Archives for the Month of December, 2009

A Winter’s Tale

A Winter's Tale

London has been one big ice rink since Monday. After lots of rain, a few rays of sunshine and even more rain, the lovely white snow is finally trickling away as muddy slush today. Lucky really, since a white Christmas would have led to many celebrating Christmas alone. Imagine the numerous Christmas presents that would have been left unopened! Think of the mounds of brussel sprouts left to go cold!

The Gift of the Present

Thanks to the adverse weather (snow in winter, who would have thought?), the usual sprawl of seasoned shoppers has been tranformed into units of special forces of gift givers. These gift givers are prepared to travel near and far to obtain gifts of value, ranging from socks and gadgets to timeless kitsch.

As I trundle through the snow and slush, I notice how everything moves in slow motion. The slowness gives me time to live in the moment, to take in the white landscape in spite of the damp and cold. Instead of hurrying and scurrying, I am Here. Instead of being dragged down by the Past or distracted by the Future, I am in the Present. Things are somehow easier and within moments I have accomplished what had seemed like Mission Impossible even in the best of weather: I have a sackful of valuable gifts for the ones I love.

This is the same experience my teams and I go through when we apply the principle of ‘If you’re rushing, slow down’. With baby steps, we move forward, placing one foot in front of the other. We deal with impediments as they come up, prioritising them and removing them one a time. Before you know it, we’re making good progress, better than we’ve ever done before. And that’s how we turn each Mission Impossible into Mission Most Possible.

Slow for Safety

Make the Most of Now

Be in the Present. Learn from the Past. Create the Future. That’s the advice from Spencer Johnson, author of ‘The Present‘. According to Spencer, by focusing on the task at hand, you become fully engaged in the present which leads to higher quality work which, in turn, leads to greater personal satisfaction and success. And there’s your virtuous cycle in motion.

So as the holiday season begins, slow down. Give the Gift of the Present. To you and your loved ones.

Just Released: The Yellow Brick Road Peer Coaching Game

Time for New Shoes!

“Follow the Yellow Brick Road. Follow the Yellow Brick Road. Follow-follow-follow-follow, follow the Yellow Brick Road!’

Go, Go, Go!

You’ve been following the blog entries as The Yellow Brick Road session has been touring around Europe. Finally – the wait is over. Treat yourself to  The Yellow Brick Road Game and play it with your colleagues, friends and family! Download it here and let me know what you think. ‘Thank You!’ in advance for your gift of feedback.

Agile Winter School


A Week in the Life of an Agile Coach Who Keeps Learning

With Agile, the learning never stops. A good example of this is the marathon of new training courses we launched at emergn last week:

Monday: Agile Overview – a 1-day course that provides participants with enough knowledge to begAgile-Overview-Team-Ain applying Agile at work (including emergn’s version of the ubiquitous XP Game by Pascal Van Cauwenberghe and Vera Peeters). We strongly recommend participants of other courses to attend the Agile overview first to establish a common understanding among all participants of what Agile is and what being agile really means. Judging by the feedback from the participants, this is an effective way of developing a meaningful understanding of Agile.

Customer-Value-AnalysisTuesday and Wednesday: Customer Value Analysis – a 2-day course that combines Business and Systems Analysis techniques to consistently translate business goals into a steady and valuable stream of detailed User Stories and Acceptance Criteria. Instead of retrospectively mining value from what I call a ‘vomit of user stories’ (which inevitably results in perpetual backlog grooming), we pull stories from value to achieve Value-Driven Delivery.

Thursday and Friday: Agile Project Management – a 2-day course that provides an interactive experience of tools and techniques for tracking project progress (such as Real Options Thinking) and enabling personal and team growth (such as the Theory of Constraints).


Training Delight

The truth is, we have lots of fun creating and delivering the courses and judging by the feedback from many of the participants, they not only have fun but learn a great deal about Agile and personal development in the process. You only have to look at their faces to see that everyone is doing the best they can to improve.

The best thing of all is what goes into the training courses we create. We’ve taken our collective experience from working as Agile Consultant-Coaches in a myriad of organisations plus our experience as conference presenters, sprinkled in a dash of innovation and creativity and voilà, emergn training courses based on experiential learning to amplify each participant’s learning experience.

My Takeaway

As an emergn coach and trainer, I strive to apply the following 3 principles:

  • Everyone adds value.
  • You can only change yourself.
  • Invest in people, invest in yourself.


One of the participants quoted golf player Arnold Palmer as saying, ‘The more I practice, the luckier I get.’ If that’s true, then I’m in luck. My acceptance criteria as a trainer for each course I deliver is that I learn at least as much as the participants. True learning demands an equal exchange of knowledge and experience.


Many thanks to the participants for their enthusiasm and pursuit for Continuous Improvement – for themselves and for their teams. We wish everyone  Happy Continuous Learning!

More Learning in the New Year

We’re in the process of drawing up the emergn training schedule for 2010. If you want to make work fun and worthwhile, we look forward to meeting you at one of our courses in 2010!


XP Day London 2009: The Yellow Brick Road

We're off to see the Wizard!

Agile Fairytales in London

Inspired by the enthusiasm of many Agilists for games, learning and fairytales, we’ll be playing an almost-new and much-improved version of ‘The Yellow Brick Road – Agile Adoption Through Peer Coaching’ at the XP Day conference in London this Tuesday afternoon – the place where the session was first delivered back in 2007!

According to Douglas Squirrel, a regular at XP Day London and also a player of the first version, he continues to peer coach with Simon Woolf to this day because of the game.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

The Yellow Brick Road is the difficult path Dorothy takes towards the Emerald City to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz to help her get home. Swap your bit part for a major role in the Agile re-telling of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ for your organisation. Let your companions and other characters help you tap into the resources you’ve always had but never realised to complete your quest for a more Agile organisation.

The Yellow Brick Road is Coming Home

I first co-presented The Yellow Brick Road with Duncan Pierce back at XPDay 2007. Since then, the concept of Agile Fairytales have travelled around the world, appearing at SPA 2008, Agile 2008, AYE 2008, XP Days Benelux 2008 and XP Day France 2009. Read more about the session here.

We only have room for 12, so come early for your place on our trip to see the Wizard!


Many thanks once again to Dyan, Maria, Alissa, Ben, Paul, Steven and Pascal for all their feedback at the dry run of The Yellow Brick Road Game back in November. Your input has been invaluable to the latest version of the game. T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U!

And a BIG Thanks! to the 30 participants at XP Days Benelux on 27 November for playing The Yellow Brick Road Game!

Forthcoming Release of The Yellow Brick Road Game

The long awaited almost-new and much-improved game will be released later on this week under the Creative Commons Share-Alike-By-Attribution licence at Watch this blog for more news on the release!