Skip to main content

Agilistry, practice space for Agile software development

Elisabeth Hendrickson and her colleagues with Quality Tree Software have announced the opening of Agilistry, their 'immersive training space' in Pleasanton California.

I've been following Elisabeth's announcements along the way to making this happen, and from what I can tell, the Agilistry facility is set up as real agile working space... except conceived and designed from the ground up by some of the most intelligent, experienced agile practitioners in the world today.

When I think of "training space" for software, I think of a trainer behind a podium with a whiteboard and a projector and some handouts, with trainees sitting at tables facing the podium.

This isn't that. Agilistry isn't training space at all; Agilistry is *practice* space. It even says so on the web site: "Agilistry Studio; a practice space for Agile software development"

And I'll bet that not many people know how to use a practice space.

For beginners, practice space is expensive but very possibly worth it. Say for instance that management informs your development organization that next month you will be "going agile". They're going to dismantle your cubicles, bring in some tables and whiteboards and index cards and sticky notes, and they expect your productivity to soar.

As a beginner, your first responsibility is do your research, improve your skills, set some reasonable goals, that sort of thing. But if you are going to be thrown into the soup anyway, it might be a good investment to get as good a start as you can. A beginner team at Agilistry won't be able to take advantage of (or even recognize) the more sophisticated aspects of what Agilistry is offering, but getting off on the right foot could very well mean the difference between success and failure. Having the Quality Tree staff available in such a well-designed space would be a huge boost to a beginner team. If nothing else, Agilistry can prevent beginners from having to rearrange the furniture every day until they get a good configuration.

Practice space is critical for intermediate groups. Intermediate groups have enough experience to have gotten some taste of success, but still need to adjust, and practice, and analyze, and adjust, and practice... Because intermediate groups have had some success, they are often under intense scrutiny. A practice space is a place where the group can go by themselves to work slowly, do a lot of analysis, make a lot of mistakes, and correct them, or at least protect themselves from making the same mistakes again and again. This is the biggest stumbling block I see for intermediate groups: so many of them retreat to a practice space only to make the same mistakes in the same way, sometimes without even recognizing that they are making mistakes. I see having the guidance of the people from Quality Tree available to help intermediate groups is the best value Agilistry offers.

Advanced groups have the skill and experience to learn new concepts and implement new practices instantaneously in the course of their work. For advanced groups, the value of practice space comes when one project ends and another begins. As long as the team is stable and the goals are well-known, an advanced group can implement new ideas on the fly, without really needing practice space so much. But when the goals are met and the project ends, and it comes time to start a new project or to gather a new team, having a separate practice space to repair to for planning and practice is invaluable.

Finally, a practice space provides a community. Groups move in and out, groups meet each other, groups exchange information about what they work on while they practice. Over time, a practice space can generate an entire "scene" of groups that know and respect each others' work. Knowing Elisabeth and Quality Tree, I have a feeling that will happen.

We musicians know all about practice space. Beginners have to rearrange the furniture in the garage. Intermediate musicians scrimp to rent a smelly soundproof room in a warehouse somewhere. A touring band can rent or borrow an empty club stage. Sting rents a fully-supplied medieval castle in France for the whole group, but only for a few weeks until the band goes on tour. I've rented every kind of practice space you can imagine, from dingy rooms carved out of warehouses to fully-equipped stages. Having a "practice space for Agile software development" fits right into my notions about how proper software development should be supported: the more the agile development environment resembles the ecosystem that supports the performing arts, the better performers that environment will produce.

Congratulations Elisabeth and Agilistry!


venba said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TestWithUs said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Popular posts from this blog

Reviewing "Context Driven Approach to Automation in Testing"

I recently had occasion to read the "Context Driven Approach to Automation in Testing". As a professional software tester with extensive experience in test automation at the user interface (both UI and API) for the last decade or more for organizations such as Thoughtworks, Wikipedia, Salesforce, and others, I found it a nostalgic mixture of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt), propaganda, ignorance and obfuscation. 

It was weirdly nostalgic for me: take away the obfuscatory modern propaganda terminology and it could be an artifact directly out of the test automation landscape circa 1998 when vendors, in the absence of any competition, foisted broken tools like WinRunner and SilkTest on gullible customers, when Open Source was exotic, when the World Wide Web was novel. Times have changed since 1998, but the CDT approach to test automation has not changed with it. I'd like to point out the deficiencies in this document as a warning to people who might be tempted to take it se…

Watir is What You Use Instead When Local Conditions Make Automated Browser Testing Otherwise Difficult.

I spent last weekend in Toronto talking to Titus Fortner, Jeff "Cheezy" Morgan, Bret Pettichord, and a number of other experts involved with the Watir project. There are a few things you should know:

The primary audience and target user group for Watir is people who use programming languages other than Ruby, and also people who do little or no programming at all. Let's say that again:

The most important audience for Watir is not Ruby programmers 
Let's talk about "local conditions":

it may be that the language in which you work does not support Selenium
I have been involved with Watir since the very beginning, but I started using modern Watir with the Wikimedia Foundation to test Wikipedia software. The main language of Wikipedia is PHP, in which Selenium is not fully supported, and in which automated testing in general is difficult. Watir/Ruby was a great choice to do browser testing.  At the time we started the project, there were no selenium bindings for …

Open letter to the Association for Software Testing

To the Association for Software Testing:

Considering the discussion in the software testing community with regard to my blog post "Test is a Ghetto", I ask the Board of the AST  to release a statement regarding the relationship of the AST with Keith Klain and Per Scholas, particularly in regard to the lawsuit for fraud filed by Doran Jones (PDF download link) .

The AST has a Code of Ethics  and I also ask the AST Board to release a public statement on whether the AST would consider creating an Ethics Committee similar to, or as a part of the recently created Committee on Standards and Professional Practices.

The yearly election for the Board of the AST happens in just a few weeks, and I hope that the candidates for the Board and the voting members of the Association for Software Testing will consider these requests with the gravity they deserve.