Wednesday, August 6, 2008

New workshop format: Goldtaking

Today we tried out a new format for workshops; I'd like to call it "GoldTaking". We got great feedback on it.

It works in the following way:

1. The group starts off by having a quick standup where everyone suggest one topic to discuss. These topics are being listed on a board/big notebook.

2. Everyone goes up to the board and make a single mark on one or two topics they like to discuss.

3. Depending on how many people are attending, the organizers choose a number of topics to discuss and make up groups for them based on number of markings. Since everyone can mark two topics, we easily filter the topics. If they could only select one, they are more likely to only mark the one they came up with in the beginning.

The actual "Goldtaking":

For each group we have a notepad and a pen and select a note taker to begin with. Whenever that note taker wants to make a statement or ask a question, she passes the notepad and pen clockwise, thus making the person sitting next to her the new note taker.

This has some interesting effects; one that we experienced is that very often someone is likely to "take over" the discussion. After some time they are bound to become the new note taker, thus giving the word to the others.

Another thing that this accomplishes is that when we gather the books afterwards, we have an excellent document for making reports or post-documents of the discussion.

Everyone is free to take their own notes when they are not the official note taker, this means that if they really want to take notes on everything; they can either fill in their notes whenever they pass the notepad (after making the statement/question) or they can borrow the notebook afterwards and copy from it (the missing bits will be written by them self!).

The reason for the name "GoldTaking" is that this is inspired from Gold Fish Bowl-discussions and that the result document may be worth its weight in gold.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The good life of Agile

When I started doing Agile projects and coaching in around 2000/2001 it was hard work getting management to agree or even discuss the topic of Agile. Whenever we wanted to do an agile project, we had to be very stealthy. We had to fly under the radar of upper management and sometimes even project management. Management usually told me "we can see how this works for small projects, but in the enterprise world we have to go for waterfall"

In the later years, this has changed a lot. These days you can't start a project without deciding "how agile it will be" first. In a coaching session the other day one manager told me "I can see how this works for enterprise projects, but will it work for small ones as well?"

This question almost gave me goose bumps (ok, I'm crazy, you know this by now).

After all the years of hard work, I think we are at a point where we are changing the way software is actually being created.
Not only changing the way we wish software was being created.

This might have to do with the fact that we have proven ourselves over and over. We have been put to so many tests and hard questions that we have a lot of refined and well thought answers, stories and experience reports that we can tackle any challenge.

Since April, I've been doing sessions in London, Florida, Seattle, Limerick/Ireland, Shanghai and several cities in Norway (and I am currently in Toronto, waiting to do two more). All of them have gotten a good review and I still get a real kick of being on stage.

I feel like I'm in the right place at the right time. I am sure most of you other Agile Coaches out there feel the same way.

Life is good.