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Agile 2008 – Day 2

The morning got off to a bit of a weak start. Not that there weren’t good sessions – quite the contrary, there were plenty of good ones. However I was in an adventurous mood and I ended up going to a few smaller sessions that didn’t really have much to offer. The moral of the story is: If you can’t persuade me to stay in the first 10 minutes, then I’m gone. Whoosh!

However, the afternoon was much better. I sat in a seminar on doing team retrospectives with Esther Derby and Diana Larsen. As always, they were great. Their seminar reminded me of the fundamentals of doing a good retrospective – and retrospectives are often given too little attention by teams. In my opinion they are of equal or greater importance to the sprint planning meetings. Retrospectives are where much of the learning can take place.

After that session, I went to sit in on a short session with Tobias Meyer. I always leave his sessions with a big smile. He is so energetic and passionate, that I always enjoy being a part of what he is doing. His 30 minute session was so full of energy that I felt like I was hyper-ventilating at the end of it. It was like sprinting around the building on a rainy day – exhausting and cleansing. Oh yeah, the topic was on creating a manifesto or declaration for keeping Agile projects focused on small things. The topic resonated very strongly with me. And Tobias did a great job showing us a few techniques for prioritizing ideas that I had never seen before.

I was particularly pleased because the group voted my suggestion for a declaration of “smallness” as the most popular! I couldn’t believe it! It was serendipity at its finest. Here is what we finally ended up with:

“We keep agile small because we are passionate, collaborative individuals who strive to produce simple solutions.”

Not bad. The more projects I do, the more I crave simplicity in all its forms. I fantasize about simple projects, I dream about breaking complex issues down into simple ones. It’s probably a sign of mental illness.

The session after Tobias’ was about questioning the role of QA in Agile projects. The presenter, a very engaging Brit, tended to wander a bit. However, he did a better job of helping explain for me how testing is not exactly oriented to agile methods. There is a lot of unresolved tension on Agile teams surrounding how testing should be done. There is a corresponding amount of emotion too. I have found integrating testers into my teams to be a daunting task at best. So this session gave me a better appreciation for why it is so challenging to work on an Agile team from a testing perspective. I’ve pushed the issue aside for too many years – it’s time I took it more seriously. Or check into a mental institution – one or the other.

So, all in all, a very fine day 2 at Agile 2008.


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