J. Darby Mitchell

Presented Edmund Bertschinger, Institute Community & Equity Officer:

"Our first Bringing Out the Best award for 2014 goes to a member of the technical staff at Lincoln Lab’s Group 58—Cyber Systems and Technology. John “Darby” Mitchell is a software architect responsible for managing a team of staff, students, and contractors in the development of software prototypes.

What sets Darby apart from others is his robustly collaborative leadership style. Darby, his colleagues say, leads by providing a comfortable and productive framework for team-oriented decision-making. And he has made this possible by introducing a particularly agile development process called Scrum, which he uses adeptly to give all team members the ability to offer input on any task. As a result, all members have a chance to contribute to the software design, gaining diversified software development experience—and confidence in their abilities.

As one nominator remembers: “When I first met Darby, he took a vested interest in my opinions about a software project, which surprised me, since I had just recently started at the Lab. From this initial meeting, he was constantly seeking input from everyone he interacted with, always listening to that input and using it to shape the design of the software. Not once did he discard someone’s feedback as the wrong way to do something or push his own ideas as superior. He encouraged discussion among team members, allowed everyone to discuss the merits of each approach, and let the entire team reach the decision—making team members feel they had made a valuable contribution to the quality of the software.”