Archive for August, 2006

Continuous Integration and Testing (un)Conference near…

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

The second continuous integration & testing conference (still labeled conference, still Open Space) is taking place in London, October 6 and 7, which is a bit closer to me than last years’ in Chicago. I’ve heard good things about CITCON (don’t know exactly what…) and as continuous integration and integration and acceptance testing are still areas with lots of development and challenges, this is bound to be interesting again.

This would also be the first conference announcement I got through a comment on this blog, so the organisers have an interesting approach to marketing at least :) .

Oh, and did I mention this conference is free (as in free beer)? – it would also be free as in free software, as the contents are up to you, the potential participants…

Requesting your feedback on ‘Agile’ conferences

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

In the agile alliance board we’re ruminating on evaluation results of agile2006. Ron Jeffries has put up a page with his puzzles and ideas, and requests your feedback:

The Agile 2006 conference was very good, and the reviews from the attendees are mostly favorable. I’ve got some concerns and issues, and I’m soliciting feedback, input, ideas from people who have them. As an Agile Alliance board member, I might be able to get some things done. Tell me what to do.

(from Ron’s conference thoughts )

I’m sharing Ron’s puzzles. I’m also puzzling on direction for xp days and other agile conferences in Europe. So feel free to e-mail me or Ron, or leave a comment right here.
(I may type more later… injured a wrist swimming yesterday, strange but true)

Just enough structure

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

Brian Marick blogged in an unhappy trend: Leadership about “the great man theory of management” gaining tracktion in the agile space. I couldn’t agree more.

As far as Leadership has a place in agile teams, I believe it should be, as much as possible, self-organizing so people (and teams) lead themselves.

We’re exploring this by example for xp days benelux through relentless reflection and continous improvement; Pascal outlined how we facilitate the presenters in perfecting their sessions, and how we try to walk our agile talk, because we expect nothing less than perfection.

Real programmers don’t write unit tests

Friday, August 4th, 2006

A friend of mine says:

Question for your agile coach certification ;) :

What do you do if your colleague does not want to write unit tests, because he believes that really good programmers don’t need unit tests?

Correct Answer:

Give your colleague a copy of John Bentley’s Programming Pearls. 100% ‘agile’ free content, and for real programmers only. It is chock full of cool algorithms, bitmanipulations and other stuff real programmers love.
Let him read it, and I doubt that he’ll still say that real programmers don’t need unit tests.

Programming Pearls, 2nd Edition(For the un-real programmers: programming pearls is eXtremely Pragmatic, and full of advice on testing, debugging, asking the right questions to understand the problem, when optimizations are useful and when not etc. There are also many examples of problems that seem simple to program, with implementations that are surprisingly error-prone.

I read this book because someone else on the panel for ‘a good read‘ at next friday’s minispa recommended it.

I don’t often read ‘real programmers’ books anymore, and I’m glad this one was on the list – really good. I hope to see you next friday at minispa in London)

Drawing Carousel at Agile2006

Friday, August 4th, 2006

The drawing carousel Marc and I ran at agile2006 did not run as expected (in a good way) I called Vera Peeters, who originally designed the workshop, to tell her how it went. So far every drawing carousel we have ran is interestingly different in some way, we are puzzling on causes, so we can get more people to experience the flow resulting from promiscuously pairing in short episodes.

We had a somewhat smallish audience, so we assembled one team. Team dynamics were great. After strictly facilitating iteration reviews and standup meetings the team started to self-organise these. The team started to quickly decide pair rotation, and many decisions were taken through osmosis – as pairs rotated, information was spread around, so not everything needed to be discussed at the reflection and standup meetings.

One of those things, as we discovered during the session debrief, was that the team did not deliver a drawing, but more of a collage made of cutouts. We asked how that had happened, because we had been present at all of the iteration reflections and standups, and we were still surprised by the result. Cutting was not mentioned during the meetings (or at least, we did not notice…). The team said consensus on cutting was reached within the first three iterations, solely through pairing.

The team also asked difficult questions before the first iteration (I won’t mention the questions here, as that may spoil a future run…). Having one or more experienced testers, who are skilled in looking for holes and asking critical questions, in the team present at the first planning meeting helped in preventing rework early on.

The team had gotten into the zone / flow, where the team operated as one.

Factors that may have contributed to this:

  • good mix of experienced agilista’s and ‘newbies’ – getting the ‘innocent newbie questions’ often expose holes in product and process – it also makes the debriefs easier to facilitate, as what happens in the simulation is,through the questions, easier to tie to real life
  • Running it with only one team gave Marc and me ample time to discuss facilitation strategies during the drawing episodes. We were also able to pick up more keys from observation.
  • Lynne Azpeitia was in the room as well, mostly observing, that gave us even more information to steer the session.
  • There was no competion on resources with other teams (if there are more teams, the limited number of scissors, glue sticks and sticky tape rolls leads to resource competition and wait times – teams are not allowed to change tools while drawing, only after the standup and before restarting drawing.).

In hindsight, I did get a key for the team making cutouts. At one point, the team ran out of scissors. We had about five pairs, and four scissors… If they were mainly drawing, they would not need that many scissor.
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pair drawing

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switched pairs
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drawing and cutting a prototype

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standup with list of tasks on the flipchart in the background

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Editing the task list

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drawing signed with business cards (some business cards were created on the spot with mini-index cards)

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The team proudly presents their result

See also Other entries about drawing carousel, mainly photos from previous runs.