Archives for the Month of November, 2009

XP Days Benelux 2009: The Toyota Way Management Principles

How have you improved lately?

Pascal and I will be presenting The Toyota Way Management Principles for Sustained Lean and Agile at XP Days Benelux this Monday. We’ve presented this session twice this year, once at Integrating Agile and once at Scan Agile. The presentation has received great feedback – including feedback from Tom Poppendieck at Scan Agile.

We’ll be sharing insights and lots of stories based on our experiences with real teams. We’ll show you how we apply our interpretation of the Toyota Way to achieve Respect for People and Continuous Improvement. Come to this session if you’re interested in learning how to create happy teams who do inspired work!

XP Days Benelux 2009: The Start of a Great Adventure

Don't you just love those red slippers?

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

We’re off to see the Wizard

A bunch of us are off to Brussels next Sunday for XP Days Benelux 2009 (23 – 24 November). The program is jampacked with even greater sessions than last year. Now that’s what I call Continuous Improvement in action.

Somewhere over the RainbowCaring Tinman

I’ll be presenting another game from the Agile Fairytales series: The Yellow Brick Road – Agile Adoption through Peer Coaching. 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.

Inspired by the enthusiasm of many Agilists for games, learning and fairytales, there’s now an almost-new and much-improved version of The Yellow Brick Road!

The Name of the Game

Brainy ScarecrowThe 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.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Courage LionThe goal of the Yellow Brick Road Game is to gain fresh insights on a problem you face by looking at it from different perspectives. The overall goal of the session is give you the opportunity to put peer coaching into practice.

By alternating between the roles of Dorothy (the person being coached), the Coach and the Observer, you will practice 4 key coaching skills: Questioning, Observing, Listening and Feedback.

Read more about the session here. Find your Somewhere-over-the-Rainbow at next week’s XP Days Benelux. Hope to see you there!


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

The Yellow Brick Road BrainTrain session

The Adventure of Work

Greetings from Norwegian Trolls!

I like to think of work as an adventure. This makes me an intrepid adventurer who:

  • Goes about with an open mind – always striving to listen without judgment to discover the facts
  • Seeks to deeply understand – always listening first and asking questions
  • Is ready for anything – constantly refinining my existing skills and acquiring new ones
  • Strives to create a happy ending for everyone involved – helping to make WIN-WIN situations possible for everyone.

Postcard from Norway

I was invited to Haugesund in Norway last week to meet an Agile team keen to do what they do even better.

It was my first visit to Norway and, as usual, I ask many questions and get many answers. For me, this is the best way to learn about a new culture and help me develop a better understanding of those with whom I work.

For instance, on arrival, I ask my taxi driver to describe the Haugesundians in 3 words. After a brief moment of consideration, he replies, ‘Happy. Friendly.’ And last but not least, ‘We’re full of guts!’ he says as he strikes his chest with a closed fist and beams a smile. We both laugh out loud in appreciation of his answer.

I learn that the Norwegian working day is from 8 am – 4 pm with lunch at 11 am and dinner from as early at 5 pm. An earlier lunchtime demands a slight physical adjustment for me since I’m a Brit used to having lunch at midday. It leads me to wonder if the concept of ‘brunch’ exists and, if so, what its definition would be and when it would be scheduled.

While we’re on the subject of food, I experience firsthand that fish features a great deal in the Norwegian diet, including what’s best described as edible white discs made of fish. It’s known as fishcake which can be served cold or hot (lightly fried until it’s brown on both sides). They taste fairly bland, but since it’s fish, I figure out they’re probably an important part of a healthy diet.

I notice that monkfish is a popular fish and discover a curious story about how the monkfish reached the dining table of the Norwegians. The monkfish is considered to be an ugly fish by many. And so, for a long time, the fishermen would discard the monkfish from their catch because it was too ugly to eat. Then one day,  a fisherman set aside this deep-rooted prejudice and served monkfish to his family for dinner. Lo and behold – he discovered what a tasty fillet the monkfish made! Ever since then, monkfish has become a special dish featured on many restaurant menus. Now’s that food for thought.

Since I remain intrigued by the Finnish fascination with saunas, I share my encounter with the concept of the Finnish sauna with some of the team. The result? 4 out of Scandinavians polled (3 Norwegians and 1 Dane) clearly identified the passion for sauna as predominantly a Finnish pastime.

Last but not least, I come across a troll with three heads at the airport. I wish I knew why the troll had three heads and why he needed so many. I wonder if having three gives him a real headache. I look forward to asking the questions the next time I meet up with the team!