Clarke Ching Clarke Ching

Who are you ?

I’m Clarke Ching. I’m from New Zealand but I live in Scotland with my Irish wife and two Scottish daughters. I’m a self-proclaimed Theory of Constraints (TOC) expert, having had my first career-changing lightbulb moment way back in 1997 when I read Eli Goldratt’s wonderful, life-changing book, « The Goal ». I spent half-a-dozen years pondering how to apply Goldratt’s thinking to software development and then, suddenly, in 2002, when I stumbled across the early Agile agile stuff, it all made sense. That was my second career-changing lightbulb moment. I’ve done Agile, big and small, since then, and my version of Agile is always built on a strong TOC foundation. I’ve even written a book about it.

What do you do for living ?

By day, I’m the Agile/Lean Leader at the Royal London Group. By night I fight crime and write books, slowly. I’m enormously proud of my big book, Rolling Rocks Downhill, a business novel, where the characters rescue a big IT project by discovering the fundamentals of Agile and Lean all by themselves. It’s an Agile+TOC 101 but wrapped up inside a surprisingly interesting and engaging story. I sometimes wish I’d written a straight-forward textbook, since that’s far easier and quicker than writing a novel, but most of my book’s reviews emphasise that it’s not only useful, but enjoyable to read. That make me very happy! I spent 10 years writing the book … But I predicted it’d have it all wrapped up in 2! The irony of writing a book where the characters discover how to deliver projects on time, or early, taking 400% longer than expected isn’t entirely lost on me.

What do you want talk about at Lean Kanban France ?

The most surprising thing happened to me after I discovered, then started telling others about, Agile: My colleagues started treating me as if I was the office idiot. The more I talked about Agile, the less others listened, the more my credibility dropped, the worse my performance reviews got. It was like I was a virus and the corporate body was trying to reject me. I did a lot of soul searching, eventually figured out the problem was me, not them, and that I didn’t have the skills necessary to « sell » Agile in a safe way. My third lightbulb moment was this: Enthusiasm and logic didn’t cut it. This talk is about how to use the two most useful skills I’ve learned since then: analogy and story telling. I don’t want to raise people’s expectations too much, but it’s quite funny.

What will make you think that attendees have learnt a lot during your session ?

When people email me later to tell me they’ve re-used my stories, or invented their own! Nothing makes me happier :)

What is your favorite word?

Callipygous – because people use it to describe me all the time.


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