A few months ago, I had the opportunity to join Craig Larman at a client for an informed-consent workshop on Large-scale Scrum (LeSS). Ever since I took his class in 2015, I was interested in how he starts off a LeSS adoption – or potential LeSS adoption, I should say. He asked me to do a write-up.
We had overall four days at the client. The first day was half Legacy TDD and half Impact Mapping. For day two and three we were off-site from the client with about 30 employees from different departments including finance and controlling, organizational development, and the CEO. The final fourth day we spent back at the client answering questions, and a three hours all-hands introduction to LeSS.
Recently I was reminded about a blog entry from Kent Beck way back in 2008. He called the method he discovered during pairing the Saff Squeeze after his pair partner David Saff. The general idea is this: Write a failing test on a level that you can, then inline all code to the test, and remove everything that you don’t need to set up the test. Repeat this cycle until you have a minimal error reproducing test procedure. I realized that this approach may be used in a more general way to enable faster feedback within a Sprint’s worth of time. I sensed a pattern there. That’s why I thought to get my thoughts down while they were still fresh – in a pattern format.
During the Agile 2014 conference in Orlando, I talked a lot with Matt Heusser. Over the conference we bounced back and forth one or another idea. In the end, we had an idea for a new book: Save Our Scrum. A self-help book on many of the troubles we see out there happening with this wide-spread approach. We had the vision to base some of the lessons we learned in our consultant work, and see how we may help others with this. That’s the whole vision.
Skip forward one year, and we made some progress. We finished off the first few chapters with a more general introduction to Scrum itself alongside with some of the problems we are seeing. At one point we decided to put out what we had created thus far, in order to receive feedback from the people that are seeking such help. That’s why we recently put it up on LeanPub, so that folks can get access to it, and help us continue the momentum with great feedback.
Matt and I are pretty busy in our consultant work. That slowed down progress a bit in the past months. Right now, though, we seem to be in a writing burst with new content created constantly throughout the week. We started work on getting down the nuggets – that’s what we call the little lessons from all over the world with teams struggling with Scrum.
That said, if you get the book now, you will receive weekly updates – that’s what we promise you. Every week we publish anything that we have created throughout the week. We hope to keep progress flowing. I think this week both of us each worked on getting down at least four nuggets. That’s eight new lessons for you to read. If we can maintain this progress, we expect a good draft finished by end of September.
But, wait, there is more. You can get famous by helping us. We opened up feedback channels. We created a Slack team for open discussions. This is not limited to typos and missed commata, but you may also leave us your thoughts on nuggets that we forgot there, or share struggles that you have to improve our book.
We really look forward to your feedback and ideas and suggestions to advance our book. Hope you will enjoy it. And if not… well, at least you know some channels now to let us know.
Testers and programmers are much more alike than some people think they are. Many of us work in organizations, some of them large. There are several dynamics in these larger systems that have an impact on our habits, shape our culture, and influence our private lives.
There is something to say about professionalism, and the practices of our craft. Where and when should we learn about such stuff? Let me tell you my personal story. Though I will refer to software testing, pretty much the same also holds for programming, and most programmers I have seen in the organizations out there.
Do you think that the bar of professionalism has been raised in the 5 years since the Software Craftsmanship Manifesto was published? Why or why not?
My short answer is “yes” – and “no”. Being around since the early days back in November 2008 when I joined the Software Craftsmanship mailing list, and having been involved in the different thoughts on the Ethics of Software Craftsmanship, my longer answer hides in this blog entry.
I remember when Andreas Leidig approached me in late 2010. He wanted to get a discussion going regarding a conference on Software Craftsmanship in Germany. We decided to meet up during XP Days Germany in 2010, and see what we could do. We quickly agreed on an unconference format, two days, somewhere laid back. Some folks had organized the German Agile Coach Camp and Play4Agile in Rückersbach close to Frankfurt. We decided on that spot as well, and organized everything for 2011.
