Agile Day Twin Cities 2015 Speakers

Andy McGrath DevJam News, News, Practical Agility

Rich-300dpiRichard Sheridan

Build a Workplace People Love – Just Add Joy

The CIO invited me into his office and closed the door. Before he took me for a tour of his operation, he had a few stories to share. Important stories. Last year’s project was a disaster. Late, lots of quality issues, in short, a failure in every dimension. His boss, the
CEO, had just presented him with a very personal ultimatum: deliver the next project by April 4th, “or else.”

“Or else what,” I asked?

His team was burned out and scared. They were a hard-working and dedicated group, but fear and demoralization had set in and he didn’t know what to do next. That’s why he wanted to talk to me, he had heard things about my company, things that seemed too good to be true, but he had to hear them firsthand. He wanted hope, inspiration, and a practical way to get there.

I told him about my own journey from joy to fear to disillusionment back to joy. It was simple, but, of course, simple isn’t easy. I wasn’t sure he and his organization were ready; “manufactured fear” is a powerful drug.

In this talk, I will share with you what I shared with him. I will explore what an intentionally joyful culture must choose as its focus. I will discuss what joy looks like, feels like, how it is organized. Along the way, you will be confronted by paradoxical approaches of how workplace noise increases productivity, how two people at one computer outperforms hero-based organizations 10-to-1, how rigor and discipline emanate from a shared-belief system, how transparency conquers fear, how all of the disciplines you study including agile, lean, and six sigma when done well are really about building human relationships at the intersections of business and technology, between project management and software development, between development and design and how quality can be a natural result of a team built on trust.

This is not a theoretical talk, but rather a talk built from well over a decade of experience of leading a team focused on “the business value of joy”. There will be lots of room for discussion with the audience. The audience will begin to understand why thousands of people make the journey to Ann Arbor, Michigan every year to see The Menlo Software Factory firsthand, and why so many more are reading about it in Joy, Inc. – How We Built A Workplace People Love.


From kid programmer in 1971 to Forbes cover story in 2003, Joy, Inc. author Richard Sheridan (U-M grad BS Computer Science ’80, MS Computer Engineering ’82) has never shied from challenges, opportunities nor the limelight. While his focus has always been around technology, his passion is actually process, teamwork and organizational design, with one inordinately popular goal: the Business Value of Joy! Sheridan is an avid reader and historian, and his software design and development team at Menlo Innovations didn’t invent a new culture, but copied an old one … Edison’s Menlo Park New Jersey lab. Henry Ford’s recreation of the Menlo Park Lab in Greenfield Village was a childhood inspiration!
Some call it agile, some call it lean … Sheridan and his team call it joyful. And it produces results, business and otherwise. Six Inc. magazine revenue growth awards, invites to the White House, speaking engagements around the nation, numerous articles and culture awards and so much interest they are doing a tour a day of the Menlo Software Factory™.

Cliff HazellEtt8mrbL

How to copy Spotify in 30min*

We often hear of people trying to be like Spotify by copying some of our most visible artifacts. In this talk I’ll explain why copying us might be harder than it sounds, and perhaps even a bad idea. Specially I will share some of the lesser known principles and practices, and more importantly what we don’t do, which I believe are more important.


Cliff Hazell has made a career out of breaking down the obstacles that stand in the way of great work. He is often challenging the status quo in his quest to develop the right culture and systems for creation of excellent products. After a tour of addresses across South Africa, Cliff moved to Stockholm where he works on the Coaching team at Spotify.

Jochen Krebs29e35bf

With an Agile Portfolio Management Process to the right Product

Many organizations are efficient, but not effective. They are streamlined to be busy, but are they working on the right product? Often the answer is “No.” An agile organization requires focus, courage and many experiments to separate the less promising product ideas from the ones that promise real competitive advantage, early return of investment, and shorten the time to market. Although agile processes provide massive opportunities for a single team or product, the agile potential on an enterprise portfolio-level is often untapped. Let’s change that and Joe will show what agile portfolio management can do for you to win the next game BIG time!


JOCHEN (JOE) KREBS pioneered Agile Portfolio Management in 2008 by releasing the first book to address the growing demand in enterprise-wide agility. Joe is an outspoken, forward-thinking practitioner who provides coaching and training services through his New York City based company called INCREMENTOR. In his talks, he is thought provoking and challenges existing project management habits with the goal to further improve organizational effectiveness. He believes that “making traditions, means breaking traditions”. By following his principle, he has successfully increased the level of agility in numerous teams and organizations around the globe. Because agile is a journey and not a destination, he is eager to continue to raise the bar. Find out more about Joe at, INCREMENTOR or follow him @jochenkrebs.

