Continuous Self-Improvement

By Jenn Edge

Talk Abstract

Are you a completed release? There’s always room to improve, even if you’ve spent many years in the industry. Join me to look at the parallels between agile processes you may already use and proven approaches to develop a better you, including growth mindsets, focus, and forming habits.

Talk Description

Development is failing over and over again at each step until you succeed, and learning how to do something just in time for everything to change. Continuous learning and growth is necessary to keep up with changes in technology and step into new roles in leadership. We’ll explore the similarities between processes you may already be familiar with from agile development and approaches to self-improvement from behavioral psychology. How can we automate self-improvement and make real progress on our goals?


Mindful self-improvement is necessary to stay on top of technology and grow into a senior or leadership role. This talk explains principles by drawing parallels between ideas in positive psychology and development processes. By explaining ideas using known terms, the principles are more digestible for a development audience. For example, a growth mindset is an understanding that one’s self is under continuous, iterative development, the same way we build systems. Forming new behavioral habits is a form of task automation, with similar benefits as task automation in development. User experience design principles such as minimizing visible choices to reduce decision fatigue (Hick’s law) apply to physical environments as much as digital ones, and can be used to nudge our goals into reality with less effort. Attendees will learn how to improve goal focus with a sustainable pace and automate self-improvement using habits and environmental nudges.

There are no technical prerequisites (concepts will be briefly explained), so the subject should be accessible for attendees. I have given this talk at a local un-conference that included development professionals, and for an internal corporate intern training for those with and without software development backgrounds, and it has seemed to resonate with both ends of the experience spectrum. Those without development backgrounds learned more about development processes as well as self-improvement. I will be giving a similar talk at the Moms Can: CODE Fall 2018 Virtual Summit

I’ve used these processes to reach and maintain my goal weight, learn new technologies and improve my professional skills such as leadership, resilience, and communication. I’ve been reading books and studies about psychology, positive psychology, and goal-setting for years. I enjoy the interconnections of psychology and tech, and applying design concepts like nudges to accomplish goals.


  • Iterative Development is a Growth Mindset
  • Streamlining your performance: Goal focus / essentialism, avoiding burnout
  • Breaking down big features/goals: Sustainable pace, daily baby steps of progress
  • Self-Automation: Forming habits
  • Self-Automation and UX principles - Hacking your environment to achieve goals more easily: psychological nudges