16 Tips to Keep you focused on your Agile Journey

In december I shared a lot of tips with you. For my latest publication on the Agile Alliance blog I made a subset of these tips. E.g. to let the team decide what and how they want to improve, to focus on the customer journey or balance your distributed teams. You can take each of these tips as individual tips, but you can also look at them holistically.

As a whole they serve as a checklist that can be used to keep your agile journey on course. When I reviewed them myself, it triggered some critical thoughts. I had to conclude that, although I wrote the tips myself, I did not give some of them that much attention lately. I probably got distracted, while trying to make an impact. I will use these tips to stay on course and hope they will benefit you in the same way.

You can read the article on the Agile Alliance website.

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Agile Advent Calendar 2020

An Advent Calendar is a special calendar that counts the days until a special event. At the end of the 19th century, the mother of Gerhard Lang made her son an Advent Calendar by sticking 24 tiny sweets stuck onto a cardboard. Gerhard never forgot the excitement he felt when he was given his Advent calendar at the beginning of each December, and how it reminded him every day that the greatest celebration of the whole year was approaching ever nearer. When he was grown up, he started a printing office and made advents calendars with little shuttered windows. Each day, starting on the first of December, children can open one of the 24 shutters. To heighten their sense of expectation, they find a sweet, little piece of chocolate or another treat.

With the end of the year approaching fast, I would like to countdown the days until Christmas with you together. I assembled 24 Practices that might benefit you as Agile coach, Scrum master or Agile practitioner. Join me in this online countdown. To heighten your sense of expectation we share one tip every day.

You can find the tips from today onwards on the squerist website.

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Agile Testing Days starts this week

Tomorrow the Agile Testing days will start. The crew will take office in Potsdam from where they will provide the online content to participants all over the world. I am proud to be part of the program again and this year I will be talking about the three waves of Agile:

Agile has been around for many years and some organizations are pretty far in adopting agile practices and mindset. Still there are many organizations that are just starting, and a majority of organizations do agile for some time now. They are struggling to make it work. Due to this wide variation in agile adoption, the discussions on agile variate immensely making them diffuse. Analysing the various organizations that I worked with; I distinguish three separate waves. I love to share the model with you and explain four ways of how you can apply it in your organisation.

Below a preview of the presentation, that I made during a rehearsal session

See more information on the conference website: The 3rd Wave of Agile. I hope to meet you in ‘Potsdam’.

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Dear Younger Me- A letter to my 28 year old self

2020 is the 28th year of the EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference and an incredible milestone for everyone involved. In those 28 years we have all experienced so many incredible moments in 28 years.  EuroSTAR initiated a series of open letters from community leaders looking back at their younger self. The letters acknowledge all that has come before and shows how each personal journey is important and adds to the community as a whole.

I was asked to provide the seventh letter in the serie and luckily I was 28 in the year 1999. This was an interesting year in IT.

You can read my letter on the EuroSTAR website.

Here you also find the other letters in the series by e.g. Shmuel Gershon, Rik Marselis, Dorothy Graham, Anne Mette Hass, Michael Bolton, Iris Pinkster O’Riordain, Isabel Evans

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The Agile coach as a counselor – What we can learn from Star Trek

The Agile coach as a counselor
What we can learn from Star Trek

In the March issue of Bits & Chips I described the phases that organisations go through when adopting agile. In the three waves of agile I describe challenges that the organisation encounter and how the role of the Agile Coach evolves during the transition. In adopting Agile, organizations ride three waves.

Organizations that start with agile often have a strong focus on the teams. When the individual teams hit their stride, the focus shifts to the way the teams collaborate. Organizations increasingly start to understand that business agility and responsiveness are key to survive and stay ahead of the competition. In order to yield value, the work of single Agile teams should, therefore, be integrated and embedded in larger business processes. In the second wave, the adoption of Agile is shifting from a single-team focus to a wider organisational approach. The role of the agile coach shifts from learning the team how to do their team events to initialising cross team collaboration and creating a focus on a continues delivery.

Once teams have learned to plan and launch collectively built releases the focus shifts from realising technical products to business delivery. This is the third wave. In the third wave, the Agile coach will evolve into a delivery coach or a counselor. The delivery coach is best compared with a business consultant. To get a better understanding of what the counselor role could look like, it seems we need to warp into the future. Let us have a look at the Start Trek Ships counselor to shape the role of tomorrow’s Agile Coach.

