Shane Hastie was proposed by Dennis. Shane is a CKE. CKE as in Chief Knowledge Engineer. I love that title. You might know Shane from [his articles for InfoQ. Shane lives in New-Zealand in a timezone exactly 12 hour difference from Belgium (where I live). That makes skype calls between us kinda funny. When I talk to him at 21 PM (my time), it’s 9 am the next morning (on his side).
What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?
As a teenager in the 70‘s I was really fortunate to get involved in a progamme run by the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) that was an introduction to computer science. I spent many Saturdays writing programs in Fortran and Assembler; we even had to build our own controlled logic device 4-bit computer to understand how they work. That instilled an interest in computing and gadgets, but I didn’t go into computing straight from school. Instead I initially worked in retail – jewelry and food – which gave me a reasonable understanding of ensuring that the product you sell must meet real people’s needs. When I moved into computing as a career I brought this customer focus into my work and have found that it helps me deliver better products that meet the customer’s needs.
Malcolm Watson from Pronto Software puts it perfectly: Technology exists to serve the human need, not to be the human need.
If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?
Before I trained as a programmer I was managing a jewelry store, and was seriously considering becoming a gemologist. I’m still interested in sparkly things I suspect that my wife would have enjoyed it if I’d taken that path.
What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?
I tend to be a workaholic, and struggle to say “no” when asked to take on something new, especially if it’s something I am interested in.
Getting the right balance is really hard, and I don’t think I’ve got there yet; my wife is certain that I haven’t!
Not so sure about the “good for me bit” – it’ll be good when I do manage to find the right balance though
What drives you ?
I’m passionate about sharing what I’ve learned over the last 30 years in IT. I think that I’ve made most of the mistakes that are out there and have learned lots by doing so. If I can help some people and teams improve their way of working and instill a real focus on building products that create customer delight while having fun and working effectively together then I feel I have achieved something of value.
I’ve just spent some time with a team in Brisbane, helping them implement Agile techniques in their workplace. It was a wonderfully satisfying experience to hear them debating the merits of the practices and come to a deep understanding of what it means to work in this way. They really “got it” and we were able to put it into practice right away. The delight and happiness that this team feel in their work shines out of them and their customers really appreciate the products they’re building. Being able to help people rekindle their joy in work is tremendously satisfying. We spend most of our waking hours at work – it should be both fun and satisfying.
What is your biggest achievement?
My relationship with my wife Nancy has to count as a hugely important part of who I am – we’ve had 31 wonderful years together, have truly experienced the “in sickness and in health for richer, for poorer; for better, for worse” and are still on honeymoon.
On a professional level I would say getting my Master’s degree as an adult learner (I didn’t go to university after school, I got married instead) is something that I have found personally very satisfying. I approached it with a degree of arrogance (I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, what can these academics teach me) and found that there was a huge amount that I didn’t know, and needed to learn. It also gave me a strong understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of why the practices that I espouse work – I was working with a company in Melbourne who were adopting Agile as their way of working and studied them before and after the process change. So I learned (again) that Agile works, and also why it works so well.
What is the last book you have read?
I’ve just finished Specification by Example by Gojko. I’m busy building a course on business analysis in agile projects and his approaches are wonderful – he clearly explains the value and benefit of the ATDD practices in a simple pragmatic way. I’m planning to include his book as part of the course material.
I recently finished Radical Management by Steven Denning – another great read. He talks about overturning the fundamental ideas that underpinned management in the 20th century and focusing on the principles that drive business in the 21st – customer delight, joy in work, self-organising teams and professionalism.
What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
What are you working on at the moment and why does it matter?
Thanks for asking – I’m really glad to be working with an international team under the auspices of the Agile Alliance and the International Institute for Business Analysis on defining the Agile Extension to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge.
Currently there is a vast gulf in understanding about the role of analysis on agile projects, which is leading to distrust and misunderstanding in the professional communities. I want to bridge these gaps – analysis is a vital skillset that every team building software products needs to have, and the fundamental knowledge of the analyst is really important on an agile project. How analysis is undertaken changes significantly and business analysts need to understand that their role will be different on agile projects – in my opinion it becomes much richer and more rewarding as we shepherd the product to delivery rather than focusing on writing cumbersome documents that are frequently ignored.
Who do you think I should ask next?
1. Johanna Rothman: she’s a great author, inspirational and wonderfully pragmatic in her writings, fantastic to work with (I recently had the opportunity to build and deliver a workshop on working effectively in distributed teams with her), and deeply passionate about improving the world of work. The AYE conference (she is one of the organisers) is a life-changing event. If you haven’t got her already then she’s my number one.
2. My colleague Sharon Robson– one of the Influential Women in Testing, she was also profiled in the Women in Agile program at Agile 2010. She is a great tester who is influencing the direction of the craft, tells great stories and is making a real difference with her work.
3. A friend and confederate James King, he has a low profile in the Agile community but is doing some great stuff with the teams he’s working with across Australia. He has designed a couple of really good games that help imbed the agile attitudes and understand the principles.
If you like these answers, I hope you buy the book: Who is agile
In the book lots of agilists answer the same questions and Shane’s answers also
Yvonne vanderLaak’s question: Who inspires you/is your role model?