Who is Bob Marshall (@flowchainsensei) ?

The next person on the Who is series, is Bob Marshall, better known as @flowchainsensei. (Wikipedia has never heard of our bob)

I think that Bob is the only person I personally invited that I think I have not met in person. I don’t need to. Bob is so vocal on his twitterfeed, I know who he is and thinks. Thanks to Bob I know the RightShifting movement. He is also one of the few agile people who has an evil counterpart on twitter. (I guess that is a side effect of his clear, to the point statements.) Out of respect for Bob I don’t link to the account.


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

Most folks in London know  I ride a motorcycle, but that may not be apparent to folks farther afield. Further than that though, I also consider myself a biker, which is more of a lifestyle choice and mindset than simple a choice of transportation mode.

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

Actually, I don’t consider myself “in IT”. Both because I don’t believe software development should have ever been co-located/conflated with IT, and because most of what I do relates to people.
As to an alternate life-path,  most likely I would have become an industrial model-maker. I did have a thriving commercial model-making business whilst (still) at school, plus a job offer back then from the UK’s leading industrial model-making company. I have yet to begin my second career – although I have long had it picked-out – being an intention to start a new “religion”. :Q (And no, Rightshifting is not a religion, as fas as I’m concerned, at least).

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

My biggest challenge – for thirty years and more, until recently – was to understand just why software development was (and remains) so universally poor. Now I feel I have uncovered the answer to that mystery.

So my biggest challenge presently is to find a means to share that insight in ways that folks can use, practically, for the advantage of everyone working in software development, and, given the near-ubiquity of software today – for society at large, too. This recent new challenge has been a good thing because it has driven me to long and deep study of human motivation, individual and group psychology, neuroscience, and such like.

What drives you ?
People, people and people. Tech and gadgets are neat toys, or intellectual puzzles, but seeing people realise even a part of their innate potential is what gets me out of bed every morning (literally and metaphorically).

What is your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement is not really for me to claim. Others may be better placed to proffer an answer. But if pressed, I might reply that my biggest achievement is what other folks who have worked with me say about my contribution to their lives.

What is the last book you have read?

Tricky, given I have about fifteen started-but-not-yet-finished books in my iPad and another ten or so in my “legacy” (dead tree) pile.
The one that most immediately springs to mind is Margaret Wheatley‘s excellent “Leadership and the New Science“.

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

How about “why do so many business improvement projects (ie agile adoptions) fail?” And the answer is “because folks fail to recognize the true nature of the challenges involved, and thus use inappropriate approaches”.

Who do you think I should ask next?

There are so many fine folks in e.g. the agile, lean and twitter communities, I’m sure I’d offend many by omission. But despite such risk,  I’d suggest maybe Benjamin Mitchell, Grant Rule, or David Joyce.