Miyagi, the Karate Kid and Scrum

As I mentioned in my last entry, I whipped up a small talk to do at last night’s Melbourne Scrum User Group meetup, which had the rough title ““Being Mr Miyagi and the Karate Kid“.

I scoured the web to find some stills from the 1984 movie and printed them onto A5 paper to show to the gathering, in this order.

  1. Mr Miyagi
  2. Daniel
  3. Wax on, wax off
  4. Sand floor
  5. Paint fence
  6. Daniel punching a target on Miyagi’s chest protector
  7. Miyagi and Daniel (doing a Crane stance) in the style of the Simpsons.
  8. Daniel fighting the Cobra-Kai at the tournament
  9. Daniel getting the girl

The general gist of the talk was that when you’re learning something from an expert, you may not understand why you are doing something at first (steps 3-5) but you’re probably doing it for good reason. Eventually you should benefit from the routine of doing what seem to to be unrelated tasks.

In Scrum, there are only a few roles (Scrum Master, Product Owner and Team Member), artifacts (Product and Sprint backlogs and the burndown) and ceremonies (daily Scrums, planning, reviews and retrospectives). It’s a simple framework that gives a team a focus (step 6) to start from.

Later, more advanced techniques can be used (step 7) and eventually you will have the agility to adapt to the situation at hand (step 8). The outcome of this is better development and a better product that makes the customer happy…you’ll get the girl (step 9).

The discussion after my spiel touched on points such as making sure that you inspect what you’ve been doing at regular intervals  with retrospectives and adapt what you’re doing for the future. We also discussed length of iteration 1 week, 2 week, 3 week, 30 days and even half day iterations.

While typing this up, I discovered a similar post by Jeff Gothelf in New York that relates The Karate Kid with User Experience and agile. Great minds think alike, or at least similarly!

I really enjoyed this month’s meetup and I’m looking forward to the next one.

First Agile Oxford meetup.

calendar, November 2010
So, it’s time to organise the first Agile Oxford meetup. November is the designated month, the venue is the offices of White October (off the Cowley Rd) and 7pm is the time. All we have to do now is to decide on a date.

To that end, I have created a Google Group for discussions about the Agile Oxford user group/meetup and a doodle.com poll to see if there is any obvious evening in November to have the inaugural meetup.

The poll is going to close at midnight on Wednesday 27 October, so vote now!

Creative Commons image via Hichako’s Flickr

Geek nights and user groups

Georgia? (LOC)

Networking = yawn-fest?

I used to think that “networking” was some type of dreary activity that only terminal bores went to. However, increasingly I can see that getting together with like-minded people to share experiences can have benefits.

Geeks in the night

I live in Oxford, which along with its Dreaming Spires, also has a healthy geek scene. A foremost example of this is Oxford Geek Night,  ably organised by JP who also works at Torchbox, an Oxfordshire web agency. The basic gist is that there are a variety of technology related talks (keynotes and shorter “microslots”) with healthy gaps in-between to discuss the issues with geek-minded folks. It is held every couple of months and is generally a good night, although the PA system sometimes lets it down. Most of the talks are archived on the OGN site and are worth a look.

I also sometimes stop in on the Oxford Internet Professionals meetup, which meets monthly with no particular agenda (i.e. talks), just some chats over a couple of beverages. I’ve met some fine folks such as Rob Jones, the organiser and head honcho at Surefire Digital and David Langer, a co-honcho at the fast-rising startup, Group Spaces.

In my previous job, I was in London 2-3 days a week, so another group that I often attended was the London Scrum User Group, which is held monthly.  The format of this user group is a bit different to the OGN in that it often used the Open Spaces concept, although that might have changed.

Agile Oxford

As far as I know, there is no equivalent group that meets to discuss agile development/Scrum/Kanban and so on, in Oxford. There used to be an agile book group, The Oxtremists, however that seems to be undergoing a hiatus.

With that in mind, tonight I met up with James, a developer and quite freshly minted Scrum master, who was keen to discuss setting up an agile user group in Oxford. The basic idea for the first event, is to have a guest speaker  as an icebreaker, then have some time for groups to form to discuss issues relating to agile development. We could also thrash out future directions for the group, adapting the format in an…agile…manner.

Some possible areas of discussion:

  • We just started “doing agile”…what now?
  • Help! I need advice on insert problem here.
  • How do you do continuous integration/source control/pair programming/automated testing/behaviour driven development/agile UX etc.

We’re looking to start some time in October November probably at the East Oxford offices of my employer, White October. I would be very keen to hear from anyone interested in this idea, so GET IN TOUCH!. You are also welcome to comment, as per the usual weblog etiquette.

The photo at the top of the post is from The Library of Congress on the Flickr Commons.