Monday, March 30, 2009

AgileScotland - Uni thing and a free book ...

Hi everyone,
1.  A quick update: I've had several volunteers -Peter Aitken, Paul Wilson, Brian Swan, Rohan Cragg, Colin Brodie-Smith, Graeme Brown, Mark Davidson, Rob Lally, and Ian Brockbank - to help out with the university initiative; I've got two universities definitely signed up; and I've you've all passed on a number of useful contacts which I'm pursuing.  So thanks!  This'll start out small ... but I hope we can make it into something bigger over the years.
2.  I'm attending Endava's "agile outsourcing" event this Thursday afternoon in Edinburgh.  If you're going along or fancy meeting up afterwards for a quick chat (around 6:30, Edinburgh city centre) then send me a note (  I've got a couple-dozen copies galley copies of RocksIntoGold back from my pubisher and if you'd like a copy then I'll bring one along on Thursday. 
If your boss (or your customers) would like a copy (free) then send me their postal address and I'll post a signed copy out to them.

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

[AgileScotland] One seminar & one fantastic training opportunity

Hi everyone,
1.  On April 2nd, Endava, an expereinced euroepean outsourcing company, are running an afternoon session in central Edinburgh covering their experiences doing outsourced agile development.  It's aimed at "Financial Services IT Professionals".
You can read the powerpoint invite here:
Please email if your interested in attending.
2.  The Scotland on Rails conference sold out extremely quickly this year and so did the training event.  The GOOD NEWS is that they organisers have found a bigger venue for the training event so there are now more places available.  It's only 75 pounds for a full day with 2 of the worlds best Ruby/Rails trainers (and the money goes to charity).  It's an extremely good deal.  If your boss won't pay for it then take a day off and think of it as "me time".
Paul Wilson writes:  
If you went to last year's you will remember that things didn't go quite to plan. 
This year we are taking a different approach: it is an entire day's course, concentrating on core Ruby, planned and given by Pragmatic Sudios Ruby and Rails instructor Chad Fowler and Rails-core alumnus (and also a Pragmatic Instructor) Marcel Molina.  These guys are both expert rubyists and trainers.   All we are asking is that you make a £75 (75 GBP) donation to the Children's Hospice Association Scotland at the page below
More details on the tutorial are here:
3.  They didn't ask me to write this, but I know that Paul Wilson and Alan Francis will be looking for work shortly after the conference.  I know them well and I know they're two of the best agile programmers in Scotland/The World.  It takes a huge amount of time, effort and personal sacrifice to deliver these community events so if you know of anyone who needs to hire two good, local developers then contact me and I'll put you in touch with Paul and Alan.  (I do consulting, not recruitment, so I'm not looking for commission).