Last year around this time I wrote a blog entry “New to agile? Give thanks!” That was written from the perspective of an agile team member. This year I want to get a little more personal and give thanks to the people who have helped me get to where I am today in the Agile and Scrum communities. So, to everyone listed below, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have each helped me become who I am and I am grateful for the help and inspiration you gave me along the way. In no particular order I want to send that message to:
Richard Lawrence – Richard has been a great friend and colleague. We have worked together at many clients over the past couple of years. Richard continually keeps me on my toes, challenges my assumptions, and flat out makes me better every time I interact with him. I hope to continue working with him for many years to come. Without Richard I probably would not have started down the path to become a Certified Scrum Coach and later a Certified Scrum Trainer.
Cindi Taylor - Over the past 2+ years Cindi has become a friend more than a client. Her company was one of the very first to use me as an agile trainer and coach. It took a lot on her part to hire me over many others trying to get their business. I have always appreciated that trust. Over time her organization has been my largest client and I believe we are both very happy with the results we see.
Greg Adams-Woodford – Greg was instrumental in getting me hired to work with the teams in his organization. His support and insight has always been great and I like to believe I’ve helped his teams become more successful. Greg also pushes others to try agile and always recommends me to them, which is great from a client/vendor perspective. But more than that, Greg and his organization are probably the most fun teams I work with regularly. They always make me feel welcome and together we find ways for them to continue to improve.
Mike Cohn - Mike was very instrumental in helping me become a Certified Scrum Trainer. I’ve learned much from Mike’s books and presentations. If you can only read one book about Agile make sure it is one of his! Mike has always been great to me and I really can’t say enough about how great a person he is.
Luke Hohmann - Innovation Games changed many of the ways I approached things. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’m NOT a certified Innovation Games Facilitator. Luke just keeps having courses when I can’t attend them! However, I use many of the games from his book in nearly every engagement. I’ve interacted with Luke at conferences and via email and I truly enjoy what he has created. He certainly added tools to my agile coaching toolbox.
Jake Calabrese and Alex Viggio – Both of these gentlemen graciously allowed me to speak to their organizations back when I wasn’t known outside of my own house (or so it seemed). Thanks to Jake I spoke at a Denver IIBA meeting and continue to support and be supported by IIBA. Alex allowed me to speak to Agile Denver which I think is one of the top Agile user groups in the world. Both are great organizations and I’m happy to support them and really appreciate the support I get from members of both organizations.
Alan Shalloway - Alan is the owner of Net Objectives and he hired me to work there several years ago. During my time with his company I learned enough to fill several bookcases with information. He was my boss, my mentor and my friend. I was a sounding board for his ideas which we would discuss for hours at a time. Interestingly, I disagree with Alan about as much as I agree with him, but we both know it is because of our different experiences. I love our discussions when they are face-to-face. When we try to do the same thing in email or via Twitter it doesn’t have enough context for me. I still consider Alan a dear friend that I know I could count on if I needed someone to help me in a pinch.
Tobias Mayer - Tobias challenged (and continues to challenge) me to be the best I can become. His belief in me came at a very crucial time in my development as a trainer and coach. His openness and honesty helped me understand some things about myself I had been struggling with at the time. I’m sure Tobias will have no idea what I’m even talking about if he reads this, but trust me, it was important to me at the time (and still is!).
Pete Behrens - Pete has been a mentor from afar. He is efficient and successful. Pete is impressive in so many ways. I was honored when he agreed to let me co-teach a CSM class with him and then a few days later showed up to watch me teach an Advanced Product Owner course. I learned a lot from him, and he even learned a few things from me. I wish we had more time to interact and work on things together. I do know that any time I spend with Pete is precious to me because I always walk away better for the experience.
Lee Copeland - Lee gave me opportunities to speak at Software Quality Engineering conferences including STAREast, STARWest, Better Software and Agile Development Practices. I enjoy speaking to conference audiences because even though the time is short I feel like I can connect with the audience in a way that encourages them to dig deeper. I like seeing people leaving a room talking about how I opened their eyes, or they have to think about a particular thing I mentioned. That’s always a great feeling. Lee gives me that opportunity on a fairly regular basis. I think these speaking engagements help sustain my growth as well because they give me opportunities to interact with large numbers of people outside my normal circle.
Ken Schwaber - Ken was the trainer for the Certified ScrumMaster class I took to become a CSM. As such he deserves to be on this list since it was really my official start into the Scrum community. I’m certain I don’t agree with everything Ken has done since, but I do know those things I disagree with don’t come close to overshadowing his involvement in the creation of the Scrum framework.
David Bernstein and Scott Bain - 2 more people I met during my days at Net Objectives. For the past few years my courses have always had high scores based on attendee evaluation forms. I will admit with no shame that it is because these two great gentlemen helped me understand how to truly be a trainer. They are both extraordinary at what they do and their results always challenged me to get better. I may never reach their training proficiency, but I’ve closed the gap quite a bit because I had insight into how high a bar they both set.
Sharon Bowman - Sharon wrote “Training from the Back of the Room” and I am so thankful she did. That book changed my life completely. I hope in some small way I’ve paid her back for that life changing experience by recommending her to EVERYONE I know. The Scrum Alliance even partnered with her to do some classes for Certified Scrum Trainers. I’m so excited that I’ll get to be in one of her classes on December 6 and 7 in Seattle, WA. I’ll be there with several friends so it will be even better.
Greg Schwartz - Greg gave me my first opportunity to work with an institution of higher education. It was an amazing experience that has now translated into more engagements of the same time with other colleges and universities. Their challenges are unique (and unlike most regular companies, in this case they really do have unique challenges) and their motivation for success is amazing. I always have a great time with Greg’s team and teams from other universities.
Fellow Certified Scrum Trainers and Certified Scrum Coaches - Becoming a member of each of these sub-communities of the Scrum Alliance has been an incredible experience. How can you not feel like your head is going to explode from learning when you can interact with Lyssa Adkins, Jeff Sutherland, Alistair Cockburn, Mike Cohn and many, many others too numerous to name? I think I learn more every month from reading messages in those mailing lists than I learn anywhere else. It is truly amazing to be associated with these people. I wish we could all get along better at times – we tend to have egos that class – go figure But even with all the clashing we do, at the end of the day I believe we are all motivated to help people be successful and that is an admirable goal!
My clients - Each of them helps me learn something new. Each of them has shaped me in ways I’m sure I will never know. Well, ok, in one case I do know they shaped me by coining the nickname “Agile Bob” (thanks Marianne M.). Most of the time it is only when I look back and realize they impacted me because I’m now using a quote, or a story, or a way of looking at something from that engagement. To all of my clients, thanks for letting me work with you, and thanks for everything I’ve learned while helping you!
My family - This list would not be complete without mentioning my family. For privacy reasons I won’t mention them by name here. They are truly the joys of my life. I wouldn’t survive without them. I spend a lot of time traveling and they make coming home worthwhile. Getting text messages, emails and phone calls while I’m traveling makes the days go by so much faster. Their support truly gives me the strength I need to be successful.
I’m sure I missed many, many people. Because I interact with hundreds if not thousands of people each year it just isn’t possible to thank or remember all of them. In fact, I’m terrible with remembering names, so the ones I listed are pretty lucky I remembered theirs at all! Seriously though, if I slighted anyone by not mentioning them, please don’t take it personally. Hopefully I’ve made it obvious to you through my interactions with you that you are important in my life.
Until next time I’ll be Making Agile a Reality® for more people by remembering how I got here (small steps and many people helping me!).