Call for Sessions Agile Tour Brussels 2013

The Agile Belgium Community is calling for speakers for the Agile Conference: Agile Tour Brussels 2013. This event will take place on the 27th of September in Brussels Belgium.

Deadline for submission:  20th of June 2013

What’s Agile Tour Brussels?

It’s the 2nd edition of the conference Agile Tour Brussels. Last year we gathered attendees and speakers from Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland to share our passion for Agile. The purpose of this conference is to gather in one place Agile practitioners and people wanting to know more about Agile.

At Agile Tour Brussels you will speak to a mix of attendees who are either completely new to Agile, experienced or experts.

We are looking for any kind of sessions (Lecture, interactive talk, workshop, technical,…) on any topics like Scrum, XP, KanBan, Lean, Devops, Leadership, Lean Startup, Coaching, System thinking, Product Aspect, Agile Games,…

We are looking for different levels of sessions, sessions for beginner, advanced and expert. We are also looking for new and experienced speakers.

How to submit a session?

To submit a session, fill in the form located here:

If you never registered to the website, you will be asked to create an account.

Tips for a successful submission:

  • Don’t forget to specify that you are applying for Agile Tour Belgium – Brussels
  • Specify the size of the audience you’d like to have for your session (e.g < 100 persons)
  • Sessions must be in English
  • We would prefer to have session of 1 hour maximum

All information about the event and previous edition can be found on

If you have any questions, feel free to drop an email at

Thanks in advance for your support!

The Agile Tour Brussels Organization Team.

Agile @ the university (UCL) Show & Tell

Agile at the university

Marc explained previously how the UCL computer science department runs their student project as an agile project: teams of 4 students develop an Android application of their own choosing. Professor Yves Deville acted as the customer of the team, Marc Lainez provided agile coaching and the teaching assistants acted as onsite coaches.

Shortly before the final release of the projects, the university invited Agile Belgium to attend the Show & Tell of the teams.

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The project

Professor Deville explained the context, objectives and challenges of the project: this is a one semester project for 60 students in 15 4-person teams. The students are expected to apply cross-disciplinary skills required to design, build and deliver an application. The project is a practical introduction to both mobile computing and agile, which are new to most of the students. Agile is new for the teaching staff too, they’ve only had a few introductory sessions about agile.

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The coaches

Marc Lainez, who had presented agile sessions before at the university, and Agilar helped the teaching team to devise a simple agile process. Every team used the same process and constraints. Octo Technology provided their Appaloosa private app store so that students could publish application updates for their customer, coaches and beta users.

Running this project in the university with little agile experience entailed accepting some compromises:

  • Automated testing was recommended but not mandatory. Very few teams had any automated tests, which could pose a problem when the applications are developed further
  • Pair programming was recommended, not mandatory. In their retrospectives the students gave feedback on when they would and wouldn’t use pair programming
  • Because the project didn’t have a dedicated room for kanban boards and other information radiators, the teams used an online tool to track progress and collaborate
  • Although the students came up with the ideas for the products, the professor acted as their customer.
  • Because neither students nor teaching staff worked on the products full time, coaching and retrospective time was limited. For example, there were only 30 minutes per team to perform an iteration retrospective and getting ready for the next iteration.

agileucl_compromises agileucl_retro agileucl_coaches agileucl_coachespro

The teams and their product

The first team presented CheckMyBeer, a beer guide and rating application. They liked pair programming and Trello for collaboration and communication and were very motivated as they worked on an application they had chosen. The regular sprints helped them to deliver and avoid “student syndrome

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The second team developed the “Bouboule” game. They also found the project very motivating and liked the prioritisation, estimation techniques and opportunities to change course that agile gave them.

agileucl_team2a agileucl_team2b

A third team developed “LLNCampus” a friendlier and more integrated view on the existing data on the campus website.   This has the potential to become the premier way that students get information about courses, lecture rooms and facilities on the campus.


The next team developed “Safe Area“, a tool that provides different techniques to keep confidential information on the phone (like keys, codes and passwords) safe. Special mention to the value of regular and fast feedback from your clients and users.

agileucl_team4a agileucl_team4b

The final team presented “Treasure Hunt”, an application that allows you to script small “adventures” so that you can create treasure hunts, touristic information or travelogues. Again, the value of rapid customer feedback allowed them to refine their original idea and take their product into unexpected directions. We often discover what an application is (also) useful for by using it. You may discover a whole new market and then “pivot“, as the cool kids say nowadays.

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All the teams have been able to develop and publish an application, using a new methodology and new technology while having only a limited amount of time. There’s never enough time, you discover what your customer needs as you go along, there’s technology churn, tools don’t work as expected, there are team issues… It’s just like real life. 🙂

You can find all the applications on the UCL/INGI developer page.

