Lion van Koppenhagen


About this site
This blog — sometimes known as my "Braindump" — is my platform for experimentation and community interaction. It is a way of offloading thoughts.

“We had started to make fire trucks that look like spaceships, building systems that no customer could truly appreciate. We had to clean that up.”

Mads Nipper

For some reason I always look at Lego for inspiration when I need to give structure to what goes on in my mind. For me this quote summarises the perpetual tendency to deform simple, elegant solutions into useless monstrosities, spending millions along the way.

I started developing software on a ZX Spectrum and no matter the years of management and consulting, that mindset of a developer is how I look at the world. The list of frameworks I have endured over the years is endless and what they all have in common, is the hours spent by organizations and teams not delivering value. Even worse, the frameworks have become resource hogs, draining organizations of time and money in the attempt to improve. So what’s the problem?

Frameworks, the imposed approach

Regardless whether the framework is called SDM, Prince2 or one of the current frameworks such as SAFe or DAD, they are pitched to the organization and imposed on the teams. Leadership has had little training and consultants are brought in to achieve a lightning change into product and software development. And then there is the failure to achieve the goals of the change. Why?

The framework became the goal

In the rush to improve organizations to achieve their goals more efficiently, the frameworks tend to become the holy grail. Process and procedures are forced upon teams and control mechanisms are put in place to provide management with progress overviews. Failure to meet targets leads to changing the consultants, changing the framework or both and to no avail. Why?

Failure to address culture

Culture, the hardest component of an organization to change. It is not the framework or methodology that makes a team successful. It is the culture and mindset in the organization that leads to success. Change needs to come from culture and a mindset, not a framework. So where do frameworks fit?

The use(fulness) of frameworks

Changing culture and mindset takes time, it also needs tangible tools to help you on the way. Following the ShuHaRi concept, frameworks can be useful as a tool in the journey of change. The most valuable element in change, being lessons learned or retrospectives, can be found in any modern framework. Use frameworks wisely, use them to support the change you wish to achieve but beware, don’t let using the framework become the goal.

If you would like to know more or need help, feel free to reach out.

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For those interested in flow, another oriental way of thinking might also be good to read up on.


Shu – In this beginning stage the student follows the teachings of one master precisely. He concentrates on how to do the task, without worrying too much about the underlying theory. If there are multiple variations on how to do the task, he concentrates on just the one way his master teaches him.

Ha – At this point the student begins to branch out. With the basic practices working he now starts to learn the underlying principles and theory behind the technique. He also starts learning from other masters and integrates that learning into his practice.

Ri – Now the student isn’t learning from other people, but from his own practice. He creates his own approaches and adapts what he’s learned to his own particular circumstances.

Applied to yourself it helps you recognise how Agile you are, applied to others, It helps you coach them in their maturity drive at the right level.

This blog — sometimes known as my “Braindump” — is my platform for experimentation and community interaction. It is a way of offloading thoughts.

With each post, I try to delve deeper into the ever-expanding universe knowledge on any subject that interests me.
I understand that growing my skills not only takes time and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, it also takes the support of others.
That’s why my blog tries to be just as much Question as it is Answer. I find that the feedback provided by my readers is just as helpful, if not more so, than the content itself. As such, I do my best to promote high-quality conversations from which everyone in the community can learn.

At the moment I closed the commenting options. I first need to research the privacy protection on this platform.

Agile and scrum are crystallisations of a mindset and a way of working. You can have that mindset and work a certain way before it is given a new shiny moniker.

Coming from Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences in the same year as Arie van Bennekum, co-author of the Agile Manifesto, his role in the Manifesto is no surprise to me. We were educated to focus on delivering solutions with the freedom to use whatever platform we found appropriate in order to provide working prototypes. The mantra was to write self-documenting coding to allow for as little documentation as possible. We learned to embrace change (in technical possibilities and in stakeholder wishes) as a natural state.
It is not that difficult to find the 4 Agile values there and to derive the Agile principles.

Very early on we learned to design small functional bits of software with a teacher that hammered the following quote in our heads:

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

We learned to put all the stuff that we wanted to design and develop in a Javelin sheet (a very old spreadsheet solution), discuss the amount of work it would be with the team and then prioritise and distribute the work. Every day we would align on progress and every week we would evaluate if what was in the pipeline was still valid. Looks rather a lot like Scrum/Kanban don’t you think?

My biggest disappointment came when I joined the SVB and was pushed back into SDM and other painful ways of the old. That’s when I decided to do a KeyNote at a Clipper developer congress about customer oriented software development and shortly thereafter I was hired by the founders of Centric, Cock Mudde and Albert Oegema to start working that way at the Volvo Truck Corporation.
From then on I have been able to take those practices and work with an Agile mindset in a Scrum manner.

And so to conclude, this is how you can be Agile and work in a Scrum way for 25+ years.

In this new era forced upon us by COVID-19 the only certainty is that things will change. Embrace it.

Working from the home office saves immensely on traveltime. Time to spend playing around with WordPress on AWS Lightsail. All my older content will be available here in time.

This site will change a lot, first on my list is the style. Not sure if I’ll buy something nice or tweak this default template.