Inevitably Agile

somethings are just inevitable …

New year, new theme

What a year 2011 was for me … I accomplished so much more than I thought possible. I followed through on my theme #BeBrave and it literally changed everything!

So that I never forget the value these 2 little words brought to my life I tattoo’d them on my arm …

The last few days of 2011 were difficult for me. I wanted a new theme for 2012 – but honestly cant imagine having a better or even as good a year as 2011. The one tiny regret I have is that my exercise routine suffered, and so I know I need to focus a bit more on maintaining balance in 2012. After gardening all day yesterday I realized what I wanted to be my focus and keep me grounded for 2012 :

I want to appreciate more.

I think I – like most people – go through life with blinkers on. Every now and then we are appreciative and happy but for the most part we have something we can complain or moan about. I’m not going to promise to not moan or complain -hahaha. But I am going to make an effort to appreciate what is going on around me more. Notice when someone does something special, when the sun is out or a flower blossoms, or when my dog doesn’t poo on the deck!



I appreciate these websites for the images I used above:

Our first Coaching Dojo

About 2 weeks ago we had our first Coaching Dojo. I tried to post this the next day, and then forgot totally! Better later than never 🙂

There were 6 of us in total and it was awesome! Our group is made up of 3 scrum masters, one developer, one product owner and one Operations Manager.


We started off with a quick into exercise and made idea cards for each other with: Name, Day Job, Company, Super Hero Power and Other interests. As most of us knew each other from previous circles this went quickly but also got us all chatting quickly.

The wine and snacks was also already flowing at this point – also helps the atmosphere 🙂

The next part was “Challenge Generation”. We had 10 minutes of silence to write on Index cards as many challenges as we could think of. We each came up with between 3 and 7. By this stage the wine consumption was making silence tricky …. lol

example of a challenge (from

“CTO thinks agile teams are wasting the time of business stakeholders and wants to stop their involvement with agile teams.”


I explained the basics of the format we would use for the night (adapted from this post:

  •  Split into 2 groups of 3.
  • There are 3 roles: Seeker, Coach and Observer.
  • Take 10 minutes in your group to tell the others about your challenges (the ones on the index cards) and select one challenge as a group to work with.
  • The person whose challenge it is becomes the first Seeker. Decide who will be Observer (takes notes of what is being said, body language etc) and who will be the Coach (coaches the Seeker). Do this for 5 minutes…
  • Then swap roles (move to left makes it quick and easy): Repeat as above for 5 minutes, then switch roles and again repeat.


NOTE: If you are the seeker – try and own the problem especially if it isn’t yours to start with – try and apply it to your company and put in some personal things, helps create a slightly different situation and stimulate more creative thoughts.

Everyone in the group of 3 should have been through all the roles. Now take 10 minutes to read through the observations everyone made. This is the fun part … there were lots of giggles and “Wow – do I really do that??”.


We then switched up the groups and repeated the whole exercise above with the new group.


At the end we had a 10-20 minute retrospective and asked the following questions:

  • What was the experience in your group?
  • What did you learn as Agile Coaches?
  • What did you like about the Dojo format?
  • What are your ideas for improvement?

As a group we decided to try another format next time – more one-on-one role playing with an observer. And in the following session another format group role-playing. We think all the formats will have value and be interesting.


I had an amazing time. Our group members have all been to Coaching Circles before and so there was already a trusting bond between us. The challenges were personal but no-one took them personally or defended them. Everyone was open to learning, and trying new ideas. All of this was a testament to how mature we all are in our daily agile practices. I look forward to our next session 🙂

2 years later

Yesterday my blog turned 2 – and yes I forgot!

Last year I ran all sorts of analysis tools and blogged about the results – I think I’ll run them again and see if anythings changed 🙂
Not sure if the new (temporary) address will have an effect… guess we’ll see!

Type Analyzer: (click here)
2010: ISTJ – The Duty Fulfillers

change to

2011: ESTP – The Doers

The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.
The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.
This graph displays dominant parts during the writing

Wow – I didn’t expect this to change 🙂 Guess my posts have been more fun filled in the last year – must be the agile games!

Gender Analyzer: (click here)
2010: We guess is written by a man(57%), however it’s quite gender neutral.
change to
2011: We think is written by a man (61%).

Hahaha – apparently I think MORE like a man this year!

How much is your blog worth: (click here)

Sadly this link is no longer working 😦 But I would say my blog is worth more to me this year than last year.

And finally a big THANK YOU!

