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Listen to ME!


Listen to ME!

We were sharing stories in a recent CAL class. One of the students talked about the dynamics of release engineering related to gaining customer feedback. I shared a recent post from Jason Fried where he mentioned the importance of releasing a product to get feedback. Making the point that customers are the only arbiter whether you were on track or not in your MVP development path.

Here’s the link -

The young man brought up his frustration with the phenomenon of organizations often listening more to outsiders rather then listening to their own teams or internal experts. Either in person or as names being dropped in conversation.

I sometimes liken this to bandwagon syndrome and I shared on that here –

I fully resonated with his comment. Being an outside consultant, I often hear “insiders” say something like:

I’ve been giving my leadership team that feedback for several (days, months, even years) and they’ve never really listened to me. You (consultant Bob) come in and say it once and suddenly everyone takes it seriously. 

Do you know how frustrating that is?

Actually, I do. And I’m incredibly empathetic to the point.

I remember when I was at iContact as their agile transformation coach, I had everyone’s ear for the first year or so. And my recommendations were easier to make and have them stick. But as time passed and everyone got used to my voice, stories, and style, they started to tune me out a bit.

So, this phenomenon happens to us all.

I started to bring in other thought leaders, either hired or invited, to mix the ideas (and voices) up a bit. And this seemed to work beautifully to break through the ice and renew some of my influence.

Wrapping up

While this can be a bit frustrating to folks on the inside, I think this is a natural occurrence in all organizations. Folks get accustomed to our voices and we need to augment them with book / article references, outside perspectives, and other ideas.

I think it’s simply the way it is. And you know…

It doesn’t matter where or who the idea comes from as long as the organization gains a flow of ideas, tries and experiments with new things, and continues to learn & evolve.

It’s all good.

Stay agile my friends,



My Heroes: Johanna Rothman


My Heroes: Johanna Rothman

It’s time for me to share something about my next personal hero.

I thought long and hard and it has to be Johanna Rothman. In this case, it’s not something that Johanna particularly did for me.

Of course, we know each other and have run around the same conference circles for quite a few years. But in this case, it’s the role model aspect that makes Johanna my hero.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I was trying to find myself as a software engineer and leader. I’d been working for companies over the years, but I had this idea to establish my own brand. It started by speaking at conferences and writing.

In those early days, both of those activities were limited. I was a “new guy” on the landscape and just trying to figure out how to become more of an influencer, a subject matter expert, a consultant if you will.

So, I looked around for role models. After a while, I found one. It was Johanna Rothman. She was doing the things that I wanted to do. She was speaking and writing about software development topics like project management, leadership, and testing. She seemed to be “everywhere” to me and had a relatively well-established consulting brand.

A Confession

I have a confession to make. Over the years, I’ve received quite a bit of feedback on my incorporated name: RGalen Consulting Group. Well, I have a confession. I borrowed that model from Johanna. As well as much of the structure of her services on her website.

She gave me inspiration in how to construct a brand and a focus in the world of software development consulting when I had few ideas of my own. And it helped me to get established and gain some initial confidence.


As I attended more conferences as a presenter and workshop provider, I ran into Johanna more and more often. I continued to observe how she did what she did. Her area focuses, her way of presenting and connecting to an audience. And her posture and confidence when it came to providing advice.

No, I wasn’t becoming Johanna. No one could do that. Nor was I “stalking” her. But I was learning from her and using her as a phenomenal role model in my own journey.

And the writing…

I have another confession to make. As you can see in the picture I’ve attached to this post, Johanna has written quite a few books.

When I first met her, she was just starting her book authoring. Sure, she had written many articles, but only one book as I recall. Over time I followed her as she began to share her vast experience in this medium. And it too inspired me.

You see, I’m not a natural writer. I’m still not. And it’s been one of my greatest weaknesses. But watching Johanna write, share, and seeing the impact it had on others, again inspired me to begin writing.

More than fifteen years later and I’ve written four books and countless articles and blog posts. Am I a good writer? I wouldn’t be so bold as to say that. But I’ve improved drastically over those years and I’ve come to appreciate this way of sharing my learning and experience with others.

Wrapping Up

Johanna, I want to thank you for being a role model to me and countless others as to what a professional, courageous, and principled consultant and author should be.

One of the highest compliments I can pay you is that I always saw you – walk your talk. In everything you said and did.

You are the consummate role model and professional and I am forever in your debt for your inspiration. An inspiration that you’re probably not even aware of.

Anyway, Johanna, I’m incredibly blessed to know you and want you to know that you are my Hero.

Stay agile my friends,