We are uncovering better ways of moving post-its

Ten years after the agile manifesto I believe we’re better of with it, than without it. To me, it served as a rallying cry for those who were developing software to improve themselves by looking at what works in practice.

Remember? “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.”.

The reason this appealed to me, was that I was working at the time, and had been working before, with good willing, hard working people who advised others on building and delivering software, but they didn’t get their hands dirty (and if they did, their practices looked nothing like what they advocated for clients). With Agile, I believed we had a fighting chance to do better than what came before, prevent methodology wars by finding what unites us and market ‘lightweight methods’ a lot more effectively.

These days, when I travel to an agile or lean related conference (and even to some craftsmanship related events) most participants are full time managers or coaches, occasionally coding at night if they are so inclined. In the early days, if I would run into a fellow coach, it would be someone like me, who worked at all levels, with all stakeholders while also working hands-on with and in teams. These days, if I get cynical, it is, more often than not, someone who helps a team to move post-its better, either through kanban or scrum.

Not that the intentions behind scrum or kanban are bad (‘improving the world of work’ and ‘Evolutionary change for your technology business), it’s just that obsessing over the mechanics, such as the right way to move post-its or the best practice for stand-ups costs less energy than thinking for ourselves about how we work, and what we can improve.

As I’m leaving for ALE2011, which on the surface looks like it’s packed with post-it moving folks, I hope to be proved wrong and be surrounded by complex systems thinking hackers, like  I was at XP2001, just after the agile manifesto had launched. That ALE opens with a massive coding dojo gives me some hope.

Otherwise, it’s just going to be 3M who benefited the most from lean and agile software development ;)

3 Responses to “We are uncovering better ways of moving post-its”

  1. xpmatteo Says:

    Hi Willem,

    I feel your pain. While I’m hugely ignorant about planning and about people skills, I think I still have a whole lot to learn about how to write code well. And *that* is what motivated me from the beginning.

    The program of the Italian Agile Day this year is going to have many technical sessions about how to program effectively; how to do good O-O design, and so on. I suppose it’s the zeitgeist :-)

  2. Willem Says:

    Hi Matteo,

    thanks for your reply. For italian speaking readers : http://www.agileday.it/front/ . Looks like an interesting conference. How do you make it free?

  3. xpmatteo Says:

    How do we make the Italian Agile Day a free conference? Easy, we ask for donations, and we don’t provide lunch or coffee :-) The balance has been positive in all years but one.

    The spirit of this idea is from Marco Abis. See http://marco.hubdirector.com/how-to-fund-a-conference-with-donations-part-1/ and later posts.