I love when I see people are reading my blog posts – it inspires me to do more and be more – so thank you to everyone who enriches my life in this way. I will continue writing about my antics in the agile and fitness worlds and I hope you will read and comment even more in the next year!

Agile Games – Scrum Gathering South Africa

Over the last 2 weeks I have been kept busy with the South African Scrum Gathering. I was co-presenting Agile Games (which is blogged about here) and a Product Owner team session, which I will write about shortly. There were 2 Agile Game sessions held – one in Johannesburg for 30 minute and one in Cape Town for 90 minutes. Due to the duration being so different Karen Greaves and I decided to do all different games at these sessions.


All the Jhb games were originally played with Alan Cyment.

  • Vampire
  • Singing, Numbers, Clapping
  • Columbian Hypnotist

Read more on how to play these games here:

This session was also video taped – – Enjoy!!

Cape Town

Singing, Numbers, Clapping

(originally played with Alan Cyment)

Read how to play this here:

Discussion points:

Non Musical Chairs


Form groups of 5 to 15, arrange chairs in circle facing outwards. Pick a “Chair Person”.


Goal is for the “Chair Person” to sit in the empty chair and for the rest to prevent this.

Rules: No touching the Chair Person. No moving the chairs. If you stand you must move chairs. Once Chair Person is sitting all raise hands and wait for other groups to finish.

Once all done, have a 1 minute retrospective (the Chair Persons must huddle in a corner and not watch). Repeat for 3 rounds.

Feedback: Everyone stands in a circle, shoulder to shoulder.

Discussion points:

Broken Skype
(Invented by Sam Laing and Karen Greaves – adapted from Broken Telephone)


Come up with 3 hand signs – 1 simple, 2 complex. Have people stand in rows all facing 1 direction, looking at each others backs – max 10 persons in a row.


There is no talking allowed. Facilitator taps on back persons back, they turn around. Show the sign ONCE. That person turns around and taps the person in front of hims back, repeat until you get to the front. Widen rows and have front people show the sign they got. Now show the actual sign.

Round 1 – use the simple sign (We used ASL for “technique”)

Round 2 – use the complex sign (We touched our ears, two fingers to nose, two fingers to palm)

Round 3 – have the rows form circles. Again you will show the person on your left the sign ONCE and so on. Everyone can see the sign but may not “act it” until it is their turn. They can correct at will based on what they have observed. At the end form a large circle and all do the sign together. (We used ASL for “copy cat” and then “empty glass”)

Feedback: Everyone stands in a circle, shoulder to shoulder.

Discussion points:

(originally played with Carlton Nettleton)


Find 2 origami things to make – keep them fairly simple. We used a frog and a box. Have loads of blank paper in correct starting shape, and print out enough instructions for half the audience.


Round 1: Get everyone to partner up and sit back to back. One person will fold, One will read instructions. The one building may not see the instructions, the one explaining may not see whats being built. Pick easier origami(frog) and hand out with paper to built it. 5 minutes, build as many as possible.

Round 2: Collect all papers. This time sit facing your partner. Now the one reading can see whats being folded.Hand out other origami and paper. 5 minutes, build as many as possible.

Round 3: Collect all papers. This time sit next to your partner. You can both see the instructions and the folded paper. Only one person may fold. Teams can pick which origami they want to build. 5 minutes, once the one is build – hand out the other one to build.

Feedback: Everyone stands in a circle, shoulder to shoulder.

Discussion points:

Water Game
(Invented by group of delegates and Sam Laing at Agile 2011)


A glass per person, a straw per person (bendy ones are great – but plain straight ones work as well), a jug of water per team of 5-7 people.


Form teams of 5 to 7. Aim is to fill as many glasses with water as possible in 2 minutes, using only the straws. You can suck water but not into your mouth – only to top of straw – don’t cheat!. Have all teams hold up glasses at end and pick winner. Pour water back into jug. 1 minute to inspect and adapt.

Repeat for 2 more rounds.

Variations – have glasses of various shapes available. Have various types of straws available. Hand out more straws or less. Hand out scissors.

Feedback: Everyone stands in a circle, shoulder to shoulder.

Discussion points:

Don’t Blow It


Many balloons, and blindfolds – we use kids party masks and blanked out the eyes. Split into groups of 3 to 5. Volunteer a person to fetch the blindfold and balloons.


Goal is to blow the biggest balloon (not the most!).

Rules: Only the blindfolded person can touch the balloon (and hence blow and tie it). Balloon must be tied to be considered “done”. Team says whether to blow or stop. Volunteer a blower for each round. Facilitators can randomly pop balloons to insert some fear and laughs and jumps! Each round is 1 minute.

