Thursday, December 10, 2009

where the Agile Skills Project needs to go next

There's something new happing in the agile community, despite the fact that some celebrities in our field are waiting for innovation in a post-agilist era, or saying that there's nothing new at the conferences. The transformation is subtle, but very important. In short, it's the creation of local agile implementations that value people over process, community over employers, dedication to the craft and cooperative relationships.

A lot of practitioners are getting experienced enough that they can exploit self-organization to reach out to people in contexts different from their own. Mostly these practitioners are lower profile than the signers of the agile manifesto, but they're not typical early-late majority adopters either, because they're innovating in the wake of the first wave of agilists. They're running their own open-spaces, creating local user groups and conferences, networking internationally, and doing the best they can to learn from one another. Some might call this massive adoption 'crossing the chasm', but in fact they are creating their own flavors of agile at home, based on the learning that comes from participating in the agile community, from previous experience, from corporate and government requirements, and local cultural needs. The agile conferences have been key to building this community, but they're still spread out in time and space in ways that aren't sufficiently accessible for the masses of people that are trying to do agile these days. In addition, the face-to-face conferences have provided sufficient context for people to start working together remotely. The open source world has long leveraged collaborative work at a distance--the agile community, not so much.

So here's what I see...

There are currently over 700 subscribed to the Agile Developer Skills list, which in my mind is the core of the Agile Skills Project. To me it shows that practitioners are coming together in unprecedented numbers to talk about how we might better learn from each other, to define standards by which we will hold each other, and how we'll acknowledge each other's discoveries and hard work. This is low bandwidth collaborative work and can't compare to what we learn at conferences or with consultants, but there's something new afoot.
Next we need these people to take ownership of various places on the wiki, talking about quests, or certifications, or courses; building on the skills inventory, etc. We'll need people who want to build the web application that logs quests and qualifies certifications and course material our classes.
Mostly what we need is people who are willing to tell stories about their development practices, their conclusions on what works and what doesn't, and then peer-reviewed comments on these stories. I hope to see that soon!

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