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Shift Your Paradigm!
Agile at SD Best Practices
by Dave Astels
September 16, 2003
Some highlights from the Agile Keynote at SD Best Practices


Just a quick post from the "on-line lounge" at the show. I went to the keynote this morning to hear Bob Martin, Ken Schwaber, and Martin Fowler talk about the state of Agile.

For a non-Agile conference it was gratifying to see a standing room only crowd.. literally! People where standing along the walls and sitting in the ailse.

The Bob, Ken, & Martin each gave a brief talk and then there was a Q&A panel. The usual issues were raised:

"What about Agile & CMM?"... "No conflict" (actually, Watts Humphreys answered a very similar question yesterday with a very similar answer.

"How do I get my manager to let us pair program?"... "Just do it & show them the results. If they llike statistics, read Laurie Williams' book & use that."

"How do I move to Agile with an existing project?"... "Do new work agile, and gradually add tests to the legacy codebase".

One of the most interesting pieces of information, I thought, was some numbers that Martin & Bob quoted regarding decreased defect rates... Martin talked about a project at Chrysler that have 1 bug in a year. Bob talked about a project that went from 1 bug per 2 programmer-days down to 1 in 20 when they adopted XP.

With numbers like that who can argue?

And on the lighter side, where was a fair bit of good natured ribbing over iteration length. Ken takes the SCRUM line on this with 1 month iterations. Bob pushes 2 week, and Martin talked about Thoughtworks using 2 week for distributed teams and increasingly 1 week for colocated teams. One thing he said was that you should *not* run 1 week iterations Monday-Friday. Teams that have put iteration boundaries in the middle of the week have reported better results.

I can see the logic in this. Your minds can churn away on problems subconciously over the weekend, when otherwise you would be between problems. It would also avoid the Monday-morning & Friday-afternoon impact of iteration ramp up/down.


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About the Blogger

Dave Astels has been developing hardware and software solutions for more than 20 years in domains ranging from environment control systems to electrical energy trading systems to mass market products. Since the late 1980s he has been working exclusively with object technologies: a mix of C++, Smalltalk, Java, and some more obscure OOPLs. Since the late 1990s, he has been studying, using, evangelizing, and teaching Agile Development processes and practices. He has coauthored/authored two books for Prentice Hall: "A Practical Guide to eXtreme Programming" and "Test-Driven Development: A Practical Guide". He also edits the TDD edition of The Coad Letter, which is part of the Borland Development Network. He co-founded and runs Adaption Software, Inc. (

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2003 Dave Astels. All rights reserved.

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