#onAgile2016 @estherderby ‘s keynote – my note and thoughts

October 20, 2016

My comments:

I found this talk super-useful on two levels. One, the idea of Change “Management” is a topic that re-emerges again and again in my conversations at conferences, at work with clients, and in encountering entrenched command-and-control cultures. The second is the main challenge I personally have as a sometime Change Agitator of sorts is in just that. I’m being an “agitator.” This means I can be in “coercion” mode and not just showing people useful ways to work. The user-centered approach Esther takes helps me pay closer attention to what is valuable about the past and what was actually working.

My main question would be about muscle memory. Because sometimes we think that some process or pattern is working “if only” people did it right. “If only they got the brief/requirements/assignment completely right before we started, this wouldn’t have happened.” “If only the client knew what they wanted.” I think this idea of “what we think is working” needs to be very thoroughly interrogated. I might not believe, no matter what data you put in front of me, that “it” isn’t “working.” I might believe that “if only people changed their behavior” that “it” would “work.”

The root of much suffering is that we often are coming from a stance of what we think is good for the greater good, or at least for ourselves. We believe this so powerfully that it is very hard to break out of it and “see” what we’ve done wrong.

I think Esther’s answer to this is in the framing of changes we want to make in terms of time. She described an exercise that creates a timeline by having participants look at what was going on and what trends we see for the future. A friend of mine, Rob Purdie from IBM, used this technique on our local meetup, the NYC Scrum User Group on our yearly retrospective. I had thought to do something simpler (I Like/I Wish/What If…) but am reconsidering.

Great talk, really enjoyed it.

My unedited notes:

Create great environments so people can do their best work.

Talk about Change.

How companies traditionally approach change.

Create great environments so people can do their best work.

Talk about Change.

How companies traditionally approach change.

Usual pattern:

  • Drop change on people’s heads.
  • Then “driving” change
    • Like cattle (turning people into mindless animals)
    • Or a car (as if it is a smooth road)
  • Installing change
    • As if changing a part on a piece of equipment
  • Evangelizing change
    • You get surface compliance

These actually get in the way of change. We need to create the conditions where change is most likely to emerge in a way that involves people and brings their creativity to the change.

People resist change because they feel pushed. If you stop pushing, they stop resisting.

Six Rules for Change

  1. Work form a stance of Congruence, balancing the interest of the self.

* empathizing with people that you hope to make a change for.

* need to consider your own internal state about the change

* how do you feel about the people involved in the change.

  1. Honor what is valuable about the past and what is working now

* don’t force people to admit they’ve been wrong.

* it was people’s best thinking at a certain point in time

Exercise she does poster, what was in the past, what was going on, what trends do we see for the future.

We are in a process of time.

Organizations try to freeze processes.

  1. Assess the Current Situation and the system.

Sees big training efforts, bring in coaches, but then a year later things are the same at the end.

Reason is that underlying systems don’t change.

Underlying patterns: system of approving projects, split between communications and dev people, etc.

Have to look at the environment and see what is holding the pattern in place.

People might talk about more collaboration, but they review them individually. Their raise is dependent on how they perform as an individual.

What do people currently know and what knowledge would help them move into the new situation. You have to look at what knowledge they need.

If you don’t understand WIP and how that affects the organizations to function properly.

Who benefits from status quo? Because no matter what? Someone’s happy with it.

People in traditional PM roles really felt left out of agile.

What will they lose and how can I help them through that loss.

Michelle Schwager (?) book.

  1. Activate Networks to diffuse new ideas through the system. Weave in people who are trusted and who will spread them.

* Don’t rely on formal hierarchy. Bias on positional authority can exist. When you do that, people may comply, but they don’t buy in. If you can activate a network, you’ll be far more effective in diffusing an idea without resistance.

** People don’t resist change, they resist coercion.

*** Smokers are actually useful networkers.

Communities of Practice. Issue with these is they are neither communities nor do they practice. Usually just speakers come, no sense of shared concern.