Round 1: everyone stands close – shoulders touching.

Round 2: can stand anywhere.

Round 3: No talking, can only communicate with blower via touch.

Feedback: Everyone stands in a circle, shoulder to shoulder.

Discussion points:

Jumping Circle Close
(Invented by Sam Laing and Karen Greaves)

Read how to play this here

Feedback Door
(Idea from here, but adapted: )

As you can tell from the feedback – everyone seemed to have an AWESOME time – Karen and I included. Agile Games are not for everyone – some people prefer more serious discussions and formal learning sessions – but hopefully even those sceptics will see the value in these games oneday.

If you attended either session – please leave us feedback in a comment as we would love to improve – Thanks!

Coaching Dojo … in Cape Town :)

The Coaching Circles in Cape Town are immensely powerful. They have grown from strength to strength and have evolved to become much more than we originally thought possible 🙂 Many people from various roles and with varying ranges of experience are getting to learn new things, seeking advice from peers and bounce ideas around like minded individuals.

I am looking for something a little different though. I would like to practice my coaching skills with other coaches and learn from them, perhaps show them something new. Amongst these skills are: Listening, Observing, Questioning, Feedback and many more. I stumbled upon the idea of coaching dojo’s and would like to try it out. Essentially it is role playing with team members taking a turn to seek coaching, be the coach and observe the interaction.


“When Japanese martial artists want to deepen their knowledge, learn new techniques, and advance their skills, they gather in a training center, the dojo. “


The Learning Objectives:

  • Practice listening without judgement
  • Gather information more effectively
  • ask different kinds of questions to understand real problem
  • Become aware of how you coach
  • Observe other coaching techniques and styles
  • Gain fresh insight into a problem you may face at work


Basic Concept: 10 minutes per round (min 3 rounds, max 4)

Form groups of 3 (if uneven can have 1 or 2 groups of 4)

  • 1 “Seeker” of coaching
  • 1 “coach”
  • 1 (or 2) “observers”


Pick a card with a challenge or discuss a real challenge for you (Seeker). Then Coach and Observe. 5 minutes total

Each provide feedback (seeker 1 min, coach 1 min, observer 3 min) 5 minus total

Switch Roles – can change topic – seekers choice.


At end – group Retro: 10 minutes

(depending on size of group can use various facilitation techniques for this)

  • What was your experience with your group?
  • What did you learn?
  • What did you like?
  • What are your ideas for improvement?


 Who is this for?

This is not intended to replace the coaching circles. It is for those particularly wanting to improve coaching skills. With that in mind, you need to be actively practicing coaching for at least a year to join the dojo. This means you regularly coach/encourage/train others you work with. If you think this could be for you PLEASE let me know by leaving a comment – thanks!

When will these start happening?

From what I can see the current Coaching Circle session will be ending with a group retro on 26 September 2011.

I’d like to propose the first dojo happen in the second week of October (10th to 14th). I reckon it will take a minimum of 60min – but would like some chat time before/after – so 90minutes should be perfect.


I’m open for ideas – ideally a company with bigger open area, or house with large lounge? Very casual. Very social.

Ideas / Thoughts???

Please leave comments below with your thoughts or questions or suggestions … I would LOVE to hear from you 🙂



Inspiration and formats from here:






Powerful Questions

This post has been moved to my company blog – you can read it here:

Hooray, We’re Agile Testers! What’s Next?

So first off just a little note to explain that I left this session early to go and see a dentist – so my notes only cover the first part only. Oh and a little disclaimer – these are my notes and so they might not all make sense … 😉

Agile2011 session : Advanced Topics in Agile Testing by Lisa Crispin & Janet Gregory

… blurb off Agile2011 site
“Your team successfully adopted Agile, you have traction on practices such as CI, TDD, maybe ATDD. Still, you see lots of room for improvement in testing. Do you sometimes miss or misunderstand customer needs? Is it sometimes hard to complete all testing activities each iteration? In this interactive tutorial, you’ll practice ways to better understand and capture customer needs; collaborate more effectively and enjoyably with developers and other team members; improve continuous integration and delivery; manage technical debt; plan and estimate in ways that ensure testing “keeps up”.”

Test Manager – should be a people manager and not a micro manager. Needs to coach testers and not manage them.

Question: Do we need metrics?

Main aim is to stay potentially shippable.

Cultural influences

Key take away: You cant force but you can influence.

