5 +1 Questions to... Wouter Gheysen

It’s always a bit strange to talk about yourself but I’m the founder of Out of Our Minds and recently Beyond Business Agility. Beyond Business Agility is my imprint for my Agile courses and work as an Agile coach while Out of Our Minds will focus on organizational design.

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For a few years now I’m working as Scrum Master, Agile coach and Agile trainer in different scaling frameworks (Spotify, SAFe). Recently I discovered Xscale, a de-scaling framework developed by Peter Merel and now working to get my coach Xscale certificate.

I also love giving training as “learning by teaching others” is really effective to understand the content better. As continuous improvement is a cornerstone of my life I’m also trying to improve my training by using techniques of Training of the Back of the RoomLiberating Structures and Learning 3.0. In June I’m organizing a “Training from the Back of the Room”-training to explore how to develop brain-friendly courses.

1.What is Agile or the Agile Mindset for you?

Agile is for me a way of life. Understanding that the world is evolving faster than ever and you need to be able to adapt yourself to this new context. It’s about learning new skills, try new things and align with the people you are working with. It’s also about dealing with uncertainty and having the trust you’ll be able to adapt to thrive in this a new context.

2. What’s your favorite tool or method you use during your coaching?

It’s not really a tool but I really like retrospectives. During a retrospective, a team takes some time, outside of day-to-day routine to reflect on their way of working. It’s an opportunity to learn and improve. Typically the team will answer 3 questions:

  • What worked well?
  • What didn’t work well?
  • What are we going to try to do differently?

The answers to those questions may lead to some improvements in the way the team works. As a Scrum Master, you can be very creative to find a great format to use during the retrospective to facilitate this improvement process.

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3. What book or website would you recommend?

“Echte leiders dienen” by Inge Nuijten, a dutch book about servant leaders and the behaviors of servant-leaders. Servant-leaders is what organizations need nowadays to grow their business.

“Evolvagility: Growing an Agile Leadership Culture from the Inside Out” by Michael Hamman. In most organizations, the focus during an Agile Transformation is on process and practices with systems and structures (outer agility). However, the biggest challenge with agility is communication, relationships between people and sensemaking (inner agility).

“Team of Teams” by Stanley McChrystal. How can any organization make the transition to a team of teams, where small groups combine the freedom to experiment with a relentless drive to share their experience.

4. What is essential for you during an Agile transformation?

Asking questions, question everything and focus on the people. Every company is different so try to find what works for your organization. Don’t implement “copy-paste Agile” in your organization but check what works for your organization. Ask the rights questions.

The biggest challenge in a transition is taking care of the people in the company. Make sure they get coaching and support as a lot of people try to avoid “change”. Make sure they understand why the transformation is needed and how they can contribute to a successful transformation.

5. What is 1 Aspect of coaching Agile teams that you like the most?

Coaching Agile teams can be very challenging and motivates me to always look beyond the needs of the teams. Teams evolve and as a coach, you need to evolve as well. You can’t stop learning and improving yourself and that motivates me to keep on learning and trying new techniques in order to support the teams I’m working with.

+1. Why is continuous learning so important for you?

Learning and continuous developing myself are very important. Reading books, attending courses and Meetup help me to broaden my knowledge and discover new techniques. I love combining methods from different backgrounds to create a unique way of working. Recently I started a course on Adult Development as the way adults evolve is similar to Agile maturity in companies. If companies want to become more mature in their agile way of working, the leaders will also have to evolve as human persons.