Technical Excellence: Why you should TDD!

Last Thursday, Januari 19, I gave a short talk at ArrowsGroup’s Agile Evangelists event in Amsterdam. Michiel de Vries was the other speaker, talking about the role of Trust in Agile adoptions. On my recommendation the organisers had changed the format of the evening to include two Open Space Technology sessions, right after each 20 minute talk, with the subject of the talk as its theme. This worked very well, and we had some lively discussions going on after both talks, with the 50 or so attendents talking in four or five groups.


Failure is not an option! I’ve heard that phrase a number of times during my career. Mostly by people imitating a manager they heard in a meeting, but still too often. What’s remarkable is that this phrase is usually uttered at the moment that it is becoming very clear that, yes, failure seems to not just be an option, but fairly likely! And that’s the thing. Failure is always an option.

On Discipline, Feedback and Management

Change is hard. If we know that about 80% of organisational change programs fail, then it’s easy to appreciate just how hard. Why is that? And, more importantly, what can we do to make it easier? Recently, I saw a tweet come by from Alan Shalloway. He wrote that, back in the days, people were saying: Waterfall (though they didn’t call it that, back then, I think) is fine, people are just not doing it right.

Scrum Gathering London 2011 – day 3

The third day of the London Scrum Gathering (day 1, day 2) was reserved for an Open Space session led by Rachel Davies and a closing keynote by James Grenning. We started with the Open Space. I’d done Open Spaces before, but this one was definitely on a much larger scale than what I’d seen before. After the introduction, everyone that had a subject for a session wrote their subject down, and got in line to announce the session (and have it scheduled).

Article on Oracle and Agile posted (Dutch)

[ is now available on the Qualogy website. The article is mainly meant as an introduction to agile principles and practices for Oracle developers that are new to them. It focused on explaining short feedback loops, and the importance of technical practices such as Continuous Integration and (Unit) testing for success with iterative and incremental development.

Scrum Gathering London 2011 – day 2

First day report here. Steve Denning on Radical Management (slides are here) The second day of the London Scrum Gathering started with a Keynote by Steve Denning. Where yesterday’s workshop had been about his storytelling work, today he was full-on about Radical Management. He quickly sketched the main points of his book (which everyone got given in their goody bag, so I have two now…), and it’s relation and implications for all the Agile aficionados in the audience.

Scrum Gathering London 2011 – day 1

I’ve been having an interesting couple of weeks. Last week I attended the Lean and Kanban Benelux conference in Antwerp, and then had a wonderful three days with Ron Jeffries and Chet Hendrickson when they came over at Qualogy to teach me and my collaeques in the ways of Agile development skills. This week, I’m in London for the Scrum Gathering conference, meeting with lots of people I’ve so far only encountered over the twitter et al.

A Cucumber Experiment

Having used the GildedRose recently as the subject of a coding dojo, I thought it would also make an interesting subject for some experimentation with Cucumber. Cucumber is a tool that allows you to use natural language to specify executable Acceptance Tests. The GildedRose exercise, originally created by Bobby Johnson, can be found on github, in both C# (the original), and Java (my copy). This code kata is a refactoring assignment, where the requirements are given together with a piece of existing code and the programmer is expected to add some functionality.

Setting up Selenium with Maven

In the team I’m currently working with, the need for regression testing was becoming obvious. The team is working on a web MVC-type framework, and has been running into the results of limited testing: quality wasn’t just low, it was unknown. The usual excuses were there, pressure to release, and interruptions by unplanned work. Usually, the unplanned work is caused by the same lack of quality that is probably caused by pressure to release.

Adventures in Rework

I came across this post by Martin Fowler, on the Strangler Application pattern, and its accompanying paper. This brought back memories of some of my own adventures in rework, some fond, others not so much. In all cases, though, I think they were very valuable lessons on what to do and not to do when reworking existing systems. No reason not to share those lessons, especially as some of them were rather painful and expensive to learn.

Reading up: 5 Books To Read If You Want To Really Understand Agile

Last year, I posted an overview of some books every programmer should read. Those still stand, and I find more and more examples where I would like to re-iterate the advice to read those books. This post is about other books, though. Books related to Agile and Lean principles and practices. There are many books on those subjects, and quite a number of those have become standard-works. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an Agilist that has not read Agile Estimation and Planning, User Stories Applied, Agile Project Management with Scrum, etc.