Call for sessions XP Days Benelux 2015

xpdayslogo-webXP Days Benelux is an international conference where we learn to bring software to life and grow mature systems that support business needs.

It provides an excellent environment for exchanging ideas, hands-on exercises and extreme experiences.

What are we looking for?


What are you looking for? What would make it a WOW session for you and our participants?

We’re interested in:

  • Experiences with new and old techniques. What worked; what didn’t? Why? What have you learned?
  • Unexpected ideas from other disciplines and sciences. How can we cross borders? What lessons have we missed? How can we collaborate better with people from other disciplines and departments?
  • Ask for help from other participants. What scary problems confront you and your team?
  • People from outside IT with an interesting story. What can we learn from their experience?
  • Pushing the limits of techniques and organisations, doing the “impossible”. How far can you go if you challenge commonly accepted assumptions?
  • Back to basics. What happens if we really take the Extreme Programming values of Simplicity, Commmunication, Feedback, Courage and Respectseriously?
  • Taking back agile. What does “agile” really mean to you and why is it important?
  • Questioning agile. Where, when and why would you not use agile methods? Why? What can we learn about context and applicability?

The XP Days community loves highly interactive sessions where everyone participates and learns from each other.

During review and selection, your session will receive bonus points when…

  • … you have no slides. Think outside the box and sharpen your story telling skills.
  • … it appeals to both technical and functional people. Involve the geeks, challenge the managers.
  • … it has the “XP Factor”. Is it entertaining and crazy? Does it take people out of their comfort zone?
  • … you’ve had a dry run. Did you join one of our try-outs? Did you send a video introduction?
  • … your subject is fresh and original. Maybe something outside the domain of IT?
  • … it has an original format. Doing something with fruit? Are there any sports involved? Great!
  • … your session poses a question instead of giving an answer.
  • … if you’re new to presenting at XP Days. First timers receive a warm welcome…

How does it work?

You propose your idea for a session: a title and a short description.From then on, organizers and session proposers work together to refine and improve your proposal, adding more information and improving the description and session content. We’ll give feedback and provide opportunities for try-outs. In return, we expect from you that you help others to turn their idea into a WOW session.

Yes but, I haven’t presented at a conference before.

You don’t need to be an experienced presenter, you “just” need one good idea or question to start with. And then you iterate and improve your idea with the help of the other presenters and the organizers.

We offer coaching for first-time presenters. Contact sessions if you want help proposing and refining your session.

Submit your proposal now. You have until July 5th 2015 to propose your idea. The sooner you send in your idea, the more feedback you will receive.


Call for sessions Agile Tour Brussels 2015


Agile Tour Brussels is calling for speakers!

Agile Tour Brussels is one of the biggest agile conferences in Belgium. Last year we gathered 250 attendees and speakers from Belgium, France, U.S, U.K, Luxemburg, Netherlands and Sweden to share our passion for Agile. The purpose of this conference is to gather in one place Agile practitioners and people wanting to know more about Agile.

At Agile Tour Brussels you will meet a mix of attendees who are either completely new to Agile, experienced or experts.

This year we’re going to have different tracks, and for each of these we’re looking for two kind of sessions: Interactive Talk (Presenter is speaking for most of the time with audience interaction) or Workshop (Primarily focused on hands-on participation with the audience).

Track 1: Experience reports.

Tell us your success or failure stories about Implementing Agile in Belgium (or in Europe), What is (not) working for you? If you’re an agile coach or facilitator, bring your client with you!

Track 2: Pragmatic Track

We’re looking for small changes or fundamentals, pragmatic things that work. How do you gather requirements? How do you run an outstanding retrospective? In this track your participants will learn something they can apply the day after. It can be technical, soft-skills or a process you use.

