XT16 - Portia Tung

Play for Your Life

by Malcolm Sparks

Published 2017-01-13

"If creativity is intelligence having fun, what's behind that intelligence?"

Portia and I used to work together with Exoftware in the noughties, training and consulting in XP. Those years were very educational for me, working in lots of companies, mostly trying to contribute to solving difficult problems in big teams and code-bases. It was far from an easy role.

But the best thing about the company was the regular offsites where we all came together to share stories, and that's when I got to see first-hand Portia's skill of looking at problems a different way, often perceiving the human aspects behind the seemingly intractable technical or organisational issues. As Jon is fond of reminding us, software is, ultimately, a people problem.

I bumped into Portia at the station on the way down to London from Milton Keynes and we were able spend the train journey catching up, and she told me of her role as a playmaker. We discussed how computer programming, as a series of fun and addictive puzzle-solving activities, is a form of play. But Portia explained how it went much further than that...

From the very beginning you'll see Portia's unique style, involving all of us in her talk. I hope you enjoy it and if you have any comments, use our Disqus forum below.

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