Agile on the Beach 2015 – Our Best Bits
As part of our constant improvement and development, this year we sent 6 of the team all the way down to Falmouth for 3 days for Agile on the Beach.
After a social evening together (and a few beers!) on Wednesday we headed into Agile on the Beach on Thursday with open minds and ready to learn. We split ourselves across the various streams as the group we had in Falmouth represented various roles within Codeweavers, including Product owner, Front end and Back end developers and the Academy team.
There were a number of highlights throughout the two days but the keynote talks were particular stand outs for us. The opening Keynote from Dave Farley got us all thinking and ready to experiment with new ideas and concepts. If you want to experiment with the human mind as we did in the Keynote, Dave Farley's talk is now available on (link https//youtu.be/-PVoc6VTwNg text YouTube). Dave played with our minds through imagery and sound to show us how as people we have limitations (People are crap!). He helped us understand and deal with these limitations – if we've learnt one thing here it's that we need to feed our developers more food.
A few of us decided to attend the LEGO Serious Play session. This was not only a fun session but we were left amazed that through playing with LEGO we managed to come to deep and meaningful answers to questions that beforehand we had no idea how to answer. The only issue now is buying enough LEGO for the whole office!
Wrapping up day one we got to listen to one of our office heroes, Woody Zuill, discuss Mob Programming. We've watched a number of Woody's videos within the dev team and often jest about 'Turning up the Good'. We've recently started Mobbing at Codeweavers and have had mixed results, sometimes it works well and other times we find we have issues with losing focus and concentration. Woody's talk got us thinking back to the first talk of the day about experimenting and how our approach to adopting Mob Programming could have been improved. Our teams are still experimenting with mobbing and have a number of mobbing environments set up which have really helped adoption.
Day two got off to a great start with Jenni Jepson helping us to understand how our brains work. This was really eye opening and a lot that Jenni discussed rang true for us given our recent experiments. We found it particularly interesting to see how the effects of stress (either too much or not enough!) can have a large impact on how effectively our pre-frontal cortex operates. This is important the pre-frontal cortex is where our rational thinking takes place, if we're too stressed our primal and lazy limbic system takes over and we practically shut down.
The event was wrapped up wonderfully by Woody Zuill. This session included our highlight of the 3 days where our very own Jon Hilton got a shout out by Woody after his discussion with him around achieving company goals. I think the event was summed up brilliantly with this single slide, “Doing Exposes Reality”.
What we learned
We've certainly returned with more questions than answers. Throughout the first day, we had many discussions between the group. We felt that many of our practices at Codeweavers are good (Pair Programming, Kanban， Continuous Delivery and Trunk Based Development to name a few) and in many ways we are ahead of the curve. However we knew something was missing and it wasn't until the second day, and in particular Jenni Jepson's talk, that it started to dawn on us that whilst many of our practices are right, some of our interactions need work. Seeing the Agile Manifesto up on the big screen helped us to remember what really matters, at times it is too easy to forget the core values of Agile.