Category Archives: Events

AgileCoachCamp Germany 2010 #accde10 – a reflection

Even though I have tons of work to do these days, I was very looking forward to being at JAX2010, and, before that, attending AgileCoachCamp Germany (ACCDE10), which had been organized by me and a dozen of great agile enthusiasts.

AgileCoachCamp is a series of open space unconferences, which are organized all over the world. You can find them in the US, in India, and next July there will be one in UK, as Rachel Davies announced at ACCDE10. This was the first which happened in Germany, by the way.

Being involved in the organization of the camp makes it harder to me to write something about it. Because it’s difficult to be objective. But: Do I *have* to be objective? No, this is just one of my favourite mindf…. concepts.

Ok, so here is my short, personal, un-objective reflection:

– I liked to be there over the weekend, because it freed my mind from day-to-day stuff and made it possible to step back and reflect on how I do my work and what/how I can improve.

– I met many people I like very much – and I was so happy to see them again. Some of them give me inspiration, some make me think about my personal perspective, from some of them I’ve learned new techniques, some of them make me just laugh (which is IMO not less valuable)

– I got in touch with many new people, and it was a pleasure to meet them!

– I had some very interesting sessions, e.g. the illustration & visualisation session with Christine Neidhardt and Joseph Pelrine, the session on retrospectives, which was moderated by Rachel Davies, where I got some inspiration for my own session on retrospectives at JAX Agile Day. “Out of the comfort zone” was another very interesting topic, brought up by John McFadyen, with a lively discussion about what the comfort zone and what the safety zone is (and whether there may be a “safe zone”, which is different from the safety zone). Joseph Pelrine’s session on self-organization (of course, from a western perspective) made me thinking about the Sanskrit term “Purusha”, which means -among others- the spirit of a group as an autonomous being. I’ll check this and maybe I’ll write something about the parallels of western group dynamics theories (as far as I understand them) and the spiritual Hindu perspective. Deborah Hartmann-Preuss gave a very insightful session on how their work as coach has changed the last years. Again, Christine Neidhardt gave us the opportunity to find out something about our character in HBDI scheme (that was much fun, but also a bit scary, because I found out that my character/mindset obviously has changed nearly 180 degrees during the last 10 years). Martin Heider initiated a session called “Sharpen the saw – how to improve as agile coach”, which is the topic I’m interested in the most. Did I forget any interesting sessions? Yes, probably. There were so many things to join!

– Christine’s Tai Chi Session reminded me being more in the body, not just in my head. Why the h… do I forget this simple but powerful truth again and again and again??

– I found out that beer-driven development and single-malt-driven development belong to the same family of techniques, but differ in details (by the way: Praise Joseph for inventing story pints instead of story points :)).

– I had interesting discussions on agile architecture and special roles in agile environments which helped me to analyze our own process and working environment.

– Even though I 100% enjoyed the camp, my imagination of a quite different unconference grew further by seeing my vague idea of what it might be, confronted with the reality. I still can’t express how it should look like, but after ACCDE10 I’m one step closer to a concrete idea (different story, separate blog entry).

– Open Space: Just to say it in three words: I *love* it! :-)

It influenced my own interactive session at JAX2010 very strongly, because I already knew in advance that I didn’t want to do a session which is well-prepared and has a fix agenda. But just after the camp I was able to let things flow very spontaneously – and visitors’ feedback to this format was very good. Again, a different story.

– Finally: Thanks a lot to Pierluigi Pugliese, who really challenged me with questions right after the end of the camp. We didn’t plan to do so, but it came spontaneously and was so valuable for me to get a clear perspective on some things.

To come to an end: Thanks to all who joined the camp, shared their ideas and gave their energy into it!

PS: If I’d live in the ideal world and I had one free wish, I’d appreciate if participants wouldn’t leave before the closing session. I know, sometimes you have to do so because of train/ flight timetables. But if you have the choice – then choose staying there a bit longer, as an expression of respect towards the facilitator & organizers. Thanks :-)

Session on Retrospectives at JAX conference 2010

Well, so much to do at the moment, that there’s not much time for blogging. :-/

But I’m looking forward to first AgileCoachCamp Germany 2010 (see article below) an to my interactive session on retrospectives at JAX conference, May 3rd. What makes me really happy is the word *interactive*, because I think this the way to do sessions and even talks on agile topics.

So I hope to see you there!

Wavemaking – gently creating radical change!

Registration for first AgileCoachCamp Germany has been opened since Monday. It’s an unconference, which means it is self-organized – and self-organizing. By the way, isn’t it an oxymoron?

I’m happy that I have the opportunity to organize this event together with great and very enthusiastic people from the Agile scene.

One thing I’m very, very happy about is our unconference theme:

“Wavemaking – gently creating radical change!”

Those who know me personally may already know it: I like wavemaking. And I like nearly everything which has to do with radical change… So, that’s what I can contribute to the community. What I hope to learn there is: To do it gently – well, that hasn’t been one of my strengths so far. :-)

If you are an agile coach, change agent, agile leader or someone else who is interested in creating change (or making waves :o)) – then join our camp – please notice that there’s space for just 50 people.

