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Agile 2009 Day 2 Overview

Posted by Mike Longin on August 26, 2009

And on to day 2

Keynote – Dr. Alistair Cockburn – I Come to Bury Agile, Not to Praise It

Any presentation beginning with bagpipes and followed by a eulogy to Agile inspired by William Shakespear (if anyone can get me the poem I would really be thankful) is going to be a good presentation.  Alistair is one of the original signers of the Agile Manifesto and was presenting on the evolution that Agile has taken.  What I believe was his goal in this presentation is that Agile is now a part of software engineering DNA.  Where a few years ago people still looked back and said that Agile has no results, now it does.  Here is a copy of the slides from the presentation (http://alistair.cockburn.us/Keynote+at+Agile2009.pps).  It is definitely worth a 15 minute gander.  Make sure to look specifically on the slides concerning the feedback cycles and on how important people are to the scrum process, specifically in how they learn.

Session 1 – James Suchy – Mission Impossible: TDD and JavaScript

A very simple but interesting presentation.  James wrote a unit test framework for Javascript in this 90 minute presentation.  Was well worth seeing if you do any j at all.  A couple other javascript tools he mentioned were

  • Rhino Unit
  • YUI Unit – Yahoos framework
  • Screw Unit
  • JsUnit

I did some additional research and am going to start playing some more with jsTest (http://thinkpond.org/articles/2008/jstest-intro.shtml).  I think this may be a very useful Javascript xUnit type tool.  One other key conversation that I was able to start was using colors other then red and green for test tools, but that is for another post.

Session 2 – Eric Moore – Influence of Large-Scale Organization Structures on Leadership Behaviors

This was an excellent presentation covering the Siemens transition to Scrum.  The slides are available here (http://www.agile2009.org/node/1564).  For any large (50+ person) organization looking at scrum I highly recommend it.  Some of the key points are that no matter how large or small, teams and team members need coaching and leadership.  Peer to peer feedback is incredibly important and 360 feed back training is a must.  Additionally what they found is that a totally flat organization was not viable for them.  They experimented with a matrix organizational chart but ended up using a hierarchical approach that has both technical and project leadership above the teams.  Each manager\leader is responsible for an average of 18 people.

What I really liked about this presentation was the emphasis that Siemens goes to create a one company approach.  While all of the employees are on separate teams, the overall goal needs to be one for the company not for any specific team.  I do feel that this sometimes gets lost in scrum approaches.  He ended with a quote by Grace Hopper

You mange things; lead people

Thought that was something worth remembering

Session 3 – Paul Hodgetts – ScrumMasters Considered Harmful – Where Did It Go Wrong?

Paul Hodgetts (http://www.agilelogic.com/) gave an incredibly interesting presentation on the roll of the scrum master and where companies sometimes seem to get it wrong.  In the slides (which I can not find on the Agile 2009 website) went through many of the different roles of the scrum master.  Some of these come straight from the Scrum Guide located on the Agile Alliance website (http://www.scrumalliance.org/resources/) while others have been defined by companies themselves.  I myself felt the need to really take a minute to examine my own job as a scrum master and reevaluate my role.  I think that when I am back in the office next week I will really be able to take some of the ideas presented and make use of them.

Additionally the topic of the certified scrum master came up.  To date, to become a CSM you were required to take a CSM course.  No expectations of practice or practical knowledge were required.  I have never really thought of that before, but it struck me how dangerous that has been.  Especially considering that many companies think that upon returning from CSM training you are now a scrum expert and are fully capable of taking on a scrum master position on any team.  To me that reminds me of a 16 year old with a drivers license.  They know just enough to get themselves killed.  Luckily, Paul informed us that CSM’s from now on are going to start having to take a test.  This will at least demonstrate that all CSM’s are receiving the same knowledge.  But it probably does not go far enough yet to ensure that when a person becomes a PSM they are not relied on to make decisions and do actions that they are not yet ready for.

Session 4 – Pekka Klärck, Elisabeth Hendrickson – Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD) in Practice

This was a very high energy session looking at ATDD.  I am not going to go to much into detail because I am going to cover ATDD extensively over the next week or so.  However Elisabeth and Pekka are masters at this art.  Pekka’s robot framework is also a great tool that people should look at for writing functional acceptance tests with (http://code.google.com/p/robotframework/).  I was only able to see it in the demo, but it looks very much like that next step that Fitnesse really needed.

And that sums up day 2…

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One Response to “Agile 2009 Day 2 Overview”

  1. Sorry for the very late follow-up (I just found your posting when searching around)…

    Thank you for the review of my presentation!

    The slides for my ScrumMasters Considered Harmful talk are available from Agile Logic’s web site at http://www.agilelogic.com. See the resources links at the bottom of the home page. No registration or anything required to get them.

    Sorry they didn’t make it to the Agile 2009 site. As is often the case, they set a deadline for uploads that is well before the conference. For a new talk such as this, it’s sometimes not feasible to lock down the presentation that early, and they for some reason don’t allow uploads after their deadline (not sure why?).

    Best Regards,
    Paul Hodgetts

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