Archive for October, 2012

Failing Well from Jabe Bloom on Vimeo.

Xavier is another person that Xavier Quesada brought me in contact with. Yes Mr Visual Management is not in the book yet, but we have already too many Europeans and with his wife already in the book and a second baby on it’s way, I assume he has a little more patience … 😉 I love meeting new people, but writing their introduction is really hard. In this case, I just love Xavier. He dresses up at agile courses, uses agile games, played in a rockband and is not afraid to say he has to reread a book multiple times… On top of that Xavier is part of the Board of Directors of Agile Spain and has helped organizing International agile conferences like Agile Open Spain 2009, Conferencia Agile Spain 2010 and XP2011.

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

Not many people know that I dress up in my Agile courses. I also like the attendees to play games I have invented. Definitely, what has most influenced me were the creative moments I experienced in my childhood. For example, I made very imaginative drawings and I played in rock bands.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

I think I would have worked in something related to ecology, to help nature or save wild animals. In fact, several years ago I applied to be part of the Rainbow Warrior crew but it was very difficult to be accepted. You must know how to climb, scuba dive, etc.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

My biggest challenge is to improve my empathy and listening more so as to understand people’s needs and to assume that people need to get dirty so that they learn. Each person has his or her own speed to change. I feel lucky for having worked with really good managers that mentored me. Anyway, some of my best teachers right now are my daughters; they teach me to be kind, patient and coherent.

What drives you?

I like to help people with their jobs so they can enjoy work more (it is like a drug for me) and even improve their personal lives. (Agile is about understanding people, so it can even help you to enhance the way you manage relationships with people you love).

What is your biggest achievement?

I feel lucky of being part of the teams that re-loaded Agile Spain and launched Agile Barcelona, that nowadays is a really energetic and hyperactive community with activities almost every week. I’m also honored of counting with some of the best [Spanish speakers] Agile practitioners for teaching in the first worldwide Postgraduate in Agile Methods, a fantastic experience we have held this year in Barcelona. Thinking on IT projects, I have an achievement every time I help a team to solve a difficult situation. Usually it is not a technical problem but related to human interactions. I remember when I started on a project that was more than a year late. It consisted of the integration of the work of 8 suppliers. I had to put 450 issues on a huge Kanban. I held several workshops so that everyone would work together as a team in order to launch the system in 4 months.

What is the last book you have read?

I’m stuck on Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development (Larman & Vodde). I’ve been reading and re-reading it for months.

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

What is Agile for me? 🙂 Every time, I think it is more about Individuals and interactions over processes and tools than about any other statement.

Whom do you think I should ask next?

Angel Medinilla: Angel has a huge knowledge and experience on Agile, Lean, Kanban, Management, Aikido, etc. He is incredible giving powerful and funny speeches. You must see him in action!. He also has de ability to shake your world with deep, thought questions that lead you to reflect, react and not be resigned to the impediments and conflicts you need to resolve.

Barcelona, Spain

If you like these answers. You might want to check out our book: who is agile

This week was my birthday (According to my 5 year old daughter I turned 14…)

As all of you, I received ton’s of messages on my Facebook wall.

If I look at twitter, I received about half of that on my twitter account. Which is remarkable as I have about 5 times as much “friends” on twitter.

I received 2 google+ messages, which is not surprising as I hardly use that channel.

Yet one of them was one of the nicest message I received. A youtube message from Marcin

I received a (scheduled) digital card from Plaxo. Ah, I get a few plaxo reminders every day. I prefer to send a personal message on the day itself. Looks like I’m not alone.

Another nice surprise was a card (yes a physical card) from the people of 10to1

I have lots of twitter interactions/conversations/chats (can we call that twats from now on?) with both Tom & Koen. Although I think I only met them one or twice, it feels like I know them for a long time, with all these digital interactions.

Receiving the card impressed me. They went all the way to figure out my adress, figure out my birthday and then schedule the card. Nothing extremely difficult, yet a lot of dedication.

I received also 20 Skype chats. Which I all used to connect deeper with the people.

My reply was always along the lines of :
Thank you.
And how is live for you?

With some that resulted in a polite short answer, with others (typically) people in a team I am currently coaching] that ended in an interesting conversation.

In the company I was today I brought pastries . And put them on the
desk next to me. That resulted in some interesting and even very personal talks.
A college remarked that this was better then the usual candy, as with candy people take a one and leave, with patries, they say hi.

