Before Iteration Zero

Steve Freeman and I ran a workshop at XP Day 2005 entitled "What to do Before Iteration Zero". Simon Baker has written a report of the session with photos. Some photos I took are below.

Inspired by Dave Snowdon's Cynefin methods we used story-telling to facilitate the initial, brainstorming phase of the workshop. Steve and I kicked off by each telling a story of something that went wrong on a project that could have been avoided by a bit more forethought before development started. We then asked the participants, who were seated cafe-style, in small groups, to share stories about things that worked well on a project because the right support had been put in place, or things that didn't go well but could have been avoided with some earlier preparation. While they told stories, each table recorded good and bad issues on green and red index cards for later analysis and discussion and presentation in poster form.

My story had a technical bent while Steve concentrated on the business side of things. I told of when I was called in to help with an emergency fix to a production system only to find out that they didn't know what version of the system was running in production, couldn't run the system in a test environment without corrupting production data, didn't know that the system in the test environment had been corrupting production data, couldn't build the system correctly without laborious, error prone manual patching, and that they didn't even know where all the code of the system was. The code wasn't all in the source repository because, they explained, "there's no point in checking in code until you know it runs in production". If an automated build and deployment process had been in place before work started on feature development debugging would have been much easier or, I suspect, never been necessary.

The story telling seemed to work well. Discussions started quickly; there was no awkward muttering as people worked out what they were meant to do. From what I could tell as I wandered between the tables, everyone stayed focused on the topic and each table produced a lot of cards. A lot of cards: I had to pick them all up after they had been spatially sorted on the floor. Next time I run the workshop I'll get the participants to do that job.

Sorting the cards


Drawing a poster

The posters on display

Copyright © 2005 Nat Pryce. Posted 2005-12-08. Share it.

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