Archive for the ‘Ask For Help’ Category

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

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. 


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


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.

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

Here are the slides of my ALE2012 Presentation about all the online collaboration projects I started.
Unfortunatly on the slide I only have pictures of 68 people. somehow I did not find out how to create a picture of 146 people in google picassa.
The presentation was originally called: “What I learned from Who is agile”, but when the ALE2012 organisation to talk for 1 hour instead of 30 minutes, I started thinking about more projects then just the book creation.

I briefly walked into Deborah’s “Getting Unstuck, No More Buts!” session to pick up some Fearless Game cards 

Turns out that I walked in while she was talking about me.

I hesitated walking in,  to not disturb her class to much, turns out I was more surprised then she was…

That’s what Jim McCarthy would call a “Call Wood story”. (I can’t find an online reference, but somehow the people who are busy explaining the core, at one time are talking about another person, and that person miraculous shows up…)

Anyway she was talking about the perfection game and asked me if I had some references on my blog.


Here are a few references:

From 23 till 28 September We will have again a Open European Bootcamp In this camp people will learn a full week about creating teams.

Actually all the core protocols, were not created by Jim & Michele.

Jim & Michele decided 15 years ago to only do courses about creating teams.

They started out without a manual. Doing a one week training, were a groupd of people had the assignment to create a team by the end of the week.

After a few of these courses, they noticed, that similar things came back. So they started to write them down, and hand them on to the next group. And that is what they did for years. When things did not work anymore, or the current teams found something better, they left the old thing out and add the new thing.

After 15 years, I can assure you that the core is a powerfull set to use with teams.

I have to admit I am biased as I am a trainer now, but I can assure you, I would not have done that, if I would not have witnessed myself that in any training I followed I was teams emerging in less then a week.

let me repeat that:

You put a bunch of strangers together on sunday, and by Friday (And sometimes already by Wednesday) you have a rock solid team. And these teams, trust eachother more, than some of the groups I know that have been working together for 10 years.

And for those who doubt, yes that happened EVERY single time I saw a bootcamp. In a predictable way.

I know it sounds like a silver bullet. It’s sounds like sales oil.  yet that is my experience.


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


When I started the “who is” serie, I wrote all the introductions. While working on the book version, I started asking people who proposed other people if they wanted to write the introductions.

At that moment our team started to wonder if we make clear what introductions I had written and which were written by other people. And we started experimenting with some of the introductions.

Will you have a look at these two introductions and tell us which one you like most. And if you want to give more feedback, please use the perfection game.

Version 1 written in third person.

Chris was invited by Liz Keogh Like Liz said, Chris is one of these guys we wonder what he will come up with next. He is also one of the people that you could (will?) run into at a bar at an agile conference and talk with until the morning. Yves has talked with Chris for hours about all kind of subjects, and not one minute was boring. Even ordering drinks is funny and you might learn something about agile or the financial world he lives in. During these talks, Chris will most definitely tell you jokes about other agilists. Don’t confuse that for not respecting the people he talks about.


Version 2: written in first person.

Like Liz said, Chris is one of these guys I wonder what will he come up with next. He is also one of the people that I can (will?) ran into a bar at an agile conference and will talk with untill the morning. We will have talked for hours about all kind of subjects, and not one minute will be boring. Even ordering drinks is funny and you might learn something about agile or the financial world he lives in.
During these talks, Chris will most definitely tell you jokes about other agilists. Don’t confuse that for not respecting the people he talks about.


Please leave a comment about which version you like most? (and why?)

Last week Duarto Vasco tweeted the question: Best facilitation book for Agile Teams?

I’m not in favor of competive behavior, so I gave a list of agile facilitation books I know (I haven’t read all of them, but the ones I haven’t are on my reading backlog)

This evening I realized more people could be interested in this list, so here it is: