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Rob Myers
San Francisco Bay Area
Agile/XP/Scrum coach and trainer (with a decade of real coaching experience!)
Recent Activity
Michael, it was nice to see you briefly in the passageway and wave hello. I wish I had had the chance to chat with you at length. Those hallway conversations always were the best part of OOPSLA & Agile. The first transition coaching I did resulted in what I call "going native" where the powers-that-be encouraged me to focus on the technical. I was all too willing, even though my Spidey Sense was telling me that this would just propagate the team's status quo. Since then, I've really had to repress my technical talents, and any desire to rescue the project through "elegant test-driven emergent design." (It is something I'll encourage from the team, but it will fail if they don't feel they have the space to refactor, write tests, or pair-program when appropriate.) Sometimes it does seem impossible to bring joy back to a team. But when we can align intrinsic motivators (creative work, new skills, pride in craftsmanship, etc.) with the production of quality, valuable software, the rewards--for the team, the organization, and for me--are far more potent. You and I have been on oddly similar paths for many years. (Maybe I'm stalking you...? Nah!) When I teach courses on TDD and get to the section on legacy code, I talk about how you were often brought in to help a team "go Agile" but were then faced with a gazillion lines of spaghetti C++. (Somehow I lived a charmed life, and worked on many greenfield XP projects.) Then I quip, "but Feathers got a book deal!" ;-) Yep, Harrison Ford will always be known first as Han Solo, and you may always be the Master of Legacy Code. You have a pleasant and gentle demeanor, Michael. I'd guess that most teams respond positively to that, and quite a few managers try to take advantage of it to keep their own agenda alive. I've had to learn to risk the whole contract, and my reputation, to say, "You know, what you think is slowing the team down is really not your first constraint. Here, I carry this mirror..." or something hopefully a little more diplomatic. ;-) I guess what I'm trying (badly) to say, Michael, is: I hope the community isn't going to lose a great coach. We have to take project work occasionally to keep those technical skills sharp, and to "eat our own process dog-food" so to speak, but you have much more to give the software development industry as a whole, by demonstrating that a geek can also speak authoritatively about process improvement and organizational transformation. These days, I tend to lead with that "face" (and it's become a real face, because I love to help people), and let my technical skills be a delightful surprise for my clients to discover later, when I roll up my sleeves and hammer out some elegant test-driven emergent design alongside one of their developers! So, stay in the game. (Otherwise, whose career will I try to mimic?) There's more to this conversation (particularly triggered when you said "it is all connected"), but my "rambling" alarm just went off in my head.
Toggle Commented Sep 10, 2009 on From People to Programming.. at Michael Feathers