And, well, to put it bluntly, Kevinjohn delivered a kick-ass keynote entitled "Emperor's New Clothes (v2) (OR HOW I LEARNED TO ASK ‚"IS THE COOL THING THE RIGHT THING")". A nice deviation from the tech talk of the conference to simple honest talk about change, delivery, agility, and jedi knights. His slideshow was spot on, making his points using Star Trek (great Kobayashi Maru example), Star Wars (some inappropriate Vadar/Leia imagery), Godzilla (of course!), IT Crowd (yes!), and many more totally geeked out references.
I had the opportunity to visit with Kevinjohn the next day over breakfast and discuss his connection with Open Source and ideas on change and transformation. As an executive-level Business Transformation and Digital Consultant with almost 20 years of cross-industry experience, he has had the opportunity to work with quite the range of companies and people. His approach seems to start at the fundamental basics of both business and human nature to help them embrace change. Basically, he tries to bring common sense into the mix using a “pragmatic Agile approach.”
When I questioned why he was speaking at the JWC, he opened up about his passion for Open Source Software. When he was a kid, he had a Commodore 64, and, having completed the games he owned, he started reading a book on programming. After that, it was difficult to find more information easily, until the internet came around. At that point, he was amazed at how much information was available to him, even down to “view source” in the browser to see how things were done behind the scenes. He said he really became aware of the value of Open Source while he was working at Microsoft in 2003. He even wrote an Open Source Manifesto that year:
“We’re not better people simply because we’re fans of Open Source Software;
We’re fans of Open Source Software because we’re trying to make things better for people.”
Since his time with Microsoft he’s worn many hats, but in all has had connection with the Open Source community. And now, he works with clients helping them make decisions on the technology, often times involving Open Source technologies. He is a friend, an advocate, and well, an Open Source Braveheart... kilt included.
But, though he’s a friend of Open Source, he also is watching out for the clients and making sure they are advancing for the right reasons, not just because the developers want to play with the latest toys. Sometimes working and fixing what they already have is the right solution. So, just as his presentation had done, my personal chat with him made me think of a quote from Ellen Glasgow, “All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.”
Towards the end of his keynote, Kevinjohn had a very powerful slide in his presentation. It is a huge subject in its own right, but he slid it in very eloquently and succinctly. His slide simply said “Hire More Women. Don’t ask... just do it!” and, of course, included a picture of Wonder Woman. Just another example of his simple pragmatic approach to all subjects.