Nigel Dalton


Godfather of Agile in Australia, CIO of REA Group

Nigel Dalton is Chief Information Officer at the REA Group in Melbourne, and a veteran agile evangelist with over 14 years of experience applying agile principles to IT and product development in the USA, Australia and NZ. Nigel was also the co-founder of Luna Tractor, an Australian business consultancy taking agile, lean and systems thinking beyond software development to all areas of business and organisations. Luna Tractor leveraged the experience gained in the transformation of Lonely Planet between 2007 and 2011, with over 20 teams running variants of agile, kanban and lean methods to support their aim to make amazing guides in all formats for customers.

At REA-Group Nigel takes a strong interest in broad application of lean, agile and systems thinking approaches around the workplace.

His greatest career regret is having once tried to apply agile techniques to a rock and roll band. The result was not pretty.

YOW! West 2015 Perth

From Hawthorne to Gamasutra: 90 Years of Thinking About Teams, Work and Getting Things Done


In November 1924, in Cicero, Illinois, at the behest of Thomas Edison, the Western Electric company kicked off a set of workplace studies that would become a foundation for modern management thinking. A group of people that included a young William Edwards Deming, Joseph Juran, Walter Shewhart and our very own academic from Adelaide, Elton Mayo, took a foundation in engineering practices, combined them with a curiosity about social sciences, and started a revolution in thinking that impacts almost every workplace today.

Almost exactly 90 years later, another graduate of Elton Mayo’s Wharton School, Paul Tozour, published the results of a 21st century equivalent of the Hawthorne studies – The Games Outcome Project. Real empirical data on what makes software teams perform – and it has little to do with how agile you are.

These two studies, and the 90 years of theorising and research that lie between them, impact software engineers more than they might care to acknowledge. Productivity and the health of workplaces have become hot issues as Facebook moves into its 10 acre open plan office, Joel Spolsky (still) swears by an office for every engineer, and Basecamp work religiously on a remote basis. The aim of this talk is to join some dots and identify what from all this research has stood the test of time as better ways to work, with particular reflections on life at where the author works in IT.