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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

Ullizee -Seal

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Scrum – A Pocket Guide (3rd impression)

Gunther Verheyen, Scrum - A Pocket Guide (A Smart Travel Companion)Early 2013 I wrote the book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide“.

It was published in November 2013 by Van Haren Publishing. The pocket format used by my publisher coincides with the sub-title of the book “A Smart Travel Companion” and my views of Scrum as a journey, not a destination. Scrum is a journey toward increased agility, and my book is designed as a small guide that any traveler can easily take along.

Here’s what some of my best friends in the world of Scrum said about “Scrum – A Pocket Guide”:

Best description of Scrum currently available.

says Ken Schwaber, Scrum co-creator.

The book on Scrum I wished I had written.

says David Starr, also known as ‘Elegant Coder‘.

My publisher now informs me that the third impression is about to be produced (June 2014). It is still the first edition as the content is stable. The second impression dates from February 2014. I am humbled by this success and grateful for the appreciation.

If you have read the book, leave a review at Amazon UK,, GoodReads or one of the other shops where the book can be found. It provides me and potential readers with very valuable feedback.

Although Van Haren Publishing has its head quarters in the Netherlands, they have a great global distribution network. Here are some sources where “Scrum – A Pocket Guide (A Smart Travel Companion)” is available from, in varying formats:

And find many more search results at Google (24900 results), Bing (1110 results), Yahoo (1140 results).

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Scrum Day Europe 2014

As from 2011 there has been a genuine boom of Scrum in the Netherlands. And it is still going on. A virus improving the lives of many people in the fascinating world of software development. I have worked with several Dutch organizations, of which ING is probably one of the biggest, one that I documented by the end of 2012.

In March 2012 Ken Schwaber, Scrum co-creator and my working partner at, asked whether I saw room for a Scrum event in the Netherlands. Yes, and we named it “Scrum Day Europe”. We set it up with 3 co-organizing companies around the ideas of “Software in 30 Days”. The goal was not to make it just another average agile event, so we went for a smaller event, with a clear management focus and much room for interaction. It turned out a great success, so a 2013 edition was organized with some small, incremental changes. Ken and I opened the 2013 edition with a keynote on the Agility Path framework for Enterprise Scrum that we were working on.

ScrumDay4Pros-logo_whiteThis year, 2014, will see the 3rd edition of the Scrum Day Europe event. The event is now part of’s prestigious Scrum Day for Professionals series. We have limited the co-organizing companies to our partner-in-principle Prowareness and have complemented that with a more substantial involvement of the communities. Because, in the end,’s role is to serve, help and facilitate the many Scrum practitioners out there, and this event is a great way to connect people and ideas.

The theme of 2014 will be “Evidence-Based Management”, on which I recently published a whitepaper called “Empirical Management Explored: Evidence-Based Management for Software Organizations“.  Ken and I will have the pleasure of opening the event again.

I look forward to meeting with great fellow Scrum travelers at the event, hoping YOU will be one of them. Have a look at the program and the speakers. Get your ticket via the Scrum Day Europe website, or directly at

Scrum Day Europe 2014

Find all information on Evidence-Based Management at

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Personal Scrum Day Europe Impressions

On 11 July 2012 we organized the first edition of the Scrum Day Europe (for which I previously published the abstracts of Ken Schwaber and myself). 130+ enthusiast people gathered, interacted and connected at the beautiful location of “Pakhuis De Zwijger” near the Amsterdam docks (Netherlands). I was delighted to see so many friends of Scrum; Professional Scrum students, colleagues, clients and personal friends. And I am extremely grateful for the appreciation and the energy received.

Ken Schwaber opened the day with an inspiring talk on the global accomplishments of Scrum, and how well this positive change for the software industry is currently being embraced in Belgium and the Netherlands. He announced he is working on further evolutions of the Scrum framework towards management and organizational improvement.

The CIO of Tele2, Svenja de Vos, talked us through the practicalities of their ‘big bang’, ‘no guts, no glory’-style transition to Scrum.

