There was an Agile Coach Camp two years ago in Indianapolis — I could have been making crucial career-changing connections, then sleeping in my own bed! — but we were out of the country that weekend. It was, unquestionably, a missed opportunity; perhaps what happened was the only thing that could have. Things worked out anyhow. Pillar gave me the work, and I’ve been trying to make the most of it ever since.

I’m mildly amused at the timing of my first Agile Coach Camp. Before I started down the coaching path, I imagined that sustaining it — and myself — would mean I’d need to alternate between “doing it” and “helping others do it”, like it says right there in the Manifesto. So far, I’m not wrong. At my request, I’ve just swung my professional pendulum most of the way back to “doing it”, recharging my coaching energy and developer cred on a team of fellow consulting-minded XP developers. We’re embedded at a client, working to influence the outcome of a change-the-world project that’s in the news. (Interested? Hit me up.)

Maybe this mental context switch is why, when only a handful of Campy Coaches self-identified as “technical”, I was primed to figure out how I might be able to share with the rest of them a tiny experience of software development work. En route to St. Louis, I’d already been revisiting this old thought:

People who haven’t done it have no way of knowing the extent to which programming consists of making decisions. (It’s a very large extent.)

The first time I wrote these words down was when I resigned from Morgan Stanley. Three years ago, despairing at how few around me shared my values, I discovered the Software Craftsmanship community. (If they sound like your people too, Global Day of Code Retreat is this Saturday, and I highly recommend participating.) I’ve had cause lately to reflect on how much my life has improved, including how my role in the community has changed; if I hadn’t, spending a long weekend with Agile friends in the venue’s main meeting room surely would have started the gears turning.

the Morgan Stanley room

I came up with a few ways to offer folks an introduction to important stuff that might normally make them uncomfortable:

  1. Mob Programming ESPECIALLY for Non-Programmers, during which we used Vim to write C and almost got one FizzBuzz test to pass
  2. Test-Driven Development and Pairing for Non-Techies with Mark Balbes, during which we “test-drove” and “refactored” a bit of prose (Zach Bonaker’s writeup)
  3. ”Show Me The Tech”, in which anyone interested to try/see/discuss any technical practice could pull me aside anytime for 15 minutes

The feedback I received suggested that this is a direction I might want to keep going:

Closing circle at #ACCUS. My key learning: I can do a lot to help non-developers better understand the work, and it’s needed and wanted.

Thank you to Jason Tice for giving us this Open Space, and to everyone who joined me in finding meaningful ways to fill it.