This time, at least 3 problems were solved quicker because of that. Well worth buying the pastries.

The most personal  chat I had with  my mother congratulating me by -big surprise-, by phone .

This all reminded me of what my friend Jim Mccarthy said at ALE2012: “You agile people have it all wrong about the need of F2F.” He added: “you are right that we need large bandwidth communication. You are right that so far the best know way is F2F. Yet I’m convinced it’s not the only way.”(he of course said that with much smarter words, then what I remember.)

Yes, I feel very connected to many people that send me a message, even if some live halve a planet away. Twitter, FB, YouTube, Instagram, Foursquare, tell me so much more then what I heard from my friends in the pub. Combine that with the debt of Checkin

For me in the future the companies that use this kind of open communication best, will have it easier to scale beyond the normal team boundaries.

What channels do you use to connect?

PS And while I was writing this article I received this HB video . This was a great message, because in the last conversation I had with Leen, I had mentioned vegetables. So she linked my birthday with vegetables and hup a video that reminded me of our conversation. That’s how deeper connections happen.

I have been following Guy for a while on twitter. A funny thing happened when I proposed him to be in the book. First he thought he did not deserve it, then when I convinced him, we also got into a conversation about blogging and in the end, he started helping out on the book. This makes him the first team member to be in the book. I love the team role he invented for the book WTT: Weekend Typo Terminator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

For a long time I was not interested in management, and I suspect it has to do with being a really poor leader in a youth group when I was seventeen, and from a later experience with being assigned authority over others during my military service. I didn’t like telling others what to do, and in the case of the youth group, I didn’t like that they didn’t bother doing what I did tell them to do…

I happily held on to being a developer for a good number of years, while younger, more ambitious teammates got promoted. Eventually, I did take a team lead role, and later started managing the lab – and it sort of grew on me. I found there are things I could do to help others be more effective. Next, I came across the servant-leader concept, which is about helping people grow rather than forcing work out of them. It made immediate and perfect sense to me, and helped me define my role to myself in terms that had nothing to do with my early negative experience with “leadership”.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

Hmmm… I love doing creative stuff – I studied art in high school, and used to paint a lot. Recently I have been doing crafts with my son on weekends, and occasional simple computer graphics design work. Sometimes people (who probably don’t think of software development as being a creative craft) tell me I’m wasting my talent. There’s a good chance I’d have become an animator – I did some hand-drawn animation (color pencils on many hundreds of pages) and really liked doing it.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

It is my nature to try to avoid confrontation. This is a problem if you want to be effective in general, and specifically if you hold a management position or want to coach others. Being aware of it, I challenge myself to confront more, to avoid bypassing conflicts or accepting things as they are.

What drives you?

In the past few years I discovered that I draw joy from being just outside my comfort zone. Does it mean my new comfort zone is outside my comfort zone? 😉

What is your biggest achievement?

I’ll focus on the professional achievements, I can’t compare those to the pride I take in my family and the home we’ve built. I work for Software AG, in a very distributed R&D organization. I manage the lab in Israel, and in the past few years I have an additional role in helping the whole R&D organization go Agile. I’m very proud of the speed and depth of Agile adoption in my “home team”. I think the team is doing great – it is creative and energetic – and inspires others throughout the company (and elsewhere). I enjoy sharing this experience with others, and seeing a ripple effect – things we do suddenly make sense to another team, and then someone else picks it up, and so forth. This good experience my team has with Agile is a great support for my global role, because when I coach other teams and individuals, the practical examples often come in handy to complement and validate the theory. Especially in areas where we struggled, and tried a number of different ways to do something. However, I don’t see this as “sharing best practices” – it’s never “one Shu fits all”.

What is the last book you have read?

I was always a bookworm, and sometimes have too many in progress, such as now:

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

What do you like about Agile?
I’ve been in different types of R&D organizations before becoming aware of Agile – from big, heavily documented projects, to fresh, energized startup (that magnificently crashed when it ran out of money). Looking back, most of my personal experience was lacking an explicit R&D process, and I think it worked (in a sub-optimal way) mainly due to the sense of ownership people had for their work. So Agile (and Scrum was the first manifestation of it that I learned of) was a very attractive balance between too much process and chaos. Agile introduced a new type of flexibility and a concept of “sustainability first” that I had not encountered before.
The first thing that caught me was the project management aspects. But after a few years of practicing it and reading more professional literature than I have ever dreamt of reading, it suddenly dawned on me (and largely thanks to reading Lyssa Adkins) that it is not just an efficient management approach – it has ethics to it. Values. Giving people tools to make their work life better now, and wherever they choose to go next.

