On a high-functioning team, Jeffries said, the need for a front-line manager decreases; the role, then, is unclear. The group agreed that there are some unique skills a manager can add, including technical leadership, a deep knowledge of onsite systems and processes and the ability to deal with HR in order to keep the team functioning. (A manager promoted from within might have these insights, but an external hire is unlikely to.)
How-To: Hiring Software Developers: The Agile Aptitude Test
From there the discussion turned to agile software development-specifically, the meaning of the phrase "... and beyond" in the conference's name. Jeffries took a marker and a piece of paper and drew something that looked like the image below. Jeffries' point: To get to "beyond," you have to go through "agile."
The rage at the conference was the Kanban method, which focuses on dropping iterations, limiting work-in-progress and achieving "pull" for work.
Jeffries suggested that teams "skipping" agile to go to Kanban will be restricted by a series of classic problems. Teams missing this step will end up playing the what-to-build telephone game, which a traditional agile methodology would rectify. Likewise, if a "beyond" lacks strong technical practices such as pair programming, test driven development or exploratory testing, it will struggle to reliably deliver software that works.
"Beyond agile" is a good ideal, Jeffries said, but he reinforced Anderson's comment on context. Teams need to find and fix their own pain points instead of jumping to solutions that solve someone else's problems somewhere else.
How-To: Rethinking Software Development, Testing and Inspection
Our conversation continued for two hours. We told sob stories and got some sage advice from some of the best minds in the business.
All this for $100. I wish there had been a tip jar at the registration desk.
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