For the past two or three months, the Lifeline complex inside the prison where all the computers are has been closed for remodeling–mostly having something to do with HVAC. Joel and Rob and I have been meeting our guys in classrooms and having mostly unstructured conversations with them.
This week, Lifeline was back open again, and we had to come up with something to do there.
I decided to toss Joel and Rob in at the deep end and pretty much abandoned them to their prisoners–Joel to the beginners and Rob to the intermediates–while I went in to help the advanced guys get Sprint Zero back up to where it was when the lab was torn down. (Apparently one of the fairly-important server machines didn’t come back up, so another machine had to be stood up to replace it.)
I should have brought in a fresh copy of the Project code, but it didn’t occur to me to do so, so we couldn’t accomplish much.
After standup, though, we spent most of the rest of the time talking about Saturday’s conference.
I was amazed to discover that on the inside, pretty much everything that could possibly have gone wrong had done so, just as on the outside over half of our presenters bailed out before the conference was held. Amazed, because even in the shadows of such insurmountable obstacles, the conference was a spectacular success.
To me, that’s the mark of the hand of God.
After the class was over, Joel and Rob and my wife and I went to Bob Evans for dinner/retrospective. Joel’s looking for a good way to address the great variety his students’ experience, and Rob is going to have to learn Tapestry and brush up on TDD.
One topic of conversation that came up was the interesting observation that, even with Joel and Rob being randomly self-selected from the folks who came in for Code Retreat 2, all three of us are Christians.
Christians are not exactly thick on the ground among the ranks of software developers, so we started looking for reasons for this other than random chance.
It led to an interesting discussion of the striking parallels that can be drawn between the Agile methodologies and religions. It’s an area I’ve explored before. Both Agile and Christianity, for example, stand under attack from polemicists who have all sorts of undisputable scientific evidence and reasoning proving that both of them are unredeemable bunk. None of the attacks are successful in proselytizing Agilists or Christians away from their faiths, because both Agilists and Christians have seen their lives changed for the better because of what they believe, and they know it works. Both camps could explain the theological reasons why the polemicists’ attacks fail, but no one would listen to either of them. Nobody is ever converted by arguing theology; folks are converted because they see their lives become better.
And so on and so forth. Daryl Kulak’s “Mechanical Agile” is simply the Agile equivalent of Christian Bible-thumping and proof-texting.
Strangely, though, when I start using religious language to speak of Agile, I start getting furtive throat-cutting gestures from folks with later admonishments that it isn’t the place for religion.
I’m not trying to convert anybody to Christianity; I’m only using Christianity for an example, because–being a Christian myself–it’s the major religion I understand the best. But I guess the problem is that if I use Christianity and Bible references to explain Agile, only Christians will really get the point: and, as pointed out before, Christians are thin on the ground in the software development community.
It’s so apropos, though. I wonder if perhaps people are afraid that if they do learn to think of Agile in terms of religion, and they see its tangible results, they may be forced by humble logic to revisit their certainty regarding the foolishness of religion?
At any rate, since Louis Pierce had to do the most work to get the conference to go, I’ve decided that I’m not going to even bring up the subject of the next conference until Louis broaches it himself.