Don’t expect you’ll get the change perfect first time you try. As you try, you’ll be learning. People will come to accept and it will fit better.

  1. Design Experiments to facilitate learning and buy-in.

* Experiments don’t feel big and big changes scare people. People will learn and will get buy-in.

* Measure, Evaluate, Adjust.

(During question/answer I had computer outage).

Project Managers Bridge to Agility:


#AD16 @agilenyc @JeanAtAzureGate Jean: Conflict, Collaboration and Consciousness azuregate.net – my notes and thoughts

September 15, 2016


Jean gave an interesting presentation that made me rethink some of the presentations I’ve read by Pete Behrens about an agile culture. Kind of gives me hope that you can start where you are and don’t have to hope a company be collaborative in culture for agile to have any chance. What it is not.  Was very Interested in hearing collaboration as a conflict mode. Never thought of collaboration that way.

Also the idea that a collaborative approach might not always work and might depend on context. This directly affects influencing culture at a company, if you think of the William Schneider model (command, cultivative, competent or collaborative traits). Tempting to ask “What if a command approach works better in a circumstance?” While it is a temptation to ask, the two extremes were debate/competitive and dialogue/ collaborative. Wondering if there is a parallel for other two.

We really have to use skillful means, and find it gets back to the awareness we talked about earlier in the day.


Purpose.nGetting the things we want: a good death and good relationships.

Looking how people recover character. Coming to greater consciousness. Jack McKenna.

Conflict can also be known as problem-solving. Sometimes people think they are in conflict, but they agree and just don’t see it.

Collaboration is a conflict mode.

Thomas-Kilmann conflict model.

So sometimes being collaborative will not work.

Kilmann online trading very good.

The why we want to be in collaborative to be in greater consciousness.

Portland uses agile even in sewage system management.

Heightening conscious means awareness, knowledge of others.

Sometimes people are so much in their head they forget they have a self and that others do.

Sometimes people go to mediation NOT to learn.


Intentionally choose conflict mode.

Attitude overall is how I am.

Dialogue leaves you curious and open. Debate leaves you judging.

Debate is the court room. You talk more than listen. Reacting is going in for the kill. Interrogation. If you ask questions, it is me trying to trip you up.

(Getting your baggage out on table might dissipate it).

If someone comes at you with what they think you are about, their opinion about what you are saying, elicit more from them. Find out what they are saying.

Have team break into pairs and discuss what’s in the image, what the sculpture is about.

People don’t see their affect on people. They don’t realize how strong they are in the room. Working with them, have to bring the right approach

Not about empowering people. It’s about stopping dis-empowering them.

Agile had no need for genuflecting. Recognizes all are part of the solution.

(Statue is the torch bearers, older generation passing knowledge to older generation.)

Brought in principle of mutual causality. That we become different people together?

Pair programming is dialogue

Refactoring is releasing the entity from the void.

Why important? Software dev is a back door to how the world works. So creating it consciously helps world be a better place.

#AD16 @agilenyc @selenadelesie Soul of Agile – notes and thoughts

September 15, 2016


Selena’s talk reminded me a bit of Alistair Cockburn’s “Heart of Agile”, oddly. Alistair’s construct is more about getting to the pith of Agile, but I think, maybe…does it miss this idea of soul?  Will have to read more, but currently Heart of Agile appears to be external.

Recently have been thinking a lot about “being” versus “doing” Agile, particularly as I watch organizations transform. And try to transform my team.

What I am reminded of so far is we have to transform ourselves first. Have to “be” agile, present, aware, myself. Be the spoon for now, until you realize there is no “you” and no “spoon.”

Notes from talk:

How do we put care, soul, compassion, etc. into the manifesto’s key element.

We are a living organism as a team, not machines. We are a complex organism.

Frederic Lalo

Stop focusing on execution. Focus on being.

How to inspire in other people. Transform teams from we hate being here to loving showing up for work. How to connect, listen, connect.

Shift from “power over” to “power with”

Let go. Of expectations. Of who you think you are and what you think that role is. That is really scary. The container makes you feel safe.

