Interview with Joseph Pelrine: Agile Works. But HOW?

| by Deborah Hartmann Preuss Follow 0 Followers on Apr 14, 2008. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |
Joseph Pelrine was present when XP took its baby steps, later was Europe's first Certified Scrum Trainer, and today is still pushing the envelope. In this 2007 InfoQ interview, Joseph talked about Network Analysis and how Social Complexity Science informs his work with teams. He also mentioned usefulness of the Dilbert archetype for capturing negative lessons learned, and recounted his use of a speed-dating technique to help a distributed team organize themselves.

After studying Philosophy and Psychology Joseph got involved in expert systems and artificial intelligence. He moved into software development when he discovered the programming language SmallTalk. From there he went on to become an early expert in Extreme Programming, working with Kent Beck in the 1990's when this new development approach was being experimented with and developed.

In this interview he tells what provoked him to move out of programming again, to become one of Europe's first Certified Scrum Trainers. Speaking of XP:
... this stuff worked, although nobody really understood why and how. And I guess that was the question that led me away from development into doing the project management aspect, which led to my work with Scrum, which I do a lot of, and now more in the direction of social complexity science, which is a relatively new science that (the way it looks) will provide us with a theoretical foundation for why this stuff works and give us some tools for adopting and adapting it.
Beyond his own background in psychology, Pelrine brings in newer ideas too, doubtless from his collaborations with psychologist Ben Fuchs, and including concepts drawn from the Cynefin decision-making framework, an application of complexity science to management and organizational practice. He talked about how story-telling, "sense-making," network analysis and the gut-feel approach of speed-dating offer us useful tools for working within the complex and non-predictable world of software development projects.

Deborah Hartmann caught up with Joseph at the 2007 SmallTalk Solutions conference, in Toronto. Watch the whole half-hour interview: Joseph Pelrine's Blend of Science, Process &Teamwork.

(Image from Joseph Pelrine's talk at QconLondon2007)

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