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Alex Harms

Less fear, more joy.
It works.

If you have a team in your life that isn't communicating or collaborating as well as you know they could be, give me six weeks. With compassion and empathy, I'll pair with them, facilitate mind-opening meetings, teach practical communication skills, and be a catalyst for team growth. Less fear, more joy. It works.

From Clients & Colleagues

"I was part of a failing team. Within one month of having Alex as a dedicated coach, we were not only working together, but writing beautiful and well tested code. She left a permanent impact and we're still practicing and swearing by her principles today." — D.C.

"Alex helped shift our development process into over-drive. Through careful observations and small calculated changes, she helped us become a clean code power house. She's as equally versed in agile software practices as she is at team communication." — C.P.

"...because of teaming with you over the past couple of months, I'm not only a better agilist, but an overall better developer as well." — T.S.

"I write my best code when I'm pairing with you." — K.M.

"I am grateful that Alex would 'tell it like it is' to me (and others), as I so much valued her observations and opinions -- and she is wicked smart. At the same time, if I disagreed with her on something, she would hear me out and would change her mind when (if?) I made sense :-)" — Jon Kern (co-author of the Agile Manifesto)

Professional Development & Outreach

Author, The Little Guide to Empathetic Technical Leadership

The Little Guide to Empathetic Technical Leadership is a guide for strong developers who want to improve their skill as team leaders. Grounded in empathy and human connection, the Little Guide provides practical ways to improve leadership skill.

Speaker

I speak internationally on topics like facilitation, joyful code, nonviolent communication, collaboration & pair programming. You can see some of my presentations online, and you can hear me on various podcasts, on this speaking page.

Host, The Geek Joy Podcast

Conversations about life as a geek. See all the episodes at The Geek Joy Podcast archive.

Organizer, Moonconf

Gathered a team to create this conference in response to a community need for a diverse, welcoming space to explore funcitonal programming.

Continuing Education

Problem Solving Leadership

2014. A week-long workshop, led by Esther Derby & Gerry Weinberg

Coaching Agile Teams Workshop

2011. Two-day workshop, led by Lyssa Adkins & Michael Spayd

A Day In The Life Of Agile

2010. One-day intro to Agile, by Pillar Technology. Once as an attendee, several times as staff.

Work Experience

Raise, New York. Agile Coach

July 2017 - February 2018

"...our retrospectives improved dramatically in lots of different ways when you started working with us... you're making sure that important conversations and reflection do happen. That's invaluable..." — S.S."

Lead and coach evolving agile processes across organization of both distributed and co-located people -- 75 engineers, data scientists, designers and product leaders. Mentor managers and individual contributors toward improving team dynamics, managing workflow, better communication and more empathy in order to achieve organizational goals with minimum friction and maximum happiness. Regularly organize and run team retrospectives on the path to continual improvement. Provide facilitation to make meetings more effective and less frustrating. Continuously educate the organization on the value of agile and lean methodologies.

2U, New York. Agile Coach

July 2016 - June 2017

Coached software development teams to encourage agile thinking, and to offer options in the agile space for optimizing work. Facilitated retrospectives and other meetings, with both local and distributed folks, to improve communication, collaboration, decision-making and problem-solving. Mentored teams and individuals in agile delivery techniques, collaboration skills, and communication.

Independent

January 2015 - June 2016

Highlights of this time included teaching a 9 week class on empathy to student Engineers (it was delightful), writing a book (see above), and leading engineering workshops.

SolutionsIQ, Detroit. Agile Coach

GM OnStar, July 2013 - December 2014

Worked with a team of coaches and scrum masters to deliver the OnStar RemoteLink mobile app. Provided technical coaching to three mobile delivery teams. Started a weekly academy to grow internal XP coaches within the organization.

Encouraged engineers to break their work into tiny chunks for fast feedback, to take tests and quality seriously with continuous integration. Coached around TDD, pair programming, continuous integration, technical collaboration and XP and Scrum values. Facilitated retrospectives, coached facilitation techniques. Coached story breakdown and planning, product owner responsibilities, business value.

LeanDog Software, Cleveland. Agile Coach

Sherwin Williams, November 2012 - May 2013

Worked with a team of coaches to guide a pilot agile team of 6 internal developers and two product owners, making global color-matching software. Delighted business customers with a regular cadence of working software, gradually fleshing out features.

Erie Insurance, September 2011 - November 2012

Worked to build a small team to deliver greenfield consumer-facing native Android and iOS apps. Coached agile/XP practices, pair-programming, whole-team responsibilities, and human connection. Facilitated retrospectives, wrote feature stories.

Pillar Technology, Columbus.

Agile Technical Apprentice, 2011

Progressive Medical

Worked with a pilot agile team, pair programming, breaking down requirements/stories. Java/Groovy.

OCLC (Online Computer Library Center)

First experience pair-programming on a newly agile team. Supported team communication, facilitated one of their first retrospectives.

Exel Logistics

Helped make 5 year-old python scripts work again, to facilitate load testing.

Web Presence Help, Eugene

Freelance Editor & Web Designer, 2006 - 2010

I was a stay at home parent, and became a freelance writer & editor, including business non-fiction, developmental editing for new novelists, editor for national niche magazine. This work morphed into web design & a smattering of graphic design.

Find me