Subsequently the audience split up to (1) join an OpenSpace, (2) play some agile games and (3) enjoy more perspectives to Scrum (change basics, coaching people and Scrum in a hosting environment).

After lunch the full group joined again in the central room to listen to the highly energetic story of Amir Arooni, member of the ING IT management team. He gave the crowd an honest insight into their findings, impediments and future hopes after a 1+ year, large-scale transformation to Scrum. I was honored to be mentioned by Amir as one of the crucial guides of their transformation.

As Capgemini global leader for Scrum I was asked by Ken to do my talk on the ‘Emergence of the Customer-Oriented Enterprise’, an organizational pattern to build on the Scrum framework to achieve enterprise agility. Beyond the appreciation I received I was particularly glad for getting away with a form of humor. My presentation is free for download. All pictures and presentations of the event are available at the Scrum Day Europe website.

Here’s a very personal selection of (mostly mobile) pictures by friends:

A big thanks to, all co-organizers and I hope to see you next year!

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Scrum Day Europe abstracts

On 11 July 2012 we organize the first Scrum Day Europe event in Amsterdam (Netherlands). The aim is to yearly unite executives, CxO persons, thought leaders and practitioners on agility via Scrum. Have a look at the program and register at the website.

Here are the abstracts from the session of Ken Schwaber and of me:

Ken Schwaber (“Scrum and Continuous Improvement”):

“Organizations need to be agile. This may mean responding to opportunities better, solving existing problems, removing waste, or just developing better software. Scrum is a tool many organizations use to gradually become agile. Ken will present a framework for continuous improvement toward agility. Stage by stage, the model demonstrates the application of increasingly sophisticated practices in the areas of value, productivity, quality, product development and change. Ken will show how these relate to metrics and the organization’s unique agility signature. An organizational model that drives continuous improvement is also demonstrated.”

Gunther Verheyen (“Emergence of the Customer-Oriented Enterprise”):

“Scrum and Enterprise Agility – Scrum is a widely adopted framework for complex product development. Gunther Verheyen, Capgemini’s global Scrum leader, has witnessed how Scrum is a powerful mean to adopt the new, Agile paradigm of software development. Gunther will share his observations how Scrum is currently surpassing the walls of the software department. Gunther has a vision that helps people and organizations capitalize on this evolution and use Scrum to grow into Enterprise Agility. Because organizations can do more than just faster and better software development to delight its customers. What emerges, according to Gunther, is the “Customer-Oriented Enterprise”. But Gunther will demonstrate why it is highly unlikely that this is the last stage of organizational evolutions…”

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Another dog year gone by, 2011 in review

Zo’n goed jaar geleden (30 januari 2011 om exact te zijn) publiceerde ik hier een bericht onder de hoofding Brief aan mijn Psycholoog. Het was een openhartige terugblik op een woelig 2010. Alhoewel we ons terecht de vraag kunnen stellen welk jaar uiteindelijk geen ‘woelig’ jaar is, voelde ik de nood om -tijdens een korte, maar prachtige familiekerstvakantie- een iets meer gestructureerde terugblik te wijden aan het -op dat moment- aflopende jaar. En al doende werd het blikveld ineens verruimd naar… mijn leven. Uit het geheel van terugblikken putte ik moed voor het -op dat moment- aanstormende 2011 op vlak van mijn Bruto Persoonlijk Geluk. Intussen kan ik al verklappen dat 2011 leerde dat ik op en top een Type I ben volgens de Motivation 3.0 van Daniel Pink. Een grootse toekomst ligt daarom duidelijk in het verschiet!

Nadat ik eerder al terugblikte op mijn statistisch blog-jaar (Another blog year gone by) en mijn top-muziek-jaar (Another sound year gone by), wil ik hierbij een vervolgje breien aan mijn persoonlijk jaaroverzicht 2010 door ook 2011 in kaart te brengen.

