bob_headI have a reason for liking Bob Payne. Bob has empathy and a true love for giving back. That resonates with some of what we are trying to do here in Boulder. Rally, as a B Corporation, has expressly created a charter about giving back to the community: 1% equity giveback, 1% employee volunteer hours (over 2500/year in the last two years) and a number of other local not for profit initiatives. For Bob and us, adopting Agile has  been an important component in how will pull our empathy and our software skills together. With Agile, we seek to deliver feasible, effective, desirable solutions in our complex world. And reaching beyond our corporate walls to deliver that desirability catapults us to being truly empathic in our solutions.

When you meet Bob, you immediately get what “giving back” and empathy is about in his Agile work and beyond. Bob is always looking for new ways to bring Agile to our community and the greater community: our complex world. Out of his own interest in giving back to the Agile community, Bob set up his Agiletoolkit podcasts site. A gift for all of us. At the recent ADP West conference, Bob was there with his sound setup.  Bob took interest in Rally’s Agile Zen acquisition when interviewing Ryan Martens. And I  had the great fun of talking about Seth Godin’s book “Linchpin” that both Bob and I had read.

In this post, I’m so honored to have the opportunity to turn the tables on Bob and be the interviewer.

“Bob, what got you started recording your Agiletoolkit podcasts?”

I began recording the Agiletoolkit podcasts in 2005 after hearing several interesting podcasts and wondering if anyone would be interested in a podcast about Agile. I had always been a gadget person so fiddling with recording equipment and microphones was a natural for me. In fact, I now also have an iPhone App for the podcasts.

I love having the conversations and the podcast gave me an excuse/push to have conversations with people that I might not connect with in the halls at a conference.  A good example of that was when someone said to me, “You have to talk to this guy Arlo.” Without that introduction via the podcast I am sure I would not know Arlo Belshee as well as I do now.

While I am by nature gregarious, I do not search out “networking opportunities”. The podcasts have forced me into a new comfort zone that includes a lot more people from the community than I would have connected with through normal channels.  While I hope people appreciate and benefit from the podcasts, I do them for myself.  That affects the style of the podcasts. Since I am not trying to be polished or create an edited product, the podcasts have a more natural/comfortable feel.  I just wish I said “UM” less and a was little more polished on my delivery. But…I am who I am and it is what it is.

“How did you get into Agile philanthropy?”

man a mano babyAgile philanthropy started as a way of trying to meld my passion for doing good in the world with my passion for agile methods.  Using the power that is evident in the agile community to do great things is one of the goals of Agile Philanthropy.  Ideally we will get to the point that this movement is self-sustaining. But we are really just starting out on this journey.  I hope that I can grow the movement in the direction of local chapters doing work for local not for profits. Right now everyone is very busy and I am the bottleneck.  We are currently working with Mano a Mano and Haiti Partners. And, I would love to have people with a passion for a particular cause to contact me and start up their own chapter.

“What about your other philanthropic interests?”

I am very interested in local sustainable food, economic development and social justice. I volunteer in my kids’ schools quite a bit.  Most recently, I built incubators with the kids and hatched chickens and worked with the teachers to incorporate that into the curriculum. I have been working to get local food into the schools; to create school gardens; and, to relax the laws in Washington DC as they pertain to the keeping of bees and hens. Most of my other work is more directly related to the work I do in Agile Philanthropy.

“When did you start the Mano a Mano project work and what have you and your yearly teams accomplished at the Agile conferences?”

Seems like forever but we introduced Mano a Mano three years ago when the conference was in DC.  I was running the development lab in the basement and hoped that I could get some real work done in the lab that would do some good.  After that, I tried to make it more formal and improve what we have done for them each year.  They have been very appreciative and very patient with us since I am learning as I go with this process.

To date, we have moved them onto a Content Management Platform and developed their iPhone optimized donation page.  Most importantly, I am happy that I have connected Mano a Mano with David Hussman and a number of other volunteers in the Twin Cities that are helping out on a regular basis.  Wayne Simacek showed up for an event that Jeff Patton and Ed Kraay were holding to help Mano a Mano define their web strategy and ended up staying on as a volunteer member of their IT staff.

It is that kind of leverage that I hope to bring by connecting the two communities.

“What do you have in store for us at the Agile2010 conference?”

For the Agile2010 Conference, I am working again with the UX stage to do an Extreme Makeover for the Mano a Mano web presence.  We hope to be able to work on their information architecture and site design to improve the impact of the message that Mano a Mano is putting out. We are looking for volunteers to come by the LiveAid lab and help with the effort (hint, hint).

I also hope to get people interested in replicating this model for not for profits that they are passionate about.

You can do this too

To end this post, I want to thank Bob for the example he sets for all of us. I also want to emphasize Bob’s call to action to get engaged locally. You can do this through your existing local Agile group. Or, you can create a new group with an express charter to give back to the community. Recently Brad Feld here in Boulder wrote about the “Boulder New Technology Meetup” event that supported over 300 people engaged with 20 local non-profits. And here at Rally, we are marching along with Bob philanthopically working to give back: supporting  Intercambrio, donating time to local non-profits (Community Food Share and Growing Gardens) and working with the Salesforce Foundation.

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