5 + 1 Questions to... Yves Hanoulle

Is it still needed to introduce Yves Hanoulle? He’s a well-known person in the agile Community. Yves worked as software support, developer, trainer, agile coach, change artist and though jockey. Nowadays the function title he gave himself is Creative Collaboration Agent. Yves has been a source of inspiration for many years now and I’m happy to share his insights with all of you.

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He’s the author of several books “Who’s Agile”, a book of personal reflections on journeys where people stumbled on agile and “Tips from the Agile trenches”, a book about building teams. He also started some international projects like Agile Games Google group and CoachRetreat (together with .

He speaks three languages; the language of the user, the language of the developer and the one of the business. Even better, he can explain the point of view of each one to the other two. 

Yves strongly believes in pairwork. All his training is done in pair, which he promotes using the term his father invented: PairCoaching

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

A great question to have in a series, as I think most people will answer differently. I think I will answer that also different, depending on the situation I am in. One thing that is for me a crucial part of the agile mindset, is the growth mindset. Statements like “this is not agile” make me cringe. 

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

Listening. It’s also the hardest part of coaching. True listening and hearing what the other person is saying without judging is very hard. Although many people prefer to talk and be face to face to also see the body language, I will regularly close my eyes during a conversation to focus on what is said. 

3. What book or website would you recommend?

The agile manifesto is the nr one resource I use. Every time I’m stuck, I try to reread it and see if I find some new wisdom in it. I try to see in what way statements on the first or the second page are related to my problem. They mostly don’t give me the exact answer, yet these pages inspire me to think differently about the situation I encountered.

In a similar way, the responsibility process, developed by Christophe Avery helps me. Every time I’ wondering why someone is not behaving the way I want, I ask myself, what can I change about my behaviour that would change this situation.

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I would also add my first book, mostly your series of questions makes me think of the book I collected in 2010: https://leanpub.com/WhoIsAgile

I assume people who love this series will at least like this book and the country versions of it. 

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

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Time. In 2013, I stayed at Spotify for a week, to learn about their model. At that moment, Spotify was 7 years old. It took them about 7 years to have something they felt worth sharing. And yet they started from scratch working in an agile way, with a growth mindset culture. Why do we think that we can transform companies in a year or two?

What I notice as an agile coach, is that many people want to work in these progressive growth mindset companies, yet not many people want to work with these other companies and help to transform them towards a better world. Yes, it’s hard, yes it takes time before they “get it”. Yet in these companies, there are a lot of smart people working really hard, and not understanding why all the others don’t get it. Including a lot of coaches. And yes At some point I will get pickled too when working there. Yet I want to inspire these people and give them time. You would be surprised what 5 years can do with these companies and these people.  

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

That is an impossible question to answer for me. There are so many aspects I like. The days I like most, are the days I leave with more energy than when I arrived. And the last 15 years that is most of my days. One thing that is part of the good days is learning.

+1. What is the idea behind CoachRetreat and why did you start with CoachRetreat?

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CoachRetreat was inspired by both CodeRetreat & CoachingDojo

Both share an idea to let people practice. Musicians practice a lot and from time to time they play a concert.

In the software world, we almost never practice and almost all code we write goes to production. The same can be said for scrum masters, coaches & team leads, all the coaching conversations we have is directly “in production”. That is, we don’t practice them. CoachRetreat was created to offer people the chance to practice coaching conversations.

That is why we work with fictive cases. Our goal is not to solve a real-life situation, our goal is to help the people doing the coaching.

I started CoachRetreat in 2011, it really took off when Oana Juncu joined me and we co-created the current format. In the last 9 years, we had 35 events worldwide. I hope we can do 5 more events this year.