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The 'Agile Developer Skills Workshop' Is Underway

by Mike Bria on Oct 14, 2009 |

Having a means to fairly and reliable assess the skills of agile developers has been a hot topic for quite some time. The Agile Developer Skills Workshop, led by Ron Jeffries and Chet Hendrickson, is now entering its 2nd day of trying to produce a real solution to the problem.

It's not news that the word "Certification" has been at the heart of many heated debates in the agile space. What most people do agree on, though, is that there is a need to have some means of assessing how well a developer (or development team) is understanding and applying agile practices and skills.

Most recently the topic has gained traction, with some of the community's luminaries leading the charge. Ron Jeffries and Chet Hendrickson have been pushing discussions through the 'Agile Developer Skills' google group. Joshua Kerievsky has been driving another stream of excited discussion and ideas at the 'Assessing Agility' google group. With Scrum.org, Ken Schwaber is continuing the efforts that were previously behind the now defunct "Certified Scrum Developer" initiative.

This week though, the topic is boiling hot, as many are currently gathered in Ann Arbor, MI for a 3-day workshop event targeted at coming up with an answer: the Agile Developer Skills Workshop.

In the announcement of the event, Ron Jeffries proposed the following list of "purposes" for the workshop:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the dimensions of skill required of team members on Agile projects
  • Elaborate and/or modify the “Seven Pillars” idea to define a framework for team member education for Agile projects
  • Discuss and consider recommendations to Scrum Alliance, Agile Alliance, and the universe at large regarding team member education for Agile projects
  • Discuss and consider group and individual actions regarding the scrum.org and related developments. Decide how we should speak to this issue, and where, so as to guide the community in the best possible direction
  • Discuss and/or demonstrate specific training examples or course materials

After the first day of the workshop, yesterday, the group had a revised list of goals/purposes. This updated list can be viewed at D. André Dhondt's site (in "flipchart-photo" clarity), where he gives a concise overview of the day one activity. Also in this overview, Dhondt shows the 14 or so "personas" the group developed to facilitate understanding the meaningful stakeholders/customers of an such an assessment mechanism.

Also among the interesting images of day one artifacts in Dhondt's post is a mind-map of the participant's motivations to take part in such an initiative. The map's complexity highlights just how multi-dimensional the topic really is, and likely why it garners such recurring and continued debate.

Day two (of the three day workshop) is just getting underway as this of the posting of this article. Follow along and contribute to the event on Twitter with the #adswsummit tag, as well as by posting your thoughts here and on the Agile Developer Skills google group.

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ok, so what is this really? by Amr Elssamadisy

Hey Mike, is this similar in vein to the workshop that created the agile manifesto? What will the output look like and what will it be good for?

Re: ok, so what is this really? by Mike Bria

Hey Amr, great questions. Though I'm in a position to answer them, as I'm not there.

I'll shoot it to the folks there though, see if they'd like to answer.

Cheers,
MB

Re: ok, so what is this really? by André Dhondt

I can't speak for the whole group--stay tuned another day or so and we should have an official statement... but I wouldn't compare this work with the manifesto. Instead, I would suggest that this is an opportunity for us to come together as a community like never before... it is a chance to define for ourselves what standards we will work under, and to learn from one another as we seek each other's opinions on how we apply those standards.

Ron's initial summary by Mike Bria

Ron Jeffries posted the results of the workshop on his site:

xprogramming.com/blog/tech/the-agile-skills-pro...

Cheers,
MB

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