XP Day France, day 1

Day one of the first French XP Days

A brief train ride and I arrive in Paris, to be met by Christophe Thibaut, Marc Evers and Willem van den Ende. Off to the “Centre Hamelin”.

Laurent Bossavit opened the first French XP Days. Charlie Poole presented a brief keynote about “Extreme Value”. He urges us to understand the business and to explain (and show!) how we generate value. This is an interesting subject, but I would have liked to see a longer, more in-depth session. Charlie and some audience members mentioned something I’ve also experienced: it’s easy to speak about the value of XP/whatever you do with the top people. These people are used to making decisions about value, cost, investment and risk. Nothing extreme there: more value sooner; lower cost and risk; more control. It’s the “managers in the middle” that are harder to deal with. What are they motivated by; what do they want; what’s their problem? Answers on a post card…

Retours d’experiences

I’m attending the “retour d’experiences” (experience reports) track. In the other rooms, there’s a refactoring session and the “Leadership Game” session by Yves and Ignace Hanoulle.

What’s the common theme running through all these experiences? These are ordinary people, doing ordinary IT projects in ordinary companies. They’ve encountered problems. They have used agile methods. Some things have improved; most things have improved considerably. There are still problems to be overcome, but they like where they are now. They’ve come a long way and know that they will have to keep going further.

Another common element is “fun”. These people are passionate and love their jobs. Like in the case of Ardatis, they report that one of the indicators that they’re doing well is that teammembers are happy, that customers and users are happy.

Let there be pudding!

That’s the kind of real-world down-to-earth story that we need to get out at events and conferences like the Benelux XP Day. Whiz-bang, super-cool consultanty type things are fun and interesting. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Let there be lots of pudding!

It’s great to hear all of those success stories. But my inner sceptic wonders if this is due to selection bias? Who’s going to present a story of how they used agile techniques and failed? (Update: J.B. Rainsberger did exactly that: see the day 2 entry).

I’d like to hear such stories. I’d like to discuss such stories: what has gone wrong, what could have been done differently, what have we learned for our next project?

Call me

Who’s got a succesful agile project? Contact me. Come and tell us about it at a user group meeting, an open space conference or an XP Day.

Who’s got a failed agile project? Contact me. Let’s put together an interesting session a user group meeting, an open space conference or an XP Day.