Chris Freeman

Lean/Agile Coach

Chris is committed to helping students improve and become experts at testing, refactoring, evolutionary design, and taking tiny steps. He is a passionate developer and coach and has been involved in learning and teaching safer Agile techniques for the past five years. Chris is driven to bring greater transparency and increasing technical excellence in the teams and organizations he helps.

Chris believes in creating lasting change by building relationships on trust and respect. He works with programmers, product owners, marketing managers and management to help them adopt practices and perspectives focused on getting the product into the hands of customers as quickly and safely as possible. He enjoys helping clients learn different ways of thinking about problems they know they have, and seeing the problems they have but don’t yet see. People have said his desire to improve software and the development process around it is infectious.

Chris enjoys making positive changes throughout an organization. He is an excellent resource on safe Agile practices including TDD, Simple Design, Pair Programming, and Kanban. He finds the idea of amplified learning – creating hypotheses and validating them quickly – the most challenging and rewarding part of delivery at Agile companies.

Chris holds a BA in Mathematics and Music. He currently lives in central Iowa with his wife and 4 children. His hobbies have ranged from juggling and playing music to riding a unicycle and coding (not at the same time though!). His primary hobbies these days are centered around his children. He is a believer in the standing desk solutions for programmers, and is an avid reader of programming and business books.

Interested in programming at an early age, Chris has been working as a programmer and teacher for over a decade. His diverse set of development languages and environments includes C, Perl, Java, C++, Python, and C#. He has worked with several small software companies, always with a focus on the customer.

After experiencing many pain points as a developer, he discovered TDD which made development safer and faster. Chris led the direction of a complex inventory management prototype for the grocery industry with great attention to detail and the perseverance to make it happen.

Q: What does your work involve?

Primarily, I am a resource for clients to learn about various Agile practices, such as TDD, Simple Design, Pair Programming, Kanban, etc. I work with programmers, product owners, marketing, and managers to help them adopt practices and perspectives which will help get product into the hands of their customers as quickly and safely as possible. I try to help clients learn different ways of thinking about the problems they know they have, and seeing the problems they have but don't recognize.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself - your education, interests, past work experiences.

I graduated from Grinnell College with a double in Mathematics and Music. In school, I took several Computer Science classes. I had been interested in programming since I was 8 or 9, and that interest culminated in getting a job as a junior programmer doing C on Unix. I've worked at several small software companies, so I've always had the customer at my elbow. Eventually, I discovered TDD and tried it out with the help of an experienced practitioner. I found it addressed several of the pain points I had experienced before. I've done customer support Linux administration, provided technical leadership, and even been a Director of Development.

Q: That is great. Tell us what appeals to you about coaching?

The interaction with all levels of an organization is really appealing. I really enjoy helping make a positive change in an organization.

Q: What is a typical day at work like?

It varies pretty widely. Some days, I pair with developers and help them learn skills, especially refactoring and TDD skills. Other days, I spend all day with the product owners helping them understand how to engage in a healthy give and take with the development organization. I've got a few groups who get together on a bi-weekly basis to practice their skills together, which is a lot of fun.

Q: How has Lean changed your practice of Agile?

I first adopted the technical practices of XP, but didn't have an understanding of the project management side of Agile. I now limit my Work-In-Progress, and that of others when appropriate. I work with product owners to create value stories instead of component stories with clear acceptance criteria. I've been an advocate for Continuous

Delivery at several Agile companies. What I find most challenging and rewarding is the idea of amplified learning: creating hypotheses and validating them quickly.

Q: What do you do to relax?

I used to play music or juggle and ride a unicycle for fun. I've got four young daughters now, so mostly we do arts and crafts together or play games. Today, we went digging in the dirt for worms and bugs.

Q: Wow. That sounds like a busy household. What does the future hold for you - any exciting plans, developments?

With three-month-old twins, very few plans are being made. Ask me again in six months. :-)

Experience

Interested in programming at an early age, Chris has been working as a programmer and teacher for over a decade. His diverse set of development languages and environments includes C, Perl, Java, C++, Python, and C#. He has worked with several small software companies, always with a focus on the customer.

After experiencing many pain points as a developer, he discovered TDD which made development safer and faster. Chris led the direction of a complex inventory management prototype for the grocery industry with great attention to detail and the perseverance to make it happen.

Q&A

Q: What does your work involve?

Primarily, I am a resource for clients to learn about various Agile practices, such as TDD, Simple Design, Pair Programming, Kanban, etc. I work with programmers, product owners, marketing, and managers to help them adopt practices and perspectives which will help get product into the hands of their customers as quickly and safely as possible. I try to help clients learn different ways of thinking about the problems they know they have, and seeing the problems they have but don't recognize.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself - your education, interests, past work experiences.

I graduated from Grinnell College with a double in Mathematics and Music. In school, I took several Computer Science classes. I had been interested in programming since I was 8 or 9, and that interest culminated in getting a job as a junior programmer doing C on Unix. I've worked at several small software companies, so I've always had the customer at my elbow. Eventually, I discovered TDD and tried it out with the help of an experienced practitioner. I found it addressed several of the pain points I had experienced before. I've done customer support Linux administration, provided technical leadership, and even been a Director of Development.

Q: That is great. Tell us what appeals to you about coaching?

The interaction with all levels of an organization is really appealing. I really enjoy helping make a positive change in an organization.

Q: What is a typical day at work like?

It varies pretty widely. Some days, I pair with developers and help them learn skills, especially refactoring and TDD skills. Other days, I spend all day with the product owners helping them understand how to engage in a healthy give and take with the development organization. I've got a few groups who get together on a bi-weekly basis to practice their skills together, which is a lot of fun.

Q: How has Lean changed your practice of Agile?

I first adopted the technical practices of XP, but didn't have an understanding of the project management side of Agile. I now limit my Work-In-Progress, and that of others when appropriate. I work with product owners to create value stories instead of component stories with clear acceptance criteria. I've been an advocate for Continuous

Delivery at several Agile companies. What I find most challenging and rewarding is the idea of amplified learning: creating hypotheses and validating them quickly.

Q: What do you do to relax?

I used to play music or juggle and ride a unicycle for fun. I've got four young daughters now, so mostly we do arts and crafts together or play games. Today, we went digging in the dirt for worms and bugs.

Q: Wow. That sounds like a busy household. What does the future hold for you - any exciting plans, developments?

With three-month-old twins, very few plans are being made. Ask me again in six months. :-)