And if you’re interested in sponsoring, please contact me, there are still some opportunities for sponsorship.

AgileCoachCamp Germany 2010

April, 30th – May 2nd

Seminarzentrum Rückersbach, near Frankfurt / Main

For further information please visit

Scrum Day(s) Düsseldorf

I will be speaking on Agile Leadership at Scrum Day Düsseldorf.

The event will be on Wednesday, Dec 2 at Novotel Neuss (near Düsseldorf).

The day before, Dec 1, there will be some interesting workshops. At least one of them is a highlight I want to recommend to you: Joseph Pelrine’s workshop on self organizing teams. I had a foretaste of what might come up there at “Agile2009” in Chicago. But his workshop in Chicago was one of 3 hrs. This one is a full day workshop.

Furthermore, he will also be the keynote speaker on Wednesday.

For more information, see Scrum Day Website.

I’ll publish my slides online afterwards.

XP Days Germany, Day 2 (part1)

Day two is over and I’m lying in my bed, happy but tired, and try to keep my eyes open until I’ll have clicked the “publish” button in ScribeFire.

First things first: Some people said to me that they had read my blog posting on day one. What nearly everybody told me was that they’d had the discussion about either German or English talks in the past. And that they’d had more English talks some years ago. And that it is a strange scenario if Germans talk to an audience of just German people but speak English (and some listeners have difficulties to understand it). Ok, I have to admit: In this case German may be the better option :).
Just to make it clear: I respect this decision, result of experiences in the past. I’m sure that this is pretty well thought-out. And I didn’t want to blame people who had made this decision. It was less about criticizing something or someone but more a public reflection on my own personal feelings and thoughts. Personally, I really love getting in touch with an international community and I’d really appreciate it if this also would happen in Germany. Nonetheless, even more than that I appreciate a well-organized conference with happy people on it – and that’s what XP Days Germany seem to be.

Anything else? Oh, yes, there were some sessions today – two dozens in four parallel tracks, to be precise. I attended “Creating Leaderful Teams to Achieve High Performance” by Deborah Hartmann Preuss. It was a great talk on changing mental role models – as a member of a team, but even more important: as a manager. Because that’s the topic I’ve been obsessed with for nearly one year, it was very valuable for me to hear from her insights, compare, adapt and question her points. To be honest: There is just one I question (and I needed some hours to think about it): I’m not very happy with the term “egoless team”. I know, many trainers make use of it. Maybe I’m too sceptic because of my personal spiritual background. Every time someone starts talking about “egolessness”, I become very carefully: In most cases this is the beginning of deliberation, of suppressing individualism. It doesn’t have to be used this way in Agile, but I know that talking about “egoless …” can be a mighty weapon.
Back to the point I agree with: The key thing is that the term “Agile Manager” is an oxymoron. But what is needed instead is an “Agile Leader”.
A leader as a
– Meaning Maker
– Catalyst for Growth
– Model of Integrity
– Cultural Change Agent
– Facilitator
Deborah Hartmann Preuss explained in detail how she understands each of these roles.
I could mention many details of this talk, but I’ll pick out just two more points: The meaning of retrospectives. “If you wanna do just one agile practise, choose retrospectives.”, she said. Why? Because this is the most important opportunity to step back and reflect as a team. To remind Albert Einstein: A problem cannot be solved on the same level where it has been caused. Stepping back means changing the perspective, the level. Same thing for leaders. Integrating a retrospective in the working routine of the team extends work from single loop to double loop. Single loop work means working on efficiency (doing things right). Double loop work means working on effectivity (doing the right things), because you reflect on your work and learn more. But a decision for effectivity on costs of efficiency has to be made as a top level management decision. Once again, an act which needs a step back and some reflection.

Furthermore, I had other very good talks today: “TDD with iPhone OS” by Tammo Freese and “Science Scrum: Agile Project Management in Science” by Michael Podvinec and Joseph Pelrine.
In addition to that, a very entertaining final of “TDD with the Stars” and Alistair Cockburn’s Keynote on Hard-Agile (subtitled with “Agile is for wimps!”…).

I hope I’ll find some time tomorrow to write more about these sessions. Now it’s time to close my eyes (and hopefully not to dream of Agile Jeopardy: “Was sind Haftnotizen?”)

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XP Days Germany, Day 1

Well, first day of German XP Days is over. For all of you who couldn’t come, I’ll try to give you some insight:
I personally started today just after lunch, since the tutorials in the morning had been sold out. But doesn’t matter, it’s just the warm-up day and a good warm-up day doesn’t start before lunch!

