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Agile Tour in Strasbourg – (partial) feedback

octobre 31, 2009 Laisser un commentaire

hi

I went yesterday to the Agile Tour 2009 event in Strasbourg. Overall, I was fearing it to be a bit dull, the program looking not so attractive. Yet I found it quite interesting and worth the time spent. Maybe low expectations helped, I don’t know, still I’m happy of this outcome.

Let’s dig through it in more details 🙂

First, I went to Stéphane Becker talk. In fact, it was a feedback from his XP implementation. Indeed, working in the video game industry (in Strasbourg, crazy!, in a company named Creative Patterns), the first project he did was quite a hell (80h and plus per week of work for the last 8 months) and as such they decided to act upon it. It was in the very beginning of the 21st century (2000 or 2001 I don’t remember), so they went for XP.

Among the interesting bits is the fact that they went for not having titles in the dev. teams.

Indeed, they had the feeling that it was stopping members of the team to feel/be responsible of their act, under the assumption that the guy with the higher title would do it (or at least would have to do it). Furthermore, the idea was that one should be proud of his achievements and actual work rather than some « dumb » title saying nothing in the end. The outcome is, apparently, what they were aiming for : each one is the team feels now « responsible », and they see quite often each team member taking naturally the lead « from time to time », depending on the topic, all without external action or internal discussion. Thus, it looks like quite effective on team empowerment.

Still, it raised the question of how to evaluate/pay each guy in the team. First, the answer was that it was all team based : all the guys have roughly the same salary and share the team’s fate… Yet, after closer interrogations, it came up that the salaries were linked with each one experience and skills, thus breaking this « one pay for all » rule. In the end, I’ve no clear picture of how they do to evaluate/pay each guy, even if this choice of « no title » rings some bells.

In less details, these parts were also of interest :
– at first, they went for paper based issues lists and the like. However, for follow up, they ended using some software (from what I got it’s this Agiletrack software I never heard of before). However, now, they put the issues on paper (on « post-it ») for the planning meetings, because it helps quite a bunch to deal with it efficiently…
In the end, I’ve more and more the feeling that that having both papers and software looks like the (unfortunate and required) way to go. If anyone tried Henrik Knibberg « paper/dashboard only » approach, I’m eager to hear/read feedbacks !
– Stéphane had this nice sentence : « Agile is just about giving the proper occasions to communicate for the team ». I deeply agree with this : all these fancy words and tools should not forget about the final aim of better communication.
– when planning for more than the next sprint, like planning for the next batch to be delivered to the customer, they involve the team members which will do the development, apparently on a « per feature » basis. The idea is to get them on board as soon as possible (better for their involvement and for the overall precision of the estimation). I was quite interested in this because Agile Estimating and Planning always speaks of the whole team, which sounded a bit too much to me.

Hum, I’ve been writing more than expected and it’s getting late… Well, I guess I’ll dig into the others sessions another time ! So stay tuned for more on « exploratory test » and Pomodoro 😉

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