John Le Drew

John Le Drew

Rainbow Laces, Founder and Principal Consultant

London, United Kingdom

John is a tech whisperer, culture shifter, and the DJ known as Rainbow Laces. With a career spanning over two decades, he turns tech turmoil into teamwork nirvana. Beyond coding, he's about making workspaces where people actually want to be, leveraging his mix of industry savvy and creative zest. His life in London with his husband and cat is as vibrant as his career, embodying a blend of innovation, music, and laughter.

Area of Expertise

  • Business & Management
  • Information & Communications Technology


  • Business Agility
  • Telling authentic stories
  • authenticity
  • Storytelling
  • Product Ownership
  • Product Leadership
  • Innovation
  • organisational culture
  • Data Driven Organisations
  • Learning Organizations
  • Organisational Transformation
  • Uncertainty
  • Cynefin
  • Agile Leadership
  • Agile Coaching
  • Agile Mindset
  • Agile Methodologies
  • Toyota Production System

It’s cos we do agile, bro!

In a world where agility has become a catchphrase, too often, teams adopt practices without understanding their true value or relevance to their context. "It's 'cos we do agile, bro!" is not just a facetious remark but a reflection of a deeper issue within many organisations: the lack of intentionality in adopting agile practices. Through a narrative exploration, this talk challenges the conventional wisdom of "doing agile" and invites a journey into understanding, experimentation, and adaptation.

Drawing parallels between the growth and learning processes of a team and the developmental stages of a child, we delve into why practices like daily stand-ups, while valuable in some contexts, may not universally apply. The talk will explore the importance of questioning the purpose behind every practice, the significance of contextual value, and the power of experimentation.

Leadership, akin to parenting, requires a delicate balance of guidance and freedom, allowing teams to explore their potential while ensuring a safety net is present when needed. This presentation proposes a shift from enforcing practices to fostering an environment where teams feel empowered to find their path to effectiveness and satisfaction.

Attendees will leave with a fresh perspective on agility, equipped with strategies to encourage intentionality, critical thinking, and adaptability within their teams. "It's 'cos we do agile, bro!" transforms from a dismissive quip into a call to action: to embrace agility not as a set of prescriptive practices but as a mindset of continuous learning and adaptation to one's unique context.

Join us to discover how to move beyond the superficial adoption of agile methodologies and towards a deeper, more meaningful practice of agility that resonates with the unique needs of your team and organisation.

The 5 Pillars of Collaborative Product Ownership

While business knowledge and domain expertise are useful and essential, are they only achievable with a 'single wringable neck'? Can a team be aligned without having ‘one throat to choke’? What would happen if the whole team could be encouraged to take ownership of product direction? Chaos? The Apocalypse? Or maybe (just possibly) success?

In this session, we face up to some uncomfortable realities of many current approaches and attitudes to product ownership. Then we journey into the past to discover the top secret superpower that all teams working towards agility have but often forget. During the session, we will question assumptions and slay some sacred cows*.

Prepare to have your attitude to product ownership transformed. This job might never be the same again.

Learning outcomes - after this session, you will understand:

- the currently available definitions of the product owner role
- the qualities of a great product owner
- how we make decisions in the face of uncertainty
- how to foster a culture of mutual respect
- the 5 pillars of collaborative product ownership

*No actual cows were/will be harmed in the production/presentation of this session.

Once Upon a Time in Agile

Stories are the foundation of the human experience. They are what define us, individually and collectively. They engage us, entertain us, bring us together and drive us apart. What stories do you tell about you? Who knows your stories? Everyone? Perhaps just a select few? Maybe, just you.

In this session, we explore how our individual journeys to self-acceptance and alignment are also the heart of how we can work with and support teams. We will learn how to truly help teams move towards agility by helping them find and own their process and tell their story. So they stay aligned and can continually realign when their context changes.

John will show you how changing a team is exactly what gets in the way of a team changing.

You'll learn:

- Why authenticity and self-acceptance matter for individuals and teams.
- How to create lasting change in teams, without imposing processes or creating learned helplessness.
- How to help teams own their process and tell their own story.

Embracing the Current: Mindful Work and Navigating Uncertainty

Navigating life and work often feels like a journey across a shifting, unpredictable river. Like an adventurer braving the rivers’ current, we too must take small, careful steps, learning as we go, and adapting our course as the water shifts beneath us. The idea that work must be 'ready' before we can start it is as flawed as waiting for the river to stand still before crossing.

In this enlightening session, we will explore the concept of Mindful Work and the powerful Cynefin framework, examining how these tools can help us make meaningful progress, even in the face of uncertainty.

Drawing on personal tales from a Yorkshire childhood and reflections from the world of work, we will discover how to handle the 'knowns' and 'unknowns' we encounter in our daily professional lives.

John will share why diving into work, despite its readiness, is the real key to uncovering value and learning.

You'll learn:

- How to navigate the complexities and chaos of work using the Cynefin framework and ‘Mindful Work'.
- The power of small steps and timeboxing in tackling both certain and uncertain tasks.
- The critical role of reflection in learning, adapting, and making progress.
- How to embrace uncertainty, keep moving forward, and make waves in your organization.

Join us as we wade into the river of uncertainty and emerge on the other side, armed with the tools and insights needed to thrive in our unpredictable world.

GOTO Amsterdam 2022

Once Upon a Time in Agile - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIzWwcN-1c8

June 2022 Amsterdam, The Netherlands

GOTO Copenhagan 2021

Once Upon a Time in Agile - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5zODYRwrnQ

November 2021 Copenhagen, Denmark

GOTOpia Chicago 2021

Online session was given over lockdown
Once Upon a Time in Agile - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABEkch63c0k

April 2021

YOW! 2019 Melbourne

Once Upon a Time in Agile

December 2019 Melbourne, Australia

YOW! 2019 Brisbane

Once Upon a Time in Agile

December 2019 Brisbane, Australia

YOW! 2019 Sydney

Once Upon a Time in Agile - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BJPbVK6r08

December 2019 Sydney, Australia

GOTO Copenhagan 2019

The 5 Pillars of Collaborative Product Ownership - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1_3tyCpWbA

November 2019 Copenhagen, Denmark

AgileByExample 2019

No serendipity without chaos - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsbI8OQKHX8
When Andrew met Michael - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMDv0BEbJEc

October 2019 Warsaw, Poland

GOTO Amsterdam 2019

Swearing, Nudity and Other Vulnerable Positions

June 2019 Amsterdam, The Netherlands

GOTO Chicago 2019

Swearing, Nudity and Other Vulnerable Positions

April 2019 Chicago, Illinois, United States

Agile Africa 2018

Keynote: The 5 Pillars of Collaborative Produce Ownership - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOycLv5U5ec

October 2018 Johannesburg, South Africa

GOTO Berlin 2018

Swearing, Nudity and Other Vulnerable Positions - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofBv-num0lA

September 2018 Berlin, Germany

Agile India 2018

Diversity, chocolate and safe cracking
Swearing, Nudity and Other Vulnerable Positions

March 2018 Bengaluru, India

John Le Drew

Rainbow Laces, Founder and Principal Consultant

London, United Kingdom