This is my first year being able to come to the annual Agile conference. It is definately everything I thought it would be so far, and I’m having a blast. Here’s a recap of some of the more interesting things that have happened over the past 2 days:
Sunday (Day 1):
The day started off flying from Tampa to Minneapolis. Got into the hotel only to find out that they thought I was supposed to check in Saturday, and had promptly cancelled my reservation. They seem to have it worked out, though there was a vague threat that I wouldn’t have a room past Tuesday. We’ll see.
After checking in, I wandered over to a talk by Scott Ambler on the state of Agile. I found it interesting first because I’ve heard a lot of discussion about whether Agile has “Crossed the Chasm”. Which is interesting since Agile is a collection of a lot of practices, each of which are going to apply differently to an organization. But I digress.
Scott’s talk covered a survey he did about the adoption of Agile technologies in organizations. It was pretty interesting, and I am looking forward to downloading the data and looking at it. One of the more notable things was that roughly 1100 respondents were doing XP, but only around 400 were doing Pair Programming. Nice. (Sarcasm intended – since Pair Programming is a fundamental part of XP).
After the talk, the group of us from CARFAX headed over to the pub and talked for a bit, then went back over for the icebreaker event. Lots of fun, including magic tricks, group pictures, Dance Dance Revolution, and the fun task of meeting lots of people in person that for the past 3 years I’ve only ever talked to via email.
Monday (Day 2):
The morning started off with an excellent presentation by Peter Coffee, the technical editor for EWeek. EWeek is an interesting magazine, because I always figured it was just some rehash of the week to gain advertiser dollars. But Peter’s talk was very enlightning, and it was obvious he had some clue as to what was going on. So I guess I’ll have to pay a little more attention to the magazine now.
Peter discussed several books that he always wants on his bookshelf. The four books were Robert Townsend’s “Up the Organization”, John Gall’s “Systemantics”, Tom Peters’ “Thriving on Change”, and, of course, Tom Friedman’s “The World is Flat”. Some choice ideas that came out were:
- Trying to be like GM by imitating them is like trying to be an opera singer by gaining weight
- Make proposals that scare people
- The Japanese word for “large” is literally translated “not delicately crafted”
Afterwards, I wandered over to the Intro to the Agile Manifesto. Yes, I know what the Manifesto is, so why did I go? Because it was given by Jeff Sutherland, Ward Cunningham, Ron Jeffries, and Michael Feathers. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, and they didn’t disappoint. It was a great look at the practices, even if there was a little battle where the practices were shown in the presenter’s favorite methodology. Some of the key points were:
- The best devs are 25 times more productive than regular devs, but the best teams are 2098 times more productive
- 50% of project problems are people problems
- Refactoring is like applying algebra to a methematical equation to reorganize and make it clearer
We then broke for lunch, during which I attended an OpenSpace session on interviewing agile candidates. I ended up hanging out in OpenSpace for the rest of the time, attending discussions on teams emphasizing efficiency over passion, distributed XP, and something about disciplines and tools.
Afterwards I headed out to dinner with two guys I know from Florida. They are both using Agile in their companies, in some very interesting industries. In fact, I’ve been surprised at some of the companies here – including Shure (the microphone people), Seagate, Hitachi, and other companies who I primarily think of as hardware vendors. I’ll have to see if there is an embedded XP talk, and if not, maybe I’ll propose that there be one next year.
When I got back, I headed over to an excellent OpenSpace discussion on Cutting Edge Technologies for Organizational Change. I am always fascinated by organizations and the inner workings of them, and this was a fun time talking about our experiences with various organizations.
I finished up the night by passing by one guy with a laptop and a sign that said “Please pair with me on Mozilla Code”. We were joined by The Corey Haines and after about an hour we were able to get the test to pass, at which point we were rewarded with extremely nifty Firefox hats. Yay!
That wraps up the first two days of Agile 2006. I have a feeling the week is just going to fly by, and I’ll have to be driving back to Missouri before I know it. If you are at the conference, do keep an eye out and wave if you come across me.