Track 3: Let’s Play together

This Track is for Agile Games and Serious Games. It’s also the opportunity to suggest “BootCamp” sessions like Introduction to [put Agile method here] or how to estimate with Agile,…

Track 4: Agile Management

What’s the role of Managers in Agile? What’s an Agile Manager? What’s an Agile organization? This track will cover subjects such as Management 3.0, Flat organizations, Evidence Based Management,…

Track 5: Various

Do you have a favourite subject you’d like to talk about, a kick-ass workshop you’d like to run, a theme you’d like to share? This track is for you!

All Agile methods are welcome: Scrum, XP, KanBan, Lean, Devops, Leadership, Lean Startup, Coaching, System thinking, Product Aspect, Agile outside IT.

We are looking for different levels of sessions: for beginners, practitioners and experts. We welcome experienced as well as new speakers.

How to submit a session?

To submit a session, fill in the form located here:

(you can log into the website with your existing account or create a new one).

Tips for a successful submission:

  • Don’t forget to specify that you’re applying for Agile Tour Belgium – Brussels
  • Make sure you’re in the call for speaker of Agile Tour 2015 (links to the previous editions could still be active in the platform)
  • Specify the size of the audience you’d like to have for your session
  • Sessions must be in English
  • We would prefer to have session of 1 hour maximum
  • Deadline for submission: 10th of July 2014

All information about the event will be published on

If you cannot make it, you can still support us by tweeting about #atbru, blogging, speaking about our event.


Mini XP Day Benelux 2015

April 3, 2015 in Mechelen, Belgium

Each spring we rerun the best sessions of the previous XP Days Benelux at the “Mini XP Day“.

This year we have 11 sessions that cover:

  • Improving testing, design and coding skills by “programming people”
  • Honing your Test Driven Development skills
  • Recruitment techniques
  • Going from idea to business value
  • Using feedback loops in Scrum
  • Improving the way you work and the way you work with others
  • Managing agile transitions
  • How students and teachers apply “EDUScrum” in school
  • Defeating the dark forces that hold you and your team back from taking action

There’s something for everybody who’s interested in agile, development and systems thinking.

Don’t take our word for it

Have a look at the  feedback from participantsphotos and articles about the conference.

Don’t wait too long to register for the conference, as it usually sells out.

See you there!

XP Days sketchnote


We’re off on an adventure!

The Dream Team Nightmare

The Dream Team Nightmare

It took a while to arrive because the book was out of stock at Amazon, but it’s finally here, just in time for the holiday break: Portia Tung‘s “Dream Team Nightmare“!

I sat down with a cup of coffee and started to read the book. Portia’s writing style is engaging and lively with lots of dialogue and very short chapters. At the bottom of the chapters you have to make a choice and then go to a designated page.

I’ve been on agile projects for years, so I expected to breeze through the book. After all, most teams face the same problems. I’ve solved them many times. Why should this “Dream Team” be any different?

After only a few pages I read

Patrick [who hired you as an agile coach] asks his secretary to escort you out of the office. Before you know it, you’re back on the street.

It feels like you’ve been punched in the gut. Thoughts swirl in your head. Should have. Would have. Could have. You decide to take time out to reflect on what happened. You’re not quite ready to give up doing a job you love. not yet.


Fired! On my first day. Game over. Do you want to play again? Of course, but now I’ll make smarter choices.

And… I was asked to leave the Dream Team and see if things would go better with another team. THE END.

“If at first you don’t succeed, stubbornly try again and again”, that’s my motto. So, one more try.

Aha! We come to a part where my mission is described as a user story with acceptance tests. That will help me to understand better what’s expected. I restart the book and start working with the team. I flip backwards and forwards as the book directs me to see the consequences of my choices. It’s getting smoother. And then there’s a conflict with one of the team members. At the end of the 5 days I present my recommendations. And then… nothing happens. THE END.

This agile coaching lark is harder than it looks.

This is frustrating. I’ve only scratched the surface of the book, read a few chapters and each time I reach a dead end. Reminds me of some projects I’ve been on.

And then I have a brilliant idea.

What would Portia do?

