General impressions about the conference
I really enjoyed this year’s conference with the combination of a remote island in Italy and the small numbers (100+) giving many great opportunities for chatting with our experienced practitioners, and a handful of academics about lots of different topics. I found it refreshing that there seemed to be significantly more experienced practitioners and thus, I found it extremely nice to be able to chat about similar experiences rather than simply unidirectional advice I find when present with a higher proportion of beginners.


Who wouldn’t want to gather around this place for some great conversations?

The quality of sesions was better than the last two conferences, once again focused less on the introductory nature and more focused on specific aspects. Of course, I had recommendations about how to improve, particularly the organisational aspects, of the conference and I’ve at least had an opportunity to give that feedback having shared a return train with one of the organisers for next year’s conference.

Thoughts about the first day
The first part of this day was a keynote delivered by lean evangelist, Mary Poppendieck. Titled, “The Cultural Assumptions behind Agile Software Development”, Mary proposed that there are several (American-style) cultural assumptions behind many of the agile practices that make it all the more difficult to implement. She referenced heavily the work discussed by Geert Hofsted in his book, Cultural Dimensions.

I didn’t find the keynote particularly inspiring, nor particularly challenging. Country-based cultural dimensions are just one of the factors that permeate the way that people behave. As an agile consultant, you end up fighting corporate culture, and the systems that encourage and maintain that corporate culture and I see country-based cultural dimensions yet another contributing systemic effect. This does not mean that just because a country has a high degree of individualism, working in pairs or working collaboratively in a team will be impossible (perhaps just all the more difficult). As much as I enjoy hearing Mary speak, I also found her presentation a little bit too heavy in the whole powerpoint presentation with far too much text and outdated clipart.

I also ran my workshop in the morning, titled “Climbing the Dreyfus Ladder of Agile Practices” and want to thank all the experienced people that attended as it resulted in some really rich discussions. We managed to discuss seven different agile practices in detail, brainstormed a large set of behaviours for each, classifying them and classifying them into the different levels described the the Dreyfus Model of Skills Acquisition. The results from the workshop can be found here (photos to be updated).

In the afternoon, I helped out Emily Bache’s coding dojo, focused on Test Driven Development. We saw four different pairs tackling four different coding problems using different tools and languages. I learned about the tool JDave (it’s still a little bit too verbose for my liking), and saw different styles in the way that people executed the code kata. For me, I was hoping to demonstrate more on the pair programming side of test driven development as a pair, and I had a lot of fun even though I felt a little bit out of my depth with the tools. Thanks to Danilo for complementing my lack of experience with tools like Cucumber. 🙂

More to come…