Monday, March 26, 2018

R.I.P Mike Beedle

Saturday afternoon, I learned from the Enterprise Scrum community that Mike Beedle died in Northwestern Memorial hospital, the victim of a fatal stabbing in Chicago:
"It is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to Mike Beedle – business agility visionary, agile manifesto signatory, founder of Enterprise Scrum and friend. Several hours ago, the Enterprise Scrum community confirmed that Mike was fatally injured in a stabbing in Chicago. Our thoughts are with his wife, children, family and friends. In this difficult time, the community has come together and created a gofundme project to raise funds for his family. -R.I.P. Mike Beedle, Business Agility Institute.  [See news clips from ABC7Chicago, NBC Chicago, Chicago Tribune]
A few day's later, I still haven't fully processed this. Mike was more than just a colleague, co-thought-leader, and former co-worker to me, he was an old and dear friend.

I first met Mike in 1995 via OTUG (Object-Technology User's Group) that formed as part of "Booch & Rumbaugh on Tour" (which eventually resulted in UML). We were both part of the OTUG mailing-list (as were many other notables in the O-O community, like [Uncle] Bob Martin) and learned that we literally were working across the street from each other (Mike was still working for Mercer at the time). Mike invited me to meet for lunch nearby, to discuss our mutual interests in OOD and Design Patterns, and we quickly became fast friends and colleagues.

From 1995 thru most of 2004, we corresponded and/or spoke almost daily, and had lunch together at least once a month. We bounced ideas off of each other, reviewed each other's works-in-progress (books & papers), and regularly discussed what we were passionate about in the field. We were also highly-active contributors in all the major online forums about Design Patterns (and later, Agile development) but also on the very first ever WikiWeb (Ward Cunningham's Wiki Web), where Mike started off my first WikiPage for me. 

In 1997 (~1 year after Mike left Mercer and started his own consultancy, Framework Technologies), still enthusiastic about patterns, and especially patterns of organization & process design, Mike and I  founded The Chicago Patterns Group (TCPG), along with Jim Coplien, Bob Martin, Ralph Johnson, Ron Crocker, and Bob Hanmer. We met monthly at the Border's bookstore in Schaumburg (1540 Golf Road, across from Woodfield mall). A year or two later, James Grenning joined us (another Agile manifesto co-author). 

Border's bookstore in Schaumburg, where TCPG met in 1997-2001

Between 1997-2000, aside from co-leading TCPG, Mike had a semi-recurring consulting 'gig' at Motorola in Arlington Heights, where we got to interact even more frequently after I moved there from Motorola's Northbrook campus (in May of '98). We also got to chat more frequently with Ron Crocker then too (my workspace was practically right next to Ron's for much of 2000-2004). I mention this because Ron Crocker created what may have been the very first "scaled" Agile method (Grizzly, eXtreme Programming at scale) during that time.

Mike & I traveled together to several of the PLoP Conferences (Pattern Languages of Programs), and were program/review members and writer's "shepherds" for several years. We were even roommates at PLoP'97, PLoP'98 & PLoP'99. [In fact, much of the way to PLoP'97 was a horrible rainstorm! I couldn't see more than 20 feet in front of me, and had to follow Mike's tail-lights for several miles until we eventually pulled over to the side of highway and waited for the storm to taper off]

The pictures below are from PLoP'97, where Mike and I were in the "People and Process" workshop group (along with my SCM Patterns + Agile SCM co-author, Steve Berczuk).

PLoP'97 - People and Process Workshop Group

PLoP'98 was where Mike herded together Scrum creators Jeff Sutherland & Ken Schwwaber, along with Martine Devos and Yonat Sharon to create the first written description of Scrum's practices in "Scrum: A Pattern Language for Hyperproductive Software Development [It's also where Steve B. and I co-authored the first installment of our "Agile SCM" patterns for Branching and Merging, including the variant of Mainline (LAG-Mainline) that is  more commonly called Trunk-based Development today]. 

PLoP'97 - People and Process Workshop Group, Monticello, IL

On a more personal note, Mike and I carpooled together for PLoP'98: We met for brunch at a nearby Bennigan's, and met each other's spouses (Mike's 1st wife Laura) where Mike announced they were expecting their first child. A few year's later my wife and I were expecting our first, and met up with them for lunch again. We met for lunch at the same place again two years later, with our respective kids, all toddlers and/or infants (I still can't believe we made it thru lunch without either of our kids breaking anything while we were there).

