Revisiting My Heroes – Daniel Mezick

Revisiting My Heroes – Daniel Mezick

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In June 2017, I wrote my first My Heroes segment on the blog about David Hussman. It was before he passed away. Over a few years, I shared a few more in this segment, but they fell away. Not that I didn’t have any more heroes in the agile community, but I lost momentum reflecting on and sharing about them.

Well, it’s the Summer of 2022, and I’d like to revisit my agile hero series. At least for a short time.

The agile world and community need members like Dan Mezick. I sometimes think of Dan as the Don Quixote of agile influencers, authors, coaches, and consultants.

Dan’s focus seems to be largely on three immensely important things in our community –

  • Organizational culture change,

  • Invitation-based Leadership, and

  • Invitation-based Agile adoption.

And in support of these ideas, he’s also had an ongoing crusade against the agile industrial complex.

It may sound like I’m only moderately appreciative of Dan and his contributions. I’m not. Dan is one of the most consistent, fiery, persistent, focused, and dedicated agile change agents I’ve ever met.

He’s a force of nature and often a firebrand, as these examples illustrate—

While he’s not as widely known as he should be, he is a stalwart in our community that challenges the rest of us to Do Better by using invitation over subscribing folks to be agile. And trust me, there’s quite a lot of “imposition” out there.

And there is nobody that he won’t challenge. He’ll challenge the large agile organizations like Scrum Alliance and Scaled Agile. He’ll challenge the best-known individual thought leaders in agile. And he’ll challenge leaders in companies, small and large, to change their approaches. Heck, he’s even (and often) challenged me.

I also imagine that his principle-based stand often impacts Dan’s business opportunities and community standing. But none of this deters his relentless pursuit of awareness, betterment, and change.

I can’t tell you how much I admire him for his persistent role model.

He’s written three wonderful books—

  1. The Culture Game, published in 2012.

  2. The Open Space Agility Handbook, published in 2015.

  3. Inviting Leadership, published in 2018.

I think the progression solidified Dan’s ideas and approaches, culminating in Inviting Leadership which I always recommend to students in my leadership classes.

I consider Dan a friend, a colleague, and most importantly, a role model. He’s one of the few in our community who truly and consistently walks their talk. Not only for a short while but well more than a decade. He’s a voice that sometimes rubs me the wrong way. Or sounds too loud. Or who hits on something that I’m challenged with?

But he makes me reflect and consider my place in the agile world. He makes me think. In a word, I think Dan Mezick makes me…Better.

And for that, I sincerely thank him and consider him My Hero.

Stay agile my friends,

Bob.

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