Whom do you think I should ask next?

  • Lior Friedman – Lior coached my team briefly when we got started. I liked his approach, he helped us identify many actionable areas to improve.
  • Ashley Johnson – This guy doesn’t really show up much in cyberspace, but from late 2009 and for the next couple of years he was consulting at Software AG and I was fortunate to work with and learn from him. He also does some work with Christopher Avery, and he is a co-founder of Gemba Systems.
  • James O’Sullivan – For being the energy behind a small Agile community on Google+ (Agile+)

June 2012

Givat Brenner, Israel

If you like these question, please check out our book: Who is agile. It contains 89 answers like this.

Last week we published version 43 of the book Who is agile, Volume 1 (Yes Volume 1 as we have decided to create also a volume 2)

With version 43, we added Peter Armstrong as 89 person to the book.  That is the last person we add to Volume 1.

From now on, we have a quality control phase. (Wow, how un-agile of us…) What would Lisa  or Elisabeth say of this? 😉 )

these are the different steps we have to do for each person in the book:

  1. Spelling and grammar
  2. Are the  links to person you mention that are  in the book, are these internal book links working?
  3. Are the books you mention in the book list?
  4. Are your links you provided in the contact list?
  5. Is your question in the question list?
  6. is there anything you are missing in the book?
  7. is your location on the map correct?
  8. Update: is your location mentioned at the bottom of your answers?
  9. Update: Does  your location (mentioned at the bottom of your answers) have a correct wikipedia links?
    (You might want to download the latest version of the book for 9 as we only added the links on 2012/10/30)
    As you can see, doing this for 89 people and +20 community events is a lot of work. That is why we are sending out mails to everyone in the book to help us.

    Will you help us too?
    If you send us info, please add the version of the book you  have been reviewing.

 

 

 

 

Rowan is one of these people proposed by Xavier Quesada. Although Rowan is an Australian Agilists, as you can read from his answers, Australia is not the only place where he is agile.

 

 

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

Working with a fantastic team doing some really cutting-edge product development using Smalltalk, web 2.0 technologies (before they were mainstream) and Semantic Web technologies. That team achieved things we really didn’t know were possible and are yet to see reproduced. I have been seeking to re-live the camaraderie and capability we had in that development team ever since.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

I may have become a musician although it’s tough making a living out of it. I sang and played guitar, keyboards and violin in rock bands and classical groups for a period. It was lots of fun performing on stage but not so much fun being a roadie!

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

Figuring out how organisations and the people within them tick. It’s a good thing as it teaches me a good deal about human nature and organisational systems. I find that figuring out how to help people get beyond their learned helplessness and turn systemic dysfunctions into virtuous cycles of improvement can be quite fascinating and incredibly rewarding when it works out for them.

What drives you ?

The gratitude from people at the end of our training courses in Agile / Scrum. The excitement during coaching engagements when people feel the team spirit and proudly show others the working software increment they have produced. The belief that the Agile movement in software is part of a larger movement towards more humane and dynamic workplaces in the 21st century.

What is your biggest achievement?

Recovering a “challenged” project by stepping into a Project Manager’s shoes as a ScrumMaster late in the development of an ambitious web property in Europe. Despite my colleagues believing it would fail, we managed to launch a fantastic site that was very successful and profitable for our client. An empowered Product Owner who was prepared to be decisive when necessary and three very capable Scrum teams that pulled together to overcome some major challenges made a big difference.

What is the last book you have read?

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. A book that certainly resonates with me having lost my job twice – once with the company I had worked at for 10 years and once with my own startup – due to pursuing a ‘big bang’ approach that didn’t test the market and deliver in small increments. These are some lessons I learned the hard way.

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

Q: In 2009, how many days of work did you do in the city you lived in?

A: Only four. And I was very busy that year getting my business up and running. The amount of travel resulted in me moving to be within 6-12 minutes of Australia’s busiest airport terminals!

Who do you think I should ask next?

Joseph Pelrine who was an inspiration to us in the Smalltalk community, was my Scrum mentor and leads the way in connecting Agile with social complexity – an environment that we are experiencing more and more every day but only just beginning to understand.