Uit de curve van einde 2010 die ik opnam in de  Brief aan mijn Psycholoog bleek de verwachting dat er een sterke groei zou zijn vanaf april 2011. Wel, het werd uiteindelijk juni, maar de groei was daarbij nog veel explosiever dan verwacht. Een mutatie binnen Capgemini leverde me na 8 jaren roepen in de IT-woestijn een fenomenale doorbraak in Scrum op. Net daarvoor (april) had ik Ken Schwaber nog naar Brussel gehaald voor het Agile Consortium België en een week later woonde ik, op uitdrukkelijke uitnodiging van Ken zelf, zijn sessie van de nieuwe PSPO cursus bij in Amsterdam (Professional Scrum Product Owner). Dat ik hiervoor privé-vakantie moest nemen, is intussen al lang vergeten omdat het me de kans gaf om de nodige certificaten te halen in PSPO, waarna ik goedkeuring kreeg om Professional Scrum trainer te worden in zowel PSM (Professional Scrum Master) als in PSPO. Door administratieve perikelen raakte het uiteindelijk pas gefinaliseerd in de zomer, wat op dat moment dan weer een sterke impuls in goed gevoel opleverde. Het najaar bracht vooral veel werkdruk, evangelisatie en trainingen (maken, geven en trainers trainen). Daarbij werkte ik aan publicaties op mijn blog maar ook op de award-winning blog van Capgemini, Capping IT Off, maar het hoogtepunt was de overname en publicatie op van mijn paper, The Blending Philosophies of Lean and Agile.

Privé bracht het jaar stabiliteit in de Duchenne-aandoening van onze oudste zoon, gingen we tijdens de kampen van onze zoons met de dochter naar Parijs en met het voltallige gezin hadden we een fantastische vakantie in Frankrijk. Op het einde van het jaar maakten we nog een chaotische uitstap naar London, die dan weer net op tijd kwam om een stevige professionele dip te verwerken. In de loop van het wilde 2011 moesten we verschillende elektrische toestellen vervangen. Maar dat resulteerde uiteindelijk ook in de aanschaf van Digitale TV (bij Telenet), en dat leidde tot een erg voldaan gevoel. Niet omdat ik met mijn Scrum Teams in de periode 2003-2006 hier zelf mee de basis van legde door de ontwikkeling van het Core Server Platform ervan, maar door de kwaliteit en de mogelijkheden. Na lange jaren en manmoedige inspanning was ik totaal niet meer verknocht aan het kijkkaske, maar met dat digitale gebeuren kan ik prima leven. Bij de meeste voldoening haal ik echter uit de realisatie van mijn eigen poëziebundel, La NOuvelle Cycluste (ONgekelderd en NOg dicht), nog steeds te verkijgen bij trouwens, maar ook de vrijgave van mijn lang geleden gerealiseerde muziek als hHijirt! op (niet dat dat nog een aantrekkelijk platform is, to be honest) onder de naam waar ik mijn toekomstige muziek onder wil componeren, Shifting Cargo.

Een erg opvallende evolutie op de scheidslijn van privé en werk (als die scheidslijn er al is in mijn werkaholisch geval) is dat ik nu geregeld op hotel vertoef, voor trainingen en om klanten (vooral in Nederland) te ondersteunen.

Ik heb de evolutie van 2011 doorgetrokken op deze van 2010 (en het leven dat daarvoor al had plaatsgevonden):

En wat brengt 2012?

Grootse plannen. Gewoon verder doen. Ik ben vast van plan om door te gaan op het ingeslagen pad, maar met wat noodzakelijke blikverruiming. Beetje afbouwen qua working like a dog. Terug een beetje borduren bijvoorbeeld en al eens terug wat literatuur lezen.

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Why I loved going to the PSM Course

Early December 2010 I went to a Professional Scrum Master (II) course in Zürich, taught by Ken Schwaber and facilitated by Zühlke Engineering. Already being a PSM II, I went mostly to see Ken and to look to improve my own teaching skills. And it was a very enjoyable event!

Ken and the ScrumAlliance parted in 2009 leading to Ken establishing As an outsider I don’t care about the circumstances or the rumors surrounding this. I’m only concerned with the profession of Scrum, that I have now been practicing for 7 years and for which I truly believe that Agile is finally crossing the chasm in the lowlands of Belgium and The Netherlands (and other parts of our old continent of Europe).

