Interview with Bob Schatz

Welcome to the eight interview from “Quality Talks with TLC Speakers” series. This time we have Dr Bob Schatz with us. And I am sure you will enjoy this interview as much as I did. 

What made you choose “Faces of Courage in Agile Transformation” for your tutorial in TLC? What can participants expect to learn from your tutorial? 

“Last year I completed my Doctoral degree and this was my field of study. My dissertation was a study of people that have led to radical transformational change in organizations. I looked at what factors triggered these people to take the risks that come with leading change as well as the organization’s response. It revealed what commitment looked like from the change agent perspective and some ugly responses from others in the organization. I’ve had many of these experiences myself, but it was enlightening to study it in the broader perspective and gain an understanding so I can help organizations and change agents recognize and cope with the dynamics of change.

Participants in this tutorial will gain a better understanding of the dynamics involved in transformational change. If they are a change agent, it will help them understand what they will experience both within themselves as well as the reaction from others. If they are a participant in an organization going through change, they will gain an understanding of what forces are at play in the pursuit of change and how they might become a better support system for the overall benefit for the organization. The goal is to raise awareness that change is not an edict from management to be compliant with, but a complex system which involves the interaction of all participants.”

How different do you think the remote format of tutorials would be compared to in-person format? How do you plan to keep it as effective as it would be otherwise?

“Fortunately, I have had to pivot my training and consulting practice to a fully virtual online experience. I have taught courses and coached organizations in-person for nearly 15 years. For the past 7 months, I have run more than 35 engaging, collaborative, 2-day classes using Zoom, Powerpoint, Notability, and Mural. At first, it was a little uncomfortable learning to effectively connect via video, but with practice and adjustments, I have realized more benefits than drawbacks.”

How would you explain your job as a tester to someone who is not familiar with the field?

“I’m not currently a tester, but I have been in the past during my career, and I have led organizations involving test professionals.  I think the best way is to describe it as making sure that a system performs and operates in a manner that meets or exceeds the expectations of users and consumers, by making sure the processes, procedures, and people involved in developing the product have their focus on quality.”

What’s the biggest mistake you see leaders making and what would be your advice to rectify it? 

“The biggest mistake leaders make is not seeing the best in people in their organization. Assuming people are not “motivated” or not putting in enough effort. When leadership fails to take complete responsibility for creating an environment where excellent work can be achieved, and then tries to place that responsibility on their people, it makes for an oppressive work environment. If you show compassion, empathy, and support for your people, and give them a sense of purpose in meaning in their work, they will accomplish amazing feats.”

What’s the most rewarding part about leading people?

“The most rewarding part for me is seeing people that I’ve led and influenced achieve their own goals. From my early days at General Electric, I was taught the power of pulling people up instead of keeping them under you. The only way to get promoted there was to train your replacement. Seeing people follow their dream and experience their journey motivates me to keep doing what I do.”

What would be the one thing you would like to change in the testing profession of the present day?

“I strive to get organizations to see testing as an integral part of developing a product. In the past, testing was more of a gatekeeper, trying to find defects before a system went out the door. Testers were rewarded and punished based on how many defects they could find. I never understood that logic…I was looking at why we were producing so many defects. With agile teams, testers are needed on the team. Cross-functional teams swarm on solving problems. However, many organizational leaders, mainly QA leaders, try to protect turf and hold on to power, preventing this from happening. There are many reasons why they might do this, but it needs to change. We have to ask ourselves, What is in the best interest of the customer? How can we organize to serve them in the best possible way?”

Do you want to share anything else with the TMA community?

“I just want to say Thank You! Thank you for all you do. The passion, commitment, and professionalism has been and continues to be impressive. Having people with different perspectives exercising systems helped billions of people around the world. We have a lot of work to do to move this industry to new levels and everyone will need to bring their best to work every day.”

Thank you, Bob, for the interesting conversation. I am looking forward to attending your tutorial. 

Dear readers, if this interview inspires you and makes you curious about the tutorial that Bob is offering with TLC then don’t miss this chance and sign up for it soon. Below are the details:

About the Interviewees:

Bob Schatz


Dr Bob Schatz has over 35 years of experience in the IT industry-leading software, systems, and organizational development. In July 2006 Bob Schatz started Agile Infusion LLC to provide advice, consulting, and training to companies around the world using agile development techniques such as Scrum and XP. Bob served as VP of Development for Primavera Systems, Inc. where he was responsible for leading the highly successful adoption of agile development techniques starting in 2002 for the team that develops Primavera’s software solutions for Enterprise Project, Resource, and Portfolio Management. Before joining Primavera, Bob spent seven years as a founder at Liquent, Inc., managing the development of publishing software targeted for the pharmaceutical market and global regulatory agencies, and 12 years at GE Aerospace/Lockheed Martin, where he held various management positions for large-scale development, deployment, and operations projects for US government agencies and the Department of Defense. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Temple University, a Masters’ degree in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Doctorate of Management in Strategic Leadership Degree at Thomas Jefferson University.

Bob is a leader in successfully implementing agile development techniques, such as Scrum and XP, and driving culture changes in organizations. He and his team have been featured in several industry articles. Bob often speaks at industry events talking about the benefits and challenges of bringing agile techniques into an organization.

Bob’s clients include Apple, NASA, SAP, HP, CapitalOne, Cisco, Symantec, Disney, Minitab, IBEW, Comcast, Motorola, H&R Block, Thomson-Reuters (Dow Jones, Liquent), Dish, US Government Accountability Office, Dept. of Defense, Dept of Homeland Security, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual, Intuit, ICON Clinical Research, Jewelry Television, Scripps Networks (Food; Travel; HGTV; etc), Turner Broadcasting, Laika Entertainment, Line 6, Vantage, Achieve3000, Sears Holdings, Accenture, CapitalOne, NY Court System, IBEW, Command Alkon, Office of POTUS

About the Host:

Astrid Winkler

Astrid is a budding freelance journalist and content writer from Switzerland. Creativity is her passion and writing is her lost-and-found love which she is willing to develop with more care. Connect with Astrid on Linkedin or follow her on twitter @AstridWinkler4