I’ve been lucky to work with Portia and see her at work. I will restart the last time and at each choice ask myself “What would Portia have done in this situation?” Portia would

  • talk to everybody to understand what motivates them
  • help the team to make their own decisions
  • reach agreement on the value we’re creating
  • get a good understanding of where we are
  • define goals together and clarify them with testable acceptance criteria
  • take some time to reflect regularly
  • help the team to create and explore options
  • lighten up the mood with silly exercises like “profile cards“, cookies and team lunches

I can do that. It’s just a matter of taking a bit more time before making a decision. Let’s start again, from the top.

Pinocchio-Blue-FairyThis time, with the help of Portia (sometimes in the role of Jiminy Cricket to keep me on the straight and narrow, sometimes as the Blue Fairy who grants wishes and saves the day) I progress through the book. There are still a few choices, but fewer and fewer.

The team starts working together to visualize their situation. Faced with the enormity of their task, they feel demoralized. We come up with three options to deliver value and involve the Product Owner.

And there it gets tricky. If I’m not careful, the unspoken simmering conflict between team and product owner/management erupts again: the company needs more than the team can deliver; the team blames the product owner for imposing unrealistic scope and deadline. THE END.

And that’s where it usually ends, but there’s another option. There’s always another option.

Instead of saying “It’s impossible to deliver this scope by this deadline!” you can ask “What do we need to achieve the goal before the deadline?” Two other agile teams “Predator” and “Green” can help the Dream Team. The teams apply Real Options to decide on the day when they have to decide. Meanwhile they create and explore more options to achieve the company’s goal: different ways to select scope and divide the work between the teams.

Finally, a happy end

From there it’s relatively smooth sailing. By now I see the trap on page 216, where I fail to ask the team to review and improve my recommendations because I’m rushed, coming by a mile. If only it were this easy in real life to take a step back for a moment and take the time to think…

And then we arrive at the final chapters: the team present their delivery options and their improvement actions. Everybody’s energized to work on those actions. I don’t know if they’ll live happily ever after, but the adventure continues.


Observations and recommendations

  • There’s a list of recommended tools on page 203. Appendix 5 contains the coaching tools used in the book. It would be useful to have some links where I can find out more about each of the tools. Maybe something for the Agile Adventure site?
  • I loved seeing the Current and Future Reality Trees in use. It would have been great to see a “Conflict Resolution Diagram” be used to bridge the gap between root causes and improvement actions. What are the underlying conflicts that have led and kept the team in its unhappy situation? Maybe something for the next agile adventure?
  • Flipping back and forth between chapters isn’t always practical in a paper book. But you can have your cake and eat it too. I bought both the paper and e-book version: the e-book to play, the paper book to loan
  • There are a few illustrations in the book: current/future reality trees, profile cards. A few more illustrations would have made the story a bit more vivid: what does the kanban board look like? What does the team area look like? No need to make it into a graphic novel. Henrik Kniberg‘s “… from the trenches” books are a good example of how illustrations can make the story more vivid.

Done. What’s left on the holiday reading backlog?

Some more light reading, because I don’t want to be that agile coach who hasn’t written production code for a decade.

ebdojo_xlargecover elixir_xlargebetajaerlang2_xlargecover lotdd_xlargecoverellnestam_cover150

Can anyone recommend a good e-book about Clojure that covers core.async?


Agile Tour Brussels 2013

What is Agile Tour Brussels?

Agile Tour Brussels 2013 logoThe purpose of Agile Tour Brussels is to gather in one place Agile practitioners and people wanting to know more about Agile. At Agile Tour Brussels you will meet a mix of attendees who are completely new to Agile, experienced or experts.

See you in Brussels on Sept 27, 2013

The program has been published and registration is now open.

The program features 5 parallel tracks with 30 sessions by speakers from Belgium and abroad. The conference is held at the EPHEC school in Brussels.

See you there

I’m helping out with the organisation, mainly doing the administration and registration. You’ll find me at the registration desk. In the afternoon I’ll present a session about how to use Real Options to make architectural decisions. This will be the first time I present this session in English, after presenting it in french and dutch.