#agile2011 @kevlinhenney keynote

[Updated on further reflection – originally published 8/12 10:21 am)

Now I’d like to reflect a bit on Kevlin Henney’s excellent keynote.  People didn’t ask so many questions at the end, but as I heard from people around me, his talk was a lot to absorb and operated on many different levels (makes me think of Alistair’s Jazz conversations).  He challenged some of the fundamental assumptions that had been at work throughout the week.  These have to do with “value” as a motivator for workers and whether or not we learn from failures, as the “fail fast” methodologies seem to imply.

Kevlin began his talk saying it was about Code and then talking about how Code reveals itself when it breaks.  Below is an image of broken code on a sign in the Madrid airport.


The second level this operated on for me is that sometimes in failures people reveal themselves.  Look at the failure closely and you learn much more about what that software object, or, that person, is constructed of.

He went on to talk about Manifestos and how manifestos more recently are really dry.  Manifestos in the past contained far more passion.  Their roots are in expressing to the reader how someone thinks, but more importantly, who someone really is.   A Manifesto is something you can get behind, that you can sign, because it makes a statement that this is who you are.  These are the sorts of statements that inspire people, not so much “adding value” to customers.  As he said, no one hopped up enthusiastically to get to work for the day because they want to “add value to customers.”  They might hop out of bed because they just love coding.

Loving coding might come from having successes at coding.  As he also mentioned, brains are shown, scientifically, to learn *not* from failures, but when successes arise.  Brains like to build on successes.  CAT scans have shown this.

For me, what was important was this idea that we can inspire whatever teams we’re on with our “code,” our “manifestos” born out of passion and inspiration.  Positivity.  There were no questions at the end, but I believe that’s in part because many in the audience were likely hung over from the night before, but partly because, as my neighbors observed, all the manifestos he showed were a lot to absorb.  How?  Because, as he asked (paraphrased): “What are the things that make your code, your code? What is your dialectic?”  This reminds me of what an employee said to me when after I presented career paths to my team.  “Mary, previously we graduated college, got a job, were happy to have a job.  Now you are asking us to think about what we want to do with the rest of our lives. Of course the room became very silent.”

With thanks to Kenji Hiranabe (@hiranabe), here is MaMeMeMo’s Globe, mentioned in the talk.

My Raw Notes:

Talk is on Code (oops sorry published before done 🙂 )

Quoted Wayne Cool’s definition of code.

Excellent examples of how code errors affect the user. “In failures software reveals itself.” Showed an example of a java error on a Dutch website.

Of course this inspires me to think: in failures people reveal themselves.

Interesting way to show the universality of “Agile” is through the definition of “code” itself. Updated throughout talk:
– A collection of writings
– a system of principles or rules
– a set of conventions
– A formal expression, representation, and collection of knowledge, beliefs and relationships used for communication, reasoning and action

Scope creep: Jason Gorman

“We emulate management consultants at our peril”

“Avoiding the alignment trap in Information Technology” – MIT Sloan Management Review

Great example about starting to run marathons; have to train first.

Manifesto for Software Craftsmanship

Money: Business Value
– This is not what motivates people. Steadily adding value is missing passion. (Syncs to Alistair’s pointing out of me as too analytical; syncs to Lobsang’s observation about the office being governed from the heart, family-style.)
Futurists Manifesto: a structured statement of values, not a blog

The Tau Manifesto

Anon has a manifesto as does Postmodern Programming (sync: met Jeff Patton in the hallway and talked a bit about being a rebel for the sake of being a rebel.)

The clue train manifesto

The four project values – Ron Jeffries

Pete McBreen’s book (takes an idealized view of software craftsmanship)

Spoke about guilds and how the left and right did not like historically.

James Grenning – TDD is fun!

“The act of programming marries the discrete world…” (quote from Kevlinhenney)

George Boole An Investigation of The Laws of Thought; Gary Marcus Kluge

You can fool the superstitious universe by just skipping using 13 on the 13 th floor


Sync: a chess program – the greatest program ever written

“Software development can only be considered immature because of how we use our experience, not because we lack experience.” – Twitter kevlinhenney

David Storey “lessons are wasted on entrepreneurs”
– The data contradicts this assumption that we learn from our mistakes

Brains learn much better from successes than failure. Failures provide little change in brain activity. Have to learn against the context of success.

brain cells learning

Patterns Manifesto: we are uncovering better ways of developing software by seeing how others have already done it.

What are the things that make your code, your code. What is your dialectic.

Edward Murrow: in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it!

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