Archive for the ‘BootCamp’ Category

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.


The next person on the WhoIs list is Vickie Gray. I met Vickie when I went to Texas for my first McCarthy Bootcamp. She was one of my five trainers. Although she technically is not part of THE agile community, I think her mindset is more agile then most of us. She is one of the persons I will ask for help without hesitation. When she does not have time, she will flatout say, without making drama. For that alone I dare to ask her for help more then anyone else. When I asked Jim & Michele over for the first European bootcamp she and her partner Paul helped me out when Jim was prevented from coming.  I was again amazed by her use of the Investigate protocol. As our own personal “Wood Come Story” (inside joke for bootcampers) her book Creating Time was released just in time…

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

I teach yoga. The whole person approach of yoga changed how I saw myself in the world and influences how I see others, especially my clients. It’s so easy in IT to become just a head, all logic and curiosity, with an occasionally distracting body we drag around. That’s how I lived for years – completely in my head. Finally I was experiencing enough physical problems I couldn’t ignore it any more. Over the years I’ve tried all kinds of approaches to keep my body reasonably healthy and have settled on yoga. And when I teach it keeps me moving forward with my own practice.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?
I may have become a university professor or writer

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?
Not being distracted by interesting new things. Innovation is important working with IT and people, and keeping the balance between bleeding edge and patience keeps me focused on what’s important for me and my clients.

What drives you ?
A sense of justice and optimism. I believe we are all capable of so much more than we believe ourselves to be, and we have everything we need right now to be awesome. I’m also attracted to new and shiny things. I’m not afraid of being an early adopter. It’s fascinating to get glimpses of what is possible as it’s emerging.

What is your biggest achievement?
Learning to love someone without reserve.

What is the last book you have read?
More Time to Think from Nancy Kline

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
Sneaky! That’s my question! How about “How will the world be different because you’re in it?”
And the answer is, the people I touch, and the people they touch, will have an experience of their real potential for greatness, and real, tangible evidence that they can accomplish what they want to. Unequivocally. Every time.

Who do you think I should ask next?
Glenda Eoyang

The next person on my WhoIs list is Patrick Debois. I’m not sure when I met Patrick, it was one of the first XP benelux events I attended. Patrick was one of the first people I met with an agile mindset. And yet, it took me a while to realize he was not (only?) a developer. He has been talking for years with such passion about combining developer and operations work. Hell his company is named Just Enough Developed Infrastructure. And then in 2008, he paired on a wonderfull presentation using great youtube video’s I followed from the sideline when he was launching the first DevOpDays in my hometown Gent. For personal reasons I did not join the conference and I still regret it to this day. And I already knew that new agile conferences have a special magic…

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

I first had a degree in industrial engineering and want to move into computer science. When I applied the guy said that they were skeptic on me pulling of a thesis in their field. So he suggest I’d do my thesis at the Bio Informatics department. At the time Internet was an academic playground, but my promoter saw the great value it and asked me to write a program to expose their entire calculation system to the world. We’re talking 1993! I had all freedom to work and this is how I totally got my love for the Web ever since.

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

I initially hesitated between Medicine and IT. And wanted to do both because my father was a Doctor and I learned through him that IT can make a difference in any field.
Now I would probably sign up for philosophy or psychology classes, as over the years I know understand the success of projects largely depend on human behavior and understanding.

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

My current challenge is not running out of capacity. Things are so hectic with all the opportunities and ideas I’m exploring. At days it can really wear me down. But it’s a luxury problem: I often say, even if nobody pays I would probably do the same job. I’m addicted I guess 😉

What drives you ?

I have clear hunger for new information , ideas. Routine is not my game. I enjoy the learning experience the most,  so I tend not to stay too long in the same environment. Sharing that information seems to be the most natural thing.

What is your biggest achievement?

Most people know me probably because of the term ‘devops’. It was not really an achievement as it more of an ‘accident’ that I organized the first conference and called it devopsdays. I never anticipated the effect it has on the IT industry. People are sending me mails , “thank you for changing my job” . That’s about the biggest reward I could get .

What is the last book you have read?

Design Thinking by  Nigel Cross. It’s a fascinating read about analyzing the core-capabilities of designers. I like to explore these kind of  worlds with IT. Seems like they are already moving away from user-centric design to collaborative design; something like that is creeping into IT as well : Open Source, Knowledge websites like Stackoverflow, github. Interesting to learn in analogies.

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
How about,
Q. “how do you balance your family and your work?”
A. I could really use some tips 🙂

Who do you think I should ask next?

I suggest you contact Steven Noels who is creating Lily a scalable data and content store.

He is one of those Belgian guys with awesome future ideas in IT. We Belgians should be more proud of what we do and take credit for that.

Update: if you liked this, please buy the “Who is agile” book. It contains similar answers from other agilists. And Patrick’s answer to the question: What’s the secret to eternal happiness?

At the first coach-retreat, we had a room where you could talk about anything (just like any other room) but you had to be painting while you did.

I did not look at people’s face when I announced it, but I can imagine it shocked some people.

Painting? If we would have announced it, we might have had less participants. I have to admit, I almost chickened out of my first bootcamp for the same reason.

My 6 year younger brother once told me, that a drawing teacher said I was the worst student she ever had. No wonder I never dared to draw anything. She almost killed my creativity. almost/

I’m glad I now dare to paint, draw etc. Let there be no confusion, I’m the worst painter you have ever seen. So what? When I paint, a different part of my brain gets activated and I come up with great idea’s. I’m no sure if these idea’s are more crazy as usual, they sure are more creative.

At a coach retreat were we have the intention to involve the children in the activities, painting is one of these things you can do with everyone.

As I wrote yesterday, the paintings in coach-retreat we threw away, but the conversation they inspired I will not forget…

For next coach-retreats I’m looking for other room idea’s. Other rooms, that use other parts of our brain to kindle talks.

A few months ago Jurgen asked me if I was interested in pair-organising a coach retrait.

Jurgen is a smart guy, he knows if you mention the word pair and coach in one sentence, you got my attention. So I went to his house and we talked about lots of different things and also a little bit about a coach retreat.

yes I admit, the word is a rip-off, of the famous code-retreats of Corey. Why invent a new name when a cool one is available?

Many people asked me at ALE2011, how will it be different from an agile coach camp.

Good question, I did not know the answer. aha, but after the first one, now I know…

I admit I have never been at a code-retreat. Stealing a name from something I have never been to is a risky thing. I have been thinking really hard. How did Corey make code-retreat different from the pair-programming parties we had in Belgium for a few years? Or the coding dojo’s and coding kata’s

One thing that sticks out is the: you throw your code away rule. mm, how can we do this with coaches. What can we create that we can throw away? It’s not like we create anything?

Should we write code, nah then the partners can’t join, nor the kids.

Ah now I had another problem, we said partners and kids were invited, but we wanted them to participate in the main program, instead of a side program.

One thing I love is to combine two problems into one solution.

Tada: let’s create ART are together.

This morning I arrived with a fully loaded car with paint, paintbrushes lots of plastic (to cover the floor of the nice office building we could use.)

We started with a group CHECK-IN. I always find I awkward when I initiate a group check in with a new group. And every time I am happy we did it.

One of the children said: I’m afraid I will be bored. An open and clear message without drama. I love that.

Then Jurgen told everyone the rules of open space. As a few partner and children had joined us, it was good to explain to everyone what to expect.

Before we opened the market place, I told them about an extra rule for one room. In one of the rooms, you could talk about everything, but you had to paint. You could paint alone or together as long as you kept painting while talking. I learned that idea from the McCartney bootcamps. While you paint, you use different parts of your brain.

The different with a bootcamp, was here, as in real code-retreat rule, you can’t take the paintings home. Throw away ART.

