Joseph Pelrine

Agile Psychologist


Against methodological monism - An Introduction to Essence

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In his book "Against Method", philosopher Paul Feyerabend challenges what he calls "methodological monism" - the absolutist claim of there being "one true method" for discovering knowledge. Similar absolutist claims about being the "one true way" to develop software and other products underlie much of product development's "method wars".

Many product development methods, both agile and traditional, offer good ideas and techniques which could potentially lead to excellent bespoke methods if one could combine them easily. Unfortunately, though, most methods differentiate themselves by being prescriptive in their practices, using different terminology for similar concepts, and so on, thus dashing hopes of getting practices to work together.

Early lightweight attempts at combining practices, such as XP@Scrum, Scrumban, and others, had limited success and never became mainstream. More modern, heavyweight methods, such as SAFe with its 31 artefacts, 17 events, 16 roles, 10 principles, 7 competencies, 4 configurations, 3 levels, and 1000s of pages of documentation, make it difficult for teams and organisations to figure out and choose a minimal process set.

A solution to this problem is Essence, a lingua franca that provides a standard syntax and semantics for methods and practices, enabling them to easily be combined in different ways to implement the optimal process for any development effort. Essence also offers a set of diagnostic exercises and tools to help teams and organisations evaluate their current process and discover where there might be potential for improvement.

This talk will introduce Essence, describe what it is and what it isn't, and explain the next steps for anyone interested in exploring it in more detail.


Beyond Psychological Safety - Tools From Psychology For Enabling Intelligent, High-Performing Teams
June 1, 2022 (9:00-17:00 CEST) Instructure Hungary - 1112 Budapest, Balatoni út 2.
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Despite being hyped in the Agile community because of Google discovering its importance, psychological safety alone is not enough. It is a necessary but not sufficient precondition for sucessful intelligent and high-performing teams. But what else is needed? This workshop will present additional research as well as tools used by psychologists that boost team intelligence and performance, and will explore the potential for their use in your teams. Bring along your laptop and try some tests and games that will help your teams improve their collaboration and performance, and learn how to design your own.

After attending this workshop, you will

  • have a basic understanding of the psychological concepts of team intelligence and performance

  • go beyond the buzzwords to understand where and how psychological safety fits into these larger concept

  • have working knowledge of a validated framework for designing exercises to increase team performance

  • have hands-on experience with psychological tools and techniques that can be used to implement and support the exercises

  • have a toolkit of techniques that you can immediately use to help your teams to improve how they work together

Prerequisites: a laptop with internet connection.


A quiet and reserved researcher and practitioner, Joseph Pelrine is considered by cognoscenti to be one of the pioneers and top experts on Agile methods. He has spent over 25 years defining and refining processes to help some of the world’s most well-known companies improve their ability to satisfy the needs of their customers. As a psychologist, his focus on people and his experience in applying leading-edge techniques from social complexity and psychology to process optimisation goes far beyond the domain of software development, and extends to the whole organisation. Although Joseph Pelrine often works as a consultant or interim manager, his preference is passing his knowledge on by counselling and advising individuals and organisations, often in the role of a CTO/CIO/CDO "whisperer". He conducts research in novel applications of psychology to agile processes, and is also a PhD researcher in psychology and psycholinguistics.