Archives for the Month of May, 2009

XPDay France 2009 – A Retrospective (version anglaise)

What Went Well

What Went Wrong

  • Catering: Starters and mains looked good, but weren’t very tasty
  • Wish we had ice creams during the break by the lake on a beautiful summer’s day
  • Missing out on Bernard ‘Ben’ Notarianni‘s outdoor guitar recital


  • What does it mean when we learn nothing after attending a session?
  • What does what we think of others tell us about ourselves?
  • What is the acceptance criteria for selecting a keynote speaker?

Lessons (Re-)Learnt

  • We can only change ourselves
  • Everyone has value
  • The way we play games reflects the way we work
  • The importance of practicing The Responsibility Model by Chris Avery on ourselves


  • To Sara Lewis and Raphaël Pierquin for helping to translate ‘Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Why Me?’ en français
  • To Laurent Morriseau for helping to translate The Business Value Game en français
  • To Pascal for writing up and making available the participants’ retrospective feedback on the ‘Mirror Mirror’ session here
  • To the organisers of XPDay France for making so much fun in one place possible!
  • To all the Agile Fairytales enthusiasts for their support in helping Agile Fairytales grow!

This entry is also available in French! Also, you can find out what others thought about our sessions on

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.

Ready-Steady-Go! XP Day France 2009

Quel beau voyage!

After many hours of iterative translating and tweaking, Pascal and I are off to Paris to present two conference favourites at XP Day France next week: 

Venez nous rejoindre pour la fête et récrivez votre destin avec Blanche-Neige et les sept nains et Bert, le comptable extraordinaire, qui vous aide avec la Valeur Métier.

Mille mercis!

  • To Sara Lewis and Raphaël Pierquin for helping to translate ‘Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Why Me?’ en français
  • To Laurent Morriseau for helping to translate The Business Value Game en français
  • And to Pascal for laughing long enough to make the Tarantino-retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves suitable only for adults!

A Healthy Mind Demands a Healthy Body

(During training for a 10k near you)

Brad the Instructor: Look around you!
Brad: Joining a gym doesn’t make you fit by default.
Brad: Neither does working as an instructor.
Brad: Remember team: a healthy mind demands a healthy body!

According to Brad, there’s no need for drugs, state-of-the-art equipment or colour co-ordinated lycra gym kit to get the job done. Brad believes that healthy people are a result of will, discipline and perseverance. So why not take part in a 5k or 10k run near you?

One good deed a day

Fancy dabbling in a bit of wealth re-distribution? Or may be just some Plain-Old-Sustainable-Philanthropy? Here’s your chance! We’re hoping to raise £1,000 plus I’m training for a new personal best of 10k in 55 minutes. Sponsor Pascal and me for the Cancer Research 10K at Hampton Court on 27 September 2009.

Happy exercising! And Thank You!

Mini XP Day Benelux 2009: A Retrospective

This week begins with another Agile First: the first ever Mini XP Day Benelux conference. The one-day conference is a second chance to attend 9 of the session favourites from XP Days Benelux 2008 based on last year’s participant and conference organiser feedback.

What Went Well

  • 48 participants attended the first ever Mini XP Day Benelux conference!
  • As organisers, we improved our effectiveness by using kanban boards to organise ourselves prior to the conference and on the day
  • The cheery and funny Rob Westgeest and Marc Evers were entertaining as conference hosts
  • Elewijt, the conference venue, was spacious, airy and well-equipped
  • Working smoothly as a triad to co-present The Business Value to a home crowd with Vera and Pascal
  • Trialling a number of improvements on The Business Value Game based on player feedback from the many previous sessions we’ve run
  • ‘Working with Resistance’, with Olivier Costa and his sensei Frank Vanhoeck, a beginner’s Aikido session
  • Catching up with Beneluxian Agilistas such as Johan Peeters and Xavier Quesada
  • Meeting new Beneluxian Agilistas such as Jef Cumps and Kris Philippaerts
  • The thoughtful giveaways selected by Vera
  • Belgian food is D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!
  • Being present at an organisers’ dinner meeting and conference retrospective in person
  • Running 9k in hilly Tervuren forest without stopping once!

