Friday, August 14, 2009

industrial tourism

A mentor of mine once said that insanity comes from isolation--that without close connections to people outside ourselves, we miss out on reality checks, and start doing things that are crazy, just because in our particular situation it seems to make sense. I think this insanity arises at both a personal and group level. I think the companies that encourage employees to reach out and network with other professionals end up finding more ideas and integrating more successful ways of working.

One means of networking I hadn't heard of before I came to France was first introduced to me by my colleague, Olivier--"tourisme industriel", or industrial tourism, a year ago, as a way to accelerate learning and improve the team's experience. Just this past week we had two "tourists" come in to observe our dev team--and while they didn't have a lot of experience with Agility, it was refreshing to have a new pair of eyes on our process--their questions came much more freely than an intern's or a new team member's, I believe, since they weren't expected to integrate these practices--they were simply here to find out if it made sense for them. I'd be really interested in trying this back in the States on a long-term basis, but the companies I'm familiar with would likely be too concerned about intellectual property to try it. Because of the questions from the tourists, we took a few minutes yesterday to do a special retrospective on whether we should change anything in our process. The tourists noticed that our connection with the XP client was excellent, that our adhesion to the Pomodoro breaks was lacking, and that the idea of deploying to prod was valuable.... Well, no changes came out of this retrospective--we're going to just keep going with our half-hearted Pomodoros, because we think it makes sense in our particular situation ;)

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