Archive for January, 2008

Naked Agilists podcast online

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Clarke Ching posted part 1 and part 2 of the recoding of the Naked Agilists conversation on January the 19th, 2008.

The session was organised by Kevin Rutherford and chaired by Clarke Ching

* Servant Leaders — Nancy van Schooenderwoert
* — Laurent Bossavit
* Fit4Data — Adrian Mowat
* Shared data for unit tests — Paul Wilson
* Let them Eat Cake — Brian Marick

You can find out more information – including slides – at

It was interesting to see how some technology rots over time… Last year’s naked agilists used a skypecast, where the presenters and an audience of about 60 people could participate. This year, we could not get the skypecast to function even for a test run with only a handful of people. In the end, the event ran as a regular skype conference call with the presenters, Kevin, Clarke and yours truly, so we lost the direct participation of the audience unfortunately.

This was the first time I was involved in a ‘talk’ podcast. I have podcasted some of my music, that is ‘just’ a matter of playing, synthesizing and then rendering the result… Things I learnt :

  • Have tested options, so you can switch easily, even at the last moment
  • Test the connection with all presenters. The connection to Nancy was bad at some points, which made it difficult (but not impossible) to get all of it.
  • Using slides does not have to be complicated. Put up a presentation, or a collection of images on a webpage, and as a presenter say ‘next slide’.
  • Not having a visual of the presenter takes more concentration
  • Many interesting presentations can fit in the space of an hour, so go download the audio :)

Upcoming public courses and conferences

Monday, January 21st, 2008

From the department of long-overdue-announcements :)

First off, the commercial service announcements. Marc Evers has joined the ranks of eXperience Agile facilitators. He is supporting Rob and me in getting a new Refactoring course off the ground. We plan to do trial runs in february (currently talking to a couple of places to do that, drop us a line if you are interested) and then the first public one, eXperience Refactoring, March 4 and 5, near Eindhoven.

Participants in other courses have long been asking us for a Refactoring course, a topic we mostly cover by showing and doing Test Driven Development, where Refactoring is a ‘natural’ step, so you don’t need to talk about it much. This one is going to cover refactoring in more challenging situations (e.g. when there is a bulk of legacy code – code without tests, or the team has been cutting corners for a while). This will prepare participants to stay vigilant in good times, and calm, resolved and focused in bad times…

We’re also planning to run another eXperience Agile near Eindhoven, 25 through 27 February and publish an extended course schedule for the rest of the year. Yesterday’s weather says eXperience Agile runs about every two months, so we plan to run instances near the end of April and June.

More new courses are in development for the second quarter. We’re listening to our customers, and would also love to hear from others what kind of courses they want.

Marc and I have been invited to present Beyond Agile at QCon London in March, which is a further development of the People vs. Process session we ran at XP Days Benelux and London. I’ve heard from several people that it had quite an impact, amongst others, people at other companies giving our presentation in-house).

Impression from People vs. Process in London

People versus Process participants exercise at XP days London

The new title was a suggestion from the QCon organizers. It fits well with feedback we got so far, to make it (even) clearer what the relation with agile software development is. We are working on a paper to explain it in more detail, and we’re thinking of running an open enrollment course combining people versus process with systems thinking in June.

I’m planning to attend Agile Open France, which now has a location: Hotel Arnold in Itterswiller, France (it is near Strasbourg, in the Elzas). Contrary to what I stated before, the dates are 5, 6 and 7 March.

To keep you up to date with upcoming courses and places I’ll be, I added two feeds to the sidebar: the RSS Public courses feed and the RSS Events I’ll be at feed . In case you notice I’m in your area, don’t hesitate contact me for a conversation over dinner and/or drinks :)

One highly ineffective habit of software development teams

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

And that habit is: ‘overpromise and underdeliver’ Marc Evers and I just pubished a new article on this topic in Dutch, Belofte maakt schuld (‘promise is debt’). It is a case study, in which we apply systems thinking to this highly destructive habit. We plan to make an english translation available later on.

As an aside, I’m inspired to use the word habit today, after stumbling across this interview with Ivar Jacobson in our local industry magazine Bits & Chips (in Dutch), in which he explains to use ‘habits’ over ‘process’, because process has become such a loaded term.

This was registering with me, because Marc mentioned a couple of days ago, that he was looking for an alternative to the word process. After some mulling about, we came up with this:

A process is what happens (as the total of actions by the people), a habit is what people do normally. You want people to change their habits, if you want a more effective process…

A popular way of doing that is by ‘installing new procedures’. Procedure is an even more loaded or dreaded word, that means a process in the narrow sense, what people are expected to do. But basically, if you follow a methodology by the book, that is what you are doing: following, or trying to follow new procedures.

But, old habits die hard. Belofte maakt schuld (‘Promise is debt’) is yet another example of how to let people fall back: ignore the reasons for an initial success, and let the team fall back on its’ old habits by increasing the pressure to deliver… “I already promised this to the customer, you could produce as much earlier (under the false promise of time to make up for any corners cut during a crunch), so stop whining, stop testing, stop pairing, just deliver…”.

And then when the teams’ velocity drops even more, promise even more to the customer. ‘Just’ rely on the teams aim to please…

Agile Open France – March 5,6 and 7

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

I was just chatting with Bernard Notarianni. The first Agile Open France is about to happen … Probably on March 7 and 8 (update: it is now March 5,6 and 7), somewhere near Paris – Bernard, Emmanuel and Raphael are finalizing the location details and hope to start marketing next week.

They plan to have the conference site in the general Agile Open website, so I made it bi-lingual, technically at least, translations are probably best left to the french :)

“France Villandry” by Francisco Antunes

Building in the new year

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Rob Westgeest has recently become ‘not a resource‘ (he finally started blogging :) ) Welcome Rob! During our last experience agile course we had some problems with the network – we always bring a bunch of laptops and a wireless network. We want participants to be able to commit frequently and experience what it is like to work with a continuous build. For some reason the wireless didn’t work, and we had to get back to cables. Unfortunately, we did not bring cables… (we did the next day of course) the wireless had been working too well the last couple of times…

After the course, Rob made a continous build system that can run on each laptop as a secondary backup, using GTK and ruby. Rob just posted the source and a video for rbuilder.

Happy building in the new year to all of you :) I’m recovering from a cold, like many around me. Hope you are doing better…