Wednesday, June 9, 2010

XP 2010 Session Report -- How Do I Measure Up?

In "How Do I Measure Up?", I started by reconfiguring the room into a circle--because I wanted to make it clear I was a facilitator, not a lecturer. Inspired by Peter Block, I really focused on the layout of the room, the lighting, and making the room inviting.
When the audience arrived (4 people), we identified everyone was already familiar with both the project and the self/peer assessment form I'd prepared. Instead of following the plan I had for the day, we talked about the mission/goals of the project and why we get so much interest for the Agile Skills Project but so little retention. It was useful to have a high bandwidth discussion, because in summarizing the primary goals from my perspective, participants could give me quick feedback that this had not been clear from the web site. I admitted it was too complex--but that I had been trying to pivot the project, first from an inventory, to a quest ecosystem, then to a self-assessment tool--all to no dramatic change in user retention. I concluded that the Agile Skills Project has nothing the customers value much, be it at beginning, intermediate, or advanced levels. There are other complicating factors--it was trying to be all things to all people, it was not really doing anything wrong, but not anything terribly right, either. I left the meeting pretty heartbroken, since I've nurtured the project for the last 9 months. Though I'm ready to let go of the project, the one remaining desire--to help the persona "Anna"--still remains. I feel like I was Anna 11 years ago--someone who really wanted to improve agile skills, but couldn't find a mentor or learning path. I worked on my MCSD credentials, read Steve McConnel, and went to grad school at night, and lost 4 years stumbling blindly on my own path of what could have been a much more effective adoption of agile. I've been doing XP to some extent since 1999, but it all clicked in 2005 when I started going to Agile Philly. So I really identify with Anna, and want to provide a low-cost means of welcoming her into the community. Stay tuned--and if you have ideas, let me know. I spent my free time Tuesday and Wednesday talking to people like Cory Foy, Joshua Kerievsky, Phil Brock, Diana Larsen, Sal Freudenberg, Mike Sutton, Marc Bless, Jeff Patton, Yves Hanoulle, Deborah Hartmann Preuss, and anyone else that would give me an ear and advice to build this vision. Find out more at

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