Culture Exercise: Transitioning from previous practices to agile practices.
Ask “what do you want to achieve”
Have pilot and involve Test Manager
Expose “improvement areas” in the “we have always done” conversations

QA label & responsibility
– team with no job titles
team to deliver and take responsibility
litmus test – agile or not – perhaps you just need to leave if its not your cup of tea?

transparency and visibility – show the value and ROI
explain the benefits and the costs → articulate, use the team to help with this.

“testing is not a phase” – shift your mindset
Develop a learning culture – no blame
Give time to learn and develop

Book Recommendation – Tribal Leadership

Customer Issues
requirements – story mapping, mind mapping a feature/theme from a testing perspective
features over quality

Aim: Find questions and then get them answered

Pics from session:

Specification by example
ask your customer for examples
– include undesirable behaviour
– shows intent
– turn them into tests
– automate them

Story done vs feature done – what is difference?

Its easier to sell documentation than automated tests. Automated tests are living documentation.

User persona’s for exploratory testing
Jonathon Kohl – man & machines
James Whitteker – whats the value of a tester
James Bach

What are the most important things in your product?
Make rough notes on exploratory testing to figure out how to learn when we missed things.

Quadrant for tests at feature level:
* idea – adjust the pyramid to your needs
Push the tests as low as you can to get the fastest feedback.

Making Testing keep up
– mini waterfall
– unmaintainable code and tests
– insufficient automated tests

Stumbling blocks (smells)
– refactoring requires updating all the automated tests

QA manager -> managers the test community of practise. Need to recognise the value testers in an agile team

Invest in quality – under commit
Plan less work than you think you can do
Reduce the temptation to cut corners
Create tasks for learning skills, refactoring automated tests

Book Recommendation – Clean Coder by Bob Martin (Say no!)
Review of book:

Using a specific tool will prevent devs from helping out testers because they dont want to learn the tool.

Test automation code is as critical as production code – the whole team needs to understand this.

If devs automate then testers are free to :
– help customers specify examples
– think of the right test cases
– do manual exploratory testing
– think of more good questions

Testers are sometimes taught things that dont work in agile like “ wait until its all done” – you need help unlearning this.

Non co-located teams are ‘dislocated’

Levels of testing – Product, Release, Sprint

What will I take away from this session?
That a manager should coach people rather than manage them, focus should be on a culture of learning.
To keep in mind that our main aim should be to stay potentially shippable.

Link to presentation:

A little bit more on the presentation here:

24 August Update: A post by Riaan Rottier on the session:—hooray-were-agile-testers-whats-next/

Agile 2011 – Session Feedback

A couple of weeks ago I attended Agile2011 in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was the first time I attended a conference outside of my country, South Africa. Wow. It was huge! And I was so happy to finally meet in person all the people I have twitter conversations with regularly.


The most amazing part of the conference – as usual – are the connections you make with people at breakfast or lunch or dinner. I met some amazing people with with great ideas and who have inspired me to try all sorts of things 🙂 More on that later…

I want to blog about the sessions I attended whilst I remember them – though admittedly they are already foggy in my mind. So instead I will type up the notes I took away from the sessions and give any lasting impressions I have . This will probably happen over the next few weeks, as I complete them I will update the points below to be hyperlinks. Whilst I attended the conference I came up with many ideas for blog posts that I wanted to write – so I’ll put these in there too 🙂

  • [session] Hooray, We’re Agile Testers! What’s Next? Advanced Topics in Agile Testing: Lisa Crispin, Janet Gregory
  • [blog idea] How we do sprint planning – stories, acceptance criteria
  • [blog idea] My agile 2011 journey – luggage,tooth,exercise,expense,talk,tattoo,things I’ve learned as a first time speaker & first time conference go’er
  • [blog idea] Cultural Wins – share with others, reminder of the good
  • [session] Coaching Success: Getting People to Take Responsibility & Demonstrate Ownership: Christopher Avery, Ashley Johnson
  • [blog idea] Story of me going through steps
  • [session] Why Care about Positive Emotions?: Barbara Fredrickson
  • [session] Powerful Questions: Carlton Nettleton
  • [session] Agile Coaching Self-Assessment — Where do you Stand on the Competencies?: Lyssa Adkins, Michael Spayd
  • [session] Agile Game Incubator: Michael McCullough, Don McGreal
  • [blog idea] My tasty cupcake game
  • [session] Kaizen Lego Game: Francisco Trindade, Patrick Kua
  • [session] The Culture of Agility: Pete Behrens
  • [blog idea] Amazing SA agile community – circles,SUGSA,SG10 + 11, great people
  • [blog idea] My dream – the learning place & why
  • [session] Slackers and Debtors: Meet Commitments, Reduce Debt, and Improve Performance: James Shore
  • [blog idea] A new understanding of slack and velocity
  • [session] Lean Startup: How Development Looks Different When You’re Changing the World: Abby Fichtner
  • [blog idea] Inspired by lean startups
  • [open jam] Language Hunting: Willem Larsen
  • [blog idea] Some of the amazing people I met on my journey 🙂
  • [blog idea] Sessions I wish I could have attended
  • [blog idea] my ever growing booklist

Hahaha – ok so as you can tell by the extensive list above – this might take me a while 😉 We’ll see how it goes.

