Archives for the Month of May, 2008

Enduring Agile

‘The team remains agile after the coach is gone.’

This is my ultimate acceptance test for effective Agile coaching. True Agile Enablement endures.

Whose line is it anyway?

I come across a number of Agile coaches who talk a lot about Agile. Agile is hard because it’s the doing that accompanies the saying that makes a person agile. Nine out of ten coaches I meet are those who live by the mantra of Do-As-I-Say-Not-As-I-Do.

Most important of all, their kind of Agile doesn’t stick. Teams may think they’re agile for the duration of such a coach being onsite, but when the coach is gone, teams are left to make-do and make-believe a fuzzy, undisciplined and/or enforced form of Agile (originally adopted to appease a forceful coach) all on their own.

Give me an example

I recently met Rupert, a charming and personable Agile coach who prides himself on being a doer. He told me that because he was having difficulties with the testers in his client organisation, he had written a code of conduct for the testers so they can work with the rest of the team. A few weeks before that he’d been preoccupied with composing a code of conduct for the business analysts. ‘And these are the rules for developers to follow,’ says Rupert as he proudly points to a flipchart among the numerous flipcharts of commandments that now cover the team wallspace. Eat your heart out Laura Ashley. Forget floral, swallow those words.

Words, words, words

What about Rupert’s team, I found myself wondering with mild anxiety. In my experience, a team has to come up with its own guidelines or manifesto through a collaborative effort. It’s part of the initiation process towards becoming a team. What happens next is the enforcement of the manifesto which should come easily – so long as it originated from the team. Otherwise, the manifesto is yet another group of words with no more meaning than a company’s mission statement, created by a small clique in a galaxy far, far away from the people who deliver business value.

Sock Shop

When coaching, I compare Agile with a pair of socks. The notion of a good pair of socks is likely to vary from person to person. Some prefer pink and others blue while the chaussettes conoisseurs among us might wear Santa socks 365 days of the year. Nonetheless, one thing is certain: we all have a common understanding of what makes a good pair of socks. For instance, most of us would agree that a good pair of socks keeps both our feet warm and dry. Once we understand the purpose of something, it’s easy to distinguish genuine function from fancy form.

Genuine Agile has collaboration built-in to make it last. If you’re living the Agile Values, trust your instinct when it’s telling you your Agile coach is wrong.

Postcard from Galway

Why Exoftware?

So that on a beautiful summer’s day I find myself cycling along the low road on one of the Aran Islands to spend time with the most diverse, smart, nice and fun bunch of Agilistas I know.

Top Picks for XP 2008

The 9th conference on Agile Processes and XP will be taking place from 10 – 14 June in Limerick, Ireland this year. The programme has an interesting mix of Agile management techniques and technical practices.

Recommended Highlights

  • Mapping the Value Stream by Mary and Tom Poppendieck – because they’re always a treat to listen to
  • Overcoming Resistance to Change by Dave Nicolette and Lasse Kosela – because I’ve heard much about both of them and have yet to attend a session of theirs
  • Test-Driven Enterprise Code by J B Rainsberger – because Joe’s well-known on the Agile track and I would like to see Joe present
  • Coaching Self-Organising Teams by Steve Freeman and Joseph Pelerine – because Joseph’s a great speaker and it’ll be great to see Steve and Joseph pairing on a session
  • Open Spaces – because you never know who’ll show up and how the sessions will turn out

Beautiful Ireland

I’ve already committed to presenting at a number of other Agile conferences this year, so unfortunately won’t be able to attend this one. June’s a lovely time to visit Ireland, so I hope you get to make the most of your stay!

Andon du Jour – Of Mice and Men

Three Interesting Facts

  1. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
  2. Most people spend more time with their colleagues in their lifetime (by being at work that is) then they will with their own family.
  3. Most people’s decision making is based on what they want most rather than what they fear most.

Plus Two Questions

  1. How much do you care about what you’re going to do today?
  2. And what about tomorrow?

XPDay France: Une rétrospective

Il fait très beau et chaud à Londres aujourd’hui. Le beau temps m’a fait penser à XPDay France.

What went well

  • Rencontré des agilistes français sympas et accueillants
  • Joué le jeu d’espace de Real Options avec une soixantaine participants
  • À la recherche du temps perdu et l’avoir trouvé: FIAP me rapelle mi école mi auberge de jeunesse
  • Le dîner avec les programmeurs Erlang
  • Être invité à presenter l’année prochaine – l’ultime test de recette!


  • FIAP est entouré par un beau quartier même s’il n’est pas évident tout de suite
  • Les glaces me manquent pour tous les participants pour mieux fêter l’arrivée de l’été

Mon XPDay France idéal

  • Plus d’actions, moins de discours pendant les séminaires
  • Plus d’exercices pour encourager la création des réseaux parmi les participants
  • Avoir les salles plus grandes et mieux amenagées
  • Voir des OOMPs (Official One Minute Presentations) inventifs

Mille mercis aux organisateurs d’eXtreme Programming France pour une conférence chouette!