300x375-headshotMy name is Julia Wester and I live in Svedala, Sweden with my husband and three beautiful children. After 6 years managing web development teams at F5 Networks and TBS followed by ~3 years at LeanKit training, consulting, and managing the customer education team, I now run my own company called 55 Degrees AB (formerly Lagom Solutions).

When I was at F5 Networks, I used to say that I was a dev manager during the day and a writer, teacher and change agent in my dreams. At LeanKit I got to act on a portion of those dreams! I got to get out on the conference circuit and give talks while learning so much from all of the other speakers and attendees. I got to write more for LeanKit’s blog, though my own took a hit at times. I also got to do more basic Kanban training with LeanKit customers and the occasional non-customer. Now, as scary as it can be to go out on your own, I’m really excited about the possibilities to have deeper engagements with organizations and do more training across the company on many topics like Kanban, Agendashift™, SAFe (so many lean concepts there), and other general concepts that don’t fall under a single methodology or framework.

I always feel as if there is so much to learn and my blog has two aims:

  1. helping me learn concepts at a deeper level through the writing process and
  2. helping people get an easier, everyday perspective on some of the sharp angles of making work easier.

My exposure to the Lean / Kanban world began with a book from called “Kanban: Successful evolutionary change for your technology business.” It gave me some tools that were immediately useful in helping me in my first management role at Turner Broadcasting, where I managed the web development team responsible for NBA.com. We began to learn how to stop starting and start finishing. I started to become enlightened in ways that really did help us work smarter and not just harder. That brick wall that we were beating our heads against started getting weaker over time.

Since that worked so well, I decided to go to Lean Software & Systems conference in Boston in 2012. This was my first Lean conference and I was immediately enthralled with the immense amount of knowledge these thought leaders in the field hefted around in their brains. This wasn’t about intellectualism, it was welcoming. This was about people with significant understanding of theory, and genuine experience applying it, sharing their knowledge with others. I felt like I was in graduate school at this conference (and that was a good thing, not a bad one.) I left with new names and faces, a growing understanding that Lean was more than a process and a desire grew within me to learn more and be around these people more.

In the late summer of 2012, I attended a Kanban Masterclass in Port Angeles, WA which was given by David J Anderson and Janice Linden-Reed with Donald Reinertsen making a guest appearance. I also got to meet Russell Healy, maker of the Get Kanban game which I came to love tremendously. This class had a huge focus on not only Kanban, but how to help people through change rather than inflict change upon them. That played to the people person side of me very much and we discussed my team as a case study. I learned a lot more tactical things about how we could experiment and further improve our system on top of all of the change psychology that could help me actually get them done. This trip also showed me how beautiful Washington state was.

Later that year, my best friend was finding herself in need of a job and I helped with her search. As I looked for a job for her, I realized that I could test my abilities with a new team. I figured that if you can help one team, you might just be lucky. But, if you could replicate the experience, much like a scientific experiment, then I might prove that I know a little something about Lean, Kanban, organizational change and teams. Two days before Halloween I got on a plane from Atlanta and landed on my own in Seattle — my husband and kids joining me at Christmas. Arriving on a Saturday, I got to work on Monday at my new job – thus confirming that I’m just a little bit nuts. Part of the reason I moved to Seattle, besides being a Twi-hard (you’ll just have to forgive me for that!) was that I wanted to be near so many of these people that I had begun to hear from and about – Jim Benson, David Anderson, Al Shalloway, Troy Magennis, and the list goes on. This place seemed like a Lean powerhouse! I joined the local lean coffee and kept going to conferences and meeting really great people.

Fast forward to today… I’ve been fortunate enough to learn that the process/method/framework/etc isn’t the point, but rather teaching people how to learn from what they’re doing, some tips and tricks they can try to use to improve it, and then repeat that loop over and over again. I want to teach people to be a scientist specializing in improving their own environment. In doing so, I want to say that I’ve helped people tame the chaos and reduce unnecessary drama at work.

I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like an expert in anything as I can always see how much ahead there is to learn but I’m learning that everyone has something to share. It doesn’t matter if your ideas are old or new, context makes all the difference and yours is unique.

Please reach out to me via info@55degrees.se if you would like to talk to me about working with your organization through coaching, consulting, training, or speaking.