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?
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