The Meet the Maker Interview series is a fun and relaxed behind-the-scenes insight into people and what they do. Showcasing their talents as well as seeing what makes them tick. From ‘What’s your party trick?” to “You’ve got a week off, where are you going?” we want to know where they are and how they got there. Check out our interviews with architects, process people, agile folks, and more.

Mike is a guest author on this website, and was also the guest in our episode 6 “Scaled Agile and Architecture”.

Hi, I’m Mike Idengren. I’m a tech-head, a tech-advisor, world traveler, a Massachusetts bike trail explorer, science fiction reader (e.g., Dune & Foundation), a dog owner, and an aspiring pilot.  Mostly, I like to think of myself as a practical academic — always learning and applying, getting some things wrong, and trying again.  I like most things technology – I’m a “mac person” — I like a pretty interface, but always need ready access to a terminal prompt to “get under the hood”. 

Lean Scaled Architects

That’s my company, Lean Scaled Architects — improving digital business agility, by improving context and collaboration — enabling a Solution Intent Repository approach, with the right mix of Enterprise Architecture, Business Process Management and SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprise).  Our services include advisory, training, and tool customization.  We focus on side-by-side enablement to deliver the right balance of improvements across agility/speed, risk/compliance, and cost of service delivery.

Here’s a brief video combining some of my favorite topics — flying, space, and architectural runway / compliance.
That’s Provincetown, the scene of incredible sunsets. 
Mike and puppy
That’s me, training my puppy how to use the stairs.

10 questions

1.What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always thought I would do something technical, but wasn’t sure what “flavor” that would be. I knew I liked building systems and teams, and helping people use technology. I started my early career as a computer technician, then a webmaster. I looked to formal education for business skills, and kept a “tinkering” and “do it myself” attitude towards learning and using technology.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do for a living? (in case you have your own firm: what was the moment that prompted you to start your own brand?)

I like learning new things, and it’s important that I can “integrate” those into my professional endeavors. For example, though I started with agile web development, I learned more about BPM, and Enterprise Architecture, and got PMP certified in 2005. My career tracked more towards EA and BPM advisory, especially helping build Centers-of-Excellence teams, practices and tool customizations — but I really wanted to shift my focus towards “balancing” agile software development with EA/BPM principles. I didn’t see many firms focused on this kind of “balancing act” — most were either all-in-agile (typically pushed by business), or enterprise-compliance focused (typically pushed by IT).

3. In 3 words, describe your occupation or what do you enjoy most about your job?

Watching Teams Grow

4. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Get out of your comfort zone if I want to grow.

5. What are your main sources of inspiration? Are there any outlets you reference regularly?

One of my early mentors was Jill Womble — when I worked at a utility company in Gainesville, Florida. She was both an engineer and a lawyer, and one of the most diverse people I’ve ever met. She told me stories about growing up working for a large male-leadership-dominated utility company in Florida in the 80s, and putting up with all kinds of sexist nonsense. She was tough and smart, and taught me a lot about people — for example, training me in Interest-Based-Bargaining techniques and becoming a facilitator for union-management negotiations (which pushed me WAY out of my comfort zone).

6. Where do you see yourself (and your brand if applicable) in 10 years time?

In less than a year, I expect my patent for the Lean Agile Blocker Index to be approved, and for it to become another tool in the toolbox for realizing the balanced scaled agility EA/BPM vision.

In 5 years, I expect to have built good relationships with cross-industry clients and agile/EA/BPM leaders, with more stories to tell. I hope to work with industry leaders to influence frameworks such as Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprise to consider more BPM/EA (such as risk and compliance), and I hope to have influenced frameworks and IT governance organizations to consider more agility (such as TOGAF — The Open Group Architecture Framework and ISACA — the Information Systems Audit and Control Association).

In 10-15 years, I hope to share these stories and experiences with the next generation — perhaps with a part-time teaching position with a university, while continuing to advise.

7. What’s the most treasured belonging/item in your own home?

My MacBook. Second place is my Trek carbon-fiber electric mountain bike.

8. What was the last rule you broke?

I’m from Florida, and had a dog door built into my house (so the dog could go out whenever he wanted). Now I’m in an apartment in Boston, in 8 degree weather… so instead of taking my dog to the outside designated area, we made a detour to the basement garage.

9. What’s one thing other people may not know about you (for example any hidden talents)?

I have always wanted to be a pilot, and will get my pilot’s license some day. I recently (during COVID lockdown) started playing flight simulation and space exploration games. I had never played video games until then, and got hooked on it — investing in some heavy-duty flight equipment.

10. You’ve got a week off, where are you going?

Key West, Florida

Favorite tunes

I mostly listen to dance music, unless I’m working — and then I can only have soft music in the background, such as the Interstellar movie soundtrack.

Where to find the maker