Archives for the Month of July, 2009

Choose Your Attitude

Everything is changeable. Only change is eternal.‘ – Truism

The Problem With Me

The thing I hate most about myself is that I don’t want to change. Truth be told, I resist change a lot more often than I’d like to admit. In my cool and contemplative moments, when I’m not preoccupied with resisting change, I’ve been able to identify the following reasons of why I resist:

  • Fear of the Unknown – ‘Only fools rush in. Who knows what lies ahead?’
  • Fear of consequences – ‘What if it all goes wrong? What happens then?’
  • Fear of waste – ‘If things don’t work out, I’ll have wasted all that time and effort that I could have spent on something else.’
  • Lack of confidence in my own ability – ‘Can I really achieve what I set out to do?’
  • Fear of ridicule – ‘This might make me look like a right fool in front of others.’

That’s a lot of fear to deal with. Nonetheless, let’s imagine I manage to remain calm and collected. From my tight ball of nerves, self-doubt and indigestion, a simple thought emerges, like a pure drop of water from the French Alps. The root cause of all my fears is my fear of F-A-I-L-U-R-E.

Try and Do Your Best

The fact is, Resistance and Flow both require energy. Unlike Resistance which shuts down the thinking you and limits your options, Flow enables you to keep an open mind. Flow helps you focus on the present. Flow keeps you moving. Before you know it, you embrace and thrive on change instead of cloying into a tight ball of nerves, self-doubt and indigestion going nowhere.

Catch Yourself Doing Things Wrong to Do Them Right

I’ve learnt to manage the Resisting Me. Whenever something becomes difficult, ‘DING!’ goes the bell in my head, clear as a drop of water from the French Alps, and I ask myself: ‘Am I resisting? Why am I resisting? What can I do to flow?’

  • Fear of the Unknown translates into ‘Let’s hear out your idea.
  • Fear of consequences becomes ‘What are the risks and issues?
  • Fear of waste translates into ‘If things don’t work out, I’ll have learnt something valuable.
  • Lack of confidence in my own ability becomes ‘What does the situation remind me of? What did I do to make it work the last time around?
  • Fear of ridicule translates into ‘She who dares grows.

Of course all of this only matters if you choose your attitude today. And the one you take to work tomorrow.

Get Ready for XPDays Benelux 2009!

If you were to ask me, ‘What’s the best way to get the most out of a conference?’ I would reply, ‘To present a session – it’s a great opportunity to consolidate, reflect on and share your experiences! Plus you’ll amplify your learning by getting feedback from a live audience.’ In my experience, presenting (and, better still, co-presenting) is more fun than you can ever imagine.

If you were to ask me, ‘If I could only go to one Agile conference this year, which should it be?’ I would reply, ‘XP Days Benelux of course! It’s a conference organised by Agilistas for Agilistas. And we mean it.’

At XP Days Benelux, we create better conferences year on year by putting the Agile Values and Practices into practice.

  • Communication: The first step in participating is to submit a session proposal. It’s the best way of getting the most out of a conference!
  • Simplicity: We encourage folks to submit their proposal as early as possible – even (and especially) if it’s in draft form. A great way to know if an idea is any good is to sound it out on an audience.
  • Feedback: We ask all submitters to provide feedback on proposals using The Perfection Game. The best proposals are the result of iterative and collaborative thinking. And, of course, great sessions help create a great conference!
  • Courage: Every presenter takes a chance when they submit a session. With so much to gain, what’s there to lose?
  • Respect: At XP Days Benelux, we provide an open and friendly environment where we can have fun and learn from one another.

Why not submit a session proposal today?

Hurry! The closing date for proposal submissions for XPDays Benelux 2009 is 1 August 2009. Find out more about past XP Days Benelux conferences here.

Be Remarkable – Be a Purple Cow!

A crisis is too good an opportunity to waste
– Anon.

Meet the Purple Cow

‘Something remarkable is worth talking about. Worth noticing. Exceptional. New. Interesting. It’s a Purple Cow. Boring stuff is invisible. It’s a brown cow.’ (Seth)

Are you seeing purple?

When it comes to changing for the better, there’s no time like the present.  According to Seth Godin, the key to succeeding in an age with infinite choices, impossible-to-tell-before-you-buy quality and grossly limited time is to be remarkable. To be purple.

The 4-step guide to breeding Purple Cows

  1. Come up with a remarkable idea: Invent a Purple Cow!
  2. Milk the cow for everything it’s worth.
  3. Have a Purple Cow succession strategy: Create an environment conducive to nurturing Purple Calves.
  4. Rinse and repeat.

Advertising alone is not enough

  • Be innovative – Stop advertising and start innovating!
  • Appeal to early adopters – They’re the sneezers who’ll propel your idea or product among the slower adoption groups in Moore’s idea diffusion curve.
  • Invest in talent and put in the hardwork – The Purple Cow requires talent and a lot of hardwork. A Purple Cow isn’t a quickfix.
  • Differentiate your customers – Target and reward the sneezers. Focus on the sneezers.
  • Measure, measure, measure – from your products to interactions. Respond to the feedback by adapting and changing for the better.

How now Purple Cow?

Here’s Seth’s takeaway in a nutshell. It’s got Agility built-in.

  • Trust: Be authentic in what you say and do.
  • Iterate: Iterate over the things you do.
  • Incremental Change: Develop new ideas and implement them incrementally.
  • Courage: Encourage new ideas and embrace change. Instead of saying, ‘That sounds like a good idea, but…’, try ‘Why not?’

Things to remember during your stay on Animal Farm

  • Boring is risky and, according to Seth, always leads to failure.
  • ‘The Purple Cow is so rare because people are afraid.’ (Seth)
  • Wake up and smell the cheese! What would you do if you weren’t afraid?