The Agile Alliance community was deeply saddened to learn that Tamsen Mitchell passed away on October 28, 2020.
A gifted coach and visual facilitator, Tamsen was a cherished friend and mentor to many in the Agile community. Renowned for her wit, vision, and edgy humor, she inspired many Agilists to pick up a marker to share their insights with the world through visual thinking. Her friend Stuart Young shared the following tribute:
“Thank you Tamsen for brightening up the world by colouring outside of the lines and putting the word facilitation into graphic facilitation. You were an awesome coach/trainer and pretty darn handy with Neuland. You taught me the value of group drawing as a way to embrace diversity of thought and as a way to welcome the judgement, preferences, and beliefs of all individuals within a working group. You will be sadly missed in the world of Agile, Scrum and beyond. Take care my friend.”
Lyssa Adkins offered this remembrance:
“We lost a wonderful member of our community. I knew Tamsen through Agile coaching classes and through her presence at conferences. She had a knack for naming things. And in both of her Agile coach Bootcamps, she was the humorous force that cracked the joke, made everyone laugh, and helped create shared identity for the whole group. I was also so proud to know her as she pursued her visual facilitation work and created her own special niche in our community.”
Many of us connected with Tamsen through her vibrant presence at Agile20XX events. In addition to sharing popular presentations at Agile2016 and Agile 2017, she served as a track chair on the Agile2018 and Agile2019 planning teams. Tamsen had been looking forward to presenting at Agile2019 — when she determined that she wouldn’t be able to participate in person, her friend (and Agile2019 Conference Chair) Christina Hartikainen stepped in:
“This was such an important event for her, so we had to find a way for her to share in the experience. This is how Tiny Tamsen, or TT for short, was born. TT is a small crocheted doll, sporting a conference “lewk” — a white top with puffy sleeves, gracing black bottoms, all tied together with some Louboutin shoes. Friends and strangers all embraced TT and were eager to share in her adventures. TT allowed the community to stay connected with Tamsen and was also an expression of our love and support for her. A number of keepers took her on adventures — from backstage access to all the happenings of the conference, from attending sessions to playing games and hosting office hours, to multiple rounds of dinners and drinks, and more.
Over the course of the week, all of her keepers got to share stories of their experiences with this amazing woman who meant so much to us. After the conference, a book of photos chronicling Tiny Tamsen’s Adventures along with TT herself were delivered to Tamsen to keep bringing her joy after Agile2019.”
Her motto — “Humor Trumps All” — encouraged us to always seek ways to bring humor and fun to sharing stories that might not be so “funny”, an idea she brought to life in sharing what she described as her “dance with cancer” in wry detail in her blog. This week, Tamsen’s dance with cancer came to an end. We are left to keep on dancing with her in our hearts.
Everyone at Agile Alliance sends our condolences to Tamsen’s husband Robert and her family and friends. Tamsen inspired many of us to be better coaches, better visual thinkers, and better friends. We will miss her.