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Surprise. I am no wizard. Agile nor Scrum.

I regularly get inquiries from people reaching out for instructions, assistance, or other forms of guidance to learn about Scrum, pass exams, become a trainer, or advance their career towards “Agile coach”.
Surprise. I am no wizard. I do not have the magical powers that would be required.

I really don’t want to go into people’s motivation to approach me with those desires (‘free’ seems to be a recurring theme), but I can share my personal and professional stance and considerations.

(1) Honestly, I don’t know what an “Agile Coach” is or does. Not even attending a “Coaching Stance” class by the Agile Coaching Institute in 2012 has helped me in that regard. The same goes for having worked with many people holding the title. I have never called myself that and I have never used the label in my profile, CV, or service offerings, let alone that I would have the powers to turn somebody into it.

Looking back on the 16+ years that have passed since I started applying the powerful combination of Scrum and eXtreme Programming in 2003, I realize I only ‘had’ to start thinking about and explaining what ‘Agile’ might mean, or what an “Agile Coach” is, since 2010-2011 (7 years later). I don’t think it is a coincidence that this is when I started engaging with large companies and the wave of ‘scale’ sweeping my world, the time when ‘Agile’ became a corporate thing. I still can’t clearly explain what an “Agile Coach” is or does.

(2) I have always been and am still all about Scrum. It makes transparent what I stand for, it makes tangible and actionable the services I offer and bring, and it includes plenty of room and openness for contextual customizations. As Scrum is an open framework, an organization can standardize on Scrum and substantially increase their agility without industrializing their Scrum to death.

The continuous balancing act of a Scrum Master, including the coaching aspect

(3) I don’t create them for that reason, but I am humbled when people say my writings (books, articles, papers) or my classes were useful in achieving a certification, in becoming a trainer, or in passing some other milestone. I am comforted knowing that those individuals did the actual work. They might have gotten some insights and language from me, but that’s about it. I did not hold their pen or control their brain. It is likely that they struggled, fell, got back up, failed, tried again. Maybe along the road they took a break, read more, gained more experience with Scrum, and demonstrated other forms of patience, persistence, and belief.

The many requests from people that seem to believe that I can ‘make’ them a trainer or ‘make’ them achieve a certification leave me flabbergasted. Surprise. I CANNOT. And even if I could, I wouldn’t. It would not be helpful for the requestor’s autonomy and development.
I don’t know whether it has anything to do with the current covid-crisis sweeping the planet, but I worry seriously how this seems an obsession for quite some people.

On a personal note, I want to share that my journey of Scrum started in 2003. And I spent 7 years (seven!) of just applying Scrum, and enjoying how it helped deliver great results, make users and consumers happy, and observe highly engaged teams enjoying their work. During that time, I had no idea about certifications, grades, or career moves, and I can honestly say that I couldn’t care less. It was only by accident in 2010-2011 that I became what I didn’t know I wanted to be. Looking back it still feels odd. Although it may look as if there was a plan, there wasn’t.

Even after more than 16 years of this stuff, I am no expert. Nor am I tired of Scrum. Not even close. I am an eternal novice. There is so much to learn. There are so many ways to consider and explain Scrum, even having published two books and considering two more books as we speak.

I welcome everybody to join my classes or workshops to find out how I express Scrum, or attend the many events and webinars I participate in, check out my YouTube channel, hire me for some consulting and coaching. I will do my best to help you understand Scrum, its purpose and design, how to get the most out of it, and learn to think for yourself in terms of Scrum. Regardless of how much I care however, I cannot ‘make’ anyone a trainer, a Scrum Master, Product Owner, or “Agile Coach”. I cannot ‘make’ anyone pass some certification assessment or exam. That is not in my powers (if even that would be helpful). I am no wizard. I have no magic, some empathy at most.

And, like it or not, the primary source of learning about Scrum is from practice, from doing Scrum. It is the way to learn Scrum, beyond learning about Scrum. There is a huge difference.

Yours truly
independent Scrum Caretaker

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“Scrum – Una Guida Tascabile” is now widely available

As I was working on the second edition of my pocket guide to Scrum in 2018, Michael F Forni proposed to create an Italian translation of my book. It was the start of a collaborative endeavour, in which he got help from Fabio Panzavolta and Aniello Di Florio, towards self-publishing the translation.

I am humbled and honoured for announcing that the result is now available as Scrum – Una Guida Tascabile (Un compagno di viaggio smart)“, in Kindle and in paperback format via Amazon.

