Archive for the ‘Point2 – Process and People’ Category

YAGNI Doesn’t Always Apply

January 18, 2012 Comments off

YAGNI means You Aren’t Going to Need It. It’s a software development philosophy that suggests features should not be added until a customer (or product owner) asks for them. Many times, you really aren’t going to need it, but if you apply YAGNI incorrectly you may get yourself into a bit of trouble and your code may begin to smell

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Software Developer and Evolution Conference 2010

August 20, 2010 Comments off

Looks like this October i’ll be making my way east out to Winnipeg where I have the opportunity to present two sessions at the Software Developer and Evolution Conference.  I’m very excited as not only will this be my second conference of the year that i’m presenting at, it’s also going to be my first time in Winnipeg.  If you know of any fun family things to check out in Winnipeg please leave a comment!

My first session is about self organizing teams, participating on and leading.  There’s a lot of things to think about when it comes to creating and fostering self organizing teams.  I plan to talk about some of them from the perspective of a manager and leader, as well as a team member on the team.  I’m also coming up with a good exercise that I hope will be fun and help illustrate my points.

The second session will be on iterative development.  I did this session at the Prairie Developer Conference in Regina, and i’ve used the feedback I received from the attendees there to refine the presentation to hopefully be even better, and i’m also incorporating an exercise in to this one as well.

I’ll probably be making more posts on those two topics in the coming weeks, so check back for more.

Self Organizing Teams, a new take on Hiring

August 19, 2010 Comments off

If you won the lottery, the person is exactly what you were looking for, has all the right skills, fits in with the rest of the team, and is paid fairly according to their skills.  Now go log in to your online banking app and check if you’re a millionaire……….No?  I didn’t think so, because as it happens, most of us have never won the lottery 🙂

Demonstrating Responsibility

August 4, 2010 Comments off

Just about a year ago I attended the Agile 2009 conference in Chicago where I had the opportunity to take part in a half-day workshop with Christopher Avery. It was here that I was first exposed to his Responsibility Process which inspired me to write the post Operating from Above the Line shortly after. I was hoping to run a similar workshop at Point2 to demonstrate Avery’s idea, but I couldn’t garner enough interest from a large enough group to make it worthwhile.

Fast forward a year and coincidentally enough Avery’s Responsibility Process came up as a topic during a staff engagement workshop championed by our Director of Human Resources. As it turned out some of the Responsibility Process posters also started showing up on walls throughout the office, but without context people didn’t know what to think of them.

Following the staff engagement discussion I was approached to run a workshop that would help to demonstrate the Responsibility Process to our Sales, MLS, and Syndication teams. I was very excited to do this and planned to fashion it after Avery’s effective Agile 2009 workshop. It’s easy to get the gist of the Responsibility Process by reading about it, but the true benefit is seeing it in action.

The idea is to get people to work on a difficult task as a group that will likely result in failure, and keep track of behaviour during the exercise. For this particular workshop we had ten people so I split them up into two groups of four. The remaining two were to be my observers.

  • The Builders’ Job: build a ten story, free standing structure using only a deck of cards and a small amount of fun tack in fifteen minutes.
  • The Observers’ Job: listen to the builders and take notes of any phrases that sounded negative.

Anyone who has tried to build a house of cards probably knows that reaching ten stories is nearly impossible. One group managed to get to seven, while the other group’s unorthodox design proved to be….well, good in theory. But as you guessed the point of the exercise was not to actually build a structurally sound building, but to surface behaviour that fit into the different states of mind on the journey to responsibility.

  • Lay Blame
  • Justify
  • Shame
  • Obligation
  • Responsibility

Here are some examples of the phrases that were recorded by our observers.

  • I already know who’s fault this is.
  • We don’t have the right materials
  • Someone else do it. I’m too scared to go on.
  • We don’t have enough time.

After writing each of the phrases recorded by the observers on a whiteboard I started to explain each of the states of mind of the Responsibility Process. Once everyone had a basic understanding we grouped each phrase into its appropriate state. Some were easy to categorize while others were more difficult which in turn spawned some excellent debate. What I found to be the most beneficial was real life examples brought forward by some as to when they may have been in one of these states recently.