And I can only conclude that Ken has learned his lessons by:

  • Separating course attendance from assessment/certification;
  • Incorporating community feedback;
  • Creating a development course and for Scrum Teams in general;
  • Setting up a Product Owner program with a separate assessment;
  • Upgrading the PSM course material.

For the latter I can testify that a number of topics were already treated in my CSM by Ken in 2004, but new stuff and ideas have been included far better than in recent CSM course material that I compared it to.

What I strongly like in Ken’s teaching is his holistic perspective on Scrum, like the spirit of the Scrum Guide that he co-wrote with Jeff Sutherland. His courses go well beyond the formal mechanics of Scrum. It’s much more about why Scrum works, its psychology, the positive thinking, the social aspects. And the empirical foundation of Scrum to help us not even trying to predict the unpredictable. And beyond the theory, luckily, Ken has tons of stories and cases to share with the training participants.

This PSM course has certainly inspired me in my teaching of the Scrum Trainings that I launched at Capgemini. At a considerable scale of internal participants and geographical spread. Hoping that I can open these trainings to external audiences, and maybe even as PSM Trainer…

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Scrum – Beyond the ceremony of certifying

Why would you want to certify in anything Agile, and Scrum especially?

Well… you don’t. The right attitude will make you:

  1. want to learn about Scrum from an expert as a head-start for practicing it. Truly taste it by using the tool to get more Agile.
  2. want to assess your knowledge and experience.

Exactly the needs that is addressing. To think beyond courses. Knowledge, understanding ànd experience over paper certification, which I certainly value more:

  1. For learning purposes there is the Professional Scrum Master course, i.e. a retake of Ken’s former CSM.
  2. But there is a unique set of online assessments:
  • With the help of the communities an open assessment was created. I participated in it at the time it was still called Scrum I. It’s free of charge and you can use it as a quick check on your knowledge.
  • The level I assessment checks the fundamental Scrum knowledge (the cost of 100 $ is also included in the PSM course fee). A score of 85% is required!
  • The level II assessment requires 85% as well, which is not achievable without even more demonstrable knowledge, having applied Scrum and understanding the underlying principles. As I wrote in my blog note “Unsatisfied? Uncertified? Unvalued?“.

And, finally, Ken is assisting the development communities with the Professional Scrum Developer program, holding a course and assessments in a .Net and a Java version.

The knowledge of Scrum is verified against the Scrum Guide from co-founders Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber. Capture their insights!

An highly unserved and underrated audience however are still the Product Owners, although a crucial role in Scrum. The ScrumAlliance offers a Certified Scrum Product Owner course (‘CSPO’). But… no assessment yet. I don’t want to go into CSP, CSC or CST options because I feel they are heavily over-institutionalized. CSD is too unclear.

The ScrumAlliance verifies knowledge of Scrum against the Scrum Primer, from the Scrum Training Institute. I’ve read both and find the Scrum Guide to have the in-depth Vision of Scrum, while the Scrum Primer is more about concrete practices.

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Scrum Level I

A while ago Ken Schwaber founded, a new platform to discuss and promote Scrum. I enthousiastically registered and took the Scrum Assessment. And contributed in spreading the news.

Although my personal score (86%) did include some stupid errors it seems that, from the overall results, it is quite good. Well above the required 75% anyway to be Scrum Level I (since Wed 14th Oct 2009).

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Definition of… Scrum

Is there a way to check on the correct application of Scrum?

Most attempts end up in complex questionnaires or big assessments. This is strange as Scrum is a simple process and has distinct definitions of roles, artefacts and meetings. And I also distinguish core principles.

When presenting Scrum as the core process of my My.Fragility framework I always show my Scrum Diamond, a graphical representation of the 3 essential elements for each of the 4 Scrum ceremonies:

It makes an assessment of Scrum simple: check whether the process and the above ceremonies are in place!

And remember: Scrum prescribes a minimal, but tightly coupled, set of ceremonies. Skipping even only one implies affecting the essence of Scrum. Doing so does not necessarily mean that you are not Agile or don’t perform well, but don’t call it… Scrum.