Thursday, October 15, 2009

Agile Developer Skills Workshop--Day Three

Today is the culmination of the three-day workshop... I think the team has really gelled with a common purpose and shared values. I had to leave early, so will only report on the morning--but stay tuned because soon we'll have something sufficiently well polished that we don't have to hide our candle under a basket.

So, with the caveat that the group may quickly change direction (we're all agile, right?), I'm happy to report on where I think we're going. We'll be creating the Agile Skills Project, an ongoing, open, and not-for-profit entity that will do the following. But first--who is the "we" that follows? Assuming that you're at an experienced practitioner level, it probably includes you:
  • create an "agile skills inventory"--a list of skills that are important to being a good agile team member (note, this is not just for coders), a definition of those skills, and even links to existing learning materials (books, web sites, courses, classes) that may help one acquire these skills. These skills will be mapped to the Seven Pillars, and specific ones will be selected as fundamentals that every well-rounded agilist should know

  • provide a way for individuals/teams/orgs to self assess against the inventory--this can be an index into where they should focus self improvement efforts, or what kind of help to seek, paid or unpaid.

  • recognize progression along the agile skills inventory--the intent here is to celebrate the successes we make in our life-long learning; the risk would be that people could misconstrue this as an endorsement of a particular competency, which it is not. We see several levels of progression through a skill: exposure/awareness, attempted, successful execution, refined execution, advanced the state-of-the-art. From the "successful execution" level and up, there would be third party verification that the skill was indeed performed correctly.

  • characterize learning materials--we'll be able to map existing courses, certifications, conference sessions, books, etc. back to how much they cover the agile skills inventory. This will give a nice "nutritional content" to these learning materials, and help people see the objective value these materials provide

  • collect experience narratives--at some point, all this work should tie back to the correlation between delivery and skills. This will provide data that correlates successes and failures to how we do the work.

  • review experience narratives--With experience narratives, we'll be learning from practitioners in the field, and be able to improve the Agile Sklls Inventory accordingly. As a nice byproduct of experience narratives, we'll have a paper trail of what progress individuals have made in their learning journey.

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