Archive for November, 2005

Why Can’t Real Organizations Be As Collaborative As Virtual Games?

Friday, November 25th, 2005

As Dave Pollard wrote last week

Some audience members volunteered these reasons why people love playing

these games: (a) to become a member of an interesting group, (b) to meet

new like-minded people, (c) to find an outlet for stifled creativity,

(d) to step outside one’s normal personal identity and ‘try on’ a new

one, (e) to master a challenge, (f) to do things anonymously they

wouldn’t dare do in real life, (g) to establish a personal reputation

and hence increase self-esteem. How many of these things do business

collaborations allow employees to do, and how could collaborations start

offering more of these attractors?”

Traveling the XP Days, I find many of these qualities in the community, except for being anonymous. XP Days Benelux saw many new session presenters this year, people roleplaying (things they normally don’t do) during the balancing act, people writing during the freewriting workshop (even those who normally don’t get around to writing) and at the end of the conference participants were happy and hopefully more confident.

So I’ve experienced real organisations, like the xp days, can be as collaborative as virtual games. I’m looking forward to visiting xp days london next Monday and Tuesday :-) .

Again fun learning experiences at XP Day Germany 2005

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

On monday, I visited Karslruhe to attend XP day Germany . I made some pictures of balancing act, making sense of agile, and the scrum 59 minute game.

Balancing Act:

two pairs of developers, and a manager

‘I don’t want to hear about it.’

Emmanuel Gaillot blaming Ilja Preuss

‘It’s all your fault.’

Making sense of agile:

participants placing events on locations in the cynefin model

‘Where does this event fit in the Cynefin model?’

Scrum 59 minutes game:

my team busy integrating in the second iteration

‘integrating is hard work…’

final presentation

’…and this a happy customer’s testimonial of Dans’ Doggy Daycare.’

All pictures

Fun learning at XP Days Benelux 2005

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005

(updated, as I posted some broken links)

I’m in Karlsruhe, Germany right now, on the eve of XP Day Germany. Looking forward to another fun installment of Balancing Act – Simple Tools for Feedback, Communication and Courage together with Marc Evers (Nynke Fokma has called in sick, unfortunately).

I’ve just uploaded some XP Days benelux photo’s separated in Thursday and Friday . Enjoy!

Here are some samples, to liven up the blog visually:

the reception booth

Kevin Rutherford gets the crowd to stand on one leg

gummibears and index cards


practicing stances during balancing act

passing the ball faster and faster

thursday dinner

drawing carousel participants selecting their tools and discussing their strategy

pair drawing - navigator and driver are both involved

another pair drawing

standup meeting

one team proudly showing a drawing of Jack snatches Hen

the other team showing jack snatches hen, Rob Westgeest is also in this picture - he switched teams halfway

Rachel Davies and Rob Westgeest explain a mindmap to other participants during the tool words, weapon words session.

Playing with Leadership

Friday, November 4th, 2005

two lego / duplo structures, one representing a triumph arch, the other a very abstract house (just three duplo blocks)Last tuesday at xpnl hosted by Philips Research here in Eindhoven, Yves and Ignace Hanoulle did a trial run of their Leadership Game in preparation for xp days benelux 2005 . ( this entry contains a number of photos – not all aggregators show these ).

The game consisted of three rounds, each with a different leadership style. In each round, the participants had to build lego structures. Also, in each round some of the participants were just observing. I did that in the first round, which gave me a good opportunity to make some photographs and have a look at the stances people take.

directive leader inspecting the work of Jan Bakker, Marko van der Puil and Pascal van Cauwenberghe

Here we have a directive leader (Marthijn Thijssen, in the blue shirt) closely inspecting the work of the team building the cafe. In the first round, the teams built a typical brabant village – a cafe, a church, a farm and a couple of houses (you know what that looks like if you have seen some of Vincent Van Goghs early work, he was from around here).

Something I learnt from this round: if you choose (or have) a directive leadership style, you have to be well aware of what your people are doing. This conversation I overheard will make you look sheepish:

So, how’s the cafe coming along?

Eh, well, we’re building a farm actually.

Three of the four teams in this round finished early, except for the cafe team. That drew the leaders’ attention. In retrospect the cafe team felt the leader broke their flow. On the other hand, they didn’t show much progress and were working very quietly – the other teams were very noisy which gave at least the impression of progress.

The second round was leaderless. Here you can see Rob Westgeest, Marko van der Puil and Bas van Tiel observing the ‘chaos’ that ensued:

Rob Westgeest, Marko van der Puil and Bas van Tiel observing

The facilitators suggested we have a meeting to start with to determine how to build a church and a couple of houses, but I didn’t feel much like it, so I started building right away with my neighbour. “The other ones can have a meeting if they want to” – I already saw eigtheen people staring at each other about who’s going to start. Teams started to self-organise and things went smoothly and quickly. Exactly one church was being built so that went well.

Jan Bakker, Martijn Thijssen and Christ Vriens building a church from duplo

Except for termination. It seemed people continued building as long as there was material available, and noone (including me, by choice) bothered to ask the customer how they liked the buildings.

Pascal van Cauwenberghe and a couple of lego structures he helped building

Around me, the blocks soon ran out, unlike in the corner, where they had small blocks. There they decided to build a minaret, to make the village a bit more multi-culti.

lego minaret being built by Nanne Osinga, Ingmar van Dijk, Theo Theunissen and Christina Westgeest

They continued building until time ran out. Surprising how high a tower of lego blocks one can build.

Overall, this leaderless round delivered, to my mind, the prettiest buildings. Very well suited for creative teams that have to deliver something without a pre-determined outcome. (In fact, most work I do with other independents is leaderless).

The final round saw Nico Mommaerts as a facilitating leader:

Nico Mommaerts with his arms crossed

This round went fairly well, although the leader lost momentum by being a bit too hands-off – he tasked someone else with leading the initiali meeting, instead of asking for just a scribe. Another thing that seems crucial in this style, is catching the momentum of the group. At one point, teams already had self-selected around a couple of buildings – pyramid, chinese wall, stonehenge and the highly ambitious atomium – and the leader went to all the trouble to write the team members’ names on the whiteboard while everyone was anxious to get started.

lego pyramid, chinese wall, stonehenge and atomium on the far left

Communication with the customer through the facilitator was difficult – as the customers refused to speak directly with the teams, it was unclear what we had to build. Therefore the stonehenge team and the chinese wall team built three different versions, each on a different scale.

In all, we had a lot of fun. I recommend you check this session out if you have the chance (e.g at xp days ). I find Simulations like this are usually fun, and I always learn something from it (although I usually don’t know exactly what that is in advance).

There are some more photos of the leadership game for your viewing pleasure. I hope to see you at xp day benelux 2005 logo