IT Pro Live Q&A: Douglas Squirrel and Jeffrey Fredrick, authors of Agile Conversations

Two of our expert IT Pro Live speakers give us a look inside their daily work and the future of tech

Our first ever virtual conference, IT Pro Live, runs from June 22-26, and is packed with insightful panel sessions and keynote speakers from across the tech industry. To give attendees a preview into what they can expect from the show, we spoke to authors and agile experts Douglas Squirrel and Jeffrey Fredrick, about their background, their business, and what they’re looking forward to from the event.

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What do you do?

We transform organisations - agile, digital, lean, or DevOps - using the power of conversations.

What’s your area of expertise?

Helping organizations achieve high-performing cultures through the skill of effective conversation. Our book, Agile Conversations, has over 20 proven techniques for improving your collaboration through transparency and curiosity.

Can you describe the focus of your role in three words?

Transforming organisational culture.

What does an average day in your working life look like?

It varies for the two of us - Jeffrey navigates a large organisation and tries to help them adopt an entrepreneurial outlook, while Squirrel intervenes with companies large and small to dramatically improve their tech and product delivery.

Why are you looking forward to IT Pro Live?

It’s a great chance to talk with a very diverse group of IT folks.

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What can attendees expect from your session?

They’ll learn why “agile harder” is not the solution to digital transformations gone wrong, and how to build trust through conversations to get real agile results.

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What sessions are you most looking forward to?

The keynote session from Fumbi Chima, CIO of Adidas, is top of our list. Her emphasis is on changing from the mindset of IT as execution to IT as really helping drive business growth. That kind of collaboration is where high performance comes from and we’re looking forward to hearing her story because we think it will be an example that will resonate with our clients.

How has the COVID-19 outbreak impacted your work now and moving forward?

It’s reduced demand for some things (like organisational consulting) and spiked others (like company evaluations). The day-to-day work of improving conversations is little changed though - it just happens on a screen instead of across a coffee table.

What gets you excited about IT?

Technology is a magnifier: once you get your culture, process, and people working effectively, the speed and power of computing means that positive results can spread very quickly, as we’ve seen with creative technical solutions “going viral” during the pandemic.

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What do you think has been the most significant innovation to affect your industry in the last five years?

The volume of data collected and exploited—for good and for evil.

What do you see as the next big innovation in your field?

Real and widespread use of machine learning for end-user applications, unconstrained by today’s narrow bandwidth and compute limits. Think Alexa for the corporate desktop, or Siri for live sport commentary.

What are some of your IT goals through 2020 and into 2021?

We want to help as many as people as possible get dramatic improvements in their delivery by improving their conversations.

If you could offer a college student with IT aspirations one piece of advice, what would it be?

Study the humanities! Understanding rhetoric, logic, human interactions, and design will be increasingly important in IT as tech penetrates more and more of our lives.

Catch Squirrel and Jeffrey's IT Pro Live keynote session, 'Trust Through Conversations In the "Suddenly Virtual" Enterprise', on Monday 22 June at 5.30 PM BST (12.30 PM EDT). Register for your free ticket now.

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