Little by little...

Little by little...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Letter To My First Agile Coach

Dear Coach,

I wanted you to know that I'm speaking at Agile 2013. And it’s all your fault.

Three years ago, you came into my team’s bullpen and told me to put away my requirements document. Instead, we were going to write “tokens of conversations” on index cards. Huh? I thought you were a little crazy. When I worried about documenting the details, you sighed and said, “Just put some notes on the back of the card.” Ok, more than a little crazy.

I tried to withhold judgment, which you know can be difficult for me. J I was eager for a better way of working so I was willing to see where you were taking us.

Then you put two keyboards and two mice at all the shared pc’s. Huh? You told me that it was better to have two people working on one thing than two people working on two different things. You gave reasons like knowledge sharing and cleaner code. I found the idea unorthodox, but intriguing. (And I’ll admit that it was more than a little comical to watch one of the resistant developers move his mouse around while you tried to drive.)

You patiently and repeatedly had debates with our QA folks about the value of automated acceptance tests. By then I was drinking the kool-aid and couldn’t believe people were arguing against automation. I was impressed with your calm persistence, which paid off. We began the test automation journey and eventually the BAQA’s were learning Ruby so we could help write the tests. This BA was writing code – it was awesome!

Those are just a few examples of how you challenged our assumptions and stretched our skills as you helped us uncover better ways of developing software. It was a bumpy ride and I thought I would wear you out with all of my questions. But you didn't give up. You taught everything you knew to anyone who wanted to learn.

You left before I wanted you to, which is probably a common sentiment for good coaches. But you made your mark. I always had a drive to make things better; you gave me the words and actions to channel my energy. So I will face my fear of public speaking and share my story at Agile 2013. Just know that I have you to blame for it. J

All the best,