The Gordon Pask Award for Contributions to Agile Practice

The Gordon Pask Award Program is not currently active.  (As of Calendar-year 2011.)


The Gordon Pask Award is intended to bring greater visibility and recognition to members of the Agile community, for recent contributions to Agile practice which deserve to be more widespread.

The Gordon Pask Award recognizes two people whose recent contributions to Agile Practice make them, in the opinion of the Award Committee, people others in the field should emulate. In order that people might emulate them, the Agile Alliance will award each recipient a grant of USD 5000 to fund their work and help them gain additional exposure. In order to grow the next generation of Agile thought leaders, the Award is given to people who the selection committee believes have the potential to bring revolutionary, exciting or groundbreaking ideas to the agile community and change the way agilists work.

2010 Winners


Elisabeth Hendrickson has spent a decade at the forefront of the agile testing movement, becoming a thoughtful, effective programmer along the way. She has contributed so much to the agile community over the past decade that we find it difficult to single anything out. Her blog category list reads like the word of a modern-day renaissance woman: virtual training, running the business, teamwork, tester-developer, thinking like a tester. On receiving the award, Elisabeth wrote in part: "Even now I find it difficult to articulate what the award means to me. I am amazed to have been nominated. To have won? I am enormously pleased to have my work in the Agile community validated by such an honor. I think back to the prior winners and am ecstatic to be in their company. And I feel incredibly flattered to have been chosen alongside Liz Keogh who I respect and admire tremendously." Elisabeth's approach is exemplified by her article Beware the Hero.

Liz Keogh accepted the award essentially for the reasons she cited on her blog: "The Pask Committee have given the Gordon Pask award to me this year for deepening existing ideas and coming up with some pretty crazy ones of my own." Liz has helped to popularise the ideas that make up the "London School", including behavio(u)r-driven development, feature injection and real options. She exemplifies the notion of "thought leader", both by pushing the envelope into new areas of work, as well as by affecting the way people work. If you haven't yet read it, then you must run, not walk, to her article Pixie-Driven Development.


2009 Winners

Joe Rainsberger captured the essence of David Hussman’s work by saying “David is not just someone who builds agile communities, but someone who is building community builders”. David’s coaching is centered on getting to know communities and their members so he can help foster real value using a meaningful collection of agile methods which amplify existing strengths and confront existing challenges.

For each engagement, David works hard to grow internal coaching and coaches. He is genuinely inquisitive and insightful about people. His coaching style is non-dogmatic, well-grounded, challenging and pragmatic. Focusing on getting to know project communities helps David seed self-discovery and avoid falling into the expert trap of telling people what they “should do”.

David’s coaching includes introducing agile methods to large international project communities as well as working side by side with members of small collocated teams, helping them to tune and improve their agility. Along with his coaching, David has helped create or produce a variety of agile gatherings including Agile Egypt, Practical Agility, CodeFreeze and Agile Palooza to name a few. In his home town of Minneapolis / St Paul, David leads several local groups like Practical Agility and the Twin Cities chapter of Agile Philanthropy.

For more information about David, his company, or to view a variety of his presentations and publications, check out his website:

Simon Baker and Gus Power have had a profound effect on the way the people around them view agile methods in the real world. They’ve repeatedly demonstrated that their No Compromise, No Excuses approach consistently creates and maintains exceptionally high performing teams that deliver high quality software, and within the same kind of dysfunctional organizations that most of us work for.

Through their study and application of lean accounting they have created a financial system to support going from "concept to cash every week". It makes visible the consequences of business decisions and the real cash value of a project as software is released every week. The CFO of a major UK company told them he’d never seen a project before where he could see so clearly what he needed to know.

There are no secrets behind their success – they use the techniques they teach with commitment, applying their values and raw common sense with rigor, and they invest in growing the skills of the people they work with. They attract tremendous loyalty from their teams. Simon and Gus have shown us how much we can expect to achieve by holding to the values of the Agile movement. Follow Gus and Simon’s blog at

The Gordon Pask Award committee also wants to highlight Corey Haines pair programming tour – find out more at The Gordon Pask Award committee encourages Agile Alliance members to support Corey with this.

2008 Winners

Kenji Hiranabe is the face of agile in Japan. He has translated several important books to make them available to the Japanese audience. He has also done original work applying mind mapping techniques to various activities we normally perform in agile software development. We chose Kenji to recognize his work as well as to encourage the exchange of ideas with Japan. Kenji imports and exports ideas as well as people: he arranged for a delegation of a dozen people to come to Agile 2008 from Japan.

Arlo Belshee has contributed significant ideas to agile practitioners. His groundbreaking paper “Promiscuous Pairing and Beginner’s Mind: Embrace Inexperience” has on its own influenced the way many individuals and teams work day to day. Arlo exemplifies the leadership the agile community sorely needs: an experimenter at heart, he tries his ideas in real-life situations, then reports his results. He has the courage to run a business that holds many of these ideas at its center. In a field where many theorize, he applies. Arlo gives the agile practitioners more tools for their tool belts and we wanted both to recognize his past work and encourage further work. We need Arlo to advance as a field.

The community also recognized Bob Payne leading a new philanthropy movement within the agile community, as well as his Agile Toolkit Podcast, which brings agile community leaders and practitioners to the MP3 players of the world. The Agile Alliance has agreed to support Bob’s efforts financially and to launch a formal program to help develop a philanthrophic arm of the Agile Alliance and the agile community at large.

2007 Winners

Naresh Jain, for his work establishing user groups in India and for the Simple Design and Testing conference; and Jeff Patton, for his work helping establish what User Centered Design means in Agile (including the agile-usability group) and for being an example of the usefulness of being fluent in two fields (programming and UCD).

The committee also broke from its charter to create a new award—the Ward Cunningham Gentle Voice of Reason Award—and awarded it to Dale Emery for what he’s done on the XP and other mailing lists, and in person; and also for his work creating environments where change happens (rather than, as J.B. Rainsberger put it, “inflicting change on people”).

2006 Winners

Laurent Bossavit, for translating Extreme Programming Explained into French, for early and helpful activity on the English-language XP mailing list, for organizing a French-language site, mailing list, and wiki, for XP Day France, for the (incipient) thoughts on his blog, and for his championing of code dojos.

The collaborators Steve Freeman and Nat Pryce for helping found XP Day, for their long-time involvement in the Extreme Tuesday Club, for their joint role in the development, evolution, and popularization of the idea of mock objects and its realization in jMock, and for the networks of collaborations they’re involved in (storytelling in Fit and scrapheap programming, for example).

2005 Winners

J. B. Rainsberger, for spending a great deal of time helping people on the testdrivendevelopment mailing list, for writing JUnit Recipes, for XP Day Toronto, and for being this year’s Agile2005 tutorial chair.

Jim Shore, for his performance as a paper shepherd; for a fine experience report he gave at ADC2003 that, together with hisblog, suggest a cast of thought that deserves cultivation; for his work on the Fit specification and the C# version of Fit; and for being a person who holds the Fit world together by doing the sort of organizational and cleanup tasks that are usually thankless.