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Jean Tabaka's Agile Odyssey

by Deborah Hartmann Preuss on Sep 18, 2007 |

In this amusing presentation from Agile2006, Jean Tabaka compares impediments and obstacles encountered by an Agile mentor with those detailed in Homer's classic. In this 73 minutes presentation, Homer's Odyssey or My Life as an Agile Consultant, discover who plays which of the classical roles in her experiences of Agile adoption: Cyclops, the Sirens, Poseidon, Circe, Cicones, the Lotus-Eaters, and even the good-and-faithful dog Argus.

Tales of heroic travels have a long history - there are still such tales in modern times, think of James Joyce's Ulysses, Alice's journeys in Wonderland, the tales of Thomas Covenant or the Cohen Brother's cinematic remake of Homer's Odyssey, called "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?". At the request of a particular client, Tabaka collected her own "mythology" on how things fail, to create a contemporary Agile "odyssey". Taking some poetic license, she relates the story of her quest to bring Agile software development principles and practices to organizations - and come home alive.

Jean Tabaka is an Agile Coach who moved to agile after studying DSDM in the 1990's. Jean is a Certified ScrumMaster Trainer, a Certified Professional Facilitator, and the author of "Collaboration Explained: Facilitation Skills for Software Project Leaders".

The tale begins with a Trojan horse (the Agile Manifesto), a tame-looking yet dangerous gift, works its way through a number of examples from real clients adopting Agile, and ends with recommendations for your own journey through Agile adoption. Watch out for these characters, recognise them and take action -  to make your own journey a success:

  • Sirens: apply discipline and rigor about the agile practices, don’t shortcut or cherry pick
  • Laestrygoneans: engage architecture and tech leads early on or you risk sabotage, even unknowingly
  • Poseidon: consider a “middle, up, down” approach with Directors as knowledge liaisons
  • Suitors of Ithaca: be wary of armchair know-it-alls, insist on an inspect and adapt approach
  • Leucothea: engage experienced agile practitioners
  • Argus: keep an evangelist on the ground, you can’t go it alone
View the InfoQ exclusive presentation: Homer's Odyssey or My Life as an Agile Consultant.

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