In the beginning of June I attended a two day conference called ”Agila Sverige 2016” (that is Swedish for ”Agile Sweden 2016”). It’s a national un-conference in Swedish on agile methods, that I also visited last year. The concept is that the time before lunch is spent on short speeches (maximum 10 minutes, to get a short introduction to a topic) and the afternoons are spend on open space, 45 minutes each for deeper discussions. This format works very well in my opinion!
This blog post will be about some trends the me and others spotted during the conference.
(Picture taken from http://www.7a.se)
The first trend spotted is that mob programming is coming on stronger and stronger. In the open space discussion about it, 4-5 people had tried or was using it (in a totalt of 12 people). Mob programming can be described as ”pair programming for the whole team”. It was considered that it works best for about 4-5 persons in a team. One act as a ”dumb” driver sitting at the keyboard, whilst the navigators tell that person what to do. The driver should not be a person that knows exactly how to solve the problem, then he or she will do it and the others will loose interest. The code shall ”go though” the driver.
It was also discussed if it’s more tiring to work in a mob, than to program individually. For most people it’s more intense and tiring to work with mob programming at first. After a while, people get the hang of it, and it becomes natural. The mob usually starts at a specific time in the morning and continues during the day or when a critical mass of persons are present (at least two that is). People can then join or drop out of the mob during the working day, and the good thing is that the work never stops (it’s not depended on individuals). This way productivity can be very high. Is it economical to have your whole team work on one story/task at the time? This can of course be discussed, but most of the team that are doing mob programming, do it for other reasons (like quality, there is for example no need to do code inspects, since the code is ”inspected live” while writing it).
If you want to know more about mob programming, the work of Woody Zuill is where you should start!
At work it’s like as if we are in competition mode all the time. We (usually) never have the time to practice the things we do at work. Take a soccer team as an example. They play matches of course, 1-2 times a week during season, but the rest of the time is spent practicing. Both individually and as a team. Why can’t we do the same in software development? Here are two presentations in Swedish on that topic (”Zen and the art to practice” and ”What can team sports add”).
Agile is dead?
The conference started with a speaker commenting on a bunch of articles that have been published lately stating that ”agile is dead”. The truth is that agile have become commodity, and that is shown by the fact that all industries are using it (even bank and insurance companies , that is often described as ”traditional” and ”late” in picking up trends). We, as software developers, always seem to look for the ”next big thing” and maybe that isn’t agile anymore. I think this is both healthy (to always question) and destroying (not being satisfied to develop what we already have).
Music was the last trend spotted. Spotify got it’s own rhythm for development (here is the video and also Henrik Kniberg’s own blog post about it). Agile is like punk, and Spice Girls song ”Wannabe” from 1996 started SGDD – Spice Girls Driven Development 🙂
”Agila Sverige 2016” was indeed a very good conference! Last year the format (short speeches, mixed with deeper open space discussions) was the one thing that struck me the most. This year when I was used to the format, the individual discussions and all the meetings was the key things that I got out this conference.
All the best,
Tomas from TheAgileist