I wish all Italian speaking friends of Scrum much joy reading my translated thoughts, beliefs and considerations of Scrum, that simple framework to address complex challenges. I feel forever indebted to Michael, Fabio and Aniello for making my book available for all Italian readers, and to Barbara Knijff of Jellylab for creating the cover.

Loving regards
independent Scrum Caretaker

Here is how Michael, Fabio and Aniello introduced their work in the book:

Nel ringraziare Gunther per questa fantastica opportunità – consapevoli della grande responsabilità che porta il compito di tradurre un così importante testo divulgativo come la sua Guida a Scrum – chiediamo al lettore di essere comprensivo e di focalizzarsi il più possibile sulla sostanza del pensiero dell’autore, piuttosto che sulla forma di volta in volta scelta dal traduttore: il reale valore di manuali come questo non sta infatti nel successo – o meno – di riuscire a cogliere esattamente il senso della singola parola o frase, bensì quello di trasmetterne efficacemente i concetti, gli esempi e le pratiche da applicare al proprio contesto individuale.

Per la traduzione della terminologia Scrum, ferma restando l’assoluta inopportunità, pienamente condivisa con l’autore, di modificare o storpiare i consolidati sostantivi caratterizzanti del framework (oramai divenuti d’uso comune nella Comunità Internazionale degli Agile practitioners) – sono state tenute in debita considerazione: 1) le traduzioni passate ed attuale delle versioni in Italiano de “La Guida a Scrum” 2) il lessico oramai d’uso comune tra i praticanti di Scrum 3) la nostra sensibilità di bilingue, che naturalmente risente delle esperienze personali.

Contiamo che il lettore sia indulgente e non ce ne voglia; qualora rilevasse errori, imprecisioni o volesse dare il proprio contributo migliorativo, saremo felici di essere contattati per apportare ulteriore valore a quest’opera.

Buona lettura!

Michael Fabrizio Forni – Co-traduttore e curatore dell’opera
Fabio Panzavolta – Co-traduttore
Aniello Di Florio – Correttore bozze


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At some point in time the term “Framework” became really fashionable. I don’t remember when it was exactly, but it was when smart businessmen assumed it was better for sales, as commonly used terms like methodology or process got burned. At least, that can be seen as an achievement too. Most likely they guessed it explained the wide adoption of Scrum, and aspired the same ’success’.

Today, the word is omnipresent and can surely be added to the list of most misunderstood words in the world of “Agile”. That does not change the fact that we did not start using the word lightly in the past. It was not about marketing or selling. It was about sincerely describing the lightweight nature of Scrum, as a simple set of rules, principles and values that define a framework for inspection and adaptation, a way for people to address complex challenges.

Regardless of fashion of the day and obfuscation, this is not a term to leave to the sharks. Language matters. Scrum is a framework, not a methodology, as I described in 2013 and in my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide”.

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The international versions of the Scrum Values (September 2018)

In May 2013 I described how there is value in the Scrum Values. I included that text in my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” that was published in November 2013. Early in 2018 I updated my description slightly to be included in a revision of my book that I anticipate. A group of Scrum enthusiasts subsequently translated that updated version to different languages.

The last incremental update of the September 2018 release of the international versions of the Scrum Values is now available, as a free download (PDF): The Scrum Values (international versions) -September 2018 (R3).

Early in September following new languages were released as a new baseline version: Filipino-Tagalog, Indian-Hindi, Polish, and Spanish. Throughout September we went into a continuous delivery mode and released additional languages as they became available: Persian, Arabic, and Danish.

A poster of the international versions of the Scrum Values is available as a free download (PNG): The Scrum Values (International Versions poster).

Share my gratitude that following people spent quite some of their valuable time on this initiative to make these translations available for you:

  • Arabic: Rasheed Raya.
  • Chinese (simp/trad): Lana Sun, Wei Lun Teh, Chee-Hong Hsia.
  • Danish: Mikkel Toudal Kristiansen.
  • Filipino: Shirley Santiago, Warren Yu.
  • French: Fabio Panzavolta, Mohamed Gargouri.
  • German: Uwe Schirmer, Peter Götz, Dominik Maximini.
  • Hindi: Punit Doshi, Hiren Doshi, Nagesh Sharma.
  • Italian: Michael F. Forni.
  • Persian: Mehdi Hoseini.
  • Polish: Krystian Kaczor.
  • Portuguese: Leonardo Bittencourt.
  • Russian: Konstantin Razumovsky.
  • Spanish: Pablo Bernardo.
  • Turkish: ilkay Polat, Lemi Orhan Ergin.