Have to let go of being a “manager”–make yourself obsolete. Have to face fear of being obsolete.

Create safety. Care built into all aspects of system. Respect and connection matter.

Connection, Love, Abundance.

If you are frustrated with a team mate all the time, how can it get better? It can’t. Someone has to change the tide. Have to let go.


It creates a place for people to feel safe.

Emerge, Adapt, Evolve. Let go of “this needs to happen” move to “discover what needs to happen.”

Presence. Retrospectives tells you what happened, but can tell you about feelings too.

Advises doing breath focus to bring presence. First notice what’s inside you. (Had us notice pains in body).

Live Raw Notes on Bruce Sterling’s capnote – #sxsw2016 .@bruces

March 15, 2016

Later, post-talk: Awesome Bruce Sterling talk.

The old days of SXSW.

Talked about Italy.

SXSW is looking kind of mature. What would SXSW be if she was a human being. Thirty years old, from Texas, a little over-educated. Dr. Amanda Southby.

What would I tell her when I met her. “Well I knew you when you were born” would not be appropriate. She has a child now.

What do you like? VR Goggles.

Can I get the drink with the paper umbrella? I need a little value-add design.

The explainer class can’t explain anything that’s actually going on.

I’m actually happy that things are far from explainability.

Data-driven society – what about the data on the thermometer?

Clay Shirky Explanation.

Social media breaks the Overton window (the ability of elites to set the agenda). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window)

Voting for Trump is actually a proper choice because the competition is actually far worse.

The Overton Window works best with Broadcast TV because the TV is just one class window in the house. Mobiles are worst than both. Crowdfunding is worse. Twitter really breaks the window. You get good mobilization? You don’t even need a political party.

150 Million voters is a huge audience, but it is less than the audience on Facebook.

The parties no longer control the essential resources they used to control. They’ve lost control of the way, means, opportunities.

Trump and Sanders can blow up party because they get how media works.

The trolls can insult their way, like the YouTube comments section.

Bruce is Skeptical

For example, Britain is trying to succeed from itself and they are usually the adults in the room.

What’s going on?

Shoshanna Zuboff, Harvard Biz School,

Master or Slave?: The Fight for the Soul of Our Information Civilization

. https://www.amazon.ca/Master-Slave-Fight-Information-Civilization/dp/1610395697 The new Surveillance Capitalism. Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon are the four horsemen. (She ignores Microsoft, and they should be upset.)

Invasive power of the internet around us, their former users will become clients, that they will lead around like peons.

Germany: NSA land so an ideal place to land this mind-bomb.

They don’t spread prosperity, suck money out of the system and impoverish the people they are spying on.

Corollary: This justifies people’s anxieties about government versus Apple iPhone.

Surveillance marketing versus surveillance government.

About who has the ultimate surveillance keys.

Two enterprises tear each other down severely. If the feds weaken the stacks. If Apple manages to ignore the justice department it is actually destabilizing and cause them to do more and more weird stuff. They’re looking at financial crises.

Four wolves are at the door and they’re not paying attention.

Worried that people think math will solve all problems. In cyphering stuff and holding it for ransom is an aggressive use of cryptography. The idea that someone can put the whole of Silk Road in his pocket and get away with it is not going to work. It has been tried–look at BitCoin.

They begin to argue that BlockChain is bullet-proof. You have no organization around you.

The BitCoin community is sinister. They are like 4Chan with extra greed and organized crime. They make Goldman Sachs look like Goldie Locks.

BitCoiners will be turned in by their moms.

They’ll surround you with informants. You’re not going to get away from the human element. You’ll keep trying. BitCoin isn’t going to get better.

More people have mobiles than toilets and so forth, but not going to succeed.

Do Apple users have the power to be their best.

Does Microsoft send you where you want to go today?

Does everybody trust Google? Do they never do evil?

Does Facebook unite people with their most intimate dearest friends?

Dr. Amanda Southby can do with another fruity margarita. And consider what kind of world am I being my tot into?

