Sketchnotes from Agile 2015

[This post is one of many sparked by Agile 2015.]

Note taking helps me to stay focused on a presentation or meeting. I used to produce loads of  densely scribbled sheets that I never looked at again, because I couldn’t find the pertinent points anyway. For Agile 2015 I decided to go the extra mile and sketchnote: to add icons and arrange all information visually. This way I can tell one note from the other, I’m likely to remember more and to actually look at my notes. And they’re likely to be pretty:


Sketchnote for Luke Hohmann’s keynote on “Super Awesome  Problems”

Before Agile 2015, with just 1 sketchnote under my belt, I would not have considered myself a sketchnoter. I mean, heck, I can’t draw to save my life (just look at the hand below). But I did train Bikablo for flipcharts and arranged loads of information for Wall-Skills. It seems to have carried over.


Sketchnote for Jessie Shternshus’ keynote on “Individuals, Interactions & Improv”

So now, yes, I do consider myself a sketchnoter! Not a particularly good one, but at least an inspiring one: Shoutout to Tim, Rob, and Kimberly – Have fun! Can’t wait to see yours!


Sketchnote on “Coaching Flow” by Esther Derby and Mike Lowery

BTW, I wasn’t the only sketchnoter:


Sketchnote for Ellen Grove’s highly engaging workshop “Games to learn about Conflict Resolution”

If you’d like to know more about Sketchnotes, check out Mike Rohde’s book. Don’t get analysis paralysis, though. Just start to sketchnote. It takes practise but and It’s fun!

PS: If you’d like to know my tricks, here they are:


Sketchnote about sketchnotes. Can you say “meta”?

Wall-Skills: Design the Box, Japanese Terms in Lean, User Stories, less +F

Recent 1-pagers on

Is the vision for your product rather fuzzy? Design the box is an awesome technique to bring clarity and focus.

If you’re in a Scrum environment you’ll might encounter Lean at one point. Here’s a vocab cheat sheet: Japanese Terms in Lean

User Stories in a nutshell 1 page

Does your job entail keeping an eye on log files? Try less +F for viewing logs

3 Horizons, find, Coaching Cards – 1-Pagers

New 1-pagers on during February 2015:

Are you sometimes stuck as a PO or Scrum master? Geoff Watts created Coaching Cards with questions meant to “unstuck” you. Get a feeling for them here:

But that’s not all, here’s more:

Mini Design Studio, Simplicity Rules, INVEST, Sprint Goal – 1-Pagers

There are a couple of new 1-pagers I created for

A Mini Design Studio is a short workshop to design single elements such as a graphical interface, short text, etc. It’s useful for product teams that jointly want to shape their product’s face.

Simplicity is 1 of 5 core values in eXtreme Programming, but what does “simple” mean exactly? Check out rules for simple code.

A good user story fulfills the INVEST criteria

A Sprint Goal allows the dev team to make good tradeoffs even if they can’t check back with the PO.

The Sketchnote Handbook

Taking notes during presentations helps me stay focused and to remember the content. Visual notetaking aka sketchnoting is more fun and the result is more interesting to others.

If you’ve never tried sketchnoting, check out “the sketchnote handbook” for a head start.

The book practises what it preaches and is very visually engaging. I especially enjoyed the guest sketchnotes at the end of each chapter. They introduce you to a range of styles and elements. Very interesting!

Clean Questions and the Power of Metaphors

A year ago I blogged about Non-Violent Communication as a means to avoid judgement and find needs. Now I think I found something even more radical (once again via Andrea Chiou): Clean Questions / Clean Language.

With Clean Language, not only do you forego judgement, you don’t even offer interpretations. It’s a bit like the game “Taboo”: You can only use words that the other person has used first. (As Clean Language was developed by therapist David Grove, the “other person” is usually a client.)

Examples of Clean Questions – X is a something said by your client:

  • And that X is like what?
  • Where is that X?
  • And is there anything else about X?
  • And what needs to happen for X?

Here’s a list of all common Clean Questions. (For my fellow German natives: Clean Questions auf deutsch)

While asking these simple, repetitive questions, you look out for metaphors used by the other person and take them literally. Metaphors make it possible to access, talk and possibly resolve very deep, semi-conscious things that would be hard or impossible to address directly:
If a client feels they don’t make progress at work, then “It’s like smashing myself head-first into a brick wall” vs. “It feels like running on a treadmill, going nowhere” describe very different experiences.

Here’s an excellent TEDx Talk on how Caitlin Walker used Clean Questions to help under-privileged teenagers to deal with anger:


I’m still on the lookout for an opportunity to try this out. If you’d like to try, here’s a great article on how to apply Clean Questions in a business context.

What do you think about the concept of Clean Language? Have you already used Clean Questions? How did it go?

The Power of Habit – Book Tip


When the insanely insightful Amy Hoy is smitten with a book, I read it. And “The Power of Habit” did not disappoint!

It’s an entertaining journey through cases that helped scientists uncover how habits (and willpower) work and how you can change them. Understanding why and how our automatic actions play out is highly important, given that they govern about 40% of all our daily actions – A staggeringly high amount.

I highly recommend reading the book! As an appetizer, here’s an excerpt on how to change a habit by changing the routine within the Cue-Routine-Reward loop.

Let’s close with some quotes I highlighted during reading: Continue reading