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InfoQ Homepage Podcasts Remembering Jerry Weinberg with Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby

Remembering Jerry Weinberg with Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby


In this podcast Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby about their memories of Gerald M. (Jerry) Weinberg who passed away on the 7th of August 2018.

Key Takeaways

  • Jerry Weinberg was a highly respected thinker and author
  • He was instrumental in defining some of the key elements of systems thinking and quality practices for software development
  • The rule of three – one option is a trap, two is a dilemma and three breaks logjam thinking to enable creativity
  • “It’s always a human problem”
  • Jerry inspired people to look at things in different ways
  • Jerry’s advice to anyone who wanted to be like him – become the best version of yourself
  • 0:22 Introduction & background
  • 1:20 How Jerry’s book The Psychology of Computer Programming influenced Johanna’s decision to take a career in computer programming
  • 2:54 Johanna met Jerry in 1995 and his response to her story of how his book had influenced her
  • 3:17 Esther’s memories of working with Jerry in 1991
  • 4:39 His ability to help people see different perspectives on the actions of others
  • 5:14 Explaining the Satir Interaction Model
  • 5:45 Johanna’s experience taking the PSL (Problem Solving Leadership) class with Jerry
  • 6:05 The rule of three – one option is a trap, two is a dilemma and three breaks logjam thinking to enable creativity
  • 6:50 He made significant technical contributions as well as his human contributions helping people work together more effectively
  • 7:10 “It’s always a human problem” 
  • 7:15 Shane’s memories of meeting Jerry at the AYE conference in 2008 and the story of getting to know your lemon
  • 10:10 His experiential way of teaching made a deep impression and provided a great example for others
  • 11:03 Esther’s describing what PSL is and how it for many people it is a life-changing event
  • 11:57 Jerry asked Esther and Don Gray to continue teaching the PSL class
  • 12:28 The experiential aspects of the AYE conference
  • 12:38 PSL has a definite arc structure which enables the participants to grow over the week
  • 13:23 Jerry’s experiences of working in a XP style as far back as 1957 
  • 13:44 Johanna’s experience using pairing and code reviews in the 1970’s
  • 14:20 If you didn’t check that your code was working frequently then it could take weeks (or months) to debug it
  • 14:55 The value of design reviews that explore alternatives rather than rubber-stamping what’s been done
  • 15:55 What happened to programming as it went from being seen as a unique craft to an assembly-line approach
  • 17:15 Johanna’s story of building up a library in the office
  • 18:20 Jerry’s book on technical reviews has lots of wisdom about how to approach reviews
  • 18:30 Esther’s experiences using the ideas of technical reviews into other meetings and how that influenced her decisions to learn more about facilitation
  • 18:58 How the book Becoming a Technical Leader influenced Johanna
  • 19:13 Jerry inspired people to look at things in different ways
  • 19:28 Jerry had the ability to make people aware of things they were not aware of before
  • 20:16 He was also good at helping people identify the habits which could prevent us from being as effective as we could be


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