Usergroup meeting 26/10/2010

XP Day session tryout: Agreeing on Business Value with Systems Thinking

Cap Gemini will host the next Agile/XP Belgium usergroup meeting. This session is a tryout for XP Days Benelux.

We talk a lot about “maximizing business value”. We ask business people and product managers to prioritise by estimating the business value of user stories. But what exactly do we mean by business value?

Over the past few years we’ve worked with many teams to define their “Business Value Model”, a clear definition of the value a project will bring to the organisation. The exercise hasn’t always been easy but it has always brought significant benefits:

  • Measurable business value in units that impact the organization (such as revenue €€€, customer satisfaction, staff retention)
  • Everybody involved was more motivated because there was a clear reason for the project and they finally understood what it was
  • The whole team was aligned around one vision because we had clear criteria to define success
  • We came up with more innovative solutions because everybody on the team, not only “the business” or “product managers/owners” could take product-related decisions based on the model
  • We could deliver a lot faster than anybody expected because the Business Value Model allowed us to easily distinguish between value-adding and non-value-adding features
  • We spent a lot less time writing and prioritising user stories because we were able to derive the user stories from the value definitions
  • The Business Value Model guided us to explore new product ideas: the business value model was a hypothesis that we could test and refine each time we released or performed user testing.

In this interactive tutorial you’ll apply some Systems Thinking techniques, such as the Diagram of Effects and Intermediate Objectives Map) to define the business value model of an example project. We’ll show you the techniques we used and discuss how you can apply those techniques in you context so that you’ll be ready to start building a business value model with your team.


  • 18:00 – 19:00 – Welcome with snacks and drinks
  • 19:00 – 21:00 – Session

Address: Bessenveldstraat 19, B-1831 Diegem, Belgium

Register here for this free event


XP Days Benelux 2010

XP Days Benelux 2010 will be held in Kapellerput, Heeze (near Eindhoven), The Netherlands on 25-26 November

The program for XP Days Benelux has been published. This year we have more sessions than ever before: 41 sessions over 2 days. As always, it’s going to be hard to select only one session from the five parallel tracks.

I’ll be presenting “Agreeing on Business Value with Systems Thinking” with Portia Tung. I’ll be doing a tryout of this presentation, which has been updated after presenting it at Agile 2010. Come to the Agile/XP Belgium user group meeting on Tuesday 26th of October.

If you want to see a tryout of the “Database Change Management” session, join us in the Agile/XP Belgium user group meeting on Tuesday 5th of October.


Usergroup meeting 05/10/2010

XP Days session tryout

IHC hosts the next Agile/XP Belgium usergroup meeting. There will be two sessions in parallel

Session 1: “A journey into Database Change Management” by Jochen Jonckheere and Pascal Mestdach. This is a tryout for XP Days Benelux.


We will bring you the story of our journey into database change management. We share our experiences with concrete examples/common situations and explain the different parts of Database Change Management along the way. During our journey we encountered several problems. We let participants reflect on how they would solve these problems, before we show the solution we picked. This is an interactive technical session where you will see 2 developers working together, writing some small sql scripts, breaking and fixing automated builds and even in the end a tool for handling Database Change Management in an automated way in the .NET environment.

Session 2: To be decided


  • 18:00 – 19:00 – Welcome with snacks and drinks
  • 19:00 – 21:00 – Parallel Sessions

Register here for this free meeting.

Address: Legeweg 157 E/02, 8020 Oostkamp, Belgium


Lean Product Development at Lean & Kanban Belgium 2010

Parallel evolution

Last Thursday and Friday I participated in the Lean and Kanban Belgium 2010 conference. I was scheduled to present a session on Friday morning, so I could go to many sessions on Thursday.

Every session that I attended on Thursday said many things I wanted to say:

  • Sandrine Olivencia talked about challenging the team for continuous improvement
  • Dave Nicolette talked about the dysfunctions around budgeting and the need for IT to integrate, not align, with the value stream
  • Anthony Marcano and Andy Palmer explained how analysis can be implemented as a pull system
  • Ryan Shriver essentially said all I wanted to say about finding the real goals of our users and quantifying their needs
  • John Seddon told tales about really understanding value demand and taking a systems thinking approach to the design of work in his usual, inimitable style

What was left to say? At the end of the day I could scrap about 3/4 of my talk. The good news is that many people are independently reporting that these techniques and approaches work. And they can show results.

In the end, there was more than enough to fill an hour. After the presentation several people asked questions and discussed what I presented.

p.s. I followed Dave Nicolette‘s advice to grow a profitable consultancy: coin a new acronym. I give you “IDD”. You’ll have to watch the presentation to know what it means. And you’ll have to pay me big bucks to come implement it in your organisation 🙂


I often wonder why…

So many companies I’ve worked with succeed in delivering products or services every day, even though it requires the coordination of thousands or even tens of thousands of people. They do it well enough that I’m suprised, annoyed and angry when they don’t deliver.

And yet they can’t manage to deliver simple IT projects taking a few months and requiring the coordination of only a few tens of people.

What am I missing?