discovered this hack, when totally unexpected, I received new subscriptions for a training a few days before it was due. I had no idea what to do with the request. I was ready to send an e-mail to reject the subscription. As a last crazy idea I ask the question on twitter, does anyone have a room available on this date? And less then 5 minutes later, Jo replied to me: I have a board meeting in 5 minutes, let’s talk tomorrow (it was 8 pm at the time)

My luck had turned, instead of rejecting an interesting order, I now would do a training, in an office that is close to my home.
Even better, their office was at 300 meter of my children’s school. I could park my car with my training stuff on their parking lot, take my kids to school, and come back and install myself for the training. But wait, that was just the start, it got even better, during the break of the training, I started talking with Vincent. Vincent had started to work agile at OneAgency. We stayed in touch -remember I give free life time support on every talk I have- and a few years later One Agency became a client.

I’m telling this story because I want to turn on the heat on this way of working.

I know that when I deliver agile training, it’s best to take a team offsite. Teaching a team in an offsite location, changes the dynamic totally.

1) Everyone takes the training more serious

Managers think that when they do a training in-house, they can find the people when there is an emergency. That is 3589% true. Unfortunately in most occasions the interrupts are not emergencies. Sometimes, they are urgent, yet not important. Sometimes important, yet not urgent. Over the 15 years that I give training, the times that an interruption was urgent and important I can count on one hand. And I’m sure that in these rare cases, the people would have been able to contact the people in the room if we would have been offsite.

2) part of an agile training, is also building the team together. An offsite helps in creating such a team.

3) With some of my training, we do crazy stuff. Play with lego or blow up balloons, even -dare I say it-, even talk about emotions. All that stuff works so much better offsite. People are not afraid that the CEO will walk in and ask what they are doing. Especially if the training room is a nice glass room.

4)…

Now in the current economics most companies can’t afford an offsite training anymore.

As a change agent, I understand this dynamic and I want to see if I can’t turn these disadvantages on it’s head.

What if one company would offer their training room for free to another company, that would in return do the same thing for the first company?

It’s like professional CouchSurfing …

What do you think? Are you interested in this?

 

Yves


Thank you Gino Marckx

With an interesting link between stress and cuddling. They create the same hormone.

People who spend time caring for others (while under stress), showed absolute no increase in dying. Caring created resilience.

Chasing meaning is better for your health then trying to avoid discomfort