Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Can AgileScotland make a difference? (Includes free agile course)

Over the years I've done a good few lectures, talks and workshops for local universities about Agile and its cousins.  The older students (who have worked in, or about to work in, the "real world") have a good, healthy appetite to learn about delivering good, profitable software. What disappoints me, though, is that over the years I've been contacted by several of the students I've taught who have graduated,  got real jobs but then discovered that (a) agile has a bad reputation where they work because it's been done badly there in the past, (b) agile is being done "according to the books", but it's widely regarded by "the troops" as a bit of a joke, or (c) no one's ever heard of agile.  Unfortunately, there are currently less than a dozen good, solid agile initiatives running in Scotland (we lost a few good teams as a side-effect of the credit crisis), and they don't tend to employ recent grads. 

I want us - AgileScotland  - to do something about this.  
I want to do what Apple does:  

They put their products into schools so that the kids who use them pester their parents to buy them (my 3yr old claimed to know how to use my new macbook even though I couldn't, so  I took it back for a refund) and, once they've got jobs, they pester their employers to buy apple products.  I don't know how well it works, but you've got to admit that apple owners can be annoying.

It's a slow process, but I'd like to take the same approach with Agile: teach tomorrow's developers, analysts, testers and managers how to make agile work in the real world, so that when they start working they know just enough to make a difference.

Three steps:

1.  I'm volunteering my own time to run a full-day version of my "EverydayAgile" course at any Scottish University, free to all  academics, students, and recent-grads.  All the university needs to do is provide a room, a digital projector, and at least 10 attendees.  In order to fit my work commitments, I can only run these free sessions on Mondays, Fridays or Saturdays.  It's a chance to learn the essentials of agile, how to make more money from doing it, and (in particular) the non-technical things you need to do to make it work right; there's a bit of coding involved, but nothing beyond your average manager or lecturer.

2.  I'm looking for volunteers from AgileScotland who are willing to give up a little of their time to teach some of the more technical aspects of Agile (which I don't cover).  Can you help?  I have a couple of volunteers already, but I'd love your help if you're up for it.  It'd be great, too, if we had anyone willing to take an hour or two, every so often, to publicly share their Agile success stories (especially if you are planning to recruit grads in the future).

3.  (The easiest step) I'm looking for introductions to people working in local Universities whose students have a technical, managerial or business interest in software development.  I'm working with one already and I'll be talking to a couple more next week.  Are you still in contact with your old lecturers?  Do you have friends who might be able to help? 

I hope this doesn't sound too melodramatic, but ...  I'm not Scottish, though my 2 daughters are; I've live here for decade now and I'd like us to at least try to make a difference.  If you can't help but you know someone who might ... then please forward on this email.

Clarke Ching -  
1.  Author of "Rolling Rocks Downhill" ... a business novel about software development; coming soon from the Pragmatic Bookshelf.
2.  Author of "Rocks Into Gold" ... a biztech parable for developers who want to THRIVE during the recession.
Phone: 079 2011 4893