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Guest Post from Brian Barr – Founder, Chief Executive Officer and President of AgileTrailblazers®

Published on May 21st, 2014

joyincmainI enjoy learning from other leaders. My friend Brian Barr is the founder, CEO, and president of AgileTrailblazers® – a management consultancy firm. You can read more about his firm here.  He recently attended a conference and received a book called Joy, Inc. that speaks of building a workplace people love. Here is Brian’s post.

Naeem and I had the pleasure of presenting “Hop Onto the Release Orientation Trolley” at the Global Scrum Gathering in New Orleans last week. When you speak or go to a conference, you figure the primary goals are to learn and to teach. We can say that both goals were definitely accomplished.

Sometimes, you never know where the learning will break out. All attendees got a copy of “Joy, Inc.” written by Menlo Innovation’s CEO, Richard Sheridan.

We unfortunately had to leave the conference for a previously booked engagement before Richard’s keynote session. However, I did get the chance to see the video recording over this weekend.

I have been wanting some excuse to dive in a bit deeper into Menlo’s inner workings and Richard’s book really made that easy and plane rides home provided the time.

I have known about Menlo running “software factory tours” for quite some time and I do really want to make the trek up to Ann Arbor soon to see Menlo in action. At a previous employer, we also had a “software factory” and I ran the “software factory tours.” This was a great way to evangelize the value of agility and the critical aspects of culture and mission that allowed flow to break out.

Joy, Inc. is chock full of nuggets (my marker for a great book) when considering how to lead and operate a company. I created a mind map (take a look – you might need to zoom in a bit) with my favorite nuggets especially when considering my business and those of our clients. If I had to summarize the 3 most important to me, they would be:

  • Find a “north star” for driving everything you do as a company – Menlo chose “joy” and Richard’s convinced me that this is a great driver. Having a driver provide alignment across leadership, inside the company reality, and outside perception is really powerful.
  • Do XP, but really do pairing – if some significant part of business is solution delivery, look at Extreme Programming for practices that really make a difference. Richard does a great job at exposing the business case for pairing all through the book – freedom for continuous learning, scalability enablement, building a human-connected organization, etc.
  • Rigor, discipline and quality are critical – I have been preaching that agile and its associated frameworks is THE most disciplined way to do solution delivery. Richard makes a compelling case for this and does a great job at exposing leadership’s role in fostering (or destroying if done wrong) a disciplined, yet fun, organization.
Ok, have I convinced you to pick up the book? I hope so. Happy reading!
 

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