My Heroes: Henrik Kniberg

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My Heroes: Henrik Kniberg

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It’s been a while (October 2018) since I’ve written about one of my heroes. I started that series in 2017 and I think it’s worth continuing. So, I wanted to get at least one “out there” in 2019. And I can’t think of a better person to highlight in that capacity than Henrik Kniberg.

I’ve never met Henrik and that’s one of the great gaps or regrets in my agile career. I’m quite hopeful that one day I’ll get the chance to meet him, face-to-face, and simply thank him for the influence that he’s had on my journey. 

I remember when I was a much younger coach. There weren’t a whole lot of useful agile references around to help me in my coaching. I forget exactly when it was, but a young man wrote a book called Scrum and XP from the Trenches and he made the PDF of that book freely available.

I grabbed a copy and was astounded. It was in a word:

  • Short, Practical, Pragmatic

  • Visual, Useful, Real-world

  • Experiential, Understandable, and Approachable

And I made it a part of my coaching practice. I think the year was ~2005 when it first surfaced. He published it on InfoQ in 2007, and there is now a 2’nd Edition of it available.

I used to buy (boxes) of the book and hand them out to all of my new clients. I felt at the time (and largely still do) that it was one of the best books to start new teams with. The simplicity and practicality of its guidance made it incredibly actionable for teams. It provided a way forward that few other references could match.

And imagine the generosity in giving that value away to our community?

Next, I came upon Henrik’s video on Product Ownership. I published my own Product Ownership book, the 1’st Edition in 2009. Ever since I’ve done a lot of PO training.

One of the single most useful things I do in my classes is to show Henrik’s classic video. Students always seem to take away an enormous amount of information from the short (15-minute) and pithy video on the role of the Product Owner.

But fast forward a few more years and he played an instrumental role in sharing what Spotify was doing with us as well via the following two videos’ describing their models and culture—

As you can see, Henrik seems to be the eternal “gift giver” when it comes to his discovery and learnings in the agile space.

One of the more recent topics that Henrik has tackled is Climate Change and you can see that in his video here –  And he’s still actively working as an agile coach and part of the Crisp team.

I would encourage everyone to Google search for his many agile presentations over the years and watch them. I think what you’ll find is an incredibly personable, balanced, honest, real-world agile practitioner and coach.

Someone who, throughout the years has been an extraordinary role model for all of us. But also, someone who has remained humble and generous with the community.

Going back to my beginning statement, I hope that I get the chance to meet Henrik one day. But either way, I want Henrik to know that he is an incredible role model and that you are my Hero.

Stay agile my friends,


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