Read all about it in my latest Bits &Chips article: The Agile coach as a counselor, what we can learn from Star Trek

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XP2020 – Role Agreement in Scaled Agile Organisations – Full presentation recording

For the Agile Alliance I wrote an experience report about how to overcome the struggling many organisation have in getting the various roles in place. In this experience report I share my approach with striving for role agreements. The report is the fundament under my talk on the XP2020 conference that I gave earlier this year.

In order to have effective teams it is crucial that everyone understands their role. In small organisations I had success with mission statements for e.g. the Scrum Master and Product Owner. But what approach do you choose in a large department where opinions varies from team to team and exceptions rule? Where management is in a transition from traditional management toward agile leadership? I learned that in a multiple team session the search for a single truth is futile and it is better to stimulate communication and alignment. The result of this approach was that a dialogue was started, and PO, SM and managers aligned rather than getting stuck in a discussion on the formal role description.

In the video below you’ll find the registration of this talk.

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Speaking on Agile at the corporation expo (CorporatiePlein 2020)

On 24 september the CorporatiePlein was held. With more than 500 registrations from employees of housing corporations, its the largest and most visited online event for housing corporations in the Netherlands.

I gave a presentation about agile. In my talk I explain why agile is beneficial for housing corporations and give an introduction on what to consider with an Agile/Scrum transformation. The event and my talk is in Dutch (sorry, for the non-dutch followers) and can be viewed below.

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Speaking on Agile at the housing corporation expo (CorporatiePlein 2020)

Today the CorporatiePlein will be held. It’s the trade fair for professionals in the housing corporation business. With more than 500 registrations from employees of housing corporations, the tenth edition of CorporatiePlein will immediately become the largest and most visited online event for housing corporations in the Netherlands.

The event offers an online exhibition floor with dozens of suppliers and advisors with a focus on the housing association sector. Additionally the CorporatiePlein Online offers knowledge and content in the form of interesting presentations in the fields of Finance, Real Estate, Maintenance, Housing, Communication and Operations, Innovation & ICT.

I am proud to share Squerist will be present with 4 presentations on Robotica, Agile Testing, Agile transformation and the TROMP maturity scan.

My talk, about what Agile can bring for housing corporations will be presented at 11:30.

More info at the conference website

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Agile Business Day Venice – Presentation and discussions afterwards

Friday 11 and Saturday 12 September the Agile Business Day was held in a virtual Venice. I guess we all missed strolling through the streets at night or taking a gondola on the grand canal. The Organization succeeded to create a local feel and made great effort to spark interaction to make up for the lack of physical presence.


During the Agile Business Day I gave a presentation on refinement. Over the years I have guided many teams during their transition toward Agile. Initially most attention went to the ceremonies and understanding the agile values. Experience taught me that when the team gets up to speed refinement becomes a bottleneck. Unfortunately, I see many teams that do not unlock the full potential of refinement. Not only is the time spent on refinement often limited, many of the refinement meetings I join are inefficient. I meet teams that spent half the meeting watching the Product Owner entering the new backlog items in the workflow system. Although they poker the user stories afterwards, little time is left to discussions the best solution and risks that need to be avoided.

In my talk I explained:Advantages of good refinement and what I see in daily practise

  1. How we can boost the potential of Refinement by organising it as a process rather than a meeting
  2. Introduced a set of challenging questions that can be used to prepare your refinement, And last but not least,
  3. Explained how they can be used to involve the off-site team members of distributed teams

You can find the slides of my presentation, below:

Also check out the article I wrote on this topic for the Agile Connection, it lists all the questions I discussed in my talk.

The need for experimenting and learning new techniques.

Afterwards I had a nice conversation with some of the participant about improvements within agile teams. How do you deal with team members that distrust each other, company cultures that are challenging and we discussed the time needed for experimenting and learning new techniques.

The agile principles state that as a team we should embrace technical excellence and focus on timely and continues delivery of quality solutions. This implies that we reserve time for hygienic actions, like cleaning up or code and reducing our technical dept. The ambition to deliver value solutions in the both the short term as well as the long term, implies that we invest in our knowledge and skills. During our conversation on the conference we discussed how hard it can be to convince the Product Owner and Stakeholder that time is needed for these things. But they are important.

I have been in an organization where we used the analogy of a bulldozer that pushed forward the sand it meets on its way.  As the bulldozer moves forward the heap of sand becomes bigger. This was the symbol for the backlog of items like maintenance, working on technical excel and innovation. I repeat, as the bulldozer moves forward the heap of sand becomes bigger. Until eventually the bulldozer gets stuck in the mounted sand. Lesson learned: you can delay and postpone these items some time, but if you wait too long, it becomes too big and your delivery will discontinue.

