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Gordon Pask Award Recipients Announced

by Deborah Hartmann Preuss on Aug 21, 2007 |
The Gordon Pask Award for Contributions to Agile Practice recognizes people whose recent contributions to Agile Practice demonstrate (in the opinion of the award committee) their potential to become leaders of the field. This year's winners were announced at the Agile2007 Conference banquet last week. In addition, a new award was added this year, "Gentle Voice of Reason" Award.

The 2007 winners of the Gordon Pask Award for Contributions to Agile Practice are Naresh Jain and Jeff Patton.

In his presentation speech, acting Agile Alliance president Brian Marick recognised Naresh Jain for his work establishing user groups in India and for the creation of the Simple Design And Testing Conference (SDTConf). Jain is a software craftsman working as a consultant for ThoughtWorks India, who has worked on variety of software projects utilizing both XP and Scrum techniques since 2003. He is the founder and Vice-Chairman of the Agile Software Community of India (ASCI). Naresh also helped start the Agile Philly User Group, is an active Open Source committer and teaches software development courses in Universities.

Jain reflected on receiving this honor on his blog:
I really believe that India has a potential to become the next powerhouse. ... With Agile and other light weight process, I think we can bring the emphasis back to small highly collaborative teams of quality people. Helping companies in India understand this and implement it will really be a focus for the next few months.

I look forward to attending some conferences, not just in the software field, but other fields which can help us push the state of software development to the next level. The award will really help me with my passion for connecting different networks of Agile Practitioners across the world and build a global community. I call this as the “connecting the dots” vision.
Marick quoted one letter received, calling Jeff Patton "the lovliest person in software development", and recognized his work helping establish what User Centered Design means in Agile, including the agile-usability yahoo group he created in 2004, and for being an example of the usefulness of being fluent in two fields (programming and UCD). Since 2000, Patton has championed the incorporation of User Centered Design thinking into traditional and Agile software development approaches, working to introduce developers, analysts, product managers, and others to simple techniques to help them incorporate UCD approaches into their day-to-day work practices. Jeff is also with ThoughtWorks, and is currently working on a book on incorporating UCD thinking into Agile Development.

When accepting his award, Patton quipped "a vegetarian friend of mine says 'I’m not a vegetarian because I love animals, I’m a vegetarian because I despise vegetables.' I get associated with Agile and user experience. But, I’m not a UX person because I love users, I’m a UX person because I hate bad software. I’m serious about that." He later reflected:
"As I stepped off the stage, the first thing that occurred to me was what I really should have said. I’ve grown and improved tremendously over the past 7 years. But, it’s been at the constant encouragement of the over-the-top-supportive members of the Agile community. Ever since my good friend Alistair Cockburn pushed me to write a paper in one of the first XP conferences, he’s been nagging me ever since. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. Since then I’ve been given encouragement and support by so many people, I’m afraid to start mentioning names for fear I’ll leave someone out."
The objective of the award is to help potential leaders be heard in different communities. In previous years the Pask award consisted of a $5000 award, however this year, the Alliance has made a change: in order to help more people benefit from the wisdom and influence of the recipients, they will be fully funded to attend two Agile community conferences on two different continents in the coming year. There is also now a sculpture awarded to recipients, though it wasn't in evidence at the banquet.

The Alliance has also created a new award - the Ward Cunningham "Gentle Voice of Reason" Award - and awarded it to Dale Emery for what he’s done on the XP and other mailing lists, and in person; and also for his work creating environments where change happens (rather than, as Joe Rainsberger put it, “inflicting change on people”).  A good example of Dale's gentle approach is his popular "Green Eggs and Ham" workshop which invites leaders and change agents to romp through this children's book, taking the point of view of the poor guy who doesn't think he wants any of it. Hmmm, it's good to remember how change looks when viewed from the other side of the interaction.

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