Archives for the ‘Agile Fairytales’ Category

Agile Fairytale Release: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Why Me? – Version 1.2

The latest version of the ‘Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Why Me?‘ has just been released. The download now contains even more materials (available in both English and in French) to help you run and play the session with colleagues, friends and family!

What’s in the goodie bag?

  1. Instructions on how to run the game
  2. The worksheet to be filled in during the Part 1 of the game
  3. The card deck for Parts 1 and 2 of the game
  4. Slide presentation to accompany the running of the session *NEW*
  5. And last, but by no means least, the re-telling of the fairytale Tarantino-style – suitable for adults only *NEW*

What’s on the backlog?

Still to come is a full session description to make running the session smoother and even more fun and meaningful!

*The Snow White and Seven Dwarves Game is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK license.

Agile Fairytales at AYE

Last night saw the largest gathering ever to attend Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Why Me?, an Agile Fairytale session on improving personal effectiveness, created by adults for everyone. More than 20 people converged to learn how to create their own happy endings on Day 2 of the AYE Conference in sunny Phoenix, Arizona.

Rediscovering the lessons we learnt as children but have since forgotten

We began the session with a speed retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – a story of murder, intrigue, passion, poisoned apples and, of course, an Evil Queen. It was great to see sceptic-looking faces brighten with smiles as the story unfolded. The room soon filled with laughter at the thought of Sneezy being a friendly kind of dwarf who’s creatively efficient because he’s allergic to work.

You can read more about the Snow White and Seven Dwarves Game here. The game and all related materials are freely available under the Creative Commons license. You can also download the game and play it for free* with your team, family and friends.

If you’re an avid Agile Fairytale game player, you can read about the experience of your British Agile Fairytale counterparts and see how they fared.

Making Money with Agile Fairytale Projects

The highlight of the evening had to be the project pitches as each of the three teams presented their project proposition, outlining their project’s goal, its deadline and a team staffed with Agile Fairytale characters.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Who’s the fairest of them all?

Many thanks to everyone who attended! The overwhelming enthusiasm of the participants was a sure sign that Pascal and I were among folks who take responsibility for ourselves by continuously seeking to improve.

Heartfelt Lessons Learnt by the Group

  • The only person we can change is ourselves.
  • Everyone has value.
  • Stop being a misanthrope: we should appreciate people more.
  • By looking at what we think of others, we can learn about ourselves.
  • It’s up to us as individuals to take responsibility in a relationship.

One participant declared, ‘I can see how the game can be a catalyst for team building. I’m going to play it with my team the moment I get home!’

Agile Fairytales coming to a place near you

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Why Me? will be showing next at XP Days Benelux later on this month. The Agile Benelux contingent are world-renowned for their sense of fun, so I’m looking forward to what promises to be a most excellent European mini-adventure of self-discovery.

*The Snow White and Seven Dwarves Game is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK license.

Happily Ever After?

Fairytale and Fantasy

Agile 2008 – Day 1

Pascal and I pair-present a session on improving personal effectiveness called Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Why Me?The session begins with an Agile re-telling of the fairytale favourite Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Think storytime à la Tarantino for adults. We got a round of applause for the storytelling and many participants left the session with new insights about themselves.

Dramatis Personae

  • Snow White – team player, works hard, naive
  • Evil Queen – gets things done, power-hungry, manipulative
  • Hunter – disciplined, practical, mercenary
  • Doc – knowledgeable, solution-focussed, arrogant
  • Bashful – sensitive to others’ needs, quiet, dislikes conflict
  • Sleepy – entertaining, easily distracted, difficult to motivate
  • Sneezy – friendly, creatively efficient, allergic to work
  • Happy – positive, motivated, can ignore problems
  • Dopey – enthusiastic, lacks discipline, lacks attention to detail
  • Grumpy – analytical, critical, poor communicator

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Game – Part 1

Now we begin our journey of self-discovery through a cycle of personal judgment, reflection, introspection and action. Let’s take Snow White as an example.

  1. Personal judgment: Does Snow White remind you on anyone? Give examples of why you think they remind you of Snow White.
  2. Reflection and introspection – ‘Looking into the Mirror’: Why do you think what you think about that person? What does what you think about them say about you?
  3. Action: What are some actions you can take to improve your understanding of that person? What’s the smallest thing you can do to improve your relationship with them? Pick one action and do it.

Agile Coach’s #1 Secret to Great Teamwork

We cannot change others. We can only change ourselves.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Game – Part 2

We assemble a fairytale project team. Everyone dreads drawing the Evil Queen card because although the Evil Queen gets things done, she’s also power hungry and manipulative. As in real life, we have to find ways to best leverage the skills, experience and interests of every member of our team. Agile is about facing challenges head on and fostering human potential.

Agile Coach’s #2 Secret to Great Teamwork

Everyone has value.

Go, Go, Gameplay

You can play the game for free. All Agile Fairytale materials will be available online soon under the Creative Commons licence. Why not define your own happy ending today?

SPA 2008: A Retrospective

I’m fairly certain there’s no better way of spending four Spring days in Bedfordshire, England than at the Software Practice Advancement (SPA) conference. I left feeling re-energised with plenty of food for thought on what continuous improvement (Kaizen) really means.

What worked well: The Highlights

  • Playing the Snow White and Seven Dwarves Game with 16 grownups, described by participants as ‘curious, fun with excellent materials’ and got lots of feedback on how to improve the game.
  • Co-presenting a Real Options session with Chris Matts and Pascal Van Cauwenberghe and explored alternative ways of how to think about Real Options. I think we were over-ambitious in our refactoring of the session – fortunately, the SPA audience remained enthusiastic and receptive to innovation!
  • Co-creating a Teamwork Techniques BoF (Birds of a Feather) with Pascal and Charles Weir. It was a great example of collaborative working and learning through doing. The session was successful because it leveraged the experience and knowledge of all the participants which enhanced the quality of learning, usefulness of materials and the amount of fun had by all. The techniques covered included Creative Thinking process, Edward de Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats, Chris Avery’s Responsibility Model and Burndown charts.
  • Attended an excellent session on Awesome Acceptance Testing by Joe Walnes and Dan North. The thoughtful delivery made a usually dry (but very important) topic interesting, entertaining, educational and enabling.
  • Attended John Nolan’s session on Getting to ‘No’ on how to say ‘No’ in a constructive way.

Ideas for making SPA even better

  • More sessions like Joe and Dan’s with a well-defined purpose, tangible and pragmatic advice and entertaining presenters
  • More genuinely-interactive learning like the Teamwork Techniques BoF
  • Form quartets based on at least common interest to make them more meaningful rather than dividing people into random groups of 4
  • More opportunities for active conference attendee participation
  • More emphasis on accelerated learning and personal development in terms of session structure and content because the best software is developed by teams of effective individuals

Thank You!

  • To Pascal and Vera for their enthusiasm, feedback, support and being great idea factories.
  • To David Peterson, Maria Bortes and Dyan Corutiu for participating in the rehearsal session and providing constructive feedback that helped us use the cards more.
  • To Chris Cooper-Bland for co-presenting and assembling the final presentation and believing in dwarfish appeal.

And a big T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U as usual to Jim for bringing Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to life as cards and making the game real.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Why Me?

With Spring almost in the air, Agilistas around Europe are getting ready to attend the annual SPA 2008* residential conference from March 16 – 19 in Bedfordshire, UK.

In the Land of Agile Fairytales

Are you baffled yet fascinated by the behaviour of those around you? Have you ever wondered why they do what they do? If you answered ‘Yes’ to at least one of the questions above, then come join Chris Cooper-Bland and me at SPA on a mini-adventure of self-discovery with help from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

This is your chance to learn more about yourself to give you a better chance of understanding others. Think Kaizen Meets Agile Fairytales.

