Sep 09

Scrum Gathering South Africa 2010

So last week I attended the ScrumAlliance‘s “South Africa Scrum Gathering 2010” for two days of presentations, “deep dives” (in-depth sessions on a particular topic), discussions and more. The main reason I went there, of course, was to eat as much free 5-star hotel food as possible in the time given. At least that is the kind of attitude I usually go to these events with. Partly because it means I won’t be disappointed, but mostly because I can’t really get excited until I’m actually there and getting excited. The Westin Grand does make good food though.. mmm. Anyway, SUGSA have posted pictures of the event on their site.

Day 1 – Keynote and deep dive sessions

After breakfast the delegates were herded into one of the conference rooms for Henrik Kniberg’s keynote. Henrik reminded everyone of the core scrum values and did well to break the ice with a generous amount of humour. This really got the day going (you can find the keynote slides on Henrik’s own blog).

From there we all went to our respective deep dive session of choice. I chose “Modelling out Loud” with Aslam Khan. Having done the DDD (Domain Driven Design) course with Aslam, I was fortunate to know most of the basics concering DDD and BDD (Behaviour Driven Development) already. Still, there was a lot to learn. In software development we are taught to to design our systems, and generally that results in a model which encapsulates the design. I think the main point Aslam was making, is that there can and should be more than a single model. Software, and the problem domain for which it is created, are both complex in their own right and quite distinct. Why then do we attempt to fit both into one model straight off the bat?

Aslam made a number of statements throughout the session to drive the discussion; here they are:

  • The Analysis model is not the same as the Design model (the former is for understanding the problem domain and for conversation, the latter turns into code)
  • We are less ignorant at the end of a sprint (and model artifacts should never be static)
  • BDD stories authored too early encourage a hand-off

Aslam demonstrated how “As a.., I want to.., So that..” stories and “Given.., When.., Then..” scenarios can be used to model the business as well. He also showed us an alternative to “As a.., I want to.., So that..” which places the emphasis on the business value.


One last interesting point is that, whichever way you choose to write your stories, the “I want” part is the one where developers should make suggestions for alternative solutions. In other words, this is the opportunity for us to engage our creative side.

Day 2 – Open spaces

The second day was all about the delegates convening and joining in on various discussions. These were structured in the style of Open Space Technology, which is basically an approach for hosting meetings/conferences. I hadn’t encountered this before, but I think it worked really well. As always it’s good to talk to other Scrum practitioners and to realise that everyone is experiencing the same pains (or has experienced them at some stage and knows what to do about them). Update: open space notes now available.

All in all the event was very positive and motivating. Thank you to all of the organisers and speakers!

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