What Went Wrong

  • I didn’t meet as many participants as I would have liked – one day is so short!
  • Long queue for buffet lunch
  • Ran out of some buffet choices for last ones in


  • If you already work well as a team, why use Agile?
  • Who learns more: the one who talks more or the one who listens more?
  • Why weren’t topics posted for the Open Space track?

Lessons (Re-)Learnt

  • When I resist, flow instead
  • Exercise is equally important for the mind and the body
  • A good teacher accompanies their student to discover the answers together instead of just giving them their opinion
  • Talk less, listen more
  • Challenge everything, most of all, myself
  • 2009 is the year of cartoons in Belgium!
  • XP Days Benelux 2009 (to be held this November in Belgium) is going to be F-A-B if the past conferences are anything to go by. I hope to see you there!

A Note about Pigeon Fanciers

‘Duivenbond’ means ‘Pigeon Club’ in Dutch. Duiven Bond is a place where local pigeon fanciers gather to race their pigeons. Many Belgian towns have one of these. As far as I understand, pigeon racing is fraught with three major challenges:

  1. Race-pigeon-doping (because some folks bet vast sums of money on races)
  2. Anxiety among owners as they  crouch in the pigeon’s cage awaiting the return of their pigeon
  3. For the competing pigeon, the threat of being turned into pigeon pie if they lose the race.

What have you learned today?

The Definition of an Agile Team

TO improve the effectiveness of the customer and users of the product and maximise the value of the organisation
AS AN Agile Team
WE NEED to leverage the strengths of each team member and create valuable products now and in the future.

 Acceptance Criteria

  • We apply the Agile Values at all times
  • We apply the Agile Principles and Practices
  • We take responsibility for the work we do
  • We prioritise our work to maximise value, taking into account risk, effort and dependencies
  • We do the work that bring the most value to the team
  • We take responsibility for the team’s results
  • We update the team on the progress of our individual work 
  • We raise impediments, risks and issues as early as possible 
  • We help remove impediments
  • We believe in collective wisdom: we trust the team to make the best decisions possible based on the information available 
  • We understand how quality contributes to the overall value the team delivers 
  • We ensure quality is built into everything we do, as defined by the team’s definition of quality 
  • We minimise keyman dependency
  • We’re committed to Continuous Improvement.

Attributes of an Agile Team

  • Generalist-Specialists – Each team member has a set of specific interests, skills and strengths. You are a Generalist-Specialist when what you do goes beyond these.
  • Self-organising – The team work out what needs to be done and members sign up for work.
  • Cross-functional – Each team member is a composite of roles, skills and experiences.
  • Continuously learning – We always strive to do better.
  • Responsible – We win together, we fail together. We share responsibility.
  • Committed – We give 100% to everything we do.

How you know you’re doing it wrong

When you say:

I’m not doing testing. That’s not in my role description.‘ – No one wants a ‘Jobsworth‘ in their team. Demonstrate your commitment by doing whatever it takes to help the team deliver value.

I can’t do that task. I’ve never done it before.‘ – Sign up for the task and ask to pair with someone who does so that you contribute even more value to the team.

An Agile team is supposed to be self-organising, so sort it out!‘ – Take collective responsibility. Give help instead of passing judgment.

It’s his fault. I knew he’d mess it up.‘ – Take responsibility by offering to help. If they reject your help, improve your interpersonal skills so that others want to pair with you. 

How you know you’re doing it right

Put the 5 Agile Values plus two more into action.

  1. Communication – We consult one another and contribute to discussions and debates on matters arising.
  2. Simplicity – We deliver exactly what’s needed, no more, no less, with the least amount of effort.
  3. Feedback – We give and take on feedback and use it to improve our individual performance as well as to elevate the performance of the team.
  4. Courage – We create and sustain an environment where we can all be courageous. We support one another when confronting the brutal facts in the belief that we will prevail.
  5. Respect – We acknowledge that every team member is an individual. We leverage the benefits of diversity.
  6. Trust – We trust each member to do their best for the team.
  7. Transparency – We share everything we know to create the maximum number of options. We do so to maximise our chances of success and minimise waste.

What does ‘Team’ mean to you?