If you like these answers, please buy our book: who is agile

In 2009 out of the blue I got a mail from Iceland. I was intrigued by the company and the person that contacted me. When I went to Agilis 2009, I had lots of great talks with Peter and his collegues. He told me how he helped Iceland deal with the crisis using OpenSpace Technology and agile. An amazing person.

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

I think playing basketball as a teenager taught me valuable lessons and has influenced many aspects of my life. Key lessons:

  1. If I practice I will get good, and it means I have to do it all the time. Without pretending to be top notch at anything I can very much relate to Malcom Gladwell’s idea that you need 10,000 hours to become world class. Today I mostly practice by reading books and trying things out, and I do it every day.
  2. Dealing with pressure and pulling through at the right time. I find myself thinking about games I played in the past, for example standing at the free throw line on crucial moments. These kind of situations started to become easier as I did them often – bringing us back to point (1).

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

I think I was destined to be in IT. I still remember when I first saw the ZX Spectrum 48k at my uncle´s house. I was 10 years old and I still remember the strong feeling of curiosity I experienced, it looked very powerful 🙂

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

My biggest challenge is developing a business. It is a good thing because I have realized that being in business will be a life long learning journey and as long as I live I will have something interesting to do.

What drives you ?

I am driven by three things:

  • Learning: I want to understand how the world works and I think being in business is a great platform for that.
  • Legacy: I want to have leave a legacy of both ideas and businesses.
  • Role model: I want to be a role model for my three kids and I want to explain to them how the world works with all my learning and prove it with the legacy.

What is your biggest achievement?

Starting a business.

What is the last book you have read?
Just finished listening to Influencer: The Power to Change Anything and reading Sense and Respond: The Journey to Customer Purpose.

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

Q: What do you want?
A: Freedom.

Who do you think I should ask next?

My business partner Daði.

If you like these answers, please check out our book: who is agile It contains 88 people answering the same questions. And one extra question from Petur.

Jean proposed Vernon and this is what she has to say about him: I’ve only met Vernon once. But Vernon is a force to be dealt with. Vernon has been very active in the Agile community for a number of years through his passion around Scrum. This led him to be a Scrum trainer. More importantly, I believe that Vernon has been singularly instrumental in much of the Agile movement in China. When I met him in Hangzhou 2 years ago, he was the sponsor of an all-day Agile event. Over one hundred people attended from various parts of China. Vernon had ensured that his company not only provided the venue, but was also a very involved sponsor on that special day. Vernon brings his gift of Agile to all of us through his humor, his tenacity with the Chinese language, and his love of bringing a better way of doing things. I’m so glad to introduce Vernon in this series on “Who is Agile.”

What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

I grew up in rural towns in Arizona. I often worked doing physical labor during summer holidays. The intense heat made it nearly unbearable. My coping mechanism was to daydream while working. I spent many days in China well before I ever came here physically.

If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

I majored in )Mandarin Chinese and China Area Studies and minored in Political Science for my undergraduate degree. I considered studying law post-graduate, and also considered doing (non-IT consulting) after graduation. I graduated in August 1989, soon after the Tianan Men incident and my language skills suddenly became low value. I had done some programming in high school, and actually worked in my college computer center while I was studying in the US, so when I ran across an ad from EDS indicating they were looking for individuals to join their Systems Engineering program and accepted people with non-CS related degrees, I interviewed and was hired. I spent a great 10 years at EDS, and I’ve never looked back. I often tell people that Chinese is my job and that IT is my hobby. It’s great too when one’s work is one’s hobby.

What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

Knowing when to be quiet and just listen. I think awareness of this being a challenge for me helps me pay attention to try and listen more and better.

What drives you ?

My greatest satisfaction comes from helping individuals grow. I am proud that many of my former team members have grown and developed into leadership roles, and hope that in some small ways I have contributed to their growth and development.

What is your biggest achievement?

I’m hoping it’s something I haven’t achieved yet. If I look at what I’ve accomplished so far, however, I’d have to say that being happily married for over 23 years and having a beautiful wife and son are my biggest achievements.

What is the last book you have read?

Body by Science by Doug McGuff and John R Little. Now reading Insanely Simple by Ken Segall.

What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

What’s your favorite parable?

I like the parable of the stone. Still struggling to follow it.

Who do you think I should ask next?

Kazumasa Ebata

If you like these answers, check out our book series: Who is Agile, Volume 1