In the document you will also find my Dutch translation. I maintain the base English version on the Scrum Values section of my website.

All feedback is welcome. Sharing of the PDF is equally encouraged.

Warm regards

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Scrum Glossary (International Versions, April 2018)

By the end of 2017 I updated the Scrum Glossary of my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” (2013). A group of Scrum enthusiasts subsequently translated that updated version to different languages. A first release of those international versions was done in March 2018.

The new, April 2018, release of the international versions is now available, as a free download (PDF): Scrum Glossary (International versions) -April 2018

  • Four new languages were added: Filipino-Tagalog, French, Indian-Hindi, Turkish.
  • The definition for “Definition of Done” was rephrased.
  • A definition for “Product” was added.

Share my gratitude that following people spent quite some of their valuable time on this initiative to make these translations available for you:

  • Chinese (simp/trad): Lana Sun, Wei Lun Teh, Chee-Hong Hsia
  • Danish: Rasmus Kaae
  • Filipino: Shirley Santiago, Warren Yu
  • French: Fabio Panzavolta, Mohamed Gargouri
  • German: Uwe Schirmer, Peter Götz, Dominik Maximini
  • Hindi: Punit Doshi, Hiren Doshi
  • Italian: Michael F. Forni
  • Polish: Paweł Feliński
  • Portuguese: Leonardo Bittencourt
  • Russian: Konstantin Razumovsky
  • Spanish: Alex Ballarin
  • Turkish: Ilkay Polat, Lemi Orhan Ergin

In the document you will also find my Dutch translation. I maintain the base English version on the Scrum Glossary section of my website.

All feedback is welcome. Sharing of the PDF is equally encouraged.

Warm regards

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Blog Statistics (country views)

On Valentine’s Day of 2008 I started my blog “” with a first blog post. The URL still exists but is now redirected to “”.

Since that day I have created 457 posts. The past years I blogged primarily about Scrum, and rather occasionally still about my love for books, music and my family.

I am mostly amazed by the global reach of my musings. The statistics show that my blog was visited by people from 182 countries. The top 10 countries (5,5%) account for 75% of all traffic.

Another 20% of all traffic is by visitors from an additional 30 countries (16,5%). So, 95% of all traffic on my site is generated by visitors from 40 countries, i.e. 22% of all countries. That leaves 142 countries, 78% of all countries, accounting for the remaining 5% of traffic.

Hereby a huge thanks and a big hug to my international readers, followers, likers, sharers. You mean the world to me.


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Have an amazing 2017

2016 was a most fascinating year. From my perspective it was either high or low, with little room for middleground.

Our family and my professional life skyrocketed. I gained creative and intellectual freedom and ownership when deciding to further my journey as an independent Scrum Caretaker. And collaborations of beauty are emerging. But all around, in my city Antwerp, my country Belgium, my home continent Europe and on our planet we saw fear and anxiety often dominating.

Remember, fire causes passion as well as death and destruction. Try not to feed your internal wolf called ‘fear’ too much.

Make 2017 an amazing year!

As announced, I foresee spending much energy on introducing re-vers-ify to the world, an act of rhythm, simplicity and focus, a way to help people re-imagine their Scrum and their organisation.

With love
22 December 2016

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Aan het einde van de kim, (de) WIL. Onbereikbaar?

olyslaegers-jeroen-wilWIL brengt ons het levensverhaal van de genaamde Wils, Wilfried, Antwerpenaar. Zijn levensverhaal wordt volledig overschaduwd door WO II, toen Wils en zijn kameraad Lode hulpagent waren in Antwerpen. Zeker wat Wils betrof, was dit een opportunistische arbeidskeuze. Zo kon hij ontsnappen aan de verplichte arbeid in Duitsland. Het ambiguë gevolg was dan wel dat hij geacht werd andere arbeidsonwilligen in de kraag te vatten. En erger.

Alhoewel Wils heimelijk eigenlijk het serieuze dichterschap ambieert, lijkt zijn voornaamste talent te zijn: overleven. Ambitieloos schippert hij tussen oorlog en vrede, tussen bezetter en verzet, tussen participatie en onthouding, tussen Duitsers en Joden, tussen werkplicht en razzia’s, tussen smeerlap en behager.

De genaamde Jeroen Olyslaegers, getalenteerd schrijver, laat Wilfried Wils, overgrootvader intussen, vandaag zijn verhaal brengen in een indrukwekkende terugblik van zo’n slordige 300 pagina’s. Wils blikt terug op zijn leven, zijn huwelijk, de oorlogsperiode en het leven erna, alhoewel de schaduw van de oorlog veel, zoniet alles, bepaalt. Alsof de klok haar tikken stopte rond ’45. De lezer leert Wilfried Wils kennen als een man die zijn wil wil doen gelden, daar glorieus in faalt, herhaaldelijk, overleeft en voortkrabbelt, herhaaldelijk.

Jeroen Olyslaegers brengt ons met WIL een indringend onderzoek naar de zucht naar normaliteit, het stilzwijgende verlangen om steeds weer zo snel mogelijk, wat er ook gebeurt, over te gaan tot de orde van de dag. Jeroen schetst ons de veranderende gezichten van een stad tijdens de bezetting, het dagelijks leven in een bezette stad, in straten en verdonkerde huizen vergeven van de normaalzucht, ver weg van prozaïsche helden vs. verachtelijke misdadigers. De stad zelf krijgt daarin een eigen stem, terwijl er door haar bevolking meer wordt gezwegen dan gepraat, in de illusie dat dan alles snel weer normaal zal worden. Zwijgen en normaalzucht gaan er hand in hand, in het bezette leven in deze bezette stad.

Genadeloos toont de schrijver ons het laffe zwijgen, en het verdoken verraad dat erin verscholen ligt. Maar de auteur vergoelijkt, oordeelt noch veroordeelt, alsof ook hij over en weer geslingerd wordt tussen de liefde voor de mens, geportretteerd in zijn personages, en de afschuw voor hun daden, alsof ook hij weet dat de grens tussen lafheid en slechtheid moeilijk te trekken is, alhoewel ze wel bestaat. We worden mede-verstekelingen op de schepen genaamd “Leven”, de oceaanstomer genaamd “Maatschappij”. Verstoken van overtuigingen die kunnen uitgesproken worden. We worden allen stilzwijgende neutralen. Toch neemt WIL ons mee tot voorbij het punt waar zwijgen nog een optie is.

Stilte is in zekere zin, en in meerdere lagen, ook de grote kracht van WIL. Zoals we van hem gewend zijn, hanteert Jeroen een overweldigende en rijke taal in WIL, en daarenboven een prachtig Vlaams dat netjes laveert tussen gesproken klank en geschreven inkt, tussen stedelijk volks en verheven poëticaal. Jeroen staat, bij mij alvast, bekend vanwege een stevige overdrive en overdaad, in beelden, in drukte, in woorden. Wel, in WIL is zijn taal nog steeds mooi en rijk, maar blijft hij weg van zijn over-taal. Hij laat de gebeurtenissen, vaak in alle gruwelijkheid, voor zich spreken. Er komt geen onnodig gemoraliseer aan te pas, geen gedramatiseer. Net daarom is het zo’n kopstoot. Wils brengt het verhaal, Olyslaegers is onthecht. Net daarom komen de beschreven gebeurtenissen zo hard binnen. De horror en de gruwel komen onversneden tot de lezer. Maar de schrijvende schepper stelt zich oordeelloos op. Hij zoekt geen excuses, maar gedraagt zich ook niet als rechter.

Het is niet moeilijk de link te zien met hedendaagse thema’s en burgemeesters, maatschappelijk engagement, migratie en vreemden, politieke en andere retoriek, het neo-populisme. Dat is een sterk (s)taaltje, teksten schrijven gebaseerd op een mid-vorige eeuwse periode zodat lezing ervan ook vandaag relevant is. Misschien ook wel beangstigend. Sommige passages kunnen letterlijk, zonder één letter te wijzigen, hergebruikt worden in het Antwerpen en Vlaanderen anno 2016. Voorwaar. WIL is echter geen simplistisch pamflet, het bevat geen lineaire zwart-wit meningen of oordelen, maar toont ons de complexe inter-menselijkheid achter -soms bijzonder gruwelijke- feiten. WIL toont de vele facetten van de diamant, het steentje, de illusie genaamd “waarheid”.

