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InfoQ Homepage Articles Linda Rising visited Japan and talked about "Fearless Change" - a report from Agile Japan 2011

Linda Rising visited Japan and talked about "Fearless Change" - a report from Agile Japan 2011

Linda Rising gave a keynote at AgileJapan2011 in Tokyo on April 15, just a month after the earthquake and tsunami disaster hit the northeast coast of Japan.

AgileJapan2011 is the third annual Agile conference in Japan and this year, the conference planners had spent a lot of time in discussion about voluntary cancellation due to the disaster. The Tokyo area was quite safe both from the aftershocks and radioactivity, but the people all over Japan were depressed, and of course the Tohoku area was still suffering after over 25,000 people had died or been missing and at the time 130,000 people were being evacuated.

This year, the conference planners had scheduled a broadcast for the keynote via ustream (internet broadcast) to eleven satellite regionals across Japan, including Sendai, the nearest large city to the disaster area. “Tohoku Developer’s Community”, the main organizer of the regional event, first decided to hold the satellite event to energize the city. Then the program chair of the Tokyo main conference decided to hold the conference to send a message of support from Tokyo to Sendai. They adjusted the introduction of the conference to start with a short conversation between Tokyo and Sendai just before Linda’s keynote.

Kenji Hiranabe introduced Linda Rising to over 200 audience in Tokyo main site.

AgileJapan2011 Broadcast. Linda is introduced from minute 24:00 of the video.

Linda started her talk for over 200 listeners by expressing sorrow and encouragement to Japan from others all over the world, and then talked about “Fearless Change: My favorite patterns.

From among the 48 patterns (which is still growing), she started with the Evangelist pattern as the heart and starting point of the pattern language. She said;

“You must believe in what you are doing. This is a requirement.”

and then introduced Test the Waters, Time for Reflection, Small Successes, Step by Step and The Right Time as patterns to keep with you all the time in your change effort. Change is like a journey and these patterns are in your carry-on bag!

Then she described Just Do It and Do Food as effective ways to initiate change. “Do Food is my favorite pattern,” she said, and immediately added, “The quality of the food matters more than the quality of the idea when you eat together.” The audience smiled and nodded on hearing this. The Japanese all seem to know this pattern!

She then introduced patterns that help build grass roots support: Personal Touch and Emotional Connection. She told that us that:

“Everyone has problems. And it is your job as an “Evangelist” to answer the questions one by one. “

And she emphasized the importance of making an emotional connection with others:,

“All our decisions are based on emotion first, and then rationalized later… So realize that a logical argument may not be convincing at all. The argument must be based on personal touch…needs, values, and the feelings of the people that you're trying to convince.”

The last slide presented this summary:

She reminded us of the most important, the first pattern, Evangelist:

“It is useful not only to change yourselves, to change teams, to change companies, but also to change your countries. You have to believe in yourself, and Just do it.”

The applause didn’t seem to end. I saw a lot of people who seemed to be moved by these words, with tears in their eyes. This talk was broadcast to eleven satellites and generated a big “#aj11” twitter hashtag buzz.

After the talk at the “Ask the Speaker” corner, people who were moved by the talk came to talk with her. As I saw her answer them one by one, I felt that many of us had arrived at the starting point for our change.

When asked about her thoughts on AgileJapan2011, Linda said:

I thought my trip would be canceled when I first heard the report of the disaster in Japan. I was also concerned for my own safety, but when I felt the overwhelming response to my talk, I was so happy that I was able to be there to carry a personal message, relaying hopes, wishes, and prayers for the agile community in Japan. They were so appreciative. Their kindness touched my heart. I will never forget that most amazing day.

About the Author

Kenji HIRANABE is CEO of Change Vision, Inc., an ISV of an Agile modeling tool astah, based in Tokyo Japan. His recent articles includes "Kanban Applied to Software Development: from Agile to Lean".
He is a leader of the Japanese Agile community and has translated Agile books "Lean Software Development," "XP Installed", "Agile Project Management" into Japanese. Kenji is a 2008 Gordon Pask Award recipient for contributions to Agile practice.



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