years as a leader in software development
years as a leader in the performing arts
With over twenty-six years as a leader in software development and over ten years as a jazz musician, conductor, and bandleader, Adrian Cho has a unique perspective on leadership, collaboration, innovation and agility gained from managing two successful parallel careers and combining them into a third pursuit. In software development, Adrian has extensive experience leading both small and large-scale, global, agile projects from concept to delivery. As part of IBM’s Cloud team Adrian is currently helping to deliver cloud services to offer capabilities to hybrid cloud developers across the BizDevOps pipeline, integrating with IBM’s Bluemix, Softlayer, and DevOps services, and other non-IBM and open source tools. In previous roles in IBM’s Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure brand, Adrian helped deliver SaaS offerings of IBM service management products at the Service Engage portal while also leading a cross-organization project to deliver Collaborative Operations, a collaborative solution that integrates IBM and third-party service management solutions across the hybrid cloud. In previous roles in IBM’s Rational brand he was an evangelist for Continuous Delivery and DevOps; he led a strategic initiative across IBM software group brands to improve online engagement with developers; he managed a complex, globally distributed, agile software development project coordinating contributions from over four hundred people at twenty-five locations in ten countries; and, he managed intellectual property for IBM’s open source, Eclipse, and open commercial development, Jazz, initiatives, helping to establish new approaches to both open source and commercial software development. Prior to his time at IBM, Adrian was a Lab Director at Object Technology International (OTI, which would later be acquired by IBM), running the company’s lab in Sydney, Australia, and he was a key contributor to Smalltalk and Java-based software development toolsets including ENVY/Developer and IBM’s VisualAge/Smalltalk and VisualAge for Java. Before joining OTI Adrian worked as a consultant building software development tools for Fujitsu and business and financial trading systems for retail and commercial banks in Australia. A band leader and innovative artistic collaborator, he performs as a bassist and conductor, and is the founder and artistic director of the Ottawa Jazz Orchestra, a unique, critically acclaimed symphonic jazz ensemble that brings together an impressive array of professional jazz and symphony musicians. He works frequently as a bandleader, bassist, arranger, and teacher of jazz history, presenting concerts at Canada’s National Arts Centre and teaching at Carleton University. Alex Hutchinson of the Ottawa Citizen labelled Adrian “a cool guide to hot jazz” while Doug Fischer, also of the Ottawa Citizen, referred to him as “a musical missionary.” As a presenter and teacher his educational outreach efforts and teaching have earned rave reviews. John Kelman of All About Jazz wrote that “Cho’s intentions were clearly to educate as much as entertain, and he succeeded on both fronts.” Combining his experiences in arts and business, Adrian developed The Jazz Process, an execution-oriented framework for collaboration, innovation, and agility that can help teams in any domain improve their performance. Adrian speaks and blogs about high-performance teamwork on a regular basis. His book, The Jazz Process: Collaboration, Innovation and Agility, published by Addison-Wesley in 2010, has been endorsed by a diverse collection of thought leaders. Reviewers have praised the book as “a huge payback for the time invested in reading it,” “a deep exploration of collaborative know-how,” “a concept of leadership and teamwork that’s well suited for the Google-age workplace” and “a top pick for any business collection!”
born in Sydney, Australia
living in Ottawa, Canada
working across the globe
Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.Melvin Conway
Adrian has worked in the software development industry for over twenty-five years. As a software development leader at IBM he has helped to lead some of the company’s most important initiatives, managing complex, globally-distributed, agile projects with as many as four hundred people working at twenty-five locations in ten countries. He has deep knowledge and extensive experience in collaborative software development tools, development communities, open development, and cloud delivery. The projects he has been involved in as a leader include:
- ENVY/Developer, a Smalltalk-based multi-user configuration management and version control system that was way ahead of its time
- VisualAge for Java, IBM’s award-winning Java Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
- Eclipse including the award-winning Eclipse IDE, Java Development Tooling, and many of the core Eclipse projects
- IBM’s Jazz platform and products including Rational Team Concert and IBM’s Collaborative Lifecycle Management solution
- IBM’s developerWorks developer network
- IBM’s Service Engage portal for SaaS delivery of IBM’s service management products
- IBM’s Collaborative Operations solution for integrating IBM and third-party service management solutions across the hybrid cloud
Before joining IBM through an acquisition Adrian worked as an independent consultant. During this time he built banking and financial trading systems for commercial banks in Australia and worked on research and development projects for a number of companies including Fujitsu and IBM. For a more detailed résumé, see Adrian’s LinkedIn profile.
