5 Easy Questions for Jared Richardson

On this blog I have published interviews with Steve McConnell, Johanna Rothman, Alistair Cockburn, Robert L. Glass, Scott Berkun, Mary Poppendieck and Grady Booch. Everytime I ask the same five questions, and everytime I am pleasantly surprised by the answers I get.

Jared Richardson is the author of Ship It! A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects , listed at #72 on the Top 100 Best Software Engineering Books, Ever. Jared works as a consultant, author, and speaker. As a consultant, he focuses on process and how it can keep your products and team on track. His current technical work includes continuous integration, Ruby on Rails, and various Java technologies. Jared Richardson has his own blog at AgileArtisans.com.

These are the five questions I asked Jared, and the answers that he gave me…

1. What has been the toughest challenge in your past?

People who don't know about process improvement are the ones who need it the most. How do you reach those people? If I come into a shop and they've got Michael Feathers, Johanna Rothman, and Steve McConnell on the bookshelf, they're already doing a lot of the right things. I can still bring some value, but the teams who are mired down, have effective process, and just live in crisis mode need us the most. And they don't know any of us exist.

On the competence scale (unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, unconscious competence), I think the hardest thing is to show people how to move from level one, unconsciously incompetent, to level two. It's often too late to save a project by the time a team is so bankrupt that they're desperate enough to start looking outside their own walls for help.

2. What is the main source of inspiration for what you do?

I love it when people come back and tell me how much something from a talk or book changed their shop. On the No Fluff Just Stuff tour I'm lucky enough to see the same people once or twice a year and when they come back excited and tell the rest of the class how much test automation or continuous integration changed their shop… that's just incredible.

Ship It! came out of helping friends in that same way… to be able to do that on a larger scale is very rewarding.

3. What activity should be on every manager's daily list?

Attend a daily, Scrum-style meeting. Peruse a few thought leaders' blogs. Read some book for at least 15 minutes. (Can I do three items?).

4. What can we learn from you in the near future?

Create a strategy or plan for anything you do. Never just jump in and start something and hope it ends well. You'd never get in a car and start driving unless you knew where you wanted to go.

Even a basic roadmap can be a huge help for developing a project, starting a test automation initiative, or mapping out your career. Imagine how much more fulfilling your project completion will be when you've chosen a destination, worked hard, and reached it. That's an amazing feeling.

I'm currently working on a book with a rough title of Career 2.0 that'll talk about how to do exactly that, as well as bring your friends along for the ride.

5. What is more interesting than software development?

That depends on you. 🙂 All the truly great talents I know, the "big brains" in our industry have outside hobbies. Dave Thomas, James Duncan Davidson and Mike Clark are all avid photographers. Andy Hunt and Chad Fowler play music. I think everyone has their own set of passions outside of software development… ignoring them makes you one-sided and less effective…. less creative… in your day-to-day work.

I like being in a canoe or kayak on flat water, watching an eagle take a fish, and listening to the sound of water not moving. 🙂 I also think digging in the dirt and playing with compost, worms, and vegetables is fun too!

Well, these are the answers given by Jared Richardson. I hope you liked them!

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