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Wednesday, February 26, 2020 – Heroes are Expensive: Extinguishing the Firefighting Culture

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Speaker: Sue Johnston

Topic: Does your organization rely on heroes to complete your products and projects? Fueled by pizza, coffee and who knows what else, they work all hours, flat out, giving 110% to meet that critical release date. Sometimes they do it week after week. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t smart. And it isn’t agile.

In this session, you’ll explore ideas that aim to prevent that unsustainable and costly scenario and create environments where people can contribute their best work without extraordinary measures.

In her work as a trainer of agile practitioners, Sue has a view of agile life through the eyes of Testers, Scrum Masters, Team Leads, Agile Coaches, Product Owners and other technical professionals. She sees a pattern that gets in the way of team productivity, effective work and project success. It’s the gap between the expectations organizational leaders hold – or were sold – and what’s possible under the circumstances. (Twice the work in half the time, anyone?)

Changing those circumstances is the role of agile leaders. While few still believe, “install Scrum, fill up Jira and you’re agile,” there remains an apparent belief that agility is the responsibility of the development teams, alone. For everyone else, it’s business as usual and that leads organizations to to demand and reward heroic behaviour, which leads to quality slips, burnout and interpersonal drama.

In this session, as an agile leader, you’ll examine this challenge and explore what you might do about it. We’ll create some realistic expectations, based on the patterns of effective teamwork.

Bio: Sue Johnston helps you talk so people listen, listen so people talk and change the world one conversation at a time. After a career as a reporter, she moved to corporate communication, where she was involved in large scale change initiatives and technology implementations (including an early Extreme Programming project) at two of Canada’s financial services giants. She came to believe the crucial communication in organizations is the interaction between people. A professional coach since 2003, Sue has trained hundreds of people in coaching and facilitation techniques. Her workshops are accredited by ICAgile. Based in Waterloo, Ontario, she is the author of “Talk To Me: Workplace Conversations That Work,” the founder of It’s Understood Communication and a partner in Leanintuit. She has lots of letters after her name, but what really matters are letters like this: “Sue is the coach you want to learn from!” You can learn more about Sue and her work at https://itsunderstood.com.

Time: Doors open at approximately 11:30 am. Announcements and discussion start at approximately 11:50 am. Meeting ends at approximately 1:00 pm.

Lunch: provided on a first-come, first-served basis

Location: University of Waterloo, William G. Davis Computer Research Centre, Room DC1302

Maps and directions: See https://uwaterloo.ca/about/how-find-us/maps-and-directions