This is the second themed session in the Agile Fairytale series, beginning with a game of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Game to help you identify the characters who interest, trouble, confound and/or confuse you most at work.

Once you’ve developed new or more in-depth insights into your own character, you will be able to choose from one of four techniques to help improve your personal effectiveness. See here for more details on the session.

I’ll also be helping out with Chris Matts’s session on Real Options. He reckons learning about Real Options will change the way you make decisions forever. Come along to see if he’s right or wrong.

XPDay London 2007: A Retrospective

I’ve been surrounded by a lot of grey for the past couple of months. It may be the dreary autumnal London weather. Or perhaps it’s the sea of sombre suits reflected in glassy buildings in Canary Wharf. Fortunately, going to JAOO for the first time back in September helped cheer me up. Going to XPDay London last week gave me hope.

What worked well: The Highlights

It’s the attendees who make the conference: I met some very cool, contemplative and collaborative people. By cool, I mean friendly, modest and fun. When combined with cool, contemplative and collaborative best describe what people who really get Agile mean to me. Instead of meeting resistance, things just flow.

In an opposing context, the 3 Cs can mean: colluding, corroborative and complicit. Apparently that’s how some people behave when things get tough. Unfortunately, it’s also when how you behave matters most in determining the outcome. Over time, I’ve come to recognise Agile as a mindset and it’s really easy to spot the bona fide ‘Agilistas’ (practitioners of Agile) from those who play pretend. It’s a bit like watching bullies prance about in tutus. They’re usually those who don’t quite ‘fit’.

Creative sessions such as the Conversation Café by Simon Baker and Gus Power asking the difficult question – ‘Have you compromised your agility?’: I especially liked the scene setting with paper table cloths, funky electric tea lights and piles of lollipops. It seemed to me a well-crafted social experiment in which participants were lulled into a comfortable state of mind before being electric-jolted into discussions that challenged their fundamental beliefs in what being Agile means. The combination of this polemic session with Steve Freeman’s panel discussion on ‘Have we lost our mojo?’ helped reunite a crowd that had become fractured by difficult conversations (I described it as invoking a tribal reaction much like football does – understandably, of course).

For me, the best sessions were those that encouraged us to fight against organisational inertia and question conventional wisdom. Simon and Gus did an excellent job of reminding us to challenge mediocrity. It may be the norm in your organisation, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

My three wishes for XPDay London 2008

  1. For an inspiring and erudite speaker like David Stoughton to do the opening keynote
  2. For an exceptional closing speech that challenges us to take action (because ‘Goodbyes’ are important).
  3. To co-present a session with Pascal Van Cauwenberghe, co-creator of The XP Game.

Thank Yous for ‘The Yellow Brick Road’

Special thanks to Tamas Jano and Tom Geary for test-driving the Wizard of Oz game cards. Many thanks to Duncan Pierce for mucking in with what he described as ‘the most unusual session’ he’s ever worked on. And a big T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U to Jim for making shadowy figments of imagination real. If you want to know how the session went, you can read Pascal’s account of it here. Thanks for the coverage, Pascal!

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Here’s a chance to swap your bit part for a major role in the Agile re-telling of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ for your organisation.


  • You as Dorothy
  • Agile as the Emerald City
  • Agile adoption path as the Yellow Brick Road
  • Session presenters (Duncan Pierce and me) as the Wizard of Oz

See you at XPDay London 2008

I’ll be co-presenting ‘The Yellow Brick Road’ at XPDay London in November. The session will be a self-contained workshop as well as a potential kick-off session for a year-long programme where you will learn about and practice peer-coaching to transform your way of working from suboptimal to agile. You will get the chance to work with peers in similar organisations and draw on a wealth of experiences, from learning how to deal with real problems to brainstorming and selecting effective solutions. We hope to create a setting where you will be able to give and receive support as you apply solutions through an iterative and collaborative process of plan-do-inspect-adapt.

To find out more about XPDay London, go to: