Steve Bockman: Rest In Peace

Steve BockmanThis morning I woke to the sad news that Steve Bockman passed away. Steve was a friend, co-worker, creator, problem solver, agilist, and one of my heroes. Steve worked at Agile Learning Labs from 2009 – 2012. In his Hawaiian shirts, his presence was always fun, friendly, and engaging.

He was a great salesperson because he was an agilist first. One of his passions was Theory Of Constraints. He was expert at using it to analyze any situation where improvement was needed, and find the bottleneck – the one key area to focus on. When the team would get stuck in analysis paralysis, he would guide us toward action by finding an experiment so we could ‘Try it!’ He contributed extensively to the work that we did to create our unusual compensation model. He had a gift for designing training games that allowed people to have fun, while learning complex concepts. His creations include:

He wrote two books: Predictability and Practical Estimation: A Pocket Guide to Making Dependable Project Schedules. His Team Estimation Game appears in The Elements Of Scrum, a book that he supported Hillary Johnson and I in writing.

Community was important to Steve. He founded the North Bay Agile Meetup group, was extensively involved in the Bay Agile Leadership Network and the Agile Open California conference.

Betty and I are grateful to have known and worked with Steve. Our condolences to all who are missing him today.

Steve’s Old Agile Learning Labs Bio

Steve Bockman is a certified ScrumMaster, agile coach and innovator who began his career as a software developer in 1977. Steve is the founder of North Bay Agile, and the creator of an intuitive estimation technique that many find easier and faster than planning poker. Steve’s conference presentations include: Agile2007, Agile2008, as well as Agile Open California 2007, 2008 and 2009. He has presented for professional organizations including: North Bay Agile, BayXP, Silicon Valley Agile, Bay Area Agile Project Leadership Network, and the Bay Area Association of Database Developers. Steve continually strives to communicate the essence of agile development to novices and help advanced practitioners grow their skills.

Steve And The Agile Learning Labs Team

The Agile Learning Labs team at Agile Open Northwest, 2011

The Agile Learning Labs team at Agile Open Northwest, 2011

Steve Bockman's business card


The Announcement From His Family

With the heaviest of hearts, my sister, Erin, and I would like to let our friends and family know that after a years long, hard battle with advanced Parkinson’s our dear, sweet father, Steve, passed peacefully at 11:25 yesterday morning, surrounded by me, my sister, our step sister Monica, and my husband Eddy . He was surrounded by love until the very end. It was very peaceful and bittersweet. Yesterday was our sweet stepmom’s (Diana) birthday, she passed away in June 2016. It was as if she came to get him; and now they are dancing and laughing among the clouds… together again. After witnessing him suffer for so long we feel relief along with the sadness. He was surrounded by love. He is no longer in pain. For that we are very grateful.

There will be a celebration of life after our family has had time to grieve. We are hoping to celebrate Dad’s life on his birthday this year; September 16, 2023.

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9 thoughts on “Steve Bockman: Rest In Peace

  1. Joel Bancroft-Connors

    Steve was one of the first “Agilists” I was introduced to when I was that young and idealistic Project Manager who had said “You’ll pry waterfall from my cold, dead, hands”.

    He was always so bright and welcoming. Always wearing those trademark Aloha shirts (my large collection is in part inspired by Steve’s). And so importantly, he had a mind that could connect the dots to explain difficult concepts. I still use his estimation exercises today and will have a fond smile for him when ever I use them in the future.

    Rest easy my friend, you will be remembered.

  2. Rich Gierak

    Rest in Peace Steve!
    I will always remember your kindness and thoughtful ability to ensure all voices were heard. I especially loved our time working with Chris and the team to develop new learning games and workshops. Thank you for making the Agile community a better family to be part of.

  3. Stacey Louie

    Steve was a gentle soul. He was just a very kind and generous person always willing to offer up help and support when asked. He helped us several times speaking at the Silicon Valley Agile Leadership Network. I would stand back and watch him in amazement as he taught a roomful of strangers new skills.

    I am honored and grateful to have met him. And even more blessed to spend time with him.

  4. Lauren Weber

    Thank you for sharing such fond and loving memories of my father. He was such a sweet, and gentle man with a great love for family, laughter, puns, and song. Reading your memories of my dear Daddyo warms my heart. I appreciate you taking the time to share them.

  5. Tobias Mayer

    This is a lovely piece, Chris. I remember those days at Agile Learning Labs, and the meetups organised by you, Steve and others. I recall plenty of pizza 🙂 Steve was indeed a gentle, caring soul, full of good idea and a true Agile explorer. It has been many years since Steve and I had a conversation, and yet the memory of his person lingers strongly in my life. RIP, dear man.

  6. Peter Thompson

    So grateful to have known Steve, whom I met when I joined North Bay Agile.
    The way he conducted those meetings was a big paradigm shift for me. Here was a master of the art of experiential learning.

  7. Erin Miller

    Chris, I’m very touched by this thoughtful and beautifully written piece. It makes my heart smile to remember the positive influence my dad had on others, personally and professionally. He was one of a kind. Thank you for honoring him in this way.

  8. Michael St. Pierre

    I first met Steve as a new hire for Deposition Sciences in Santa Rosa. He became my supervisor after Bob Gabble who was suppose to be my boss and mentor left to go to work for the competition only about one month later. I guess I scared Bob away. Anyway under Steve, I worked with two other guys John and Eugene originally from Romania, and we took on a brand new project for the company. It was big and complicated, but throughout the process Steve and I clicked and came up with some incredible ideas on how to make the new system (a vacuum coating machine) much more modular in nature. John and Eugene who were doing the electronic assembly, were the hands whereas Steve and I were the head.

    During this time period which lasted for a bit over a year and a half, Steve and I became much more than just co-workers, but also good friends. We continued to do so even after we both got laid off during the tech downturn starting in 2001. Often times Steve and his equally kind wife Diana would invite my wife Denise and I over to their house for parties and birthday celebrations. It was always fun and memorable, and we got to see Steve and Diana play guitar and sing comical songs that had everyone cracking up – good times for sure.

    Sad to say I let life get the better of me, and after Diana passed in 2016 and Steve moved to Sacramento I no longer saw him anymore and the communications dropped out as well. Not Steve’s fault, but mine. So it was very sad when I got the news of his passing.

    While we were still in touch, Steve and I would often times meet up for lunch where he started talking about something he had gotten involved in called Shared Programming, I could tell he was quite passionate about it. And in later discussions this evolved into what is known as Agile. He appeared to be at the forefront of this new methodology, and began teaching classes about how to apply it. If you asked Steve he would tell you that anything and everything could benefit from Agile, and he truly believed that this was so.

    Steve was indeed a very intelligent, kind, and thoughtful man. You will be missed Steve, but I’m sure you’re already working to apply Agile in heaven.

  9. Shane Duan

    We had a retrospective session recently and one of the follow-up items reminded me of Steve, because that was exactly what he helped me over 10 years ago in another company. I have learned so much from Steve over the years. I always enjoyed his laughs and his encouraging words especially when I am stressed about the small things.

    You are missed, Steve. May you rest in peace.


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