But, how can we trigger awareness for this and get time for experimenting and learning new techniques. We should of course discuss this with our stakeholders and state the need an urgency for embracing new techniques. But in addition we can also create a pull by having the right profiles in our team. In a previous keynote I discussed roles that are needed to stimulate innovation. I explained we need Visionaries, Explorers and Experts.

The illustration below indicates the mission these roles have:                     

Distinguish these roles and let team members think about their natural stance. It can be used a trigger to create awareness in the team about the need for innovations and the role each individual team member has in ensuring the continuity of the team’s output. I believe it will create ambassadors for continue improvements and a broader base for innovations.

You can see and hear the explanation about the roles in my TestingUy keynote. (see 32:19 min)

All and all, it was an interesting conference day.

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XP Days Benelux 2020 canceled due to COVID-19

I was really looking forward to visiting Luxembourg and contributing to the conference with my workshop. The XP days Benelux, is a two day conference made for, and by, the Agile Community. It focuses on practical knowledge, real-world experience, and active participation of everyone. But, not this year.

I received a sad message from the organisers in which they announce with deep regret in their heart, that the XP Days Benelux 2020 is cancelled due to the limitations and uncertainty related to the COVID-19 situation. Sad but wise I guess.

The good news is that the next XP Days Benelux conference is already planned: save the date 25-26th November 2021. More details to follow on the conference website.

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Great Tutorial at STARWest Conference

In October Jan Jaap Cannegieter and I will join forces again and host our successful Testmanagement in Agile Tutorial again. Although we have given this tutorial several times now, we always get positive feedback and feel that it is highly appreciated. On STAREast that was held last may, I gave the tutorial as a full day online experience, and we are going to repeat it. With some improvements made and with Jan Jaap as co-trainer. I hope you’ll dive in the world of Agile Testmanagement and Built-in Quality with us on the STARWest virtual conference.

More info can be found on the conference website: Test Management in Agile

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Cool presents from the ABD Venice

Today I received a nice surprise from the Agile Business Day Conference which will be held on the 11th of september. Even though this year the ABD is a virtual conference, we got goodies in the mail. Great!

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Selenium Day North America and Australia/New Zealand

16 October is a special day for me. I was asked to contribute to the Selenium Conference organised by 121gws in North America. On itself a nice thing to happen, but a fews days later I was invited to the Selenium Conference in Australia/New Zealand as well. The ANZ conference is organised on the same day; 16 October.

This makes it a special day since I will share my story from the Netherlands in both continents. It feels like getting close to a global coverage, and that is cool.

Refer to the website of the conferences for more details, how to join, local time schedules and other speakers.

Please Check Selenium Day ANZ or Selenium Day North America

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Agile Business Day Venice – A sneak preview

On 11 and 12 September the Agile Business Day is being held. Two days of conference with a great line-up of speakers. I am proud to be one of them.

This week I have been preparing my talk on refinement, which I will give on 11 September. In my talk I will share (anti) patterns that I see around me. I will also give tips to get more out of your refinement sessions and enjoy the benefits of good refinement.

Special attention will be given to distributed teams, where distance and culture make active involvement of all the team members more challenging. The details about my talk can be found on the conference website.

Below I share a sneak preview of some of the slides I will be using. I hope to ‘see’ you in the room. Like many conferences, the ABD2020 will be online this year. So no traveling required, only WIFI.

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Readers Request: Free Download Scrum Master, PO, Manager and Team Role sheet

A few months ago I wrote an experience report for the Agile Alliance in which I talked about how to get the various agile roles in place.  In the experience report I share my approach with striving for role agreements. The report is the fundament under my talk on the XP2020 conference.

As approach to get role agreement between PO and manager we held a series of talks in which we used a template with sliding-bars to indicate wether the responsibility was with the PO, the manager or shared. Readers approached me enthusiastically after reading the article and told me they want to try it in their own organisation. Great! They requested me to share the files so they can make a quick start with their initiative. In this blog I share the raw files for them and you to benefit.

The excel with the sliding bars that is used to start the delegation discusion between the PO and the manager can be found here:

Having a lot of conversation on the various roles yielded in insight on how we wanted to share responsibilities between the SM, PO, Manager and the Team. The article lists this in a big overview, that you can use to discuss and align the roles in your own organisation. If you want to edit it for your own purpose you can download the original file here.

Download is free for you benefit. It is highly appreciated if you refer to the author.You make me even more happy if you share your experiences with me, so we all can learn.

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