Looking back

Overall, teachers and students seemed happy with the agile approach:

  • Regular customer feedback made it possible to focus on those few features that really add value, instead of trying to force in all the features you’d imagined needing at the start of the project
  • The customer and coach roles took a lot of time from the teaching staff, but that investment provided value in steering the project and resolving issues. Having a bit more time for retrospectives and sprint preparation would have been useful. One customer, two onsite coaches and one meta-coach all working part-time on the project is not a lot to follow up 15 product teams.
  • Despite the effort required by the process, the structure in two-week sprints clearly helped to focus teams and even out the workload. No more last minute late night hacking sessions. Well… a lot less than usual 🙂
  • Teams experimented with agile practices. Some teams fully applied pair programming, others only used it in some circumstances. Some teams liked standup meetings, others didn’t need them as they paired and collaborated so much already. The important thing is to know what the techniques are, how they work and why you would use them so that you can decide what to use in your context
  • The teams managed to get a product from scratch into the Android marketplace in a few weeks of part-time work. Impressive.

This is a great initiative by the UCL. I wish more schools and universities allowed their students to experience an agile project. I can only dream of students entering the workplace with a successful agile project under their belt and who think this is the “normal” way of creating products. Professor Deville and Marc Lainez will publish their experiences in a paper so that other universities can learn from the experience. We’ll let you know when the paper is available.

If any other universities or schools want to know more about agile, the Agile Belgium community is here to help. Contact us.

Thank you UCL computer science department, Marc Lainez and Octo Technology for making this project possible. Thank you to the students for their feedback on agile and their warm welcome.

Mini XP Day Benelux 2013 report

Here we are, now entertain us

The Mini XP Day Benelux 2013 conference on April 26th in Mechelen re-ran 12 (actually 13) of the favourite sessions of XP Days Benelux 2012.


Ruud Wijnands and Dirk Devriendt kick off the day.

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Selling your session (part 1: morning)

At the start of the morning and afternoon sessions the presenters get 30 seconds to pitch their session to the audience. This allows the participants to decide at the latest responsible moment which session they’ll attend. And it allows our presenters to express their creativity.


Presenters getting ready to pitch their session.


Merlijn van Minderhout and Martijn Sanders help troubled testers by explaining how they used SpecFlow to test an embedded device.


Frederieke Ubels and Feike Groen how does Agile Innovation Planning.


Bruno Sbille used Star Wars characters to illustrate leadership styles. The session hadn’t even started and Darth Vader had already killed one of our participants.

minixpday2013_tipping point

Ron Eringa and Martijn Dehing asked who wanted Agile to spread like an epidemic in their organisation, by reaching the Tipping Point. A lot of people seemed to like the agile virus.

Lunch and warmup sessions

Elewijt Center served an excellent lunch. Olivier Costa and Thien Que Nguyen provided a relaxing Aikido and yoga session to help with digesting all the ideas and food.


How’s the food, Olivier? Mmmmm….

Afternoon sessions, more selling


Erwin van der Koogh invited us to his Storytelling in Business session by telling a story. Due to the 30 second limit he couldn’t finish his story. Only participants to his workshop could hear the ending. Cunning…


Wing Yu Chong and Remi-Armand Collaris make Agile Contracting fun by turning it into a game. You can’t change the rules during the game. Unless your name is Calvin.


Pierluigi Pugliese presents Congruent Leadership. Can we send Darth Vader to this session to teach him that killing participants is not a great leadership technique?


Bruno Sbille and Martin Mahaux presented a perfectly prepared and rehearsed sketch to introduce their session on how to use improvisation techniques to better understand customers and users.


Marc Lainez introduces a game to make the hard choices we face with technical debt explicit.


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All presenters get a bottle of the local Carolus beer as a thank you from the organisers. Every participant could choose a gift that they could use in their work.

Don’t forget the Call for Sessions for XP Days 2013


The Call for Session for XP Days 2013 on 28-29 November 2013 in Mechelen will open at the end of May.

YOU CAN BE A PRESENTER TOO! Even if you’ve never presented a session before, the organisers and other presenters collaborate to get the best out of each session. Remember: the best way to learn at a conference is to present a session.

Invite your colleagues, friends and family to present at XP Days where the agile community meets to collaborate, share, learn and have fun.

Watch the XP Days site for full details about the call for session.

Goodbye! Until next time



At Mini XP Day participants share their stories, ideas and experiences. The discussions continued in the bar.

See you again at XP Days Benelux 2013!

Photos by Thien Que Nguyen and Pascal Van Cauwenberghe

What participants said

  • Not all sessions were directly related to Agile/XP
  • 4 inspiring talks
  • Nice location, good food
  • To improve: too much quality content. It’s too difficult to choose between sessions
  • Please share the presentations => see the Mini XP Day program page
  • Helpful, practical and fun again!!
  • I need a session to learn how to sketch => can someone propose a sketching session for XP Days 2013?
  • I’ll be back!
  • Broad spectrum of tracks and sessions
  • Fresh way to give 30 second intros to talks
  • To improve: more sessions, shorter breaks => we like to keep breaks relatively long to maintain a sustainable pace, an XP practice we often forget when we’re having fun
  • To improve: more international speakers => if you’re international, please consider submitting a session proposal for XP Days 2013. If you’re local, please submit a proposal too.

InfoQ was at XP Days 2012

Ben Linders from InfoQ wrote articles about sessions and interviewed presenters at XP Days 2012. You can find these on the InfoQ site: