agila sverige day 1 reflections

The first day of agila sverige is over. It is a very intense conference that is not only about agile software development but also claims to be agile in itself. This is manifested with 10 minute lightning talks in the morning and open space after lunch. So there are many speakers to start the day with (about 30 talks in 3 hours) and the audience itself set the afternoon agenda. I think it is a very nice format. The balance between lightnings talks and open space is really good. The lightning talks I attended were:

  • Jocke Holm talking about the HUGE misunderstanding that software creation is a kind of manufacturing. He argued that coding is design. I totally agree with this and a previous post of mine addresses the same issue but from the architecture metaphor angle and with a different suggested solution.
  • Anders Ivarsson on a similar subject - agile language. He argued that agile methods essentially has positioned themselves as opposite of older methodologies and that this has influenced the language we use to describe the method. He made the point that agile methods should be able to stand on their own - not to "just" be something that is relative to something else.
  • Carina Meurlinger on how agile meets old style reward systems. This was a talk aimed at scared managers I think and I floated away a bit. You can't do that when it is only 10 minutes.....
  • Vim! Niklas Lindström had a really passionate talk on the vim editor. It was interesting for me that just recently decided to finally learn to use vi/vim. The unix command line skills is not complete without it.
  • Fredrik Sjöö talked a little about the agile challenges of game development and then showed a commercial of their next game. NOT OK.
  • The pomodoro guy - Staffan Nöteberg - a very skilled speaker talked about time boxed thinking - or rather he made us do an exercise to experience time boxed thinking. Very pedagogical!
  • Anna Herting talked pragmatically about agile documentation. Write what is needed but not more.
  • Måns Sandström argued that the new tester is more of a specifier. Testing should be done as early as possible and can then be the same thing as writing the specification of the system.
  • Ola Ellnestam talked about the meta activity of leading leaders. (I automatically related this topic to the numerous cases when myself or other team members has micro managed the formal leader to ensure a good result from the project.)
  • Elin Uppström used her 2 year old child as an example of how important it is to have a shared goal.
  • Then Måns Sandström again - this time about how to use erlang for story driven development. Since erlang is a functional language the normal given-when-then cycle of behavorial test frameworks like cucumber or rspec doesn't work. There can be no given when working non OO - there are no side effects in the functional paradigm. This actually makes it easier to write tests contrary to what some people claims. Måns has written a testing framework in Erlang called Cloudberry.
  • Peter Hultgren has started with personal kanban - yet another way to organize your life. The most important aspect - as in 'normal' kanban - is the concept of work in progress (WIP). It makes you focus at one task at a time instead of spreading and waisting your energy on many concurrent tasks. Peter helped us with a couple of mind games. Read more...
  • Torbjörn Kalin talked about the hard agile life when doing product development. I found his points a bit exaggerated but maybe that was the point.....
  • Finally Joakim Ohlrogge said some wise things about bugs. We sometimes talk about bugs that "appears" when it is always the case that the bug has been coded by a developer. Developers should take responsibility for their code.

I started open space with moods - an interesting discussion on how our mood affects our work and how our work can affect our mood too. An idea brought forward was to track moods in the same way as we track progress in a scrum team so that a retrospective can follow up on the moods as well as on the progress. I am not sure this is really useful - a better approach is to make sure that you have leaders with enough skills in empathy so that they can read team members and react when there is a mood related problem. I then went to a discussion on how to get good teams that work together towards a common goal. There was lots of sharing and brain storming to help each other out in the "real world". The last open space was called "does it matter?" and related to methods. Does it really matter which method we use? Isn't it easier to just put a bunch of great developers in a room an let them just do whatever they think is great? Rather than kill them with methods whether or not those methods are agile or not? The group came to no conclusion but held a really interesting and passionate discussion.

The venue - Citykonferensen - a kind of old school conference centre is really nice and well suited to the task. Food and fika was good and the dinner at Tender was really great. It was good to end the day with some even more informal talks around the dinner table. Now looking forward to tomorrow.