Saturday, August 14, 2010

Agile 2010 Wrap-up

Unfortunately, I was only at Agile 2010 for Tuesday and Wednesday due to family obligations. But, I was able to catch up with a lot of people during that time and take in a few really good sessions. I also presented a session myself (see prior post) and I got some really positive feedback. Below are some of the notes I took from some of the sessions I attended.

Dave Thomas' keynote on Tuesday
  • When you are certified, you are useless, you just now have the body of knowledge in your head but it takes 10-30 years to learn how to use it.
  • Certification does not provide confidence... this is what craftsmanship can overcome.
  • Practicing leads to sub-cognitive action and muscle memory.
  • You have a QA team because you didn't care enough at the beginning.
  • If you can't do it with an index card, then you can't do it with fancy tools.
Effective Questions for an Agile Coach by Arto Eskelinen and Sami Honkonen
  • Coaches exist to create awareness and responsibility.
  • Don't inflict advice, ask questions, invoke change
  • Good coaching questions cause exploration (what, when, how much, how many), aim at a descriptive answer, avoid judgment (how, who, why), and avoid an unproductive state of mind
  • When tackling problems, use the G.R.O.W. approach (Goal, Reality, Options, What to do)
  • Goal - describe desired state, insure it is high enough of a bar, be positive, be meaningful (what's in it for me), be specific
  • Reality - are assumptions tested, explore different angles, expose feelings
  • Options - existing ideas stated, limitations challenged, "stupid" ideas discussed
Great quote from a session when a team member was distracted - "I'm sitting out for this because I'm in the middle of deploying software... for the president... no... the President of the United States... yeah, we're waiting for Barack to login and accept the deploy." Yeah, he was serious!

Another great quote - "worst level of management" defined as "far enough away they can't help, but close enough to interfere".

Hiring doesn't have to be Random by Rod and Arlo Belshee
  • Hiring is the most permanent change you typically make in your organization
  • It's expensive
  • Candidates have skills (learned), traits (personality), and behaviors (reflections of traits).
  • Focus on traits by interviewing for behaviors
  • Behaviors are data points for proof of traits you want (they can lie and say they have certain traits, you need examples, the more specific, the more real)
  • Best assessed by doing, have them code during interview process
  • Before interviewing assess your team for what traits they have. Determine what is required for a new person to fit in, and what you are missing that you need to find in a new team member. (What do you value - must haves, what do you need - additive.)
  • Focus less on skills, this can be taught.
  • Avoid labels, these say more about the interviewer than the interviewee and can lead to legal issues.
  • "If you missed it in college, I can train you on the job, if you missed it in kindergarten, not my problem"
  • Your team is a system with behaviors within a context. You can modify that system.
  • Add a reinforcing capability.
  • Balance out an excessive trait.
  • Fill in a missing trait.
  • Put the interviewee at east so you can collect data. Gang/Panel interviews don't do this, they could destroy your data collection.
  • Why isn't your team talking about and defining what the team needs in a new hire?
Arlo's story about problem solving (and measuring level of problem complexity):
  • A one beer problem is when you and another person go to the bar and drink a beer and quickly uncover the solution.
  • 2 beers may help.
  • Sometimes, it may take up to 5 or 6.
  • After 6, it is clear that you need a higher distillation level.
  • Try whiskey, it requires you to pass it around and share it (problem solving included).
  • After 6 shots of whiskey, if you haven't solved the problem as a group, it's clear that additional alcohol isn't going to provide the necessary clarity.
  • Time to switch to narcotics!!!
  • Wait, maybe that's a sign it should be left to the professionals...
It was a great conference, as always, maybe next year I can present again and stay for the whole week.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the notes. I was at the "Effective Questions..." workshop and I think you captured the main points. One amusing moment was the default question to ask when you can't think of anything better in the moment... "What Else?"