It’s not like the tech companies prey on the blue collar. TEch companies prey on tech companies. IBM, AT&T, HP, and Cisco. Your uncle’s computational companies. They’ll get ripped to pieces because they’re closer to the cheese.

It’s like Finland losing Nokia. The blow to society was falling on the shoulders of engineers, coders, Dr. Amanda.

One of the big 5 will fade too. Who will be the first to go? I’m guessing it is the one people don’t mention as much. When their start-up chime is gone, we’ll miss them.

Maybe the issue is something deeper like neo-liberal capitalism. Neo-nationalism (and turning a hostile face to refugees).

Nowhere in the world is saying “send them to us, we’re trying to globalize.”

Venezuela, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, ISIS, Britain (Scotland wants to succeed), EU failing, everyone hates Brussels, Germany will exit from its own self it has to. What’s that got to do with a bunch of American Tech companies? Maybe nothing?

The world is a failed state, technically speaking.

Erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions (like Congress.)

Huge operating systems. Facebook is not a church, not a state, people don’t know what to call it–an emanation of the Zuckerberg family.

No one can get nominated to Supreme Court. The Congress is frozen. All we have to do is blow out the executive and there’s no there, there.

We’re trying to move from one man/one vote to one dollar/one vote. Have the donor class run things more or less directly.

It’s the Putin Model. Let’s pretend to have elections, and me and my pals will tell you what to do. If you have oil money you can bribe the population. If you don’t, you’re just a dwindling autocracy.

The donor class ought to be running the world, but they can’t because they don’t have

A superpower whose worst enemy are ardent, internal patriots.

In Italy they say: “OK you got a Berlusconi. You got a bunch of rubes who fall for it like we do.”

I pretend to govern, and you pretend to pay taxes and it’s kind of okay.

Berlusconi is The Donald’s best case scenario.

[Describes Berlusconi’s deviant behavior.]

“Could be us…”

If we could get a functional government we’d be a unipolar super-power.

It isn’t MadMax, groceries have all kinds of delicacies in them.

The People are too busy with their screens to riot. If Amazon went down there’d probably be mile-high flames.

I think surveillance is overblown–it’s not as powerful as its fans believe it is.

They’re not paying attention to the population at all, they continue to be surprised by their behavior. The most surveilled people, Iraqis, don’t behave, we have no idea what they’re going to do.

Anyone with a drone over their head is actually doing what the guy with drones want. It’s just not working out.

Great Britain, the formerly “great” Britain, now infested with little video cameras. GCHQ sucked the life out of their military. They used to be able to go kick the ass of everyone. Now they’re like (…).

The decay of their democratic institutions is based on push-button hardware.

The only good idea is to rent out downtown London to billionaires.

2016 could have been the dynastic war between Bush and Clinton. But it’s not.

This is the Hillary that’s been batted around like a badmitten birdie.

Bushes are just classic Texas pols. I’m sure they’re very ashamed and feel bitterly disenfranchised. But they’ll await the next generation. They’ll be back.

No one expected it to happen. At least we’re not numbly repeating the same mistakes over and over.

People seem mildly interested. Political news is everywhere.

What’s the upside? The concluding moral? OK, well you know, “This too shall pass.”

This talk is very current-event focus, so will date quickly.

The president has met Dr. Amanda Southby means you are all grown up. You have captured the top of the pundit foodchain. You get the pope, that’s about–there’s no one else. Every day is a gift. Calamitous surprises can be good.

There is some daylight any kind of loss of credibility of the establishment.

The 30-year-old Amanda Southbys have his symptahy. She’s been through two major depressions. They are at a historic disadvantage.

The fact that conventional wisdom demolished actually gives some daylight to this generation. The Overton Window is opening, it has become possible to think outside of the rigid orthodoxies of right and left.

The more they chew on their own bare feet, there is some chance to return to the center.

Despair is an act of intellectual arrogance, because you falsely think you have everything figured out. Much of the joy will come from pleasant surprises. Rather than things rumbling along in their own inevitable dark fashion.

The only wisdom we’ll find will be uncommon wisdom.