Why the Snowbird Collaboratory?

The Snowbird Collaboratory

The Snowbird Collaboratory is a home for experienced Agile practitioners. It is a continuation of the global agile community that formed as a response to the manifesto written in Snowbird. It is a place where people trying to solve similar problems can come together to find each other and share stories. It is a new home for all the communities that have formed out of the fragmentation of the global agile movement.

It will give an identity to agile practitioners, a meeting place to share learning, and a brand to make it easier for customers to find people with agile experience.

The Snowbird Collaboratory is an attempt to re-ignite the global Learning machine and provide a light weight brand for all those that have need for genuine agile experience.


If you are doing it right, being a coach is lonely. As Agile spaces increasingly become more about selling solutions, it becomes harder to find people who are interested in solving problems. Its easy to find people looking for solutions. It is easy to find people looking to sell solutions. It is hard to find people trying to solve problems.

I no longer feel connected to the Agile Community. Although I still have many friends from the Agile community, I feel like I’m in an exclusive little club with privileged access to people. It does not feel like the community of Needs it was. I no longer feel affinity to someone just because they say they do Agile.

I am looking for identity. I am looking for that “Hi, I’m a member of the Snowbird Collaboratory” that leads to instant promise of interesting conversations and comradeship. Passionate conversations about “strong opinions, weakly held” over a coffee, over a beer, or over a lunch.


The Agile Community was a Learning Machine, the most successful learning community I’ve ever seen. The Agile Community has rewritten the rule book on how software teams work together and the engineering practices and tools that they use. I have seen agile approaches applied within HR, Marketing and others departments far from software development.

As you move beyond the team level, context becomes the dominant factor. To handle new contexts, you need people experienced with agile approaches to create “Safe to Fail” experiments that enable us to learn. Learning in the agile community has fragmented. “Safe to Fail” Experiments are taking place all over the world but it is hard for people to connect with the people performing them.

The Collaboratory will make that connection easier by providing a single meeting place. We practitioners need the Snowbird Collaboratory to allows us to find the people who have tried similar experiments and access the stories of success AND FAILURE that afford safer learning.


As a result of Agile’s success, the big name consultancies all have their own “Agile Offering”. Although the big name consultancies adopt the practices of Agile, they often struggle with the values and principles of Agile which conflict with their business models. Some people refer to the “Agile Industrial Complex” where weaponised versions of Agile Practices are forced upon the workers. I have experience of Agile techniques being used for more effective command and control, where bullying and threats are considered acceptable means to motivate.

An agile transformation is not for amateurs: successful ones are normally led by Agile Evangelists, people with deep knowledge of Agile, the courage to make waves, and respect for the people involved. Furthermore, the Agile Evangelist needs experienced partners to be successful, but if the partner consultancy doesn’t have these they are likely to send in novices, using the opportunity to *get* experience at the customer’s risk and expense. The Snowbird Collaboratory as a lightweight brand will make it easier for companies to find people with the right experience of applying agile values, principles and practices.

I expect the Snowbird Collaboratory will make it easier to find the right people. It will make it easier for the companies to create better and safer work places.

One solution, many problems.

These are some of the reasons that I want the Snowbird Collaboratory to exist. I want the shared identity with others who value agile principles and practices. I want the meeting place to share stories of success and failure to make my learning journey safer. Finally I want clients to hire experienced agile practitioners so that I can work in better and safer work places.

These are my reasons. These are my problems.

I want to know your reasons, I want to know the problems you hope it will solve.

Please share your stories here with us as a comment, or link to a blog post in the comments.

P.S. Snowbird is a temporary name until we can find a better one. Once the community is up an running and we know more about who we are, we will come together in some forum and choose a better name. Apologies for the name, naming things badly is my super power. 🙂

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