For Maximum Awesome: An Interview with Joe Justice


JJ: Yeah, I’m the team lead, and that often makes me the product owner, but not always. We are one of the few Scrum teams that rotate product owners, and in our case we rotate them based on what’s in the current sprint and who knows the most about it. If we have a whole bunch of aerodynamics tasks coming up, whoever knows the most about aerodynamics in the team will be the product owner role. I’m often the product owner, but not always. Then, in the build parties, which is how we get our work done every Thursday night and most Sundays, I’m a team member.

I’m completing these backlog items as fast as I can—pairing with other team members and helping bringing backlog items to a ready state, where they are clear enough and concise enough. We know we have all the tools where we can grab them and get them done. Also, on paper I’m the CEO, which means I did file the articles of incorporation for the company. I manage the stock disbursements—which, actually, we have none. We reincorporated as a nonprofit. We don’t do stock disbursements anymore.

I also manage the licensing of our open source products. I verify that they are freely available and that the folks that are using our products are adhering to our open source license. I do a lot of the business end of Team WIKISPEED, as well, and manage a lot of the finances for the team. We are primarily supported by people sending us ten dollars a month through PayPal, and that funds shops in twenty countries. We’ve had dramatic success with that. Those funds go into the Team WIKISPEED account, which any team member can manage. A lot of the time that’s left on me, because people want to go build cars, micro-houses, and make the world a better place.

CP: Well, yeah. You sound like you have a lot on your plate with Team WIKISPEED and with Scrum Inc. How did you have time, and can you tell us a little bit about what you have planned for us for the keynote at Agile Development Conference & Better Software Conference West 2014?

JJ: Totally. Well, I can't wait to see you guys in Las Vegas. We are going to have, I hope, the best time possible together. I use personal kanban for my own time. I spend about forty hours a week working with Scrum Incorporated, Scrum Inc., and about forty hours a week working with Team WIKISPEED. Yeah, that’s most of the time. Absolutely sustainable, because it’s mission-driven. Both of those items directly appeal to why I believe I’m on this planet, and it makes it easy to find the energy in that case. It’s not like I can't wait to get out of work after forty hours and go watch baseball or something like that, something that helps me feel free.

I feel that at work, and then I can't wait to feel it even more at Team WIKISPEED. Personal kanban is what lets me keep that sustainable and help me keep my velocity high, because I always know what’s happening next, and when I have a distraction or an interrupt, I always know what’s next again. I’m always able to improve my flow because personal kanban gives me a flow visualization of everything I’m doing.

At the Better Software Conference in 2014 that’s in June in Las Vegas, we get to do something even a little bit more dramatically awesome. We get to build one of the cars that one of our customers has bought.

I’ll be bringing in a set of eight modules that can compose our WIKISPEED cars, our ultra-efficient carbon fiber cars, and anybody who’d like to that’s attending the conference can come and enroll in the sprints. We’ll pull from a backlog, and it won’t be "bolt this to this," it will be test-driven development. People will get hands-on experience with test-first development, test-driven development, contract-first design, modularity, object-oriented architecture, and working in a Scrum team. I’ll be a team member. I’ll also work as a coach when I can. And we’ll have product owners and ScrumMasters solicited from anybody who’d like to show up that’s attending the conference.

It’s great for people that are new to any of this agile stuff as part of their Better Software journey, and people who are deep experts. In both cases they get to have a tremendous amount of fun and we get to actually build a real, road-legal car together. I also get to do a presentation there, and I’m excited that folks get to hear the background of Team WIKISPEED and what to do next if they want to have some of these wins happen in their company.

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