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Big Pie in the Sky… And Other Stuff!

Mike Cottmeyer Chief Executive Officer
Reading: Big Pie in the Sky… And Other Stuff!

Time has been absolutely flying by the past few weeks. Lot’s going on here in Atlanta, some of which I want to share with you guys this evening. First of all… I’ve got to tell you about the place we went to dinner tonight.

Big Pie in the Sky

We are big Man v. Food fans in our house. Somehow, me and my boys get a kick out of watching Adam Richman travel the globe looking for the biggest, greasiest meals… and then watching him eat the entire whatever in under an hour. A while back, Adam hit three places in Atlanta, one of which was a place called Big Pie in the Sky. That’s where we ate tonight.

The challenge was for two people to eat a 30 inch, 11 pound all-meat pizza in under an hour. Needless to say… that was out of our league. We did order the 30 inch, 11 pound all-meat pizza, but it took seven of us to put a dent in it. We still came home with leftovers. The kids got a kick out of driving across town to eat at a place we saw on TV. It was really fun… and definitely out of the ordinary.


I got a great invitation to attend an executive networking meeting last week called Atlanta TechDev Leaders (ATdL100). Van Williams, my former SVP at CheckFree/Fiserv was the host, and put together an excellent panel to talk about Innovation. It was really cool hearing these senior leaders talk about what factors contribute to innovation in their companies. More often than not I heard colocation, collaboration, and iteration. If I didn’t know better I would have thought I was at an agile meet-up.

Dan Pink – Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading the past few weeks. This one I actually downloaded from and listened to on my iPhone. This is a game changing book, and a must read for anyone that needs to get the best out of their team. The main takeaway from the book is that knowledge workers tend to be intrinsically motivated, the are more inclined to perform for the sheer joy of the work. Offering extrinsic rewards often results in lower performance and gets us exactly the behavior we don’t want. Again… a must read

Seth Godin – Linchpin, Are You Indispensable?

I don’t even know where to start with this one. First, excellent book. Next, go read it. Godin starts off talking about how our schools and our society are setup to get people to conform. He explains how the old social contracts, the ones that rewarded conformity with lifelong employment, are no longer in place. Workers are doing their part, but the security that we used to have in return is no longer there. Godin makes a strong case that successful people are those that make themselves indispensable. Success comes from giving, being part of communities, and shipping.

Chris Anderson – Free, Future of a Radical Price

This is the one I am reading right now. The book explores the economics of the Free economy… from open source software to illegal song downloads. It’s another one that challenges conventional wisdom and shows you how to make money by giving stuff away. The general premise… remember I’m only just starting… is that as the cost of delivery goes down, it is almost impossible to make money from the distribution of information. Give the ideas away for free and make money off of something else. Again, a very powerful and very radical idea. Somewhat counter-intuitive.

Pillar Southeast

We’ve spent a bunch of time and energy investing in relationships with a few dozen companies here in the Atlanta area. That investment is starting to pay off, and we are beginning to sell some business here in the region. I love this new gig, but the sales cycle for some of these deals has taken much longer that I ever thought. It is really nice to start seeing the other side… the light at the end of the tunnel you might say. I love getting out and helping people, and I’m excited to be on the ground working with clients on a more regular basis.

Kanban Training

Dennis Stevens and I just wrapped up the first ever Kanban course in Atlanta. We had an excellent group of people… almost 20… attend the class. The class went very well and everyone learned a lot. I think some of us get desensitized to how fast new ideas are emerging from our community. Many people are still just hearing about Kanban… if they’ve heard anything about it at all. It is cool to introduce people to such new and powerful ideas for the first time. It is very rewarding to see that light go on as people discover that there ARE solutions to some of these problems they have been wrestling with for so long.

COHAA Conference

A week or so ago, I was up in Columbus, Ohio… reprising my Agile PMP talk for 350 (or so) agile practitioners. The Central Ohio Agile Association did a great job organizing the conference and I really, really enjoyed hearing Ken Schwaber, Michael Mah, Patrick Wilson-Welsh, and Isreal Gat speak. It was one of the first conferences in while that I actually went to attend sessions and learn. It was interesting hearing Ken Schwaber’s take in the new group. Ken had quite a few great lines… but one of the things I really respected was when he said ‘whatever we do will be wrong… but we have to do something’. I can live with that.

Agile Development Practices West

I’m heading to Vegas next week to do my talk on Scaling Agile past the team. This talk is really about applying Scrum (and Lean and Kanban) to manage agile delivery in complex product organizations. My thinking on this has gotten clearer over the past few months, so I am putting some effort this weekend into refactoring my slide deck. I speak on Wednesday and am tied up Monday and Tuesday… so I better get busy. If push comes to shove, I can always fall back to the original presentation.

Agile 2010

Lowell Lindstrom asked me to produce the Enterprise Agility stage… this was first for me and quite a good experience. I also had my talk on scaling the product owner role on large complex products selected, so I’m happy I’ll get to speak too. It’s funny, I think the material in my scaling agile talk, and my talk on product ownership in the large, are starting to converge. There are a couple of core themes that keep coming out. I think they are really important and stuff that our community needs to understand… so I’m geeked. That said, I’m bummed we had to move from Nashville, but Orlando is always an excellent place to have a conference… and of course it will be fun to see old friends!

Agile Development Practices East

Lee Copeland was gracious enough to allow me to do my Scaling Agile talk in Orlando too. Again, I think this is a strong message that people need to hear. I am happy to have a forum to spread the word.

Raising Boys

As my kids get older, I am constantly amazed watching them grow. My oldest turned 14 this year. He is a great kid, plays percussion in the marching band, and is a straight A student. That said, he is pushing his boundaries and trying figure out his limits with his Mom and me. A few weeks ago, he got busted making out with his girlfriend in the dugout at the high-school. It was totally awesome watching the consequences come down from the school system, and seeing him learn a lesson that I didn’t have to impose. I love watching these guys grow up… totally awesome!

Stephen King – Wizard and Glass

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have caught that I am slowly working my way through Stephen King’s Gunslinger series. I just finished the 4th in the series called Wizard and Glass. I wasn’t sure what I thought of it as I was working my way through, but now that it is done, I think it was probably my favorite of the four so far. I’ve decided to take a few weeks off before I start reading book 5.

Scout camp coming up

Last but not least…after Agile Dev West, I’ll be up in Gainesville, GA at Scoutland chaperoning 10 teenage boys at Summer Camp for the week. Once we are done, Zach should be a Life Scout and Daniel should be a Star Scout. I am personally looking forward to a relatively relaxing week. I plan to take that time to get going on our book again. I am anxious to get back into the habit of writing daily, I really miss it. It has been tough being creative when there is literally no space in my life.

All good stuff… just freakin’ busy! If you made it this far, thanks for coming along for the ride!

Next Interesting Post... 6/1/2010 through 6/6/2010

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