An Interview with Ken Pugh - Seen at Agile 2006, People Issue are Quite Common

August 8, 2006 — Posted by Jim Trott

Listen to the podcastInterview with Ken Pugh

Ken Pugh is an expert consultant with a ready smile, great instincts, and, like so many of the experts and trainers I have had the pleasure to work with, he takes particular joy in watching the light bulbs turn on as he works with students. At Agile 2006, Ken talked with me about one of his key observations: most agile teams have challenges with people, yet most of the training developers receive still focuses on technical skills. In some sense, that can set them up for failure.

People issues show up in several forms:

  • A person who does not want to collaborate or cannot collaborate
  • Time problems (too many meetings, etc)
  • A developer who simply plows ahead for rear of asking questions and looking incompetent
  • Conflict resolution
  • Difficulties in communication

This is perhaps especially a challenge in individualistic, highly competitive, or isolated environments. So, what do you do? Do you exclude people who cannot fit in? Or do you work with them to help them transition or to find alternatives?

The key is not to force the solution on the individual, not to impose a fix. Instead, you have to work with the individual to help them discover the solution. This is sensitive and tough work. In Scrum, this would be a primary responsibility for the ScrumMaster (who is responsible for focusing on the health of the team).

In Scrum, it means that ScrumMasters must learn "soft skills", how to work with people discover their own solutions. There is no way around this. To help with this, Ken recommends books by Jerry Weinberg.

This relates quite well to last week’s podcast on interviewing techniques for staffing agile teams, above.

Ken has been in business since 1982, offering OO, Java, C++, C, customer programming, design, process issues, and expert testimony, with its headquarters in Durham NC. If you get a chance to hear Ken speak, I highly recommend it. His speaking schedule is on the Pugh-Killeen Associates website.

Recommendations - Reading

  • By Jerry Weinberg

Recommendations - Online

Music used in this podcast:

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About the author | Jim Trott

Jim Trott is a senior consultant for Net Objectives. He has used object-oriented and pattern-based analysis techniques throughout his 20 year career in knowledge management and knowledge engineering. He is the co-author of Design Patterns Explained: A New Perspective on Object-Oriented Design, Lean-Agile Software Development: Achieving Enterprise Agility, and the Lean-Agile Pocket Guide for Scrum Teams.


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Hyperlink starting with the word "interviewing" is broken in the sentence:
This relates quite well to last week’s podcast on interviewing techniques for staffing agile teams.

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