The first session I attended was “Am Ende entscheidet das Naturell” – together with title comes the first hint that XP Days Germany are really quite… ehm, German. Almost every talk seems to be in German – which is on the one hand ok for a national convention. It gives German people the chance to join the agile community, even though they don’t understand English. On the other hand, it excludes the few people from other countries, who are here. And keeps potential visitors away. I think it’s sad to miss the chance to let them participate. Actually I’m of two minds about this question. Maybe it’s not a general question, but a question of personal taste. I tend to the international variant. Or as a compromise, at least one track in English, the others in German.

Ok, back to the talks: “Am Ende entscheidet das Naturell” means something like “Finally, the temper (disposition) tips the balance”. Dierk Koenig from Canoo talked on citeria how to categorize people at work.
He mentioned several models for characterizing people, like well-known Myers-Briggs model and “big five”, but the difference between these models and the approach they use at Canoo is the fact that one doesn’t need to know everything about his employees’ personality, but just about a few criteria, e.g. “What is your approach to collecting infomation?”. “Focussed” and “Holistic-associative” were the left and the right end of a scale. In the model they use, just 4 of these criteria had been filtered out. The second criterium was extra- vs. introversion (communicating with others), the third was self-organization (structured vs. flexible) and I have to admit that I’ve forgotten the last one (I think it was sth. about innovation…).

Depending on your personal likes and dislikes, you can draw a scheme of which roles and responsibilities you’ll probably take over in a team. Because the four dimensions with its two extremes in each case relate to eight steps in a working process or to eight roles in a team.

Well, I like the pragmatical aspect of this approach. Dierk Koenig pointed out that they use it sometimes in team retrospectives. As an example, he showed a photo of a map with eight fields, one for each role. Each team member had put a big stone on a field for his key strength and smaller stones for supporting roles. Some fields had many stones, some of them just one. So it became very clear to all who looked at the photo, which roles could turn out as risks.
But in my eyes the most valuable sentence Dierk said, was in the beginning of his talk, when he reminded us of the Agile Manifesto: “Despite we are talking about Agile, most people are still talking about processes and tools. But we should stop talking about processes and tools, we should start talking about people.”

The next session was a Pecha Kucha session. I had heard about this special form of presentation before, but it was the first time I saw it. It’s some kind of lightning talk. A speaker has a topic and 20 slides for that. Each slide has exactly 20 seconds to stay. That means: 400 seconds left for a talk, 6 min. 40 sec.!
Things I like: You try to tell people a story. Everything which is unimportant will be left out. The slides don’t have any bullet points and don’t have much text. Mostly, they’re just pictures. And they only support the speaker’s message. Of course, everything I mentioned can also be valid for a regular talk, but to be honest: Most talks are different, people don’t care about these rules. In Pecha Kucha, people are forced to do so.
We had three talks in this session. “Stop the Line in Software development” by Stefan Roock, a very useful talk on really stopping the production process in case of failure (like Toyota does). “Our Journey to the Land of Agile”, an experiential report by Markus Adrezak and “I am packing my Agile Suitcase” (I have no clue if this game, well-known in Germany, is also known in other countries!?) by Holger Koschek, a talk on the most important values, principles and tools in Agile. Each talk was very good. But form impressed me even more than content (maybe this is the disadvantage of Pecha Kucha).

I missed the TDD session but I heard from others that it had been very good – and totally overcrowded. :-)

The last talk for today was “Wissensinseln – Schadbild, Bekämpfung und Vorbeugung” (a very typical German title! Can maybe translated with “Islands of Knowledge – Symptoms, fighting and preventing them”). Though it was the last session, Jens Coldewey managed it to get my full attention to his talk. He talked in a very engaged manner on this topic. The main part: How to realize that your team has a problem with sharing knowledge. He showed some indicators which I’ve been knowing very well: Some remarks during the sprint plannings, “This task can only do XY” or “I have nothing to do”. Or the fact that stories are not done the order they were prioritized, but in different order (“that’s because the first story is XYZ’ story and we carry on with the second (third, fourth, …) story”). Another indicator is a chart with story points a team achieves per sprint. If story points hit rock bottom every time when a particular team member is ill or in holidays, then you know that something goes wrong.
Afterwards we had a lively discussion about how to prevent it. I think it’s even the easiest part to prevent it amongst developers: You can do pair programming, code reviews etc. But nobody had a good answer to the question of knowledge transfer within a *cross*-functional team itself. How to handle knowledge transfer between developers, sysops and designers? How not to overburden the team’s only sysop? And how much knowledge transfer from a sysop to a programmer and vice versa is necessary? And how much is useful?
That’s a topic I’d like to see being placed on the Open Space agenda on Saturday. I’ll put it into the discussion once again.

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GTAC 2009 – Lightning Talks

As I mentioned before, there were eight lightning talks, held on Wednesday. Marie Patriarche from Google has published the list of topics in Wave – where available, I’ve added links to slides or to projects:

When I wanted to publish my own slides yesterday, I had to face the fact that Philipp’s Macbook I had worked with, obviously hadn’t liked my talk and had erased everything except the master slide.

Don’t cry, folks, my slides weren’t on World Heritage List. I will write it down again and publish it here, with some additional comments to the slides.