April Mills17667224635_13db57a6fb_z

Choosing Change: How to Enable a Shift to Agile

What we want to change from or change to matters less than how we try to change. In “Choosing Change,” April Mills will speak to a philosophy of change, grounded in scholarship and practice, that describes how to think about and act to bring about your shift to Agile. She’ll provide you a way of seeing change, and your role in it, that will enable (and even speed up) your shift to Agile


April K. Mills is an engineer by training, but a change agent by passion. After spending nearly 15 years as a nuclear engineer for the U.S. Navy, she joined Intel in December 2014. Her new role is Change Coach and Community Steward with the Intel Emergent Systems and Coaching team. April brings leading-edge change agency techniques to Intel and the world. In 2015, she’s been a featured speaker around the world from Poland and England to Malaysia and Mexico. In her free time, April designs and builds accessible playgrounds and blogs at

Bridget KromhoutEud_QsXs

Beyond ad-hoc automation: leveraging structured platforms

What is your platform? Everyone has one, whether it’s Docker wrapped in config management wrapped in thousand-line fabfiles, bespoke artisanal hand-crafted shell scripts… or both! What promises can your platform make and keep? We craft platforms specific to our needs. I’ll talk about where I’ve been (spoiler alert: containers in production without hype) and what I’ve learned on this journey.


Bridget Kromhout is a Principal Technologist for Cloud Foundry at Pivotal. Her CS degree emphasis was in theory, but she now deals with the concrete (if ‘cloud’ can be considered tangible). After years in site reliability operations (most recently at DramaFever), she traded in oncall for more travel. A frequent speaker at tech conferences, she helps organize the AWS and devops meetups at home in Minneapolis, serves on the program committee for Velocity, and acts as a global core organizer for devopsdays. She podcasts at Arrested DevOps, occasionally blogs at, and is active in a Twitterverse near you.

Sharon Misgen

Agile, Holacracy, and Innovation

The way we work is changing, but we all know that. The way traditional companies operate and innovate must change. Just going through the motions and putting an Agile veneer on top of waterfall practices does not work. Traditional management practices of hierarchy, command and control, tightly planned work, competition through economies of scale and cost reduction, impersonal communication and the like must change. This change is required not only to allow companies to innovate more rapidly but to actually survive and thrive in this new world. Agile is leading the charge. Agile is a change of culture. Everyone needs to lean in, including management. This talk is for people who may still be pondering the questions “Why Agile?”, “What is Holacracy?” or for people who need to explain the answers to those questions to someone else.


Sharon is a technical professional with more than 20 years of experience in software design and development including much time writing code and more recently managing projects in traditional shops as well as Agile. She is now working with DevJam as an Agile Coach. She holds a broad understanding of emerging technologies and business processes, and is an avid Agile evangelist.

Kristen Johnsonlakephoto

Scaling Culture During Rapid Growth

Growing from a small startup with a handful of customers to a 100+ person organization with code running on pretty much every phone in the world is no small feat. I’ll discuss the principles the Fabric team uses to guide the way we work, how our practices have evolved over time, and what we’ve learned.


Kristen is the chief of staff and coach for Fabric, a company that was acquired by Twitter 3 years ago. Fabric is the tools developers need to build the best apps. She loves rolling up her sleeves and really understanding the dynamics of an organization. She believes that the way we work matters and instilling that mindset across an organization is well worth the time spent.

Katie DrewsKatie Drews

Delivering Food Innovation Consumers Want

How General Mills has adopted Agile principles outside of software within new product innovation to deliver food products consumers love.


Katie Drews leads the Enterprise Agile strategy across General Mills focusing on continuous delivery of value in Marketing, New Product Development, and Information Systems. She has worked on innovating ways to work differently and then iteratively deploying organizational structure, process, and talent, required to unlock agility and support business objectives.

David Hussman3ac5386

How to Build the Wrong Thing Faster, and Learn from It

Can ‘agile software development’ be refactored to ‘agile product development’? Some brave pioneers already doing this are re-learning that building good product is more opaque than simply getting work done. The land of product development is filled with holes, ambiguity and landmines of wrongness. Ideas that you are stone certain about often fizzle or change when you watch someone interact with your product. Being overly certain or focusing on ‘just getting work done’ to sustain velocity are mistakes that make matters worse.

Join me in an exploration of how to embrace wrongness, learn from it, and make it a vital part of our success. Our journey will explore the messy, sloppy and non-linear aspects of product development. Along the way, we’ll investigate how software construction is important, but courageously failing and learning in product is even more essential. We’ll look at how some teams are producing more real product value with less code. We will also peer into the world of program level development, where collections of teams produce better product by employing what might be called ‘test driven product.’

Who knows, toward the end of the journey, we might even rally to refactor the agile manifesto to read ‘Learning in Product over Simply Getting Things Done.’


David Hussman spends the majority of his time hunting Minneapolis Cheapos and garage sales for 80s Madonna vinyl, believing that the soul of all music can be found in her haunting lyrics and purity. He is an avid contributor to the Madonna devotee blog madonnalicious and regularly refreshes his Twitter feed for more information. (If you’re still reading, this is a joke and an actual bio can be found here.)