A Community of Thinkers

I am a member of a community of thinkers.

I believe that communities exist as homes for professionals to learn, teach, and reflect on their work.

I challenge each community in the software industry to:

  • reflect and honor the practitioners who make its existence possible;
  • provide an excellent experience for its members;
  • support the excellent experience its members provide for their clients and colleagues in all aspects of their professional interactions;
  • exemplify, as a body, the professional and humane behavior of its members;
  • engage and collaborate within and across communities through respectful exploration of diverse and divergent insights;
  • embrace newcomers to the community openly and to celebrate ongoing journeys; and
  • thrive on the sustained health of the community and its members through continual reflection and improvement.

I believe that leaders in each community have a responsibility to exhibit these behaviors, and that people who exhibit these behaviors will become leaders.

I am a member of a community of thinkers. If I should happen to be a catalyst more than others, I consider that a tribute to those who have inspired me.

Creative Commons License

”A Community of Thinkers” by Liz Keogh, Jean Tabaka and Eric Willeke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Please attribute to the distributor of your copy or derivative.

Jean, Eric and I got together in Denver last week. We didn’t start with any particular goal in mind – I was excited to be there because I knew I’d learn something, regardless of what we did. Jean has strong skills in facilitation and collaboration, and Eric’s heavily involved in Lean and Kanban, both of which are currently areas in which I’m focused and learning.

I’ve already seen a small slice of Rally’s culture at their Chiswick offices in London. Jean was kind enough to show us around the Boulder headquarters, where we were warmly welcomed. The layout of the Rally offices is the most effective I’ve seen – large, partitioned project areas with sliding doors, allowing collaboration while avoiding the problem of noise common to open-plan spaces. Jean managed to book us an entire room for the day, complete with a huge jug of coffee.

We started with the idea that we’d produce something for the Lean and Kanban community. Particularly, we expressed a desire to see the LSSC learn from some of the trials that other communities and community-leading organisations have undergone. Ryan Martens, the CTO and a founder of Rally, also provided extensive input. We talked about what communities meant to us, how leaders and leadership manifest within them, and the influence of factors like money, certification, vendor sponsorship, etc. on the community landscape. At the same time I learnt more about facilitation, appreciative enquiry, group psychology, constructive language, the power of well-formed outcomes and the history of the Lean and Kanban movements in and outside of software.

As we talked, we became less convinced that the LSSC actually needed to be challenged, and more concerned with software communities generally. We started writing phrases that we felt represented our views on post-its, and constructed the above challenge by piecing them together. For me, this is a personal statement and commitment – if it’s exactly the same as the copies on Eric or Jean’s sites, it’s only because their arguments were sound and convincing. We were heavily influenced by conversations with Chris Matts and his call for “fewer leaders, more leadership”.

Because of that personal nature, we wanted to avoid putting this up as some kind of centralised manifesto that people can sign. If you feel strongly enough about it that you want to sign up, copy it. Post it on your own site. Attribute it to wherever you got your copy from – the act of sharing is more important to us than the act of creation – and feel free to change it so that it reflects your own values. I don’t think that any statement like this can ever be perfect, nor will we perfectly live up to it.

I am a member of a community of thinkers. So are you.

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13 Responses to A Community of Thinkers

  1. Lisa Crispin says:

    Shoot, I wish I’d have known you were in town! What a cool thing the three of you have started. Sign me up! I’ll put this on my blog and keep thinking about it.

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  3. Jean Tabaka says:

    Thanks so much for bringing this project forward with all your passion and creativity. Working with you and Eric last week was such a wonderful example of what can happen when we choose to purposefully collaborate and create. Having never worked with you or Eric before, I couldn’t know exactly what we would do, how we would engage, or what the path would be that would get us to the end of the day. What an experience! I also want to thank you for bringing Chris Matts into the conversation virtually and for welcoming Ryan Martens directly into our “starfish” brainstorming. You were a brilliant facilitator!

    I look forward to seeing how “A Community of Thinkers” takes wing (without taking away your wings 🙂


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