New Blog Home

This is the home of my blog now … something went horribly corrupt with my wordpress install and due to time contraints I cant fiddle for a while 😦 So my old site will redirect everyone to this new address.

Once I’m back from Agile2011 I will dig a little deeper into problems or maybe just start something new somewhere else … can anyone recommend other blogging tools?




4 Hour Body Challenge

Friends of mine were reading this book and taking up the challenge so I thought, why not?
fourhourbody book
Tim Ferris doesn’t claim to have all the answers he is simply telling  his story and providing his results. If one of his “experiments” seemed to work then he would try it with a few other people. Most “experiments” in this book are accompanied by lots of scientific data and facts if that interests you :)
The book is structured in an interesting way, you pick the areas you want to experiment in and try for a week, then inspect and adapt.
I decided to do the diet part – which is a slow-carb diet and the exercise part.
I will commit to four weeks and then see how it working out for me ;) 

4 Hour Body Diet
There are a handful of rules – which are super duper easy. And really seem impossible at first. But google some recipes and you can totally make this work for you :)
This diet involves a lot of cooking and preparation. So be ready for that. However many of the meals can be made in advance (to a point) and frozen.
Saturday cheat days are awesome … I look forward to them ALOT.
More details on basics of diet here:

Foods allowed/not allowed: are some of the recipes that I’ve tried:

  • BEATs – awesome breakfast, can be mostly made night before, just heat bacon in morning.
  • Omelet Muffins – can be made night before. Makes 6 – I have 3 for a meal ‘portion’.
  • Omelet Loaf – an adaptation of the muffins and by far my favourite!
  • Shepard Pie – mince mix can be made in advance and frozen, 20min in oven with topping and its ready.
  • Lamb Potjie (Stew)
  • Oxtail Stew
  • Nutty Mash – awesome with most meals to replace “starch”- brown color with nutty flavour.
  • Mash – as above but only use cauliflower & a can of butter beans – very white and fluffy looking.
  • Italian meatballs – can be made in advance and frozen (5 squash ball size per meal)
  • Chicken with beans & steamed veg
  • Med-Rare steak pieces with salad
  • Pork Stirfry
  • Protein Shake – quick and easy for gym mornings
  • Chicken,Brocoli & Almond Frittata – this seems a bit bland to me , is nice with 2 slices of ham added afterwards per slice. Maybe should cook it with ham and chicken.
  • Bolognaise Sauce – I only make the sauce in this recipe (and i switch sausage for bacon bits)
4 Hour Body Exercises
For week 1 and 2 I just did the basics 3 times a week:

Week 3 I upped this a bit – still 3 times a week:

Week 4 I upped this a bit – still 3 times a week:

Insights and Results so far…

  • I’m glad I’m doing this in winter … the bean meals are nice and filling and warm


  • I think a slow cooker would be a good investment
  • I’m no longer tired at work in the afternoon
  • I’m enjoying the time spent cooking and eating
  • Red wine is lovely when enjoyed with a nice meal
  • Its really difficult to eat within 30min of waking up … I like to laze/snooze in bed (but i generally eat within 40min now)
  • The first week I lost 3kg and many cm’s. Thereafter I gained 1 kg and my weight stayed consistent for 3 weeks. I was still losing cm’s though, and my clothes were looser.
  • Drink 2L of water a day – this I only achieved on the first week – then I got lazy


Week 5 – the downfall :) 
I committed to doing this “diet” for 4 weeks. And I did. I saw results. I enjoyed the meals.
But this week – week 5 – I am taking off. I am eating what ever I want, and suprisingly that is not as much “cheating” as I thought it would be.

Week 6 – back on diet & exercise plan from week 4.
The last week of eating anything and lots of take aways was fun but definitely overrated. It was awesome to get back onto the diet. I am a little less strict now, so birthdays etc I share a slice of cake, but otherwise I am 100% back on the diet.

I will do another update with some measurements in about a month :)