We left the workshop understanding the premise behind Avery’s Responsibility Process, but were aware that this was only the first step. As individuals it is up up to us to make the effort in identifying our states of mind when we encounter conflict, and do what we can to move as quickly as possible to the next level. Now having ten people at Point2 aware of the Responsibility Process, we could lean on each other for support when learning to identify what state we were operating in. And as a company having as many people operating from above the line seems like the responsible thing to do.

By Hemant J. Naidu

We survived ÜberConf!

June 17, 2010 Comments off

This NFJS conference was intense with a lot of good speakers. Sean, Brian and I started ÜberConf 2010 in Denver with a relaxing Monday evening of dinner with a KeyNote on Challanges and Directions in Java Virtual Machines by Dr. Cliff Click. Following the keynote was a meet and greet party with delicious Hors d’oeuvre and free beer. It all sounds great and easy? That’s just the beginning.

The real hard work started on Tuesday. The sessions went from 8am – 10pm. Yup, 6 great 1.5 hour sessions in a day. Our brains were overloaded with information and code snippets. Dr Cliff Click finished both of his sessions (The Art of Benchmarking and Fast ByteCodes for Funny Languages) earlier. He offered bonus talks on The Pauseless GC algorithm and Towards a Scalable Non-Blocking Coding Style. Rather than 6 sessions, I had the great opportunity of attending 8 sessions in a day instead.

With so much going on, we could have easily turned into zombies before the evening sessions. However, the two evening sessions (Mike Richard’s session on the Art of Messaging and Venkat Subramaniam’s session on How to Approach Refactoring) that I had attended were gold. The speakers kept the adrenaline going with lots of great jokes (e.g. “Commenting out code during refactoring is like leaving a dead rat on the table”) and interesting titbits.

In a nutshell, funny speakers, great material, delicious food and beautiful weather (29 degree celsius), we can’t complain. Now it’s time to go home, go through the notes to recap what we have learned and use it well.

Prairie Dev Con 2010!

June 6, 2010 Comments off

Chris Presenting at PRDC10

Chris from P2 Presenting at PRDC10

This last week I had the great opportunity to attend Prairie Dev Con 2010 in Regina. This is the first time a good sized software conference has been organized here in the prairies. I travelled to Regina with some co-workers and really enjoyed the experience. I was extremely impressed at how well organized the conference was, as well as the number of talks lined up (50 talks over 2 days).

Since this was the first time a big software conference had been hosted in Saskatchewan, the organizer, who works primarily with Microsoft technologies, used many of his contacts from within that community to put together a good list of speakers. Now that the conference has been run once and had a good attendance, the hope is for next years conference that we can attract speakers on a more wide range of technologies such as as Python, Django, Scala, and document style databases such as MongoDB.

Since Point2 has been doing a lot of interesting work with new technologies, I hope for next year we will be able to put on a number of talks to offer a more well rounded list of topics for next year.

Overall, I was really impressed with PRDC10 and I am looking forward to seeing it happen again next year!

by Brian Richardson

It’s Time to Ante Up and Go All In

May 31, 2010 Comments off

Mark Hollman and I are heading on an adventure in the city of sin.  What is this adventure you may be asking yourself, well it is the 2010 Better Software Conference and Agile Development Practices Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada June 6 – 11th. The conference is hosted by Software Quality Engineering, a consultancy firm that “offers education, publications, and real-world expertise to help you advance your software practices”. Our mission is to absorb as much information while in Vegas and make sure it doesn’t stay there.

I am very excited for a two day workshop that is new to this conference in 2010. I will be attending the Business Analyst Workshop on Monday/Tuesday. This workshop focuses on knowledge and skills that make a business analyst successful. The sessions are going to be highly interactive and provide me with practical takeaways I can use as soon as I am home in Saskatoon. I also will be attending a session on “Testing with Real Users—User Interaction and Beyond” by Seth Eliot and other sessions related to business analyst work. I hope to absorb all the information I possibly can and turn it into further blog posts and presentations for my coworkers at Point2.

Mark is excited for all of the sessions he will be attending and hopes that he can bring back tools and techniques that will help Point2 improve our process’s and collaborations between teams and departments.

Hopefully at the end of a tiring, but fun filled week of learning, networking and riding New York New York Roller Coaster, Mark and I can get some sleep. If you’re going to be attending the conference, or think there is something we should see or do while in Vegas – leave a comment! 🙂

“There’s just no quiet in Vegas” ~ Barry Manilow

By: Devon McGeary