A Changing of the Guard at AgileConnection

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Summary:
The AgileConnection technical editor, Johanna Rothman, is moving on from her post. Here, she reflects on what she's learned over the last six years—about writing, agile, and working with people—and she introduces you to the new person who is taking over for the site.

I started as the technical editor for AgileConnection back in July of 2011. I’ve had a wonderful six years and learned a ton along the way as I found new authors, reviewed submissions, and read articles to be published on the site, but now I’m leaving my post. Starting this month, there’s a new technical editor.

As I reflect on my time with AgileConnection, I’d like to share four major lessons I learned.

All Writing Is Story-Telling

I’ve had the opportunity to read hundreds of articles for this site. (Yes, some I read several times.) Every single time the writer told a story (or two or three), the article came alive. People read it and responded to it.

When people didn’t use stories in their articles, the article bogged down. I felt as if I had to slog to get through it. Those articles just didn’t have the same verve that the articles containing personal stories did.

When we tell stories in articles, we build empathy. We build empathy with the people who have the same problem or a solution to it. We might even build empathy with the people who make questionable decisions. Great stories show the context evenhandedly. That means we can see ourselves, even if we are the ones making questionable decisions.

Tell stories in your writing.

Everyone Is a Potential Writer

I’m a consultant, so I network all the time. I talk with people at conferences, at parties, and on airplanes. Sometimes, I met people who had stories to tell even though they never thought of themselves as writers.

While at the conference, at the party, or on the plane, this person would start to tell me about how their organization or team used agile and what happened.

Sometimes, they had a terrific experience. That was excellent.

More often, they stumbled. Part of their experience was great. The next part? Not just bad, but horrible.

Sometimes, they were able to rescue their situations. Sometimes they weren’t.

It didn’t matter. Each of these stories was compelling. When I asked if these people would write an article for the site, they first demurred. “No, not me!” they said.

I would sit forward and ask, “Why not you?”

More often, they said yes. They wrote their stories and we published them. Then, the best thing happened—they networked with other people and told them to write stories for AgileConnection. It was great.

Your network can do more than help you succeed with agile. It can provide multiple ways to grow professionally, including through writing.

User Comments

8 comments
Jim Little's picture

Good luck Jeff.

Johanna thank you and best of luck in the future.  I'm sure we will still be seeing your name here and anywhere else Quality Management is discussed.

June 8, 2017 - 1:00pm
Johanna Rothman's picture

Jim, thanks so much! Yes, I am planning to write a series of articles about agile management. I need to do a little planning and then write-write-write!

June 8, 2017 - 2:06pm
George Dinwiddie's picture

Johanna, you will be a hard act to follow. I've never had an editor push me as hard as you did, or get me to create as good an article as you did. By telling how much better my article could be, you made me a better writer. Thank you! If Jeff does half as well he will be an excellent editor.

June 8, 2017 - 2:11pm
Johanna Rothman's picture

George, wow, thank you so much. Your article is terrific. I still refer people to it :-) Jeff will be great.

June 8, 2017 - 2:35pm
Mark Kilby's picture

Johanna - I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to work with you as a contributor to AgileConnection and I'm glad that you asked for what you wanted.  It made me a better writer.  You taught me early on that all writing is story-telling.  You helped me think more about the stories I felt needed to be told for this community and others.  Thank you.

Jeff - I wish you the best of luck in the new role.  Hope we have a chance to collaborate.

June 12, 2017 - 5:00am
Johanna Rothman's picture

Mark, thank you so much. I have enjoyed your articles through the years and I expect to read much more from you!

June 12, 2017 - 7:14am
Tricia Simo Kush's picture

I know you'll do amazing things, Johanna. I cannot wait to read about your changes and future adventures! Best of luck to the AgileConnection team!

June 23, 2017 - 1:46pm
Johanna Rothman's picture

Tricia, thank you! I have proposed articles to Jef, so I hope to still be "around" here, just not as technical editor. 

June 23, 2017 - 2:36pm

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