Early on, we decided that we will need outside support. That was when we started to reach out to other craftsmen, like Micah Martin, Adewale Oshineye, Sandro Mancuso, and many, many more. We had around 10-20 participants from outside Germany with us. All the tales they told us on how they were running things in London, Israel, Finland, you-name-it engaged us. It felt good to be around so many like-minded folks, and receive outside inspiration.
The first SoCraTes – Software Craftsmanship and Testing (un)conference – was a success. We had some track sessions back then, and a full day of Open Space. During the Open Space I joined a session that was looking for how to continue. With all the energy in the room, we placed ourselves on a virtual map of Germany. That was when I noticed, oh, there are a bunch of other folks around me that come from a similar location as I do. That was also when we decided that we needed to keep that spirit going.
One year later, we came back for SoCraTes 2012. Since the first conference we had founded 10 user groups all over Germany on Software Craftsmanship. There was one in Hamburg, one in Karlsruhe, one in Munich, one in Nürnberg, one in Berlin, one in Frankfurt, one in Dortmund, one in Düsseldorf, and one shared around Münster, Osnabrück, and Bielefeld. We created a timeline of events that had happened in the various local communities since our first get-together.
We were amazed about the various events, code retreats, user group meetings, and so on.
We still adhered to reserve space for foreign inspirations at that time. We had 10-20 people from outside Germany with us. However, Rückersbach had just 70 beds overall available. With ten local user groups potentially joining our unconference, we faced a serious problem. From each location just around 5 people would be able to join. So, with such a large community, we already excluded many potential attendees.
The format of the unconference had shifted. We had abandoned previously-set track sessions all-together. Instead we focused on two full days of Open Space. That provided the freedom necessary. Here’s the schedule from the two days in 2012.
At the end of the day, we decided to run the conference again in Rückersbach, but have it organized by a different group of people. We explicitly decided to pass over the organizing responsibility to one of the local groups from year to year.
Last year, the limited amount of beds became a problem. We discussed again what to do about it, and asked the organizers to seek a location that may scale up to 200 participants.
Rückersbach had an advantage: it was close to Frankfurt airport (about a one hour ride by car). That made it easy for people from other countries to attend, since Frankfurt is the largest airport in Germany. It would be hard to find such a spot with more beds in such a good position.
Late last year, the organizers contacted me. Since I am working in Hamburg, they asked me whether I could take a closer look at a potential spot for 2014 that sounded promising. They had 200 beds, and were located in Soltau. That’s about a one hour ride by car outside from Hamburg.
I agreed. When I finally made the trip there, I was amazed. The new hotel was awesome. There are ten meeting rooms all set up with video projectors, flipcharts, and so on, one central place where everyone meets, one large room for the Open Space opening, a bar with space for 170 people in the evening, a swimming pool, decent space outside close to nature. I got back to the organizers and told them that this spot would preserve the privacy that Rückersbach had with it, and that it seemed to be perfect to scale.
Now, I know that the announcement for SoCraTes 2014 is coming closer, and I can’t wait for the registration to open. Unfortunately I probably will only be able to attend on Friday, since I have a trip to the State to make for an AST board member meeting and CAST 2014 in the following week, but I know that I have to be there.
SoCraTes 2014 is scheduled for August 7th (evening arrival) to 9th, probably with a code retreat on Sunday, August 10th. I know it will be awesome. I know it will be full of craftsmanship, coding, and conferring. I know it will be worth my time. I now it will be worth the trip. You should reserve the date, too.
P.S.: Last week, I also heard rumors that the fine folks organizing SoCraTes 2014 are looking for sponsors. There will be different sponsor packages, some with free slots available. You can meet a bunch of fine folks there that are the top-notch in software development in Germany, Europe, and probably even the world. If you want to support the craft, please tell your bosses. It’s worth their money.
P.P.S.: Did you know that the UK folks – yeah, those that heavily influenced us in the first year – brought the same format to their country as well? I attended SoCraTes UK last year, and it was similarly awesome to the German event. They are organizing another event this year in June. Reserve the date as well.