Øredev 2011 in the rear-view mirror – Part 6

Published 21 Jan 2012

This is the final part of my Øredev 2011 summary. It covers the last three talks that I attended and concludes my visit to Øredev.

3:4 – Jim Benson – Healthy Projects

Acccording to Jim, healthy projects are:

  • Happy
  • Productive
  • Stress-free
  • Focused
  • Nice to the workers

He gave a good description of when things tends to go wrong in an organization, visualized with the following organizational structure:

  • Company (has many portfolios)
  • Portfolios (has many projects)
  • Projects (has many tasks)
  • Tasks

Imagine someone working at task level being “promoted” to project level, e.g. by becoming a product owner. If this person can not understand his new area of work and keep focusing on the details of task level, it will lead to micro management. The same applies when moving from project to portfolio and portfolio to company.

Jim then talked about rules. If/when you add a lot of rules to the organization, you also have to introduce a process to handle these rules. If the rules are hard to follow, people will fail. When they do, they will blame the process.

A good technique to visualize how the team feels is to have it marking the scrum or kanban notes with an illustration that describe how they feel after completing a task. I found this to be a very good idea! It is so simple, yet communicates so clearly how the team is feeling.

This session grew on me afterwards. While there, I found it hard to stay focused and found large parts to be rather passable, but after reading my notes afterwards, I found some golden gems.

3:5 – Doc List – Development is a game

Okey, so this session was about Doc having an idea and wanted a lot of stuff to happen. His asked us, how do we measure how good we are at what we do, and what are the kpi:s we should use? Certificates? Level of success?

He then asked us – why can’t life itself be a game? Why can’t we have rewards in our professions (actually, Visual Studio has just introduced achievements, so we are getting there)? Why can’t we have quests? Want to measure a person? Give him or her a quest! Want to measure a team? Give it a group quest!

Doc wants to create a globally applicable system, that ranks people according to what they know. With this, if you need “a level 24 Java developer”, you will have a specification of what a level 24 Java developer knows and a list of persons who are at that level (since it is measurable). Doc wants to build a global community for this and wants…

…well, there you have my problem with this talk. Doc is a charming man who has been around a while and has a great rep, but…he wants a lot of things and talks about it without having created nothing so far. So, he just describes a vision.

I could have found this talk interesting, and Doc convincing, if he at least had started on what he claims to be set out to do. So, I await Doc to prove me wrong and announce that he has started working on that global system of his. Until then, I lay my focus elsewhere.

3:6 – Dan North – Pattern of effective delivery

With Dan’s keynote being the highlight of Øredev for everyone that I know saw it (I did not, unfortunately), I looked forward to this session. So did the rest of the conference. The room was packed.

Dan spoke of some exciting new patterns, like:

  • Spike and Stabilize (easy, semi-effective) – try something out, then build it well. Optimize for discovery.
  • Ginger Cake (semi-hard, semi-effective) – break the rules once you go senior…”it’s like a chocolate cake, but with ginger”
  • Short software half-life – how long does it take before you have to fix a bug? Optimize for throwawayability.

I did not find this to be a interesting talk at all. I found it rather pointless, which was a huge disappointment. Please watch the video? Do you disagree with me?

Conclusion

Øredev 2011 was a fantastic conference, with high mountains and some rather deep valleys. Next year, I hope to see more local talents, and a more odd and exciting selection of speakers. How about a grave russian who in bad English demonstrates some kick-ass piece of technology without any jokes or charming smiles?

I would like that.

Anyway, a big, BIG thank to the Øredev crew! You delieved an inspiring conference that I often mentally revisit.