Meet the Coach: Joanne Perold
For our Meet the Coach series we meet with Joanne Perold, agile42 coach based in Johannesburg that will be a Keynote Speaker at the annual Scrum Gathering South Africa in November 2017.
Q: How did you start your Agile path and end up coaching with agile42?
That is a long story. :) I started out as an 'everything' person at a small company building HR and Payroll systems. We were small, and I had so much to learn. There I did some of everything from development to systems support and testing.I had fun there, but when I went on my first Scrum course with Peter Hundermark in 2009, I felt everything change. Agile made total sense to me, and for the first time, I felt that there was a logical framework for dealing with some of the complexity we face. I tried to implement both Scrum and Kanban in that organisation, with minimal success and plenty of learning. From there I had the opportunity to move to a larger company who had 10 - 15 teams, in the division I was employed in all running agile, mostly Scrum. I started there as a business analyst and soon moved to ScrumMaster for two teams. There were so many things to learn there. I moved between teams and had the opportunity to start new teams as well, which was an incredible experience. They also sent me to the AYE conference and to PSL (Problem Solving Leadership) which was some of the best learning that I had. I was there for about two years when Peter asked me if I wanted to join him at what was then Scrum Sense. I did and shortly after Scrum Sense and agile42 merged. I have been part of the agile42 family now for about 4 years and I have grown so much here.
Q: You will deliver the keynote at Scrum Gathering South Africa later this year, but you also help organize conferences and of course you attended a number of events. Which role is the most peculiar, and what have you learned?
Yes, I have played multiple roles, from organising to speaking to facilitating. I'm not sure that any roles are particularly peculiar, some roles are more time consuming, and some roles have more responsibility. I have a passion for growing the community and a passion for learning, so I suppose that is why I volunteer myself for these things. Being the program chair for Agile Africa was tough. Most of the time for the smaller conferences the organisers are doing it part time, so that 's hard. I have learned that people don't always have the time to help even if their intentions are good and that if you are organising or chairing an event, make sure that you have lots of people to help and volunteer. Because often people will end up not having the time and will have to drop out. Also if you want to create a great program, you need great submissions/ speakers. It's not easy trying to get just the right tone, the right number, and the appropriate level of diversity for a conference, if you have 85 submissions and many are crap, it makes it even more challenging.
I have learned loads about what I look for as a reviewer, and so that helps me when I submit as a speaker. The best conference I ever attended was the AYE (amplify your effectiveness) conference. I only managed to go to the last one, which was sad, my mission is to one day run a conference in that way, so watch this space.
Something new that I'm involved in and quite excited about is the World day of retrospectives. Keep a look out for that it will be February 6th, 2018, and there will be events happening all over the world simultaneously.
Q: Looking at the number of events, the South African Agile community seems very active. How do you think Agile is evolving in Africa?
The South African Agile community is very active, which is one of the things I love about it. Peter started the first user group in 2009, and it has been growing ever since, so the communities are growing. As to how it is in evolving in Africa, I can only speak to South Africa, and when I interact with friends or colleagues from Europe or North America, it seems that we are all trying to solve the same problems. My hope for the evolution of agile is that we all grow our thinking, the critical thinking and great problem-solving parts of agile become more important than the process parts, and that happens not only in Africa but all over. I think that more often than not we need less process and more critical thinking.
Q: Have you read or discovered something great just recently?
Yes, my friend Don Gray just pointed me to something that I started reading that looks very interesting. It's a 1986 article by a Fred Brooks, and it is called No Silver Bullet - Essence and Accident in Software Engineering.
I have only skimmed it so far, but it promises to be an interesting read.
Recently Joanne has been the guest of Klaus Leopold in his Lean Business Agility video series. Jo explains what she likes about Scrum, when it is appropriate and when something else should be used. You can watch the clip here or on YouTube.