I apply jazz to almost everything I do. Today’s world, especially the one in which modern businesses exist, is subject to constant change, confusion and chaos. The best way to be resilient and agile is to continuously innovate, improvise and iterate.Adrian Cho
A band leader and innovative artistic collaborator, Adrian performs as a bassist and conductor and is the founder and artistic director of the Ottawa Jazz Orchestra, a unique, critically acclaimed symphonic jazz ensemble that brings together an impressive array of professional jazz and symphony musicians. Under his leadership the orchestra has presented over thirty major concerts and premiered over ten seminal jazz works in the past seven years. Adrian performs regularly in the Ottawa area and travels throughout North America performing and speaking about jazz.
Jazz is the ideal model for modern leadership.Adrian Cho
Adrian writes frequently about collaboration, agility, innovation, software development, jazz and the parallels between the worlds of business and the performing arts. His book, The Jazz Process: Collaboration, Innovation and Agility, published by Addison-Wesley in 2010, is a treatise on collaboration, innovation, and agility that can help teams in any domain improve their performance. The book has been endorsed by a diverse collection of thought leaders and praised by reviewers.
Both books on innovation address the subject passionately and informatively. The Jazz Process is about team building and collaboration; Innovate the Future is about targeting a market segment and implementing a product successfully. They are vastly different applications of innovation, but could be attractive to someone who is looking for that particular innovative niche.Carolyn Rodd Lincoln
Adrian loves to teach and is frequently requested as a keynote speaker at conferences, corporate events and universities. He speaks about jazz history and performance, corporate agility, personal productivity, team collaboration and software development.
Collaboration, Innovation, and Agility in the Jazz Age
Tools of the Trade
My main machine is a MacBook Pro Retina 13. On my desk it’s attached to a Landing Zone DOCK with almost every single port used. The essential part of this is that I drive two external monitors for a total of three displays. The centre display runs 2560 x 1400 in landscape and the display on the right runs 1080 x 1920 in portrait mode. I have my MacBook situated on my left and it is typically running the internal display at 1920 x 1200. The dock is fantastic as it makes it really easy to go mobile with my MacBook and then just re-attach everything again when I return. For software I rely a lot on Microsoft Office, Slack for collaboration, and Unibox for personal e-mail. The rest of my software development toolset changes constantly depending on the project. For music I use Sibelius for music composition and arranging. I’ve used Sibelius since 1.0 and swear by it. I also rely a great deal on Google Play Music for both listening to tracks and researching. In fact I no longer own any CDs or records. I use a standing desk although I try to change my work position throughout the day. I don’t have an adjustable height desk but I will often move to a sitting desk or sit on a sofa to change things up. Sometimes I’ll also sit on a fitness ball. People think standing desks are expensive but I put my desk together using just a tabletop and adjustable height legs all from IKEA for less than $100 and it works just fine. When I’m mobile I am very reliant on my iPhone 6. I often carry two Bluetooth headsets with me at all times and this super handy folding Bluetooth keyboard that fits in my pocket just in case I need to input a lot of text in e-mail or online chat. Around the office or home I am often using my iPad Air 2 which I have teamed with a Logitech Type+ bluetooth keyboard. The iPad Air 2 has quite a lot of computing power for a tablet and the Type+ lets me use it as a laptop equivalent for many basic tasks including browsing, messaging, chat and calls. DuetDisplay is an essential app for allowing me to use my iPad as a second monitor with my MacBook when I’m on the road. I keep a “go bag” packed and ready to go. My trusty Everki Versa is great for toting everything I need when I’m traveling through airports. I typically just throw my MacBook in there and I’m ready to go since I keep the bag full of chargers and other essential gear. For trips around town I use a smaller Everki Studio. It will also hold my MacBook and iPad and other stuff but has a little less extra space than the Versa. I also like to use this backpack for vacation trips when I am toting around just the iPad an no MacBook.
My main axe is a Shen Gemunder 7/8 willow flatback with a C extension. I currently have Innovation 140B strings on the top three strings. These are a steel string with nylon braided cores. I’m using a Pirastro Permanent on the bottom. I have been waiting a while to get a C extension 140B but the combination is working just fine. I’ve used all kinds of gut and gut-like strings in the past and I’m finding these strings to be great for all kinds of music without the tuning and breakage concerns that I’ve had in the past with natural core strings. For sound reinforcement I’m using a Fishman Full Circle and a Fishman Platinum Pro-EQ Acoustic preamp going into a Mackie DLM-8 P.A. I’ve used all kinds of mics and other specialized bass heads and cabs in the past and this gear works just fine and there’s very little setup or fiddling around. The Mackie is not even a bass amp and only goes down to 65 Hz but it’s entirely sufficient for double bass amplification. You don’t want the sound booming at the very bottom as it’s totally unnatural. The bonus is that when I’m doing a duo gig with my wife, she can plug into the Mackie too and we just have one speaker to deal with.