Friday, April 30, 2010

Agile Coach Camp 2010 Germany - Day 1

We organized an Agile Coach Coach bringing 8 people from Karlsruhe to the venue of Agile Coach Camp 2010 in Germany this afternoon. The first come-together started at 6 pm with some finger food. It was an easy way to talk to some people I knew from other conferences and say hello to some new faces.

Parts of our organizing crew gathered at 6:30 pm to form a kind of production line for the conference folders and other things. All papers and flyers had to be bundled and inserted into the folders, as well as all the other give-aways (t-shirts with the ACC logo) had to be prepared for the attendees.

Big Bang was at 8 pm with a great introduction by Deborah and Martin, giving some information on general conference organization. We were some 40 attendees at this time, still 10 missing while on their way to the venue.

Lighning Talks started at 8:30 pm for one hour. After some first hesitation things came into a high energetic flow. Attendees queued up to present their thoughts in the given three minutes. It was a great show to see this happen. Unfortunately I had no possibility to give a short talk as the session stopped at 9:30 pm. There will be more opportunities for lightnings talks tomorrow evening and I'm really looking forward to it. Many interesting topics have been mentioned already so there will be lots of OpenSpace sessions with topics like
  • software craftsmenship
  • clean code / clean code developer
  • how to make people adapt agile methods
  • solution focused approaches
  • how to deal with the "scrum is everywhere" tendency
  • kanban vs. scrum / kanban with scrum
  • how to become a better agile coach
  • wave making or wave watching? ... gently or toughly creating change?
  • retrospection
  • and many, many more.
I'm going to propose at least three OpenSpace sessions:
  • Drive-Driven Personality - talking about people's intrinsic motivation and how to deal with driveless people
  • The Agile Skills Project - defining the skills of our craft
  • OpenOpenSpace - whatever you want to talk about
After the lightning talk session we had great discussions with Rachel Davies, Marc Löffler, and John McFadyen. We talked about how to introduce XP practices to teams that never have heard of anything XPish before. My recommendation was quite simple: gain first knowledge (buy trainer or learn by yourself), then get more experience by applying practices like TDD, and always do retrospections to improve.

Another topic was the question how to deal with an old, no longer maintainable legacy system. Throw it away and build it new from scratch? Or replace parts of it one by one? There's no simple answer to this kind of problem as it highly depends (on many things). I won't give a recommendation here though all participants of our discussion tend to prefer the replacing-one-by-one approach.

I'm looking forward to the next two days. This is going to be a great Agile Coach Camp!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Skill-Driven Development

There was a nice discussion yesterday at the meeting of the Scrum User Group Karlsruhe. We talked about dysfunctional Scrum organizations and the new roles of lost middle-managers. At some point a participant said that with really good people one could create really good products regardless of any methodology--either waterfall or agile would work. That lead me to the following statement:

Skill-driven development helps a lot to create working results.
Unfortunately skill-driven teams are not the norm.

So what can you do to improve your own and your team's skills?
  • Improve your agile coaching
  • Coach your team
  • Learn to be patient and disciplined: handle the untrained team
  • Surround yourself with people better than you: hire drive-driven personalities (if you are not able to collect the people around you, try to choose an existing team/organization with higher skills than your own)
  • Get involved with the Agile Skills Project
  • Help the team to improve: facilitate retrospective meetings
  • Read at least one book on agile/development topics every other month
  • Support or become a Clean Code Developer (German content only)
  • Join and get active in a local user group
  • Attend conferences: listen to talks, participate in workshops
This list for sure is not complete. There are more ways how to create a skill-driven development environment. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment.