Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Lean coffee Gent affords me unique access to a group of highly skilled agile experts. Lean coffee itself is our monthly meetup where we discuss all things agile following the lean coffee principle. Other than participation, attendance also offers access to our invite-only slack channel. The lean coffee gent slack is invite only and at the end of each evening, we offer everyone present the opportunity to get invited to the group chat. We’ve started a couple of years ago and by now it’s a veritable who’s who of the Belgian Agile world.

And that gets us into some pretty interesting conversations! This week, Peter seeded an inspiring topic that spurred me into a monologue and resulted in an inspiring conversation.

I will publish some of those excerpts here.

I ‘m not sure if I’m right, but I prefer bottom up culture over top down strategies. Not all strategies are top down, I do see that. A group can decide on strategy for themselves too, but I’ll only believe in its value if the entire group or a vast majority including key influence group members support and foster the decision. Under those circumstances (and some other prerequisites) I can see the strategy enter into their culture and take hold.

As such, it feels to me that culture eats strategy is very apt. But I’m not sure it’s the original meaning.
As for if strategy is worth while, I’m sure we need a definition of strategy before we continue down that discussion.
That being said. Blindly pushed strategy that is too different from a groups culture has no way of succeeding without carefully building group support.

Checked out the origin and apparently, yes, Fields had that in mind.
Apparently tho, some people consider replacing culture with agile in that quote.. To then consider “agile eats..”, it feels like a dangerous mistake to confuse culture there with agile.
Agile is a strategy that is often easily adopted and has a better chance of succeeding than some old-fashioned strategies..
But bad culture also eats agile for breakfast. Which is why big scale agile transformations take long and are painful and difficult. (And interesting and deff my next career interest)

Then to ultimately zone in on the .. is strategy bad and is there a problem..
I agree that artificially imposing incompatible strategies is a bad practice. That being said, I do believe that strategies being delegated to a strategic few that then set a course for the group is a good business practice (see also sociocracy) Imposing those blindly though, to a culture that is at odds with it, is painful at best and often simply a disaster. The best way to stop change is saying yes and then ignoring doing it.

Strategy should be decided and then not imposed but grown into the culture.

A lot of this coincided with my experience in large companies and organisations, and with my recent interest in S3. Once you’re familiar with the s3 patterns, it’s easy to recognize what’s happening and to start facilitating solutions. My interests tend to materialize around me, so I’m glad to say, our first experimenting with Sociocracy 3.0 is later this month. Join us, if that’s what you’re into.

Special thanks to Peter, Erwin & Bert.
Peter Janssens is agile catalyst, you can find out more about him on in/peterblogs
Erwin Tollenaere is agile coach, meet him at in/erwintollenaere
Bert is business analyst, check him out at in/bertheymans

Find all about Lean Coffee Gent at
Join our first S3 experiment meetup, later this October 2019, at

Well hello there.

Feels a bit like going back to my roots. Almost.

I started on blogger, went to self hosted wordpress, did all of that, somehow landed on twitter, and now imported the entire 3k posts into with a paying subscription.

There’s a stupid story about why that got decided ūüôą It involves setting up an expensive amazon combo and then forgetting about it for a while. It was … Interesting.

And really put that cost here into perspective.

So here I am.

Less interested in Twitter than ever. And back writing blogs. Not like in 2004 when I posted that first one…. On my phone now and somewhat older. But back and writing. Yey!

Also somewhat more eloquent. Obviously. ūüėé

I did a PERMA test..

Your PERMA results are:

Positive emotions = 6.67
Engagement = 8
Relationships = 7
Meaning = 8.33
Accomplishment = 8.33
Health = 7
Negative emotions = 3
Loneliness = 2
Overall Well-Being = 7.69

NOTE: Keep track of these scores to see if any of the metrics improve over time. You will be prompted to take this survey again at the end of the course. Please write these numbers down in your notes, take a screenshot of this page, or record wherever you will be able to reference later. Once you click out of this survey, you may not be able to refer back and see your scores.

Interesting results. I’ll take a new one in a few weeks after the Coursera Yale course I’m following.

15th of April. Update!

Your PERMA results are:

Positive emotions = 8
Engagement = 9
Relationships = 7
Meaning = 8
Accomplishment = 8
Health = 7.33
Negative emotions = 3
Loneliness = 2
Overall Well-Being = 8.06

NOTE: Keep track of these scores. Please write these numbers down in your notes, take a screenshot of this page, or record wherever you will be able to reference later. Once you click out of this survey, you may not be able to refer back and see your scores.

New Beginnings.

It’s been since September 14, 2015 that I posted a blogpost on here.
It’s been since September 14, 2015 at 12:40 am that I last commented on here and my closing words were “Moving on, there‚Äôs a new tomorrow.”

A lot has happened since then.
Truly a fucklot.

I’m a different person now. Stuff I wrote then is no longer me & the basic tenant of my blogging here has gained nuance that will probably make me archive some old stuff. Then again, on the internet nothing is ever gone; not even when the blog was offline.
Watch out what you post online, kids ūüėČ

I’m somewhat back tho.

With a barebones resurection of all my data & some new stories to tell. New goodbyes & adventures.
Because that’s ultimately why I’m here. To tell a few more stories.

Strap in.


I’ve been putting this post off for a while now. Well, that’s not entirely correct, but it’s honestly¬†long overdue.
I knew I’d want to write this about a year ago, and well, this is it.

My parents died years ago. I suck at dates, so I put them in my calendar. Let me look them up, they are 14th September 2004 for my dad, and there is a blog post And 25th July 2008 for my mom, with  on here.
That’s been 11 years and 7 years. And for all this time, I’ve had calendar events to remind me in summer.¬†And that simply sucks.

Each summer, there’s two days where I am reminded of these shitty days. I remember my parents plenty, when I see my oldest kid who looks like my dad, when people tell me he looks like my dad. When people tell me the youngest probably has my mothers eyes. I’m not sure. Probably because I can’t remember them, it’s been more than 7 years since I saw her. ¬†Each time I look at my life, compare it to others and realize that having grandparents would be a hell of a lot easier on several levels. And then there’s the bloody christian tradition days. Society smacks me with the obligation to do the whole flowers thing. On that and only that day. There is no getting around that they’re dead.
I live in their damned house, for fucks sake.

It’s also silly to remember their death days. This only came to me last year. Took me bloody 10 years to find that out. There is no sense in remembering the bad times & this specific date is a very special kind of bad times. The worst day of their lives, probably. Birthdays make more sense. Wedding dates, whatever. If one would need an extra day, that is.

It’s time to remove those horrible calendar notes from my life.

I also realized that this insight is a fresh step in the process. A new phase, what have you. Very human to work with phases & stuff, well, this is the end of one of mine. ¬†And this is the blog post to do that with. I haven’t been blogging much this last year, and there’s a retrospective coming up, but this is one piece of process that does get¬†an immediate post.


So it’s time to close off part of my life.

bye bye annoying calendar shit, bye bye useless reminders of bad days, time to get on with it. There’s reminders all around.

Stuff you will wonder about when installing Bamboo

Bamboo is software by Atlassian that will build your software and do stuff You might also know Jira, Confluence, Crowd & Stash. Their PR machine is excellent (Like that time when they hijacked 10 years GIT. They made a beautiful congratulatory page & article that had half my twitter feed think Atlassian invented git.  They released Stash in 2012 that incorporates git amongst others. Git was creaded in 2005.)

Installing Atlassian software leads to frustrations, about the most stoopid shit. Mostly lack of full information. Like default port numbers, etc. So in my horrible search, I’ll write some of the shit I found out here, for those who care. This might grow after posting as the frustrations continue.

I don’t feel like I’m pushing the envelope either, we just need our software installs to be fully automated in Ansible, repeatable without human interaction and flexible. Something we achieve for our own software, for a bunch of other middleware, but that fails horribly for the Atlassian stack.

Bamboo Network Ports?

This depends on your config, but by default, you’ll need to open port 8085 for http access and port¬†54663 for your remote agents.


Elastic Bamboo EC2 IAM policy

In short, there is no official EC2 IAM policy.

Atlassian wants you to just give Bamboo¬†full access to your account. You don’t want that. ¬†Horror stories about what can go wrong, like auto terminating unrelated machines in this question “What permissions does the bamboo IAM user need for Elastic Bamboo?” You don’t want to give Bamboo rights to any account running anything serious. But if you need security, you’ll need it in the same account for VPC reasons, etc. A request for such a policy (this is less that 50 short lines of text) has been filed in July 2012 as BAM-11932¬†and there has been no answer to date except that they will not provide a¬†IAM security policy for this big ¬†bamboo feature.

You can at least restrict the accunt to the services it needs, as to not have full priviliged accounts floating around, but ultimately, this does not solve any real problem, where your Bamboo instance might shut down all your production machines.

 "Statement": [
 "Action": "ec2:*",
 "Effect": "Allow",
 "Resource": "*"
 "Effect": "Allow",
 "Action": "elasticloadbalancing:*",
 "Resource": "*"
 "Effect": "Allow",
 "Action": "cloudwatch:*",
 "Resource": "*"
 "Effect": "Allow",
 "Action": "autoscaling:*",
 "Resource": "*"

I am working on a policy that would allow Bamboo to only control his own buildnodes, but so far I have no code to post here.

Bamboo behind a Proxy

The documentation here is not that horrible. It’s all there, just read it very carefully & twice. Also, there are multiple pages for this. ¬†The very official looking “Integrating Bamboo with Apache HTTP server” in the documentation; and the actually much more helpful “How to set up Bamboo behind proxy (Apache)

These documents however do not touch on the considerations for running remote agents with a proxied setup. (see further the remote agents point later)


Remote agents

The documentation about remote agents makes them seem MAGICAL. Just run the provided line & shit ‘ll work. This might be the case when you just dump all your machines in the network, connect directly to the Bamboo machine, etc. If you need to run this on internet with (god forbid) security, VPCs and a reverse proxy, this won’t do.

The main resource here for starting the configuration is¬†“Troubleshooting Remote Agents” and you’ll want to look at what addresses to use for the¬† &¬† that you set in the general settings page

The URL provided for starting the¬†remote agent will probably contain the URL you put in the config as¬†Base URL. If you’re proxying, this will not work and you will need to replace this with the actual IP of your bamboo server. ¬†This is because the broker communication is over a different port, you might also proxy or tunnel this port from your Proxy to solve this.

java -jar atlassian-bamboo-agent-installer-5.8.1.jar http://<ip>/agentServer/


So, like .. (I’m in simple mode, because my mind is still blown. I’m not surprised, mind you, just a blown mind.) We use Atlassian Hipchat & the previous build tool uses that extensively. As one would expect ūüôā So when moving to Atlassian Bamboo, I’d expected near automagic Atlassian Hipchat connecting, a bit like what they try with Jira & Confluence, but simpler, because it’s only chat. ….. No.

Note that Bamboo does not yet support using HipChat as a global IM server. HipChat can only be used in the plan notifications area as shown here
source: Integrating Bamboo with HipChat

There is an IM server pane in the setup. Ignore that,¬†Hipchat is not meant to go there. You can try, but I didn’t get it to decently work, even though “succesfully” sending messages into the aether. ¬†Trying to get this working none the less meant making a paying user on Hipchat instead of an API key, etc. ¬†Spare yourself the¬†time.

The ONLY official way today to connect Hipchat to Bamboo is to configure it per build plan in the notifications pane. The “add notification” button has a Hipchat option.. never mind the “no IM server” message. There you can add an API key.
Getting this to work on a Hipchat server you run yourself is .. well, creatively solved by editing /etc/hosts (you see where this is going, I’m really trying to stay positive though)
You can NOT hoewever add this server wide & the only real option is to provide an admin level api key to everyone who needs this in their build plans. (Before you ask, I don’t want to let users create those api keys with their accounts, I don’t need half the build plan notifications to stop working after we delete his account for any reason) The Hipchat API at admin level alows full access to everything, including creating and deleting users, rooms, etc. Licences are per user, so you’re essentially putting user details with access to actions that generate extra costs out in your user base. Just so your hipchat users can read that there’s a build ready. (I wish I was making this up)

The only hope for a better solution lies in a user comment by “asdf asdf” on the Integration page. The sad truth is that they used a third party plugin to connect Atlassian Bamboo with Atlassian Hipchat. I am loathe to go find out how much it costs. (I’m not adverse to spending money for good reasons but this would be absurd)

We are using the 3rd party plugin “HipChat rooms” as a workaround.

It has a global configuration to specify hosted HipChat host and as a bonus room name is easily selected from a list that is presented to the user.

The plugin when configured is available as “Hipchat Rooms”, but the plugin itself is called¬†“HipChat plugin for Bamboo“.¬†Made by¬†Go2Group, Vendor supported and¬†Free. (They must be saints.) And more importantly, It Just Works. And it keeps my credentials safe. Like any “Connect to a chat server” thing should, this day and age.

Consider & fix as you prefer, but we ended up installing a third party plugin to get 2 Atlassian products to work together. (Try reading that last bit out loud.)

Some links of relevance and hope, yet ultimately only sadness & frustration.

MORE questions!

The questions keep coming & most of these aren’t rocket science, it’s just that for a¬†commercial product, the solutions aren’t very professional and the search to find them is often simply horrible. And sometimes, the functionality is Just Not There.

Questions I’ve figured out & will update on

Where is the database config etc?
Can I automatically install Bamboo
What about the bamboo init script & how good is it?

 Questions I have still to figure out

Can the remote buildnodes detect their Agent-specific capabilities, like different java versions?
How do I provide the buildnode with a list of his Agent-specific capabilities, so that it can tell the server?


Provided for the courtesy of anyone who needs this info.

Because I don’t feel I’m asking anything spectacular here & the information is simply lacking. ¬†So in the hopes of sparing if only one person the frustration.

I was recently asked to speak at the fresh local Atlassian User Group meeting, but honestly, I don’t feel my current experiences make me a good spokesperson, unless the point is to wallow in collective disgust at how horrible some things work.

The fact that I was prompted to make a page like this honestly says it all.

One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people.

I sometimes quote this to people

There’s a reason you separate military and the police.
One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people.
When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.
– Commander William Adama, Battlestar Galactica (imdb)

painfully relevant, considering there’s military personnel on duty in our cities these days.

Visit Russia.

Why are we not going there more?

In a country covering nine time zones and one-sixth of the world‚Äôs land mass, stretching from the Pacific to the Baltic, from the Arctic to the Central Asian deserts, from near-medieval villages where people still draw water from wooden wells by hand, through single-factory towns and back to the blue glass and steel skyscrapers of the new Moscow ‚ÄĒ TV is the only force that can unify, rule and bind the people.


Ignore the fear striking your hearts at words like Russia, rule, bind and Moskow. And read the other parts. About time zones, wooden wells & futuristic New- cities.

Why is nobody I know going there?!

The answer is probably in the article itself. It’s a scary overview of Russian gov’t media control, molding the public through TV & media control with some poignant examples.
Who’d want to go to a country like that?
Pieces like this one remind me of how easily influenced large groups of people are. And remind me that we too are a large body of citizens, gobbling up media & seeing the wider world through a lense that’s shaped by agendas that we have no clue to or most of the time don’t even realize exist. And honestly even if we do realize, it’s hard to step away from it. If all around you is that image, there is no turning away. And even if there is, the cost is casting yourself from the society that does, en masse, subscribe to that image, those views, that idea.
There are people deciding what shows get made & shown everywhere. And a look into this scary Russia might as wel serve as a mirror to what we ourselves are subject to. Even in this very article, by the way.

So why is nobody going there? Because our society isn’t into Russia & likes to portray a scary otherworldly society where everything is bad and different and scary. Even though glimpses of their society, like a recent one of their export products, Masha & Bear, somehow seem to reveal a people much like us, with kids that like being entertained by a very funny little girl.

So next time you think about Russia, don’t think about the propaganda on either side, but realise that they’re all just people (almost quoting Sting here). And try something different. Try to name 10 positive things you know about Russia. And if you don’t manage that, realize that should be easy for a country that big, that many people, all living lives, in nine time zones.. There are, beyond a doubt, 10 things that are good about Russia. And if you can’t make that list? That probably says something about you. About us, because I can’t either.. About the culture we live in.

And wonder with me,
Why am I not traveling to Russia for my next globetrotting trip?!

De Android Bancontact app is super handig!

Een stukje hangouts conversatie ..

bcc app is nochtans suuuuperhandig
Mijn Babysit Aanvaardt BCC!!!!!!!

das obsceen
dat is waarom wij allemaal in tech werken

omdat IK dan niet meer ‘s nachts, moe, koud & te laat aan een bank moet staan om een nog te berekenen aantal euri’s uit de muur te halen en dan nog niet te kunnen passen

De bewuste Bancontact / Mister Cash app. (Wist je trouwens dat het niet “Bankcontact”, maar “Bancontact” is?! I checked op de bank kaart!!)