Report on the Agile Tour in Geneva

I participated on October 12 to the Geneva stage of the Agile Tour which was a great success. There were more than 100 participants announced to this free event. Here is a small feedback for three interesting presentations that I attended.

Yves Hanoulle presented about the tips for creating a self-organizing team. In the part that I followed, Yves explained how to build trust, giving examples from his business and family experience. Here are the main points of his presentation:
– be straight: 60% of the people think that their bosses are lying to them
– respect: observe how people handle waiters in restaurant
– acknowledge your mistakes
– face reality: accept to be afraid
– perfection game (from the core protocols): analyze situation with an improvement view
– clarify expectations: using an hourglass for scrum meetings for instance
– listen first

Freddy Mallet and Rémy Sanlaville made a presentation about the technical debt. Technical debt is defined as the bad practices that make it more expensive to add a new functionality. These practices could be for instance code duplication, the lack of comments, standards or automated tests. These elements are not bad by themselves as we all have to make some trade-off during development. However, if the amount of such issues get to high, they could completely paralyzed the evolution of an application. Freddy showed how Sonar could help to deal with this by making visible automatically the amount of these issues on its dashboard. Then Rémy Sanlaville explained that the technical debt could be located outside the code. You can find them in the build process, in configuration management if you commit not often enough or in the management and prioritization of backlogs. The presenters insisted also that it is the teams that have to find solutions for technical debts problems, the tools exist only to make them more obvious to spot.

Finally, I assisted to the introduction of lean development in the webTVteam of Orange France presented by Régis Medina, Lean coach, and Antoine Cortal, scrummaster for Orange. The project team was already using Scrum with retrospectives but was getting the expected continuous improvement. The lean coach presented the Plan, Do, Check and Adjust process to the scrummaster. The goal was to increase velocity as it was considered the main problem by the customer. Lean encourages going the closer you can to the action, so the scrummaster had some sessions with his developers to find issues. Working on improvements could be difficult if a team is already under pressure to deliver. Negotiating an improvement time box could help to find solutions without disrupting project delivery. Lean also favors the creation of standards. Standards could be seen as “anti-agile”, but they can make things go faster and provide a basis for improvement. The team created its own standard for the daily meeting and the definition of done. After a first lean cycle, the measured velocity has not increased, but the team has adopted the lean principles to solve more problems. Lean doesn’t solve all your problems immediately, but it makes them visible and you have to deal with an increased level of lucidity.