Using Software Collaboration Techniques To Solve Civic Problems

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The Agile Alliance mission is to support those who explore and apply Agile principles and practices to make the software industry productive, humane, and sustainable. The Alliance was founded on the principles inherent in the Agile Manifesto, which are fundamentally underpinned by the notion of deep collaboration.

At the Agile2015 conference in Washington DC, our opening keynote speaker Luke Hohmann gave an inspirational and aspirational presentation about the power of collaboration. He talked about the nature of the collaborative games we play as we build software together. He shared examples of those games, highlighting key aspects of their success. More importantly, however, he shared inspirational success stories of deep collaboration in broader social and civic situations. Those collaborations he spoke about were fueled by many of the principles and techniques which we, as agile software practitioners, hold dear.

As a member of the audience for his keynote, I was truly inspired by the possibilities Luke was presenting. As such, I wanted to share an opportunity for you to get involved with Luke’s nonprofit foundation in an upcoming large-scale collaboration for the city of San José, CA.

A Note From Luke

“Over the past few years, we’ve produced several pro-bono participatory budgeting programs for the city of San José, CA, through our nonprofit, the Every Voice Engaged Foundation.

This year, San José has asked for our help in producing the largest participatory budgeting program in San José history. The project is targeting thousands of residents through in-person and online forums. The purpose of this project is to collaboratively prioritize how the city should invest the portion of its budget devoted to programs and services that affect San José’s neighborhoods. This is a “zero-based” budgeting opportunity in which the budget allocation from the prior fiscal year will stay the same, but the set of programs and services will change based on resident feedback. We expect 1,000 people for the in-person forums on Feb. 20 and tens of thousands of people online during the week of Feb. 22.”

Every Voice Engaged Foundation Needs Your Help

Every Voice Engaged needs between 200-300 volunteer facilitators and observers for the in-person event in San José on February 20, 2016, and several hundred more for the online games the week of February 22, 2016.

Prior experience with Innovation Games® or Gamestorming techniques isn’t required, and training is being provided at no cost through a generous grant from the Kettering Foundation. The time commitment prior to the event is two hours of training and one hour of practice. Facilitation time will be between one to five hours, depending on the facilitator’s desired contribution.

To sign up to participate and get more information, go to

About the Author

Paul is a 25+ year veteran of the software industry, and a 15+ year convert to agile principles and practices for delivering software. He joined Zoopla in 2019 to lead their engineering team, after almost 3 years at eBay leading their European Product Development team, and nearly 15 years at Microsoft in the MSN and Skype product teams.

As a senior Engineering Leader, Paul's passion is growing and leading large geographically dispersed agile development teams. Together, Paul and his teams have shipped large-scale web, mobile and communications products that are enjoyed by hundreds of millions of users worldwide. He has also spearheaded agile adoption and long-term transformation of both his own and other product teams within Microsoft and eBay, and has coached and mentored colleagues and teams at other external organizations.

Paul has been involved with the Agile20XX Conference since 2007, and he had the privilege of being the Agile2015 Conference Chair.

This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They do not represent opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.

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