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Does the Pask Award Have a Future? You Tell Us.

06 Jun, 2010

There's a debate occurring on the Pask Award selection committee list. Should the Pask Award continue? We'd like to hear your thoughts.

The Gordon Pask Award was instigated by Brian Marick five years ago. He was concerned that the Agile movement was going to die out if the community didn't cultivate its next generation of leaders. At his urging, the Agile Alliance created the award and put substantial monetary resources behind it. Today, the award is given to two people each year who the selection committee believes have the potential to be future leaders in the Agile movement. The award goes to relative unknowns in hopes that the attention provided by the award will give their leadership potential a significant boost.

The award is not without controversy. Some people believe that the award is divisive. Others believe that it acts as an extrinsic motivator, hurting people's intrinsic motivation to lead. Some point to the apparent bias of the award, correctly noting that the committee has yet to recognize a woman, or saying that the committee is biased towards Extreme Programming practitioners, or towards consultants. The award is creating an old boy network, they charge.

On the other hand, the award has succeeded in raising the community's awareness of thought leaders. People like Naresh Jain, Arlo Belshee, and Laurent Bossavit. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then David Anderson's comments at the 2010 Lean Software and Systems Conference are gold indeed:

The Gordon Pask Award now in its 5th year has been shown to be a positive influence on the Agile community. In turn, it has given its winners the status of "tenured professors" within the community. The winners are able to propose unfashionable, counter-intuitive or dissenting ideas and the community will respect their opinion and pay attention. As such, the Pask Award has been a force for inclusion and diversity within the Agile community.

As a past recipient of the award, I'm a member of the selection committee. The current program chair, J. B. Rainsberger, has posed a question: Should the award continue? I'd like to hear your thoughts. Is the Pask Award a positive force within the Agile community? Or has it outlived its usefulness? Your comments will tip the balance.