by Melissa Chavez
Known for providing pragmatic advice — with a little humor thrown in — for your tough problems, Johanna Rothman https://www.pnsqc.org/rothman-johanna/ is a consultant, author, speaker, and “Pragmatic Manager.” She focuses on the issues of managing product development — specifically with project management, risk management, and people management for software or IT products.
In addition to her talk, she will be leading a workshop this October at PNSQC, and provides a teaser for it, while touching on what she does in her consultant practice and as an author. Check out another recent interview she gave.
Q: You have an extensive speaking calendar that takes you all across the country and even London — what’s your favorite thing about being a presenter and consultant?
A: I get to meet all kinds of people in all kinds of organizations. That means everyone has their own unique context. When people say, “I’m special,” they are correct. As a consultant, I take their special-ness into account when I teach, coach, or consult with them. I do not believe there is One Right Way to do anything. What you do, for projects, for management, whatever, will result in different results and consequences. I do believe that people need to understand probable results and consequences.
Q: Being a prolific writer, with books and articles being published all the time, how do you come up with your topics?
A: They yell at me. They say, “Hey, Johanna, this client is having trouble with that thing over there. Write about it!” Seriously, I have no shortage of topics. My clients, people who email me, people I have lunch with at a conference — all of these interactions provide me with fodder for writing.
Q: You double-majored in college in Computer Science and English Literature — how has your humanities education helped you in your career?
A: Well, let me clarify something. When you major in English, you learn to read. You read a lot. You write a little, but you read a ton. That reading has helped me learn to read for comprehension.
You noticed I write a lot, too – Books, blogs, articles. You name it, I write it. That means I write so people can read what I write. I work hard at being a great writer. I want people to read my work, understand it, and apply it.
Q: What are some of the things you will discuss in your upcoming PNSQC talk and workshop, “Experience Agile and Lean to Deliver Business Value”?
A: I’ll be using a simulation to help people experience and feel what agile and lean look like. The participants will be working on a project (or two, depending on our timing). I will be discussing, and people will experience, what it feels like to be a collaborative team: how to visualize the work, how to get feedback on the work, and a little bit about measurement. Since the workshop is just one day, there’s a limit. But I hope people feel what agile and lean feel like, as individuals and as a team. It will be fun!