In Jan of 2001, Bob Martin was arranging the famous get together at Snowbird Lodge (where the Agile Manifesto was created). I remember Mike telling me about it, and emailing me to tag-along and go with him to the event. I already more than had an inkling of just how momentous the event would be, and really wanted to go (even considered paying my own way when my then employer wouldn't, but knew they would give me grief if my name appeared on the result). 
Creators/Authors of the Agile Manifesto - Feb 2001, Snowbird Lodge, Utah

They decided on the term "Agile" to characterize the set of methods, but it was Mike that first suggested the term for software development during that retreat. I know this because I specifically voiced my support to Mike for the term 'Agile' just *before* he left for SnowBird (in references to conversations we'd had '96-'99 where I recall Mike first using the terms "Agile" and "Business Agility" to describe the desired outcomes of applying the kinds of organization & process patterns that he and Cope and others of us were writing about).  I specifically asked Mike about it afterward, to confirm.

Mike and I first came across the term 'Agile' in a business-context from one of the classic BPR and/or Learning Organization books during the 90s, This bled into much of the "Organizational Change Management" thinking of the time, and the need for organizations and business to be responsive to change. By 2000, the term agile organization, agile business, and business agility were gaining some traction (moreso than Daryl Conner's use of the term "Nimble Organization"), and even in the 6+ months before the manifesto, Mike and I used to comment to each other on the use of those terms in ad campaigns from Sun ("the network *is* the computer") and then MS and others followed suit ("software for the agile business"). That's partly why I remember asking Mike to advocate for the term "Agile" at Snowbird in early Feb of 2001. 

Anyway, as soon as Mike got back from Snowbird Lodge, we founded the Chicago Agile Developer's meetup-group  (ChAD) along with Bob Martin, James Grenning, Martin Fowler, and Lowell Lindstrom.  It was so named, in part because of the 2000 U.S. presidential election (the "hanging chads"). ChAD was probably the very first "Agile meetup" in the U.S. (possibly even the world). Our first meeting was April 25, 2001 at Object Mentor in Vernon Hills. (And the first book on Scrum, co-authored by Mike, came out during that time as well). 

Mike and I planned and arranged ChAD meeting agendas & events (we met monthly, both downtown and in the NW suburbs), right up until our Sep 11 2001 meeting, which was to be in the Sear's Tower. The meeting ended-up being cancelled of course (due to 9/11 happening earlier that day) and the group went on hiatus for ~6months afterward, then revived itself with the help of Wyatt Sutherland. Mike, Wyatt and I would meetup for lunch every couple months or so to catch-up and plan future events & outings.

Mike and I remained big fans/supporters of each others work (but also honest critics). Our respective careers were each going their own direction, and after 2004/2005 we sort of drifted out of touch for awhile, but kept up occasionally (on the various Agile lists/forums, and also on Facebook). 

Then in late 2016 we reconnected, and within a year Mike was kicking off his latest Enterprise Scrum endeavor. Including the facebook group, and his articles on Mike even credited myself and 15+ others with his definition of "Business Agility" for Enterprise Scrum (that's the kind of inclusive and collaborative leader he was). 

He started the Enterprise Scrum for Business Agility meetup and training sessions in downtown Chicago, and I got to see & speak with him on a regular monthly basis at his downtown meetup. 

Enterprise Scrum Business Agility Conference, October 2017, Chicago, IL

Most recently, in January of 2018, Mike and I attended Michael Sahota's CAL I training together, where we really had a chance to catch-up and reconnect in depth again (which I was so grateful for at the time, and now even more so).

CAL-1 Leadership Training with Michael Sahota - 26 Jan 2018, Chicago, IL 

Not only was Mike impressively smart, but impressively talented too:
  • He held a Ph.D in high-energy physics, 
  • He played piano and guitar like a pro (we used to jam together at PLoP)
  • was well read in literature, poetry and philosophy (not just patterns).
  • Also, Mike had one of the first working software packages for HIPPA (using XBreed [Scrum+XP]). 
Mike Beedle was brilliant, visionary, a genuine "renaissance man," and true world-changer with his contributions to Patterns, Scrum, the Agile Manifesto, and was poised to do the same with Enterprise Scrum for Business Agility. He was as generous as they get when it comes to support, openness, thought-leadership and encouragement. 

Mike Beedle @ Enterprise Scrum, Business Agility NY, March 2018

Above all else, Mike was PASSIONATE about the things and people he believed in, and determined to change the world and make it (and us) better for it [which is exactly what he did!] I hope we are worthy of carrying-on his work with Enterprise Scrum to see it thru to fruition. 

Miguel, mi amigo, Vaya con dios! (You have more than earned it!!!)

Those who wish to help Mike's family (and six kids) in Mike's absence, please visit