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A Dissenting Voice

PJ and I just received the feedback from our talk at SDBP on Creating Habitable Code. I was very pleased by our marks, particularly the 8.6 for “Would you recommend this session to a colleague?” But reading the comments, we obviously left at least one attendee unconvinced and unimpressed:

What was this? Some of the comments were lame. No code comments???? Typing speed tests for developers? Sounds like a work culture I would not want to be involved in. Gold stars? Social rewards?! This sounds like grade school practices! As a software manager, I do what I can to avoid this nonsense. This was the only session of SD2008 for which I had negative comments. Very little content here.

With the other comments offering to sooth my ego — “Excellent presentation, I wish every member of my team could have attended” and “Great information, much more than expected” among the most gracious — I have the luxury of equanimity when considering this negative feedback.

The result is that I’m very grateful to this commenter for reminding me of the dissenting voices, the ones I mostly don’t get to hear.

In my daily life most interactions are with people who think very similar thoughts and our disagreements are largely trivial. It’s easy to forget that we’re still the minority. Agile has certainly crossed the chasm, but while we’re working our way through the early majority there’s many more people out there unconvinced and unimpressed. (… or maybe just uninformed? Last night at the Santa Cruz iPhone Developers meetup I met an experienced programmer who had literally never heard of big-A Agile software development.)

In the big echo chamber of the Agile community I sometimes find myself losing interest, for lots of reasons. We seem really good at spending a lot of words to capture subtle differences in technique. If someone tells me they “do Agile” I have no idea what they mean any more. Doesn’t “agile” just mean “do good things” now?

So I thank this Lone Dissenter. I needed his reminder of just how different the world can be.

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