Er is de WIL tot Macht. Er is de onWIL tot spreken. De WIL van de angst en de wrok, voor de Ander, de WIL tot het Grote Zwijgen. En er is WIL van Jeroen Olyslaegers. Verder heb ik zelf geen mening, doe ik er liever het zwijgen toe. Per slot van rekening heb ik hier niet voor gestudeerd, en zijn het mijn zaken niet, de literatuur. En laat me dan ook maar voorbij gaan aan de gigantische hoeveelheden research die dit boek duidelijk gekost hebben.

Evidenter is het om te genieten van de prachtige cover. Gestileerd, dreigend. De sfeer van een bezette stad, de herinnering aan de cover van Bezette Stad van die andere Antwerpenaar, de dichter Van Ostaijen. En cinema uit het interbellum, signatuur Fritz Lang en co.


Ik begrijp dat de ware literatici veelvuldig verwijzen naar Claus, Boon en andere grootheden. Dat is helemaal terecht, omdat WIL in een grootse literaire traditie thuishoort, maar niet omdat het een afkooksel of kopie is van. Een loutere vergelijking doet allen tekort. WIL is vintage Olyslaegers, een gigant op zich, die zijn stem verder heeft ontwikkeld, in beheersing. Vintage de nieuwe Olyslaegers, die net is opgestaan.

Ik kijk en zie. Aan het einde van de kim, de incarnatie van Angelo. De diamanten gevonden. Achterin de kast, inderdaad.

Dank je, Jeroen.

de Man op de Foto

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2016. More or less.

There is much we can leave behind. There is much we need more of, by needing less. Artefacts in my home office remind me of essential ingredients.

Wisdom. Health (also: sanity). Poetry (broadly: words, music, writings). Love.
And coffee.


Over time I have come to realise that the main inner purpose driving me is to make a difference. To people (not minding orgs and structures). Aspiring to inspire with integrity and dignity (not minding careers and demigods). Scrum.

It’s been my path so far. The human trail I left behind is my testimony. And Scrum, seriously. The journey into the unknown futures will continually define who I am, some identity. A path to be discovered.

Nothing of this would be possible without my family; without the love of my life (Atelier Ullizee) and our kids.

What is most essential in your life? What is your ‘why’? Remind yourself what is important to you. Live by it. Live toward it.

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Celebrating two years at (#frwrks)

March 2013, Amsterdam. Ken Schwaber and I semi-simultaneously express the thought that there is likely more value in us engaging in a close partnership. We already have a pretty intense collaboration at the time. I decide to leave consulting, a well-known environment that I have been in for twelve years. I take some time off, do a couple of Professional Scrum classes, and lay the foundation for my book „Scrum – A Pocket Guide (A smart travel companion)“.

June 1 2013, Boston-Antwerp. I embark on this somewhat unexpected journey of working at the home of Scrum,

Over these past two years a three-fold pattern of activities emerged being part of the team:

  • Shepherding the Professional series. Developing and sustaining Professional Scrum assessments and courseware, training trainers, working with the global community of Professional Scrum experts and within the small-ish, creative organization of
  • Representing Ken and in Europe. Visiting partners and friends of, and taking up speaking and learning engagements.
  • Teaming up with Ken. Engaging in all sorts of interesting development activities, with the most important thread probably being the road from Agility Path to Scaled Professional Scrum and the Nexus.

Not working for a traditional enterprise turned out such a relief, the end of thinking and acting in terms of money and commercial motives only. No hour-based work, no office hours, working (mainly) from my home office, no timesheets. Instead mission-driven efforts, autonomy and valuable goals. Money is obviously important, up to the level of being able to pay our people a decent salary and to invest in the community. Beyond that however our goal is to support people, teams, organisations, with resources for assessment, improvement, maturing Scrum, growing professionalism, improving the profession of software development. It is not the most common model for a business, but it is what we do.

The two years at have shown me that there IS an alternative to the traditional way to run a business, an alternative that is financially viable, yet doesn’t revolve exclusively around financials.

Over these two years I’ve maintained mental stability, remained sane. No different than in every other environment I’ve worked in before, I’ve had my crises, my identity doubts, my ups and downs. I’ve come to terms with aspects of me that used to confuse me in the past, often in my past positions as Scrum Master. I’ve come to terms with blending in and still not fitting in. The best and most fascinating relationships are developed by not fitting in. It took me years to accept that, let alone exploit that. It’s a solid basis to continue my journey, my remarkable cobblestone path.

I wish you all the best. I thank you for all the inspiration. I am proud to be able to continue serving many Scrum professionals around the globe.


Shepherding the Professional series

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