I think it resulted in pretty amazing talks (and paintings)

Was everything good?

Of course not, it was a first try out. It was not intended to be perfect. (That’s another spirit of a code-retreat we want to practice. Not show off)

I wanted to have the children and partners involved. And that worked fine. Well for a moment, but after a while kids get bored. We did have lego, we did have paint, we did have an x-box kinect. yet we did not have a nice kids program like at ALE2011.  And we should have had, so that partners and children could choose.

Oh and I wanted to end the day with a circle of questions but I forgot.

I also wanted to do something nice for the partners. I know that being a partner of a coach can be very demanding. I ordered flowers for all the participants. With the intention they gave this to their partner to thank them for their support for their coaching work.

Thanks to everyone who was at this first coach retreat.

(I’ll blog later about some of the great sessions we had.)

Update: The picture are now online

The 12th person on the Who Is serie is Jonathan Perret. Jonathan was proposed by Laurent Bossavit. The first time I knew who Jonathan was, was when he subscribed to a McCarthy bootcamp I was organizing. Unfortunately I could not go myself, but I have ran into him multiple time since. One of the most remarkable moments was when he did “Un kata marant” (A funny coding dojo) with Emmanuel Gaillot At Agile Tour Bordeaux. And funny it was. They had a bunch of code and tasks like: “rewrite your code so it LOOKS like ASCII art”. They did all of that without breaking their tests. I’m sure that Joshua –LimitedRedSociety- Kerievsky would have loved it.

You can find out about his creativity by downloading his free Ipad ArtGame called Nr 32

Jonathan is one of the people I hope to run into this week at ALE2011

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

My extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins…) is quite large, approximating fifty people, and yet close-knit.  Most of us meet at least yearly, and support each other whenever there’s a need.  I guess being part of such a group from the youngest age has made me feel safer in life.

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

That’s pretty difficult to imagine given that I was obsessed with programming computers ever since the age of nine, as far as I remember.  But I suppose I would have enjoyed being a fiction writer — I have always enjoyed stories and regularly fantasize about inventing and telling them.

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

My biggest challenge is that I seem to have a very small attention span. I tend not to stay motivated by a particular project or task for long, and quickly get distracted by shiny objects.  That’s a good thing because I’m in a state of constant excitement and learning, about one thing or another !

But what’s better is that it pushes me to seek people that complete me with their focus, and who appreciate whatever skills I can bring to bear given the right context.  For this reason I immensely enjoy pair programming.

What drives you ?

Smiles on the faces of the people I love. I could wrap this up in grander visions but that’s what it really comes down to.

What is your biggest achievement?

Helping build my family, day after day. Every time I feel a bit down and it seems I have not achieved anything of significance yet, I just have to think of my wife and my two daughters to know I have something to be proud of.

What is the last book you have read?

John Varley’s Gaea trilogy: science-fiction that manages to combine the kinky and the thoughtful in delightful and unexpected ways. A friend recommended it to me during a discussion where the topic of musical modes had come up, but I’m not telling more in case there are kids reading your blog.

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

How hard is it for you to write about yourself? Very! Finding words to express the jumble of thoughts that goes on up there takes me forever — I’d rather be coding ! But I’m not complaining, I do appreciate being pushed into it. I wish I had found more to write, though.

Who do you think I should ask next?

I have several names in mind, but I’d really like to read Arnaud Bailly’s  answers to your little questionnaire. I met Arnaud at the Coding Dojo, and feel lucky that we ended up working together for some time. I am constantly amazed at the amount of stuff that man reads !










In every book about teamwork, software management, etc you will read the same, great teams have a shared vision.
My idea of a shared vision is different from what you will find in most books. These books talk about creating a shared vision statement. For me a shared vision is a state, not a statement.

Yes creating a statement together is one way of creating such a shared vision state. I’m afraid that people reading about such a workshop, only think about the visual result (the statement) and try to be efficient and come up with a statement themselves.
No matter how smart you are, no matter if you found the best shared vision statement, you wasted all your time and probably made the life of the team member a lot more miserable. Although I’m not a big footbal expert, my nicest example of a shared vision state is when one player runs along the line with the ball and then passes to the other side, without looking, knowing his colleague is there.

The visions statement of such a team could be as simple as “we will win as much as possible” or even “have fun all the way”. Does this mean the statement does not matter at all? Once a shared vision statement is created it’s most important work is done.
Now it is used to remind the team of the state of shared vision.
While I’m working, I’m completely in a flow going in one direction, and that might not be in the direction of the team. When we have a shared vision statement. This statement will remind me about the vision space I shared with my colleagues.
Getting teams in that space called shared vision is one of the most powerfull ways a coach can help a team.

Jim and Michele McCarthy think a shared vision is so important that they spend 4 days from their 5 days Teamwork Bootcamp on it.  As unbelieveble as its sound, they have found a predictable way to bring teams in a state of shared vision. (Everytime I participated in a bootcamp I saw working. Ok, that is exagerated, everytime except one, and I also know why it did not work that one time.)

Although I think it is the best way. It’s not the only way. You also have Lyssa’s journey lines or the Strategic Play creating a Vision with lego.


Agile Practises that support a Shared Vision:

Books & Articles to read

Books recommended by others:

After Agile Coach Camp Germany: Ilja told me that keeping our goals secret works better. Today he send me this video. This message really confuses me. In Bootcamps we have students talk abut their short and long term goals.

In Scrum we have teams set their own goals and it seems to work.

Is it different for teams then for persons? If so then why?

Warning: sales pitch ahead… 😉

After read Software for Your Head (or better trying to read the book the second time) I wanted to go to a McCarthy Bootcamp.

The only BootCamps they had at the time were in the States. Flying to the states made the course a lot more expensive for me. Nevertheless, In 2005 I went to a one. It turned out to be a triple one. (3* 20 people getting trained.) It had a big impact on both my professional and personal life.

I liked it so much, I started to organize them myself in Europe. In November 2007 I organized the first European Bootcamp. Although I had some challenges to organize it. (Jim got a heart attack just before the training), the training was a succes. So much that the next few European bootcamps organized themselves.

In 2009 I focussed on consultancy and this year I got a few request to reorganize a European bootcamp.
Today I’m announcing the next European McCarthy Bootcamp.

From 5 September till 10 September in Cromac France

If you are interested, hurry up as some people have already find out through the website, before I even announced it.

I guess my Core protocol article for Methods and Tools has something to do with it. Thank you Franco.

You won’t find a lot of politics on this blog. On the day that Yves Leterme failed after 1 year to create a plan for his government, I want to use that as an example to talk about Project management.

In every project we have 4 variables:

Resources: the people

Time: The deadline when you have to deliver the project

Scope: what do you want to deliver in the project


As a customer/project manager, you can fix 3 of these. The 4the should be free for the people building the project.
Personally I think that quality is not really free. Any project with bad quality will not have a healthy life.

(Yes I know about throw away projects, this example is not one of them)

Let’s look at the project that Yves Leterme did:

Resources: Who are the resources from this project. I think that based on the elections of last year, the resources are fixed. At least the resources themselves think that.(Based on the votes they received.)

Time: If I’m not mistaken, there was twice a deadline set. The last one was 15 July 2008 (today). So that is fixed too.

Quality: like I said high quality is fixed for most projects. I think that is especially true in the case of a government.

Scope: This is the only variable that could be free to play with. Now with all that was promised during the election by all parties that really was not free also.

(On top of that some parties won the elections with almost opposite promises)

In my opinion a project with these 4 variables being fixed you are ready to go for a disaster.

On top of that I’m convinced that every project needs a shared vision state between the developers of the project. During the several bootcamp’s I organized the last year, we talked a lot about the Belgium government and their lack of shared vision. We have joked allot that we should send Yves and his team to BootCamp. Maybe we should make them a real offer.