Henrik was proposed by Mary. Scrum and XP from the Trenches, Henrik’s first book, was a game-changer at multiple levels.
- The book was available for free on the internet.
- It was translated into 12 languages.
- It did not give any theory, Henrik “only” gave examples of what he did.
Henrik also started an iniative to translate the manifesto.
At the moment I am writing this, Henrik is on a 6 month round-the-world trip with his wife and 4 kids. Wow and I thought I was pushing limits moving with my 3 kids to Bordeaux for 6 months.
(Update: he wrote what he learned about the trip here. )
What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?
I spent the first 15 years of my life in Japan, spending the summers in Sweden. This has influenced me in many ways. My bicultural background helps me see things from different perspectives, and being fluent in English (I grew up attending international schools) has helped me a lot in my current career.
And I’m a pretty active musician. I play a bunch of instruments and record songs and play in several bands. One of my bands does a lot of wedding gigs, we’ve probably done over 100 wedding parties by now! Music has always been my oasis, a creative haven that provides instant flow, and shuts off that voice in my head that is constantly analyzing and reasoning about my current client, my next talk, my next article, or whatever. When working from home I take a short break every hour or so and pull off some riffs in the studio, great way to stay energized!
If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?
After high school, I thought I was going to become a musician, but then I realized that music might not be as fun if it is “just a job”. I pictured myself sitting in dusty studio hours on end creating silly commercial jingles or something just to earn my keep. I figured that if I have some other line of work instead, I could play music just for fun, and not worry about the commercial aspects of it. So I thought a bit about what other stuff I’m good at and like doing, and decided to pursue computer science. Turned out to be a good decision!
What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?
Raising a big family while staying sane, happy, and relaxed. With four children age 1-8 that is a challenge! I want to have time for them, but I also want to have time for work, friends, and hobbies.
The good thing about having kids is they keep me from getting over-focused and working too hard. In fact, as I write this I’m on an extended break, travelling around the world with the whole family for 6 months. That’s both fun and challenging!
The kids also help me become a better coach. Raising kids and coaching teams is surprisingly similar – for example, both kids and adult teams are happier and more successful when they are allowed to take responsibility and manage themselves rather than being told what to do. I’m constantly learning things from my kids that I can apply at work, and vice versa.
What drives you?
Learning, creating, and teaching.
- Learning new stuff and applying it to real life situations. I’m infinitely curious, and when I find an interesting problem or challenge I have just about infinite patience and focus.
- Creating things that I am proud of – whether it is a cool new song or groove, a simple software tool that solves a real-life problem, a cartoon or illustration that clarifes a complex concept, a new book that helps others understand what I’ve been learning lately. Or even a way to run a company.
- Teaching people. Taking complex or abstract concepts, extracting the core idea, and finding simple and effective ways of spreading the knowledge to other people.
These things fit together. Learning helps me to create. Creating makes the learning stick. Teaching drives me to deepen my understanding.
What is your biggest achievement?
I’ll mention two:
1) Raising 4 kids that so far are happy and healthy.
2) Improving the software development profession, and the lives of the people involved. People all over the world tell me that my work has helped them improve things like product quality, team motivation, customer satisfaction, and even work-life balance. I’m proud and humbled (and sometimes a bit frightened) at how many people turn to me for advice, and how many people I’m reaching through my coaching, talks, and writings.
What is the last book you have read?
I recently finished Reamde, an awesome nerd-thriller book by Neil Stephenson.
I’m currently halfway through Welcome to your Child’s Brain. Helps me understand how kids reason and learn, and how I can become a better parent. Very fact-based book, lots of mythbusting too. Love it.
What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
You coach, program, teach, draw, raise kids, write books, play music, and build companies. What’s the trick? How do you learn so many things?
1) Follow your heart. Do things that you are interested in, things that make you feel inspired.
2) Be self-aware. Don’t say “I don’t have time”, because you have 24 hours per day just like everyone else. Notice instead how you are spending your time. Ask yourself how you would like to spend it instead. Keep asking that question, and keep adjusting and optimizing how you spend your time. When you do the things that you love doing, you get good at it automatically. Not only that, you feel good too. And inspire those around you.
3) Focus on learning. Every time you do something (draw, write, cook, juggle, whatever), think about what you learned, and how you can do it better next time. Meet others who share your passion, compare notes and help each other improve.
I asked a really good barber once “How come you are so good at your job?”. She responded without hesitating: “Because I love what I do. And because I’ve been doing it for half a century”.
What are some of your favorite quotes?
Here are some quotes that resonate deeply with me. I guess I should limit the list, but I really do like all these quotes so I’ll give them to you and let you filter the list yourself (images/originals/icon_smile.gif) (Note from the Editor: why filter out such wisdom?)
- “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- “I don’t know what the key to success is, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody” – Bill Cosby
- “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans” – John Lennon
- “Do or do not, don’t try to convince everyone else.” – Unknown
- “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
- “Every block of stone has a statue inside of it” – Michelangelo
- “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand” – Unknown
- “We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” –Charles Kingsley
- “There are no interruptions, only mismanaged inputs” – David Allen
- “It’s not information overload, it’s filter failure.” – Clay Shirky
- “The most important decisions you make are not the things you do – but the things that you decide not to do” – Steve Jobs
- “A bad leader does the same task over and over. A good leader delegates that task. A great leader makes that task unnecessary.” – Unknown
- “Imagination is more important then knowledge” –Einstein
- “Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire” – William Butler Yeats
- “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery” – Mark van Doren
- “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” – Aristotle
- “The core skill of innovators is error recovery, not failure avoidance.” – Randy Nelson, President of Pixar
- “It is never too late to have a happy childhood”
Who do you think I should ask next?
I’d suggest one of these inspiring fellows:
If you like these answer: you can find more in our book Who is agile. And the extra answers to
Ola’s Question: What is your favorite question right now?
4 comments